Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dynamic Ants

Bruce Sterling brought me to this strange thing, he aptly calls an ant vortex.

How does that work?
I can speculate: A constant speed of ants gives the ones on the "outer lanes" a lower angular momentum. Thus the center of the vortex seems to be moving faster than the fringe.
Every ant draws a scent line along its path, which attracts other ants towards it. As the scent density increases toward the middle, you get a higher ant density at the center of the maelstrom.
And last but not least, one will need to postulate a kind of inertia for every single ant, prompting it to move straight, unless the attractive scent alters its course. Without "ant-inertia" one would have every ant rushing for the center right away. With inertia you have the interplay of attractive and repulsive forces that is necessary for circular movement.

Is someone out there who wants to do agent based modelling of this? That is one interesting vortex after all...

Edit: Okay, it's not only an ant vortex, it's apparently called an Ant Death Spiral.

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