Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Unstructured Ants

The University of Berkeley News has a really fascinating article on a species of ants that can glide. The ants are wingless but use their bodies to direct the flow of air around them so that they can control their direction while falling. This is a useful ability for this particular species because they live high up in a forest canopy. By controlling their fall, they can steer themselves back towards the trunks of their own trees and return to their own branches, ususally within ten minutes.

In addition to the subject of the ants, themselves, the article provides a good illustration of how discovery and research work in the sciences.

There's some amazing video that goes along with the article, too. Unfortunately it's in the RealPlayer format, which is definitely not my preferred media, but you really need to see these ants in action to genuinely appreciate how amazing this is.

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