Skip to main content

Exploring the virtual ant colony

From BBC

Ground-penetrating radar has been used to nondestructively map an ant colony for the first time.

The results have been digitised and fed into an interactive visualisation system so that the colony can be explored virtually.

The system is inexpensive compared to earlier approaches and could be used in many fields.

Visitors at the SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles have been putting the system through its paces this week.

Hands-off mapping

The colonies of leafcutting ants like the Atta texana are huge, spanning many metres underground.

"Leafcutting ant nests can hold a 3-storey house—the rural legend is that tractors can disappear into them," says Carol LaFayette, a fine artist by training who spearheaded the project.

Myrmecologists seeking to map out the colonies have resorted to painstaking methods such as scraping away soil layer by layer, or pouring a casting material into the colonies and then excavating the casts.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Iran: A Rummy Guide

To borrow a phrase used for Iraq, there are 'things we now know we don't know.'Back in June 2002, as the Bush administration started pushing hard for war with Iraq by focusing on fears of the unknown—terrorists and weapons of mass destruction—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld explained that when it came to gathering intelligence on such threats, "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Elaborating, Rumsfeld told a news conference: "There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know."Now there's a crisis brewing with Iran. And the same basic problem applies: what is known, what is suspected, what can be only guessed or imagined? Is danger clear and present or vague and distant? Washington is abuzz now, as it was four years ago, with "sources" talking of sanctions…