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How to dig a tunnel like an ant

How to dig a tunnel like an ant

We have known them this talent for a long time, but in order to finally understand how to do it, they took a container with 500 ml of soil, 15 ants And above all, technology Capable of analyzing every single one of these ants and every little bit of soil, every 10 minutes for 20 hours. By literally tracing all the “grains” of the soil, the researchers wanted to relate all those that had been removed or moved, to the final shape the tunnel took. Including the shape, size and orientation of each of these grains. As if each one had a numbered brick. A computer model adds to this the gravity, moisture, and pressure of the soil above the ants’ heads…

For Jose Andrade and colleagues at Caltech, Final score points Towards the presence of “arcs” in the ground of a larger diameter than the tunnels: they accumulate part of the external pressure, which relaxes the granules that make up the tunnel walls. It also explains why at one point the ants were able to expand their tunnel without the roof collapsing.

There is no indication that they had to obtain a baccalaureate in physics for this. According to Andrade, they can simply follow an “algorithm,” or a recipe that has evolved over time through trial and error.

Is a practical application possible? Nothing in theory prevents humans from imitating this recipe, and there is no shortage of it Report seekers. Be careful not to estimate how long it will take. “We expect that such results can be adapted for robotic mineral exploration,” they wrote in their text that appeared in the journal. PNAS. A miner robot that follows this methodology can allow humans to avoid dangerous fossils. And even to see more: “Such a robot would be ideal for prospecting for other planets.

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Photo: fotosforyou_rk/Pixabay