Tuesday, 24 August 2021


Via Slashdot, we learn that a group of researchers studying ant tunnel architecture with the aid of 3D x-ray imaging and computation models are gleaning some of the eusocial insects’ secrets to digging and creating enduring, stable structures using only the physics of the medium, selecting the grains of soil for the exact right qualities of inertia, friction and cohesion to form a self-reinforcing shaft underground. This ability, scientists believe, is a highly evolved behavioural algorithm—an instinct—that could be duplicated for microscopic mining machines (see also) that could extract ores and other useful materials in a far less intrusive way.