Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Physics of Ants

Apparently, a collection of fire ants can act either as a fluid or as a solid. Check out the video in the New York Times article to which I just linked. It's way cool.

(Tip of the cap to whoever posts for APS Physics on Facebook.)

Update (12/21/13): As Jimmy Lin points out, you can also make some really cool sculptures by pouring molten aluminum down anthills. Seeing this makes me want data from Anthill Art to complement our study of a rabbit warren in this paper. Notice that the depicted fire ant colonies have a much more complicated network structure than the carpenter ant colonies.


Jacob Scott said...

I saw the fire ant aluminum video a few weeks ago - totally awesome. I love the idea of trying to quantify the network structure of it. I was surprised at the size of the tunnels - and wondered how much the act of pouring the aluminum in effected it since I thought the ground would be pretty soft. I also sort of liked the idea of a colony of fire ants getting burned in molten aluminum (having been made once to do push up on top of a colony of them, and burning up myself)

Mason said...

You should look at our calculations for a rabbit-warren network in this paper.