PacSci-Doku: "Liquid Or Solid?" Answer

By Dennis Schatz - Senior Vice President for Strategic Programs

The question in this edition is:

What animal can act both like a solid and a liquid?

The answer: Fire Ants

Scroll down to see the solution.

Usually people think of animals as being a solid object. But a swarm of fire ants can sometimes act like a fluid and sometimes like a solid. When you pour them out of a funnel, they flow like a thick syrup. But a ball of fire ants springs back into shape like a rubber ball if you push down on the sphere of wiggling ants. How they behave depends on a combination of the way the ants cling to each other, coupled with how they rearranged themselves as they "flow."

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who observed this behavior, think that understanding how fire ants move as a swarm will help develop self-assembling robots or self-healing materials. Watch this video to see the ants as both a solid and a liquid.

Here is the solution:


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