Monday, September 13, 2010

Cool video of the week

I'm a huge fan of Feynman, and always admired his curiosity about stuff outside of physics. In his biography (if you haven't read it, you're not a proper nerd) there is a passage about experiments with ants:

"I found out the trail wasn't directional. If I'd pick up an ant on a piece of paper, turn him around and around, and then put him back onto the trail, he wouldn't know that he was going the wrong way until he met another ant. (Later, in Brazil, I noticed some leaf-cutting ants and tried the same experiment on them. They could tell, within a few steps, whether they were going toward the food or away from it—presumably from the trail, which might be a series of smells in a pattern: A, B, space, A, B, space, and so on.)"

"I tried at one point to make the ants go around in a circle, but I didn’t have enough patience to set it up. I could see no reason, other than lack of patience, why it couldn’t be done."

Well Mr Feyman, not only can it be done, but it happens in nature...


Rob said...

I found a great blog post about this phenomenon known as the Ant Death Spiral.

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