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A Pile of Sophisticated Mud



Taken on 19 June 2010, Yelahanka, Begaluru.


These termite mounds which have a complex vein-like and thin capillary geometry that enables respiration quite like a lung.  On sunny days, the clay, that is used to build these incredible structure, dries out, to increase the openings for ventilation. Rains result in the swelling up of the clay, making the mound impermeable. This  structure is so smart, eco-friendlyly thermo-regulating that engineers are studying it with the help of  the world's largest slice and scan machine.


Erected over a termite mound, the device scanned the mound for two months and produced a slice image of every millimetre of the structure, even below ground. In addition, the team measured variables including local weather, internal moisture levels, temperature, metabolic rates, mound permeability, and oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations. The 2,000 2D scanned images that have been accumulated are now being re-assembled into a 3D computer model from which simulations of flow and regulation can be performed. 
Dr Rupert Soar says that they build highly complex structures that ensure a constant internal environment (homeostasis) in which the insects can thrive, regardless of the fluctuating external conditions. 
‘Both mounds and termites are able to control their internal environment as closely as an organism,' says Soar. ‘But the amazing thing is this is a pile of mud, not even humans have achieved the same level of complexity in our buildings.' Source


© Nalini Hebbar/openmind/2009 - all rights reserved
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4 comments:

Shri Ram Ayyangar said...

Engineering Marvel.

magiceye said...

marvelous indeed!!

joshidaniel.com said...

i have never seen anything this big!

J Bar said...

That's amazing. Great shot.
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