anternet

Did anybody ever have an ant farm? I always saw them in catalogs and wondered how they get the ants to you. When I first drew today’s comic, the box of ants was meant to be an absurdity. But the more I think about it, the ants have to get to you somehow right? Would love if any readers could chime in on the ant farm experience.

Today’s comic comes from an unlikely (but perhaps not illogical) pairing of Stanford biology professor Deborah Gordon and computer science professor Balaji Prabhakar. They found that the foraging patterns of red harvester ants are very similar to the congestion avoidance algorithms used in TCP. It’s not so much that ants are copying the internet or the internet is copying ants, but rather another case* where millions of years of selective pressures have molded the most efficient behaviors.

All that said, I don’t recommend setting up an Anternet at home. The email is still terrible, and it drops packets like crazy.


By the by, if you haven’t added Sci-ənce on facebook or twitter, please do! I can’t draw comics about everything, so all the neat science/skepticism/geek news that doesn’t make it here, ends up over there. You’ll also be notified of new posts both here and over at Mad Art Lab as soon as they happen. Plus, I’ll think that you’re super duper. Cheers!

 

 

*In the slime mold comic I casually claim that the mold did in 26 hours what human engineers took years to plan and build, but I suppose I should add millions of years to account for natural selection. Well, I suppose I should add it to both sides, which means I’m still not sure who wins.

Oh, and just because I feel the other two are worth posting: The Altruism of Slime and Cheater!