July 21, 2009

Fireflies and Ants

Article Source Linux Magazine
July 21, 2009, 8:58 am

Insects fascinate me. Not because, they have six legs and pretty much dominate the earth, but because they have figured out ways to handle large numbers of themselves. In the past, I have marveled at how large numbers of ants and bees seem to operate as one organism. As core counts and clusters get larger, I always find it instructive to see how the problem of scale is solved by nature. Not that I sit around thinking about insets all day, but recently I watched a show about networks called “Connected: The Power of Six Degrees” on the Science Channel. Fascinating stuff, Kevin Bacon and all. The part that caught my interest however, was the synchronized fireflies.

It turns out that some species of firefly will synchronize their flashes so that the entire population is flashing at the same time. Now that is some trick. After a small bit of googling, I found The Synchronous Fireflies of Elkmont. Before you think I gone totally off the deep end, rest assured I’ll get back to clusters and HPC shortly...

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