Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
Go ahead. Stick a fork in it.

idea: add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random

meta: news, help, about, links, report a problem

account: browse anonymously, or get an account and write.



Ant shoes

Anty gravitas
  (+16, -2)(+16, -2)
(+16, -2)
  [vote for,

Ants have an almost legendary ability to carry loads far in excess of their own body weight. Moreover, the wealth of ant-fossils in amber prove that the ant's exoskeleton is relatively easy to glue things to.

I contend, therefore, that it should be possible to glue a sufficient number of ants to the soles of a pair of shoes to support the weight of a human being.

Were this to be done, and if said shoe-wearer were armed with a walking stick tipped with a suitable ant pheromone, it would be possible to achieve an eerie, smooth and sedate mode of personal transportation.

Initial experimants have, it is true, not been encouraging (particularly for the ants). However, there are many thousants of and species out there, and the search continues. As in anterim measure, MaxCo is working on its Personal Trantsport Platform which, being about a metre square, distributes the load of the incumbent person more benignly across a larger number of ants.

MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

Ants are Strong http://ant.edb.miya...dom/2829/2829e.html
[Jinbish, Jan 10 2011]

Kafka_27s_20Table_2...animous_20Rejection linked in an inverted way [xenzag, Jan 10 2011]

What an Alien Ant Farm may look like - SLTY http://www.youtube....watch?v=CDl9ZMfj6aE
(Nothing to do with Annie Oakley) [Dub, Jan 10 2011]

These ants are bigger than those ants. http://en.wikipedia...Dinoponera_gigantea
[MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011]

Photo contest winner. http://www.dailymai...es-body-weight.html
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 10 2011]

Weight-for-age http://www.who.int/...oys_z/en/index.html
According to the World Health Organisation. [fridge duck, Jan 10 2011]

Don't piss off the insects! http://www.myspace....ideo/vid/1279468616
... The spiders are not insects, but in a war they will side with the insects.... .... and pouring boiling water down ants' nests couldn't have helped. [Jinbish, Jan 10 2011]

halfbakery: Pedestrian Road Hogs Pedestrian_20Road_20Hogs
[benfrost] [rcarty, Jan 11 2011]

Some related reading http://keelynet.com/greb/greb.htm
Clearly you did not realise people are way beyond the glue them to the soles of your shoes stage. It's all about anti gravity now and invisibility. [zeno, Jan 11 2011]

HexBug nano http://www.hexbug.com/nano
robotic bug with vibrating cilia [cowtamer, Jan 11 2011]

Woman hitching a ride with a giant ant http://t0.gstatic.c...uff/them1-1.jpg&t=1
[ldischler, Jan 12 2011]

We call these little buggers Cow Ants. http://lancaster.un...ces/cowkiller.shtml
[MikeD, Jan 13 2011]


       True. But, if you're out for a nice sedate stroll, what could be more pleasant than to find yourself drawn to a picnic?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       Good reason not to use dung beetles.
Ian Tindale, Jan 10 2011


       If we assume ants can carry 25 times their own bodyweight, which is... ( harder to find out than their size! Let's assume it's 5g) then we'd need around 10000 to hold up the weight of light flyweight boxer (50kg).   

       If we guesstimate that small ants are around 5mm long and 1mm wide... and that our light flyweight is a UK foot size 7 (260mm long and possibly 80mm wide)... then we have about 52 by 80 ants (4160).   

       Perhaps our boxer could wear clown shoes or skis.
{By the way, I think I've been overly generous to our ants here.}
Jinbish, Jan 10 2011

       The five-gram ants we tried were the devil's own to work with. But boy were they fast.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       Er - I've just noticed the utter nonsense in my anno... hold on while I edit...   

       Ah - sod it. I'll just put it here. If the ant was 5g, then it could carry 125g - which is *mental*!! I was trying to be generous, and it turns out I was super-generous because then we'd only need 400 ants.   

       Better is a 1g ant that can carry 5 times it's own weight... leaving the result of above valid.
Jinbish, Jan 10 2011

       But don't ants march, not walk, which would give you a more bouncy walk than normal?
blissmiss, Jan 10 2011

       It could be jaunty, to be sure. We've looked into the jaunting quite carefully.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       25:1 .... that'll be how many pounds of ants ?
FlyingToaster, Jan 10 2011

       The 25:1 figure is based on voluntary load-bearing by ants. Under the circumstances, I think they'd try a bit harder.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       If you pound on the ants, you will probably crush them.   

