Archive for March, 2004

Assembly Point

Assembly Point

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Ants

Ants

Got an Antquarium for a present and the ants just arrived! It’s like an Ant Farm, but with a nutritious translucent gel. The container is wider, so the ants are able to burrow 3D structures.

Swarm Intellignce is super in theory and silicon. Ant Colony Optimize your telephony network or shipping system or stigmergize the blogosphere. But no amount of artificial life is preperation for herding the ants from their soil packed mailing container, into their new space age gel home.

There was a very interesting phase transition in the ants behavior. The first few ants placed in the antquarium continued to scramble furiously, in high evasion and escape mode. After a few minutes, they discovered that their new home was edible, and calmed considerably. New ants added scrambled for a short time, until they contacted a habituated ant and presumably picked up a “food here” pheremone, promptly settling down to dig in.

So much like little finite state machines. Reminded me of recent study of CTRNNs, continuous time recurrent neural networks, which are oftened evolved for robot controllers. CTRNNs are more like actually nervous systems than traditional feed-forward neural networks, and have nice state machine like properties, stable equilibrium points resulting from recurrency.

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3 … headed … frog

click here for a gruesome picture I don’t want to keep on my front page for an extended period

BBC reports on the discovery of this frog(s) near Bristol. Frogs are famous environmental indicators, an extra leg or missing eyeball are not unusual. It must be due to their malleable development process. Amphibian flesh is just flexible.

Like the Surinam Toad, pipa pipa .. the fertilized eggs of this toad are deposited on the mother’s back, settle into the spongey skin, grow embedded in her back, until they hatch, popping out like toad popcorn. Oh, this toad also has no tongue. Honolulu Zoo has helpfully provided some pictures.

This must be three individuals fused together .. doesn’t seem like any amount of environmentally induced mutation is going to get a single frog to grow an extra head. But is it one cloned individual, or three siblings? Did they fuse immediately after conception, or later? Well, at least the heads all ended up in the same direction. Science must find out.

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