What can a creature with a brain smaller than a pinhead, have to teach us about the nature of physics, robotics and the future of advanced technology?

For the fire ant, what it may lack in size, it makes up for in millions of years of evolutionary genius. Over the winding road to the modern fire ant, it has made more than a few adaptations that are, to say the least, incredible.

Image: Fire ants clinging together to make a rope bridge for their colony

Source: Wikimedia

So, what do I mean when I say that a fire ant can be incredible? Well, let’s start with this: Did you know that a colony of fire ants can be considered a material, better yet, a material that can be a liquid or a solid?

A group of remarkable scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Biolocomotion Lab has done just about anything you can do to a colony of fire ants, to test their remarkable capabilities. From coating them in gold, to submerging them in water, to tying them together; they have been able to not just learn about a small corner of the natural world, but find inspiration for cutting-edge technology.

Via: Vox 1

At Ever Widening Circles, we talk a lot about the importance of breaking down silos of thought. It’s all a matter of asking better questions: What are the novel possibilities when art informs the way we study biology, or when the natural world alters the future of robotics?  Where are the threads of connection between seemingly disparate systems?

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Ingenious people will take the fascinating properties of a fire ant colony way beyond being fun facts. And the best part about this train of thought: it is but a fraction of the inspiration that can be gleaned from the millions of years of iteration that nature has done over the course of our planet’s evolution.

Image: Fire Ant Raft after Hurricane Harvey in Texas

Fire Ant Raft in Pearland, Texas after Hurricane Harvey, courtesy of Brant Kelly // Flickr

The future of advanced technology may look similar to what we see in the natural world…

As we face massive changes technologically, environmentally, and politically, why not study the systems that have survived millions of years for inspiration and insight?

There’s a lot out there to discover!

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

Drop into one of the articles below to find a little more wonder!

Or, head to our Thought Leader category to find people who are pushing the door wide open on possibility!

Thought Leaders on EWC

Notes:

  1. “The Bizarre Physics of Fire Ants.” YouTube. Vox, 25 July 2017. Web. 01 Oct. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpiDADw5Omw>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO Ever Widening Circles

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV