Foraging ants have a hard life, embarking on long and arduous trips several times a day, until they drop dead from exhaustion. The trips are not just long, they also follow complex zig-zag paths. So how do ants manage to find their way back home? And how do they manage to do so along a straight line? Their secret lies in a little geometry.
When insects go foraging, they zoom off from their nest in complex zig-zag paths. How do they manage to find their way back home? And how do they manage to do so along a straight path? These questions are explored in an exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, currently taking place at the Southbank Centre in London.
The computer animation used in movies and games is now so lifelike, it is very hard to believe that you are actually watching a surface built from simple shapes of triangles. Phil Dench tells Plus how he uses mathematics to help bring these models to life.
The Arctic ice cap is melting fast and the consequences are grim. Mathematical modelling is key to predicting how much longer the ice will be around and assessing the impact of an ice free Arctic on the rest of the planet. Plus spoke to Peter Wadhams from the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge to get a glimpse of the group's work.
Have you ever been in an aeroplane on a smooth flight when suddenly the plane bumps up and down for a short time as it goes through turbulent air? The study of turbulence is used to understand a range of phenomena from the simple squirting of a jet of water to the activity of the sun.