       Based on the previosu assumption that an ant can carry 25 times its own body weight, and assuming a 150 kg passenger (we're talking fat Americans here), that's 75 kg per lower limb. Divide by 25 and get 3kg.   

       All you need is to breed ants weighing 3 kg and strap one to each foot, like rollerblades.
8th of 7, Jan 10 2011

       Very sneaky... "Moreover, the wealth of ant-fossils in amber prove that the ant's exoskeleton is relatively easy to glue things to" Just go over that bit, again for me?

       I think, what you need here is some form of farm...perhaps even an Alien farm
Dub, Jan 10 2011

       Teflon-coated ants would not get stuck in the pine resin in the first place. Of course, this means that entire genera of Teflon-coated ants may have existed in the past, unbeknownst to us.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       Also, I, for one, weigh somewhat more than 25 ants! ...
Hang on, what type of ant are we talking about? European or East African?
Dub, Jan 10 2011

       The term "Ant Shoes" does not mean "One Ant, Two Shoes". The word "Ant" is used in the phylonomic subjugative recursive sense, meaning "Many many ants".
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       Well, if you want to travel using ants, best to choose a European species, as it is well known that the African ones are non-migratory.   

       Perhaps the shoes could simulate the sound of a horse, by having extra ants employed to bang coconut shells together ?   

       "largest insect is ... the larval stage of the goliath beetle, Goliathus goliatus, the top size of which is at least 115 g and 11.5 cm."   

       So, that's only about a factor of 25 from the target size. It's a challenge, sure, but it's not impossible.
8th of 7, Jan 10 2011

       //If we assume ants [...] bodyweight [..] is... 5g   

       If we guesstimate that small ants are around 5mm long and 1mm wide//   

       ...then the density of an ant is 1 gram per cubic millimetre, or 1 kg/cm^3.   

       This is a bit less than 100 times the density of lead, at 11.34 g/cm^3 (from Wikipedia).   

       Do you really think an ant weighs 5 grams? Weigh out 5 grams of e.g. flour, and take a look at it. Does it look ant-sized?   

       I'd be surprised if an ant weighed 500ug.
Wrongfellow, Jan 10 2011

       Depends on the ant. <link>
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       Big, yes, but not quite big enough ...   

       "Representatives of the extinct dragonfly-like order Protodonata such as the Carboniferous Meganeura monyi and the Permian Meganeuropsis permiana are the largest insect species ever known. These creatures had a wingspan of some 75 cm and a body weight of over 450 g, making them about the size of a crow."   

       There may be a reductio-ad-absurdum paradox here. The larger a creature is, the more structural strength it uses just to support the "dead load" of its own weight. Hence, elephant bones are, proportinately, thicker than mouse bones (we will return to the vital topic of elephan knees later).   

       So maybe what is needed here is not bigger ants, but many trained and highly organised dust mites. This would give the advantage of a smoother ride. Also, if rather than supporting the load on their backs, they lay on their back feet-uppermost and moved the user on their feet, on a sort of conveyor system, this would allow them to rest on a 50% duty cycle as once the load had traversed on, they would then scuttle forwards to resume their inverted position ahead of the upcoming shoe. This would allow them opportunities for rest and refreshment.   

       Does anyone here have any experience of training dust mites ?   

       What is the collective noun for dust mites ?
8th of 7, Jan 10 2011

       To answer your last question first, the collective noun for dust mites is "a pheme of dust mites" (indeed, it's the same for all mites).   

       Anyway, yes, smaller creatures are basically the way forward.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       A choo.
Ian Tindale, Jan 10 2011

       //Good reason not to use dung beetles//
I wouldn't be so quick as to dismiss that: rollerskates, a little "eau de eww" spray on the wheels...
FlyingToaster, Jan 10 2011

       [Wrongfellow]: I did say I was being super generous:
The 5g is most definitely an over-estimate, even for the largest of ants, probably an order of magnitude. Also, the 25 times is a gross over-estimate - at absolute best, this is the maximum relative weight that an ant could drag, using the mandibles. The dimensions for breadth and length are for quite small ants (which would not be the same as the ones allegedly weighing 5g).
Jinbish, Jan 10 2011

       OK, numbers.   

       First, let's go with the 25x bodymass number. I mean, we're not giving these guys the option to be slack.   

       Second assume an ant to be a cube with a density of 1. If needs be, we can squish them a bit to make them cubier.   

       Now, assume an ant 1mm on a side. Its mass will be 1mg, and it will be able to lift 25mg. 100 such ants will fit on a square centimetre, giving you a lifting capacity of 2.5g per square centimetre.   

