The new opera about each and every species of life

A new opera, called “The Best Life“, will premiere next week — as part of the Twenty-Fifth 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. Here’s the story line of “The Best Life“, as explained in the program that will be handed to all 1100 audience members in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre: The story: It’s the day before the greatest competition […]

Shepherd physics: Capturing a skittish lamb, using statistical physics

A trio of theoretical physicists have recently used ideas from statistical mechanics and probability theory to try to develop an optimal strategy for capturing a skittish lamb near a precipice. The situation that they model is an idealization of “the capture of a diffusing, but skittish lamb, with an approaching shepherd on the left and […]

First Rule of Ant Fight Club: Choose a Model for Ant Fight Club

Two ants enter; one ant leaves. (Well, the numbers are actually somewhat larger than that.) In the paper Modeling ant battles by means of a diffusion-limited Gillespie algorithm, biologist Giacomo Santini and his coauthors have proposed two modeling approaches for studying battles among ants. When developing theories (for animal behavior and in other complex systems), […]

Echocardiography – the wild side

Performing echocardiography (ultrasound examination of the heart) is now so widespread that it might be called a routine procedure. But using the diagnostic technique is not always straightforward. What happens, for example, it the patient has feathers? Or a perhaps even a shell? Guidance for echocardiographing animals is at hand from Yolanda Martinez Pereira, LdaVt […]