“A passionate advocate for the education of women and the poor, Agnesi believed that the natural sciences and math should play an important role in an educational curriculum. As a person of deep religious faith, however, she also believed that scientific and mathematical studies must be viewed in the larger context of God’s plan for creation.”
(Picture from Quanta Magazine. Credit – Vaishakh Manohar.)
I first learned about how ants work in a cooperative manner in a book that my daughter had bought me for Christmas. The book was all about trails. (She had figured out the perfect book for my interests!) There is a chapter in this book about how trails historically came into being, and how these have, over time, led to our modern day system of roads, railroad tracks, and other connections for human travel.
Trails have existed for ages. The concept is not the creation of humans. Animals of different kinds, using different skills, and for different purposes, have created trails. There was, and still is, no real planning involved (the way humans would define it) in the creation of animal trails. It is all tied to their inbuilt instinct to survive and exist.
Ants have been creating trails for a long time. The notable thing about the behavior of ants is that in spite of the fact that they do not have any significant level of individual intelligence, they show a great deal of collective or cooperative intelligence that lets them be effective in complex tasks. (They do not even depend on the presence of an occasional “smart” ant that can serve as a leader.) The book describes how their processes work for creating very efficient trails. (There is even a kind of ant that is blind that is still very effective at this.) Humans are now trying to understand if any of these processes are useful for our own existence.
Anyway, the article I have linked to is fascinating. Make sure to watch the videos!
I was stunned when I first read about this. A note about what had happened was in a book that I have just finished about America’s National Parks. I found confirmation of the facts on the Snopes website.
via Dictionary Drama
I felt a little better after getting a better context for the bigger picture. Nevertheless, I feel a little sad about this, and I would also argue that what is going on may not necessarily be a good thing. There are other more important people who also seem to feel the same way.
The mathematician Ken Ono believes that the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan — mathematical savant and two-time college dropout — holds valuable lessons for how we find and reward hidden genius.
A different way to look at what the study of physics can be all about. Perhaps the answer lies in finding a common approach that finds a bridge between the philosophies and approaches of emergence and reductionism.
The person who is the subject of this article has his own blog site:
The ancient Greeks argued that the best life was filled with beauty, truth, justice, play, and love. The mathematician Francis Su knows just where to find them.