       Now, assume an ant 1cm on a side. Its mass will be 1g, and it will be able to lift 25g. 1 such ant will fit on a square centimetre, giving you a lifting capacity of 25g per square centimetre.   

       In other words, the supportable load is directly proportional to the size of the {cubical} ant.   

       So, clearly, [MaxwellBuchanan] was talking bollocks when he agreed with the notion that smaller insects were they way forward.   

       How big an ant (in the plural sense) would we actually need? Well, assume a human weighs 80kg and has a combined footprint of 500 square centimetres. This means that the loading is 160grams per square centimetre.   

       Bearing in mind the foregoing conclusion regarding proportionality, this means that we are going to need cubical ants with a side of about 6.4cm.   

       Now, I agree, this is on the large side for an ant. It also depends on some dubious assumptions regarding ant scaleability.   

       However, our R&D department is amongst the most determined in the world. Even as we speak, they are chainsawing their way through the tropical jungles of the world, seeking ants which meet our stringent requirement.   

       As a contingency plan, we are also actively developing methods which will enable more modest ants to carry greater loads. These efforts involve the fabrication of sets of six ant-wearable shoes, each of which bears, on its sole, an adherent layer of millipedes.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       As a child I never hesitated to step on a swarming colony of ants, and never despite their species or my lightness of youth, felt in any way lifted or propelled by the acidic muck that was revealed when my foot was later raised.
rcarty, Jan 10 2011

       That, [rcarty] is either because you're a fat bastard (and I mean that in a chummy British way), or because the ants lacked the presence of mind to array themselves regularly and densely beneath your incoming sole.   

       Also, might I point out that a layer of glue, penetrating to some extent the gaps between the ants, will provide some resistance to lateral spreadage of individual ants?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       MaxCo's Customer Relations department is now closed for the night. We value your comments, so please leave us a message after you hear the dial tone.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 10 2011

       I remember being taught in school that ants could carry 200 times their own body weight.
See what you did? Now if I don't find out I won't be able to sleep.

       You might not want to piss of the insects...they out number us. So how about just applying the pheromones to the bottom of an average pair of shoes making them think that their queen has been un-earthed and that they must return her home. Now you just have to make them think that home is the direction you choose...no crazy glue needed.   

       <later> Turns out they can lift 50 times their weight but they can carry at least 100 times their weight suspended. [link]   

       And I for one welcome our new ant undersoles.
Ian Tindale, Jan 10 2011

       How important is it that the chosen steeds be ants?
If the internet is to be believed, an adult Hercules Beetle weighs in the region of 20g and can carry up to 850x its own weight.
This puts their load capacity in the region of 17kg, or to put it another way (according to the WHO), a child aged 4 years 4 months of average weight.
Presumably this means that a pair of Big Bad Beetle Bootees would support a child up to the age of around 8, by which time their feet would likely be large enough to accomodate more beetles.
fridge duck, Jan 10 2011

       //You might not want to piss of the insects...//   

       That's what Bill Bailey says... {linky}
Jinbish, Jan 10 2011

       How about pair of shoes that have ants inside that bite and sting the feet of the wearer and the objective is to run around long enough so that they are killed in order to stop their painful inducements.
rcarty, Jan 11 2011

       Excellent idea. The flaw is not in the amount of ants required to carry someone, but that they'll only be able to carry you across perfectly smooth, flat floors - any bumps in the floor will result in your whole bodyweight resting on one or two ants, with resulting ant carnage. A more workable mode of transport might be snowshoes, each with a dozen puppies humanely, and in accordance with animal welfare legislation, attached to the underside.
hippo, Jan 11 2011

       Animals underfoot has been hb'ed before [link].
rcarty, Jan 11 2011

       Dogs for daleks?
Ian Tindale, Jan 11 2011

       Hush puppies! These are supposed to be sneakers.
rcarty, Jan 11 2011

       The Dogs of Walk
hippo, Jan 11 2011

       no work to do today, guys?
po, Jan 11 2011

       I've strategically positioned myself as a student against the oncoming forces of work. I determine the times and places of engagement with the enemy, utilizing the cunning tactics of sleep and procrastination before smashing it asunder into small and manageable pieces of pen and pencil fodder.
rcarty, Jan 11 2011

       Education's a wonderful thing, [rcarty].   

