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Ant Power Transmission

International formic grid
  (+11, -3)(+11, -3)
(+11, -3)
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The problem of long distance power transmission over large land masses can be easily solved by replacing the current wire-based continuous transmission model with an ant-based electrostatic packet system. Simply ringfence an anthill leaving only one small exit and charge each ant that leaves using a gold hair-wire attached to a Van Der Graff generator.

The ants can be guided as far as necessary by a long trail of breadcrumbs. At the far end, another hair-wire will collect the individual charges into a bank of super-capacitors used to run a system of pumps that will pump water uphill into a reservoir at the bottom of which is a large balloon that drives compressed air into turbines which generate power for the local area.

The beauty of this system is that it is easily scalable: should you need more power, just add more anthills and breadcrumbs. Columns of marching ants are notoriously hard to stop or reroute once established and will repair themselves in the event of disaster (tornado / air attack / battle re-enactment etc). They are also immune to nuclear war.

wagster, Feb 11 2008

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       And the electrostatic charge may well attract fluff (lint), which will help keep the ants warm. [+]
coprocephalous, Feb 11 2008
  

       This is blatant plaguerism, and anyway surely using flying insects would be a more locust solution.
marklar, Feb 11 2008
  

       Yes, but how do you direct the locus of a locust?
coprocephalous, Feb 11 2008
  

       Enslave an Israelite?
wagster, Feb 11 2008
  

       Cunning, [wags].
I foresee frog power transmission systems, and Red Sea hydro plants.
coprocephalous, Feb 11 2008
  

       Ant One: I think I’ve lost an electron.
Ant Two: Are you sure?
Ant One: I’m positive.
  

       The breadcrumbs must be at the output of this voltaic cootie train. Not a trail of breadcrumbs, which would produce a feedback loop -- a disaster of insignificant proportions!
Amos Kito, Feb 11 2008
  

       I think we need a new fuse here... pass me that 15 ant box.
xenzag, Feb 12 2008
  

       Ants are not immune to nuclear war. We should be grateful for this as it is only a matter of time before they learn how to build nukes. Yet another good reason for having a more ambitious space program. . .
Moonguy, Sep 23 2008
  

       ANTs, you mean Army's Nuclear Tanks?
rotary, Sep 23 2008
  

       Baked. As far as I can tell, the supply in East Anglia has been transmitted in this way for some time.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 23 2008
  

       You should use red ants for positive, and black ants for negative, of course.
Wrongfellow, Sep 23 2008
  

       Ants are notoriously difficult to train or predict. They constantly show up at exactly the wrong time on holidays and birthdays. My ant was always hugging me and kissing on me.....and her perfume smelled like kerosene dipped in sour milk. But, she never failed to give me two dollars as soon as she came in the door...My Mom always got excited that she was coming into town, though. I guess they were sisters...Idunno.
Blisterbob, Sep 23 2008
  

       Can we get them to carry data packets while they're at it?
normzone, Sep 23 2008
  

       Worth churning... I still really like this idea. Aside - I read somewhere that ants came from Mars.
xenzag, Sep 23 2008
  

       Maybe the red ants did. Not sure about the black ones.
Moonguy, Sep 24 2008
  
      
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