- #1

- 752

- 15

Was just reading in Clifford A. Pickover's "The Math Book" that ants of the Sahara desert can, after wandering in a non-linear path to find food, from there go directly back home without a line of sight between the two locations.

I don't see how one can arrive at the correct direction and distance to travel without not only keeping track of footsteps and angles turned along the way, but knowing the sines and cosines of such angles, the ability to multiply numbers together, and then in effect having a table of the inverse tangent function and square roots to calculate the return trip.

I should mention that the essay only seems interested in the fact that the ants can keep track of the distance they travel by counting their steps, since artificially lengthening and shortening their legs messes up the voyage back accordingly.

I don't see how one can arrive at the correct direction and distance to travel without not only keeping track of footsteps and angles turned along the way, but knowing the sines and cosines of such angles, the ability to multiply numbers together, and then in effect having a table of the inverse tangent function and square roots to calculate the return trip.

I should mention that the essay only seems interested in the fact that the ants can keep track of the distance they travel by counting their steps, since artificially lengthening and shortening their legs messes up the voyage back accordingly.

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