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J. Perelman
"Entertaining physics". Book 2.
Chapter 2. Power. Work. Friction


We have just seenthat worldly rule Krylov: "when a fellow is no agreement on their way it will not work" is not always applicable in mechanics. Power can be channeled in one direction and, in spite of this, to give known result.

Few people know that the hard worker ants, which are the same Krylov praised as model workers, work together on the way, mocked by fabulist. And the thing they have in common are going smoothly. Rescued again the law of composition of forces. Carefully watching the ants during operation, you will soon discover that their intelligent cooperation is only apparent: in fact, each ant works for himself, not thinking to help others.

This is how the work of ants, one zoologist E. Jelacic in the book "Instinct":

"If large prey drags dozen ants on a level place, all act the same, and the result is the appearance of cooperation. But production - for example the caterpillar caught on an obstacle, a stalk of grass, a stone. Forward haul impossible, it is necessary to round. And here clearly reveals that each ant in their own way and none of friends are not in line, trying to cope with the obstacle. One pulls to the right, another to the left; one pushes forward, the other pulls back. Moving from place to place, grab the caterpillar in a different place, and each pushes or pulls on its own. When happen that force will be working so that in one direction will move the caterpillar four ants, and in the other six, the caterpillar eventually moves in the direction of these six ants, despite the opposition of four".

As ants dragged caterpillar.

As ants pull production.
The arrows show the direction of the efforts of individual ants.

Here (borrowed from another researcher) another instructive example that clearly illustrates this supposed collaboration ants. The figure shows a rectangular piece of cheese, which jumped 25 ants.

Like ants trying to get a piece of cheese to the ant hill, located in the direction of the arrow A.

The cheese slowly proceeded in the direction of the arrow A, and you would think that the front line of ants pulls burden to himself, the rear - pushing it forward, sideways as ants help one and another. However, this is not the case, than it is easy to see: peel off with a knife the whole back line, the burden will go much faster! It is clear that these 11 ants pulled backward, but not forward: each of them tried to turn the carry, so that, retreating back, dragging her to the nest. Therefore, the rear ants not only helped the front, but diligently prevented them from destroying their efforts. To drag this piece of cheese, it would be enough effort just four ants, but the lack of coordination leads to the fact that the burden of pulling 25 ants.

This feature of joint actions of ants has long been noted by mark TWAIN. Speaking about the meeting of two ants, one of which found the leg of a grasshopper, he says: "They take a leg at each end and pulled with all his strength in opposite directions. Both see that something is amiss, but I can't understand. Begin mutual bickering; the dispute turns into a fight... Is reconciliation, and again begins joint and meaningless work, and wounded in the fight comrade is the only obstacle. Trying hard, healthy companion drags wear, along with a wounded friend who instead of give extraction, hanging on her." Jokingly, TWAIN throws a perfectly valid observation that "the ant works well only when watching him inexperienced naturalist, making incorrect conclusions."

Entertaining physics J. Perelman


System Orphus


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