Spurious Phase in a Model for Traffic on a Bridge

Nov 14, 2005

Researchers at Virginia Tech are providing further insight into the physics of systems far from equilibrium by studying traffic patterns across a narrow bridge.

Physicists at Virginia Tech are investigating two-species driven diffusive systems, and relating their work to the study of traffic on a narrow bridge. This research is reported in the Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and General (www.iop.org/EJ/journal/JPhysA) published by Institute of Physics Publishing.

David W. Erickson, Gunnar Pruessner, B Schmittmann and R K P Zia present high-precision Monte Carlo data for the phase diagram of a two-species driven diffusive system, reminiscent of traffic across a bridge.

They assume that traffic across a long and narrow bridge will flow freely on clear stretches, but slow down for oncoming cars. If all drivers exhibit similar driving styles, then the numbers of cars traveling in each of the two directions should be roughly equal. However, under certain circumstances, this symmetry can be “spontaneously broken,” i.e., there may be many more cars traveling in one direction than the other.

These surprises were discovered in large scale simulations of a simple model. In particular, their research clarifies how the length of the “bridge” plays a crucial role in this model.

Source: Institute of Physics Publishing

Explore further: Experiment with speeding ions verifies relativistic time dilation to new level of precision

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Designing exascale computers

Jul 23, 2014

"Imagine a heart surgeon operating to repair a blocked coronary artery. Someday soon, the surgeon might run a detailed computer simulation of blood flowing through the patient's arteries, showing how millions ...

Small businesses get a shot at the big time with .London

May 01, 2014

The launch of the .London domain name has been accompanied by a great deal of hype but the change is more than just cosmetic. This is a real opportunity for smaller organisations to make their mark in the ...

Recommended for you

How Paramecium protozoa claw their way to the top

2 hours ago

The ability to swim upwards – towards the sun and food supplies – is vital for many aquatic microorganisms. Exactly how they are able to differentiate between above and below in often murky waters is ...

User comments : 0