POTD: Circle of Influence

Circle of Influence
Ajo, Arizona

I was taken not only by how nearly perfect the circle of this anthill was but also by how crisp its edges were. I would have thought that the disturbed pile of sand would gradually taper off rather than form an abrupt edge. But that’s probably just the statistician in me trying to assign some probability distribution to the distance from the hole that each ant feels like carrying a grain of sand. Instead of thinking statistically though, perhaps I would gain a better understanding by reading up on anthill engineering. Who knows if there’s even a book or website out there covering the topic, but I’m sure there’s at least a bunch of biology master’s theses on the subject sitting around in university libraries across the country.

2 thoughts on “POTD: Circle of Influence”

  1. sejohnson210@gmail.com

    I assume that the ant hill is shaped like a perfect volcano and that we can’t tell from the overhead shot. The Angle of Repose can be defined on Wikipedia given the material and increasing angle of the slope- or you can buy it on E-Bay for less than $10, a classic rumination on the desert southwest.

    1. Yes, it was volcano shaped. The angle of repose certainly is at play here (and I’ve read the book), but I don’t know that the nearly perfect circle is the result of the angle of repose as much as it is from the ants actions of apparently dropping grains of sand around the opening in a manner with a uniform probability distribution.

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