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Telepathic Ants

What could possibly go wrong?
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Bio-engineer or breed ants to have a metal antenna directly physically linked to their central nervous system. This can be done by linking iron proteins in a certain configuration and adding a heme metabolizing component to its digestive system. If enough of these are sent out into the wild a mutation will take place allowing some ants to sense danger or food and send it to other ants. This will provide a tremendous evolutionary advantage. Soon there will be an entire telepathic species of ants in existence.

EDIT: An ideal configuration for the proteins would involve the densest placement of iron molecules, physically adjacent to water with electrolytes.

EDIT 2: In time we can rely on natural selection to provide the most ideal antenna shape.

EDIT 3: In time I wonder if they won't end up stacking/linking antenna for more powerful transmission over greater distances, allowing communication across miles and colonies.
Voice, Nov 17 2011

Natural selection chooses the most ideal antenna shape http://deepspace.jp...icture_70_bw_lg.jpg
[normzone, Nov 17 2011]

They would use UHF http://en.wikipedia.../Microstrip_antenna
[Voice, Nov 17 2011]

The heme protein seems ideal as a starting point. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemeprotein
[Voice, Nov 17 2011]

Just refold to line up the iron. If oxygenated it would also increase the time the ant can survive in water. http://www.uic.edu/...04am/hemoglobin.jpg
[Voice, Nov 17 2011]

Magnetic termites research http://www.abc.net....stories/s721104.htm
[AusCan531, Nov 17 2011]

Images of termite mounds http://www.google.c...AQ&biw=1024&bih=672
[AusCan531, Nov 17 2011]

E O Wilson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._O._Wilson
Modern Master of Myrmecology [csea, Nov 18 2011]

God of the Formicarium God_20of_20the_20Formicarium
Baked! - sort of. [hippo, Nov 18 2011]

anternet http://engineering....t-discover-anternet
[Voice, Aug 26 2012]

[link]






       Or we could bioengineer halfbakers not to post GM.
FlyingToaster, Nov 17 2011
  

       Cute but this describes the necessary mechanism and so that objection doesn't fly.
Voice, Nov 17 2011
  

       We can at least conclude that it's not an uncertain one.
swimswim, Nov 17 2011
  

       I predict magnetic anteaters.
FlyingToaster, Nov 17 2011
  

       So this would make the insects Anti-magnetic ... ?   

       <slinks off in embarrasment>
8th of 7, Nov 17 2011
  

       I'm trying to get from metallic antennae to transmission of information, and there seem to be several steps missing there.   

       Plus I have this suspicion that depositing a metal film on your primary sense organs is a counter-survival trait.
MechE, Nov 17 2011
  

       There are already magnetic termites which have magnetite in their tissues enabling them to accurately sense the Earth's magnetic field. They do this to build tall narrow mounds aligned north/south which allows the nest to be warmed by the morning and evening sun but avoid the intense heat of the Australian midday sun. [link]   

       The linked photo shows how amazing these mounds are especially when constructed by blind workers. Not telepathy but a small start.
AusCan531, Nov 17 2011
  

       You gotta love a post that features a cheeky rhetorical question as the sub-line and then spends the rest of the text unintentionally answering it.
Alterother, Nov 18 2011
  

       AFAIK, ants already have a much better communications system than telepathy, using chemical messages.   

       See [link] for a modern master of the science of myrmecology.
csea, Nov 18 2011
  

       //ants already have a much better communications system than telepathy,//   

       Why is it better? Why is a chemical message (most of which are non-diffusible and require the ant to physically contact another ant or the scent left behind by it) better than electromagnetic communication over distances of perhaps centimetres or metres?   

       I love the idea, but I think it's a non-flyer. You've explained how you might build an "ant enna" from ironiferous proteins and, as has been pointed out, some insects have irony bits already.   

       Therefore, you'd expect evolution to have already stumbled on this trick unless there was a catch.   

       But [+] anyway.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 18 2011
  

       //Why is it better? //   

       As you yourself have pointed out, ants have evolved a communication system best suited to their needs.   

       Adding an ant enna without knowing what needs to be communicated is foolhardy / asking for trouble / disaster prone.   

       OK, whatever (grumble, grumble.)
csea, Nov 18 2011
  

       Aren't ants already telepathic? Anyway, [marked-for-deletion] just add genetics
ldischler, Nov 18 2011
  

       I don't think you can [mfd] it for that reason. [Voice] is suggesting a quasi-plausible (for the HB; which would be demiquasi-plausible in the real world) way to create a somewhat conductive structure on an ant brain.   

       He's then arguing, plausiblishly, that this will both radiate and absorb e.m. waves; and that evolution will find a way to exploit this.   

       So, it's not just "genetically modify ants to make them telepathic."   

       Not that it would stand a hope in Hull of working, mind you.   

       Incidentally, either here or elsewhere I read something about temporary radio antennas consisting of jets of saltwater. So you might get away without all the iron. On the other hand, this is another reason to wonder why, if it's so easy, evolution hasn't done it already.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 18 2011
  

       On yet another hand, we know so little about the behaviour of most animals that there's no way to be sure that some of them don't use this already.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 18 2011
  

       "Bio-engineer or breed" = just add genetics
ldischler, Nov 18 2011
  

       Thanks ants.
theleopard, Nov 18 2011
  

       Birds, for example, have magnetism detectors as part of their central nervous system - who's to say (apart from bird experts) that they don't also use magnetism for communication? And then sharks too can detect electric fields…
hippo, Nov 18 2011
  

       //who's to say (apart from bird experts) that they don't also use magnetism for communication?// In that instance, I think you could infer. The bird has no plausible means of generating a significant magnetic field and, in any case, magnetic communication would work only over very short distances (inverse cube or something).   

       Also, I just thought about fish. Many of them can generate significant electric fields, and they use these fields to sense their environment (a bit like using a metal detector). Many can also detect the electric fields given off by other fish (mates or prey).   

       Therefore, I'd start by looking at the many species of fish which use and sense electric fields, and see if any of them use these signals for communication.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 21 2011
  

       How much time before they link enough antennae together to form a weapon?   

       Wonder if any animals will eventually pick up GPS?
RayfordSteele, Nov 21 2011
  

       I don't know. But any Welshman can tell you they pick up STDs.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 26 2012
  

       Come on, [MB]. The Welsh aren't so bad. I'd put them on par with the Dutch any day. And yes, that is a compliment. It's the English that make me most nervous. (Well, maybe after Israelis and Texans.)
sqeaketh the wheel, Aug 27 2012
  

       Yes, I'd put the Welsh on a par with the Dutch too.   

       Of course, the Dutch produced van Dyke and the Welsh produced dai Vinci, but as far as I can tell that's about it.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 27 2012
  
      
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