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: Breakthrough in nonlinear optics research

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The remarkable simplicity of complexity

Oct 01, 2014

From the fractal patterns of snowflakes to cellular lifeforms, our universe is full of complex phenomena – but how does this complexity arise?

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 ...

Recommended for you

Squeezing out new science from material interfaces

10 hours ago

With more than five times the thermal conductivity of copper, diamond is the ultimate heat spreader. But the slow rate of heat flow into diamond from other materials limits its use in practice. In particular, ...

The dark side of cosmology

15 hours ago

It's a beautiful theory: the standard model of cosmology describes the universe using just six parameters. But it is also strange. The model predicts that dark matter and dark energy – two mysterious entities ...

Studying effects of target 'tents' on NIF

15 hours ago

A systematic study of the effects on National Ignition Facility (NIF) implosions of the ultra-thin mounting membranes that support target capsules inside NIF hohlraums was reported by LLNL researchers in ...

Mathematicians model fluids at the mesoscale

15 hours ago

When it comes to boiling water—or the phenomenon of applying heat to a liquid until it transitions to a gas—is there anything left for today's scientists to study? The surprising answer is, yes, quite ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.