How Do Ants Carry So Many Times Their Weight

1143 Words Jan 28th, 2018 5 Pages
The idea came to me while my classmates and I were experimenting on agar cubes to investigate the effect of increasing cube sizes on the amount of diffusion into the cubes. Then, I thought, how do ants carry objects that are much heavier and bigger than their bodies?
The answer lies in the insect’s small body. First, you need to understand a few basic measurements of size, mass, and strength: The strength of a muscle is proportional to the surface area of its cross section. Surface area is a two-dimensional measurement, and is proportional to the square of its length. Volume is a three-dimensional measurement, and is proportional to the cube of its length.
Concisely, smaller organisms will always have bigger strength-to-weight ratios, because it's the surface area of the muscle cross-section that determines strength, but the volume of the animal that (all else being equal) determines mass. A tiny ant has a strength advantage because of the ratio of surface area to volume. An ant only has to lift a small measure of its own weight relative to the strength of its muscles.

Figure 1. Ant carrying a dandelion seed bigger than its body

Imagine three cubes, each of a length of 2cm, 5cm, and 10cm. The 2cm cube has a cross-sectional area of 2×2=4〖cm〗^2and a volume of 2×2×2=8〖cm〗^3. The 5cm cube has a…