Via ArchDaily, by Kelly Minner
Architects: Karawitz Architecture
Location: Bessancourt, France
Structural: DI Eisenhauer
Thermal: Solares Bauen
Project Area: 177 sqm
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Hervé Abbadie and Karawitz
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OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC
DESIGN: Lenka Křemenová, David Maštálka / A1Architects
CARPENTER: Vojtěch Bilišič, Slovakia
BUILT AREA: 3,25 m2
REALIZATION: autumn 2010
Bumblebees can find the solution to a complex mathematical problem which keeps computers busy for days.
Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London and Royal Holloway, University of London have discovered that bees learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they discover the flowers in a different order. Bees are effectively solving the ‘Travelling Salesman Problem’, and these are the first animals found to do this.
The Travelling Salesman must find the shortest route that allows him to visit all locations on his route. Computers solve it by comparing the length of all possible routes and choosing the shortest. However, bees solve it without computer assistance using a brain the size of grass seed.
Professor Lars Chittka from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences said: “In nature, bees have to link hundreds of flowers in a way that minimizes travel distance, and then reliably find their way home – not a trivial feat if you have a brain the size of a pinhead! Indeed such traveling salesmen problems keep supercomputers busy for days. Studying how bee brains solve such challenging tasks might allow us to identify the minimal neural circuitry required for complex problem solving.”
The team used computer controlled artificial flowers to test whether bees would follow a route defined by the order in which they discovered the flowers or if they would find the shortest route. After exploring the location of the flowers, bees quickly learned to fly the shortest route.
As well as enhancing our understanding of how bees move around the landscape pollinating crops and wild flowers, this research, which is due to be published in The American Naturalist this week, has other applications. Our lifestyle relies on networks such as traffic on the roads, information flow on the web and business supply chains. By understanding how bees can solve their problem with such a tiny brain we can improve our management of these everyday networks without needing lots of computer time.
Co-author and Queen Mary colleague, Dr. Mathieu Lihoreau adds: “There is a common perception that smaller brains constrain animals to be simple reflex machines. But our work with bees shows advanced cognitive capacities with very limited neuron numbers. There is an urgent need to understand the neuronal hardware underpinning animal intelligence, and relatively simple nervous systems such as those of insects make this mystery more tractable.”
“Kees, The King of the Sand Track”. Author: Norbertus Franciscus (‘Nor’) Heerkens (1906 – 1991). Illustrated by Charles Boost, a Dutch cartoonist / illustrator / film journalist (1907 – 1990).
Nor Heerkens wrote a large number of boys’ books in the 1930s. One of these was the successful “Kees, The King of the Sand Track” which was published in 1933. In the same year Heerkens published a sequel to this: “His first Six Days”.
Quarter books are a Dutch phenomenon of the crisis years 1930s.
In those years you could buy childrens’s books for the price of one quarter (f 0.25; about € 2,00 today), issued by the Dutch Children’s library Helmond.
Quarter books were a complete adventure in book form; simple in execution, usually 144 pages printed on poor, woody paper. There were Quarter books aimed at young children (kindergarten), at boys and at girls; plus several series of novels, most detectives.
Photo by Andy Clark, REUTERS
Australia’s Emily Rosemond looks over at her competition Canada’s Monique Sullivan prior to the women’s track cycling sprint quarterfinals at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi October 7, 2010.