       Maybe you should try iy. You never know, you might even like it.
8th of 7, Jan 11 2011

       OK, but what is iy?
rcarty, Jan 11 2011

       Thank you for reminding me of a childhood nightmare of mine about a square meter sized transportation spider. It was actually more of a square shaped flat millipede with legs all around that you stood upon. In this case, you might do better with a skateboard-like object with vibrating, flexible cilia underneath that are angled opposite the direction of propulsion (the idea shamelessly stolen from the HexBug nano -- see link)
cowtamer, Jan 11 2011

       It's not *that* new. I remember as a kid seeing (probably at a friend's house) a game that had a road layout on a board, with barriers alongside the road. Little cars placed on the board would magically glide around the roads. The cars had angled bristles on their undersides, and the board was vibrated by a motor.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 11 2011

       // what is iy? //   

       Ah, well, if you were educated, you would know that ...
8th of 7, Jan 11 2011

       Hmm. [zeno]'s link leads to an interesting web page, in which we find:   

       "If you disagree with anything here, be aware that I also disagree with a lot of things."   

       I think this is a useful phrase.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 11 2011

       // I think this is a useful phrase. //   

       "I need your clothes, boots and your motorcycle." is a 'useful phrase' but not one you want to hear used in your favourite drinking establishment....
8th of 7, Jan 11 2011

       Au contraire. Since I have neither boots nor a motorcycle, and since the most exciting thing to happen in The Spraint in the last 8 years was the mistaken delivery of packets of pistachios instead of salted peanuts, I'd rather welcome such a diversion.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 11 2011

       Had the Terminator gone to the right type of bar he wouldn't have met with so much resistance. ("Your clothes, give them to me!")   

       Maybe they'll do a Perminator remake after Arnold's support of the same sex marriage proposition.
rcarty, Jan 11 2011

       [bigsleep], are you suggesting that K9 was just that? (i.e. canine)
Dub, Jan 12 2011

       With the application of radiation, ants can grow to huge size without any diminution of their remarkable abilities. This was documented in "Them."
ldischler, Jan 12 2011

       And in the English re-make, "They."
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 12 2011

       And the Russian "We" (Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote the screenplay, I believe).
mouseposture, Jan 12 2011

       And the subsequent stage comedy adaptation, "Charley's Ant".
8th of 7, Jan 12 2011

       Not to mention the musical version "Ant Misbehaving"
mouseposture, Jan 12 2011

       All the Presidant's Men.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 13 2011

       Or that one about the zealous ant-killers...
"Pride, Ant Prejudice."
Jinbish, Jan 13 2011

       There’s one thing in the popular cultural treatise that I don’t really understand, though:
“Don't you tread on an ant you'll end up black and blue.
You cut off his head, legs come looking for you”.
Surely “looking” suggests the use of eyes, which are on the head, which got cut off.
Ian Tindale, Jan 13 2011

       Maybe it's "Legs come looking for you" - the avenging angel (or large angry grasshopper?) happens to be called Legs, due to his penchant for kicking folk?   

       (Grasshoppers are associated with ants, aren't they? - fables, preparing for winter, etc.)
Jinbish, Jan 13 2011

       I have the perfect ant for the job <link>   

       These things are *almost* indestructible.
MikeD, Jan 13 2011

       You should thank whatever god of your choice you have yet to encounter fire ants. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them. THEY , it seems, hate orange oil. I have employed it liberally. But, he rain. They got my one year old daughter 3 times on the hand before I realized what happened. In my own house. Orange oil or not. I hate those ants
Zimmy, Jan 13 2011

       Just don't let your ant-matter get too close to your regular matter, or you'll have a big 'splosion.
sqeaketh the wheel, Jan 15 2011

       Would be much more fun if you just went where the ants wanted to go, probably to the nearest food.
simonj, Jan 16 2011

       One issue that seems to have been overlooked in all this is the question of who is going to do the glueing and how long will it take? What is the average life expectancy of an ant anyway? Will you end up with the first ants dying of old age before the last ant has been glued onto the shoe?

Also, Jinbish's 5g ants must be enormous. Possibly about the same size as the ones that appeared in 'Them' (nods to ldischler). I'm not sure I'd want the job of glueing them to someone's shoe. [Conveniently ignores the fact that Jin has subsequently hit them with a Shrink-o-Ray!]
DrBob, Jan 18 2011

       I'm not sure ants are into pheremones. I think if you just squirted formic acid ahead of them, possibly using water pistols, they would hurry forward. Have you discussed your idea with E.O. Wilson?
melanerpes, Jan 22 2011

       I was about to say "No, because he's dead", but he insists he's not, and has photographic evidence to prove it. I find that very enheartening.   

       Perhaps a pair of heel-mounted magnifying glasses?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 25 2011


back: main index

business  computer  culture  fashion  food  halfbakery  home  other  product  public  science  sport  vehicle