Engineering is not a uniquely human trait. Even a cursory look at our backyard can reveal a staggering variety of structures engineered by insects and other animals. These structures emerge from the coordinated activity of many individuals, or sometimes even a solitary individual. Like human-built structures, they require tremendous coordination, constant maintenance, rapid responses to environmental changes etc. My talk will use termite mounds as an example of animal engineering. Specifically, I will describe our recent attempts at understanding how these fascinating insects are able to build enormous structures through coordinated activity. How do they recognise and repair damage to these structures? What sensory cues guide them in these tasks? And finally, what lessons can we learn from these marvellous structures about energy-efficient, waste-free civil engineering? These are some of the questions I will address in my talk.
Kaapi with Kuriosity
Sanjay Sane (National Centre for Biological Sciences)
11am to 1pm Sunday, 11 December 2016
Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, Bengaluru