Natures wonders: Ant colony food finding (Introduction)

by dhw, Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 17:11 (1942 days ago) @ David Turell

DAVID: Somewhat chaotic but it works:

http://phys.org/news/2014-05-chaos-ants-optimize-food.html

Thank you for this. As you know, I am a great ant fan. There's nothing new about this discovery, but a couple of comments seem to me yet again to highlight the parallels between these extraordinary creatures and the phenomenon of "emergence" in relation to our own cell communities in particular, and cell communities generally.

QUOTE: "Importantly, the researchers found that the experience of individual ants contributes to their foraging success ... something also neglected in previous research. Older ants have a better knowledge of the nests surroundings. The foraging of younger ants is a learning process rather than an effective contribution to scout food, according to the study."

The process of adaptation and innovation through cooperation between cells and cell communities has to entail a pooling of knowledge through communication. Maybe the ants' foraging can be seen as parallel to experimentation by cell communities (just as the cells of our individual organs must work out how best to deal with whatever changes our bodies are subjected to).

QUOTE: "A highly efficient complex network"
"While the single ant is certainly not smart, the collective acts in a way that I'm tempted to call intelligent," says co-author Jürgen Kurths who leads PIK's research domain Transdisciplinary Concepts and Methods."

And while the individual brain cell may not be "smart", put it together with a few billion others and between them they can produce a Shakespeare, a Beethoven, an Einstein. Of course, each brain is different, and some are "smarter" than others. Ditto ants, and ditto the cell communities that innovate.


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