[ExI] Ants to spike

spike spike66 at att.net
Tue Oct 20 02:32:19 UTC 2009


> -----Original Message-----
> From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org 
> [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of 
> Anders Sandberg
> Sent: Monday, October 19, 2009 1:11 PM
> To: ExI chat list
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Ants to spike
> jameschoate at austin.rr.com wrote:
> > There are lots of papers on arxiv.org about ants, their 
> behavior, and 
> > how they apply it to traffic analysis.
> But most of them are about ant algorithms rather than real 
> formicids; learning how Spike's garden ants behave from them 
> is like trying to learn psychology from the robotics papers on arxiv...

I have learned a lot from watching the little sons a bitches.  Actually that
term is more masculine, and they would more properly be called the little
bitches.  Of course the workers are all sterile non-breeders, but in any
case I really hated them, as they were infesting my orange trees, but when I
saw what they were doing up there and how cool that is, my attitude
improved, not so much that I actually began to like them, but enough that my
attitude approached exactly between hate and love, so now I neutral the
little neuters.

> Besides it is much more fun to actually do experiments 
> oneself. Which laws of physics have we actually tested at 
> home, lately? (I think my latest experiment was when I tried 
> to extract lead from paint chips by boiling them in vinegar 
> and identify it by precipitating it with salt; the experiment 
> failed but smelled wonderfully of Chemistry)...

Anders it is a tragedy that we can now only with great difficulty do the
kinds of amateur chemistry experiments that brought me so much joy in my own
misspent youth.  Now if one buys very much chemistry lab equipment, one
draws attention to oneself as an amateur maker of explosives, thanks to
those radical Presbyterians, and possibly a manufacturer of recreational

> That said, I think Spike should check out this paper:
> http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0403142

Cool thanks Anders!

> "Here, we present an experimental study of ants confronted 
> with two alternative routes. We find that pheromone-based 
> attraction generates one trail at low densities, whereas at a 
> high level of crowding, another trail is established before 
> traffic volume is affected, which guarantees that an optimal 
> rate of food return is maintained. " > Anders Sandberg,

What kind of wackmeister would study such a subj...  oh, wait...

I did try some experiments a couple years ago, putting a longitudinal
barrier right in the middle of a two-way ant trail, trying to get them to
split and go one way on either side, but in every case, the migration route
split into two two-way trails.

Regarding the temperature sensitivity of the ants and Natasha's observation,
I had noticed the ants activity level is highly dependent on temperature,
but not so much (if at all) dependent on the light level.  I went out on a
moonless cloudy summer night and looked in on them with a flashlight.  The
ants were going right on thru the night with their labors.

Like the ants, humans rely on the externalization of our collective wisdom.
Only a tiny fraction of the body of human knowledge resides in our brains.
The ants, bees, termites and humans are the four lifeforms which have most
effectively evolved to externalize knowledge.  We humans have recently
enjoyed a quantum leap in the effectiveness of our knowledge-externalization
capacity with the advent of the internet.

Life is gooood.  Living today is even better.  Surely living thru the next
quantum leap will be still better than now.


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