You've probably heard horror stories about fire ants and their incredibly painful (and sometimes deadly) stings. But a new examination of the physics behind their group behavior will have you convinced that we're totally screwed if these critters get any more organized.
The New York Times reports a very unusual study conducted by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in which they examined the physical way fire ants group together in different forms to accomplish tasks. They weren't studying their social patterns, but instead looked at the way a giant mass of ants can behave like a solid or liquid, and change into a variety of useful shapes, all depending on the needs of the colony.
The team says this study – the first of its kind – could aid future research in nanotechnology, as these patterns could be applied to micro-robots and self-healing materials. But right now, we're just horrified and fascinated by the way the bugs work together to get things done. Check out the clip below and you'll see what we mean...