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[科学美国人60秒] SSS 2019-11-12

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[科学美国人60秒] SSS 2019-11-12

SSS 20191112

sss
60秒科学节目(SSS)是科学美国人网站的一套广播栏目,英文名称:Scientific American - 60 Second Science,节目内容以科学报道为主,节目仅一分钟的时间,主要对当今的科学技术新发展作以简明、通俗的介绍,对于科学的发展如何影响人们的生活环境、健康状况及科学技术,提供了大量简明易懂的阐释。

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Anyone who commutes by car knows that traffic jams are inevitable part of life. But humans are not alone in facing potential backups. Ants also commute between their nest and sources of food. The survival of their colonies depends on doing this efficiently.

“The more they are, the more food they’re gonna bring back, but at same time they might end up with traffic jam because there are too many of them. “

When humans commute, there’s a point at which cars become dense enough to slow down the flow of traffic, causing gridlock. M’s colleagues wanted to know if ants on the move could also get gridlocked, so they manipulated traffic density by constructing bridges of various x between a colony of Argentine ants and source of food, then they waited and watched.

“the goal was to try to find out at one point they’re gonna have traffic jam. But it appears that it never happened. They never at one point stopped. They always managed to avoid traffic jam. “

The flow of ants did increase initially as ants started to fill the bridge and then leveled up at high densities. But it never slowed down even when the bridge was nearly saturated with ants.

The researchers then took a closer look at how the behavior of individual ants impacted traffic as a whole. That meant meticulously tracking thousands of separate ants as they meet their way cross the bridge.

M’s team found when ants sense overcrowding they adjust their speeds and avoid entering high-density areas which prevents congestion. These behaviors may be facilitated by pheromones, chemicals that tell other ants where a trail is. The ants also manage to avoid colliding with each other in high densities, which could really slow them down.

The study is in the journal E-Life. Can ants help us solve our own traffic problems? Not as likely as much. That’s because when it comes to getting from point A to point B as fast as possible, human drivers put their own goals first. Individual ants have to be more cooperative in order to feed the colony. But the research could be useful in optimizing traffic flow for self-driving cars, which can be designed to be less like selfish human and more like ants.
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