Entomologist H.A. Allard, on the emergence of 13-year periodical cicada Brood XIX in Virginia in 1920:
I felt a positive sadness when I realized that the great visitation was over, and there was silence in the world again, and all were dead that had so recently lived and filled the world with noise and movement. It was almost a painful silence, and I could not but feel that I had lived to witness one of the great events of existence, comparable to the occurrence of a notable eclipse or the visitation of a great comet.
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It is pretty old news at this point, but I figured that as I haven’t recently given it or this blog the due attention that each deserves, I should now mention that Ant-Man the film will be hitting theaters in 2015. Paul Rudd has been cast as Ant-Man (Ant-Man is the main character in the film).
I have two hopes for this movie. The first is that it is riddled with actual facts about ants. The second is that it features at least one cameo by at least one actual myrmecologist. An obvious candidate would be someone like Mark Moffett, who has been interviewed by Stephen Colbert (in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011), Conan O’Brien, and NPR, among others I’m sure, and therefore should already be primed for the public eye.
But with or without copious ant-facts and myrmecameos, I can’t wait to see this film, which will surely be the greatest thing since the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Because could the fusion of ant and man on film be anything else?
Posted in Ants and Humans, Ants in the News, Cinemants | 5 Comments »
Turns out that even ants are being swept up by the NSA. Well, at least their name.
According to a Der Spiegel article from the end of last year, the NSA created an “ANT catalog” that apparently allows NSA employees to “order technologies from the ANT division for tapping their targets’ data”. However, these revelations seem to come from an “impression gained from flipping through the 50-page document”, with even the meaning of the acronym only “presumably” standing for “Advanced or Access Network Technology”.
Regardless of the true name and nature of the division, the most appalling fact from this report is the NSA’s practice of tapping into the wonderful world of ants for its secretive ends. However, it should be noted that the NSA chose to name seemingly omnipotent hacking powers “ANT”. Not “FLY”, or “GRASSHOPPER”, or “BEETLE”, but “ANT”. So, although appalling, it is at least encouraging that the NSA understands a bit about the true nature of the ant.
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See here for a nice video from NASA on the space ants I mentioned a few days ago, as well as other information on the launch’s purpose. The article proposes the name “ant-ronauts”, but I’m partial to “antstronauts”. I think it flows better.
Image from the article.
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Since learning about the Fort Wayne ‘Mad Ants’ NBA D-League team last year, I occasionally check in on the team, and it seems to be doing well. Last season, Tony Mitchell was the D-League Rookie of the Year (Are we surprised he was a Mad Ant? No.), part of an effort that brought the Mad Ants to the playoffs for the first time. Well, he then decided to do something different. Which, according to this article in The Journal Gazette, turned out to be going to China for 2 1/2 months to play with the Jilin Northeast Tigers. He also has been drafted by the Detroit Pistons, and, according to Wikipedia, is playing with the Mad Ants “on assignment” from the team.
I find this particularly notable because Mitchell’s trajectory has been Detroit -> Ants -> China, which essentially mirrors my own. Perhaps there is some fundamental property of nature that follows: (Detroit metro area) + (Ants) = (China).
Posted in Ant Math, Ants and Humans, Ants in the News, Antsy Thoughts, Chinese Ants, Mad Ants, Myrmecological Supremacy | Leave a Comment »
The most important story of the year has already occurred! It has nothing to do with the NSA, or the midterm elections, or anything else so mundane. It has everything to do with ants. Specifically, space ants.
Outer space, already home to the Ant Nebula, will now be joined by real live ants, thanks to the recent launch of a rocket to the ISS carrying “swarms of ants”. According to the ABC article reporting the event, NASA hopes that the experiment will ”help cultivate ‘a better understanding of swarm intelligence,’ which could lead to more refined mathematical procedures for solving complex problems, such as routing trucks and scheduling airlines, back on Earth.”
These are not the first space ants, but I believe they are the first to actually live on the ISS. The earlier launch used harvester ants, but this launch decided on Tetramorium caespitum, the pavement ant, according to the NASA release describing the experiment. I hope the ants love their stellar new home!
Posted in Ants and Humans, Ants in the News, Antstronomy, Myrmecological Supremacy | 1 Comment »
About two years ago today, I wrote a post, “Ant Physics“, that described, and provided the answer to, a mechanical physics problem given during Physics 140 at the University of Michigan. Now, a couple times each year, I get a spike of views on my blog associated with this page. Amusingly, these times correlate with upcoming exam dates, so I always know when Physics 140 students are frantically preparing for their exam in order to get an A or, like me, deciding to not frantically prepare and instead get their first and only C. Such a spike occurred today, and I see from UM’s calendar that finals begin this Friday.
You can check out the original post here, but this is the associated artwork I created for the question:
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