Beautiful Science

Bali's famous rice terraces look like colourful mosaics because some farmers plant synchronously, while others do so at different times. The resulting fractal patterns are rare for man-made systems and lead to optimal harvests without global planning

Bali's famous rice terraces look like colourful mosaics because some farmers plant synchronously, while others do so at different times. The resulting fractal patterns are rare for man-made systems and lead to optimal harvests without global planning, said a research team led by Professor Stephen Lansing of the Nanyang Technological University and Professor Stefan Thurner of the Medical University of Vienna. Both of them are external faculty at the Santa Fe Institute in the US. The institute said the rice fields could serve as an example that under certain conditions, it is possible to reach sustainable situations that lead to maximum payoff for all parties, where every individual makes free and independent decisions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'Beautiful Science'. Print Edition | Subscribe