Watch an Idea Spread Through This Ant Colony

By Esther Inglis-Arkell on at

A colony of ants can teach us something about how an idea spreads through social networks.

Scientists pointed a camera at ant colonies for forty-one days and produced the above video showing how an “idea” spreads through a group of ants via one-on-one contact. One ant gets tagged with a blue dot. When it interacts with other ants, they turn blue. When they interact with more ants, these ants turn blue.

This represents the spread of information, and, depending on the conditions, information has a set “rate” at which it spreads. Given enough study, we could predict how long it would take for an ant at one side of the colony to pass a piece of information along to an ant at the other side of the colony.

[Source: Tracking Individuals Shows Spatial Fidelity is a Key Regulator of Ant Socialization.]