How Ants Helped During the Vietnam War
Edward: But just to amuse you, I’ll tell you a story that’s never been told. Nothing is top secret anymore. But because it was so interesting.
During the Vietnam War, I had been doing a lot of work on chemical communication particularly on ants. In the ants, the study of ants as we claim credit, all of us who have studied the biology of ants, for having really advanced the subject of pheromone study and chemical communication, which is important among animals, which is important, because human beings are one of the very few audio-visual creatures on earth. Most of the rest of life is chemical, is pheromone, how they communicate.
So, I was working on that in the ants and helping to this decode, we were decoding the ant pheromone language. About that time, the Army decided they wanted to literally sniff out the enemy in Vietnam, because there is so much danger, and these rascals coming out of their tunnels suddenly or advancing on you slowly through the jungle, and we didn’t know how to pick them up, figure it out when an attack was coming.
So, there was actually, I had only a marginal amount of this, I had hardly any at all, but I kept all that I knew about it was to analyze the odor of a human being, as we had been analyzing the odors and the chemicals released by ants to communicate, and to then have what’s called a sniffer scope, which would be set up so that down wind, you would turn the red light on when human odor came into it, and there were more than, in the course of this research was just valuable, basic research behind it.
They actually chemically identified more than 100 elements of the human odor. I never heard that the sniffer scope was ever used.
Recorded on: December 4, 2008
E.O. Wilson's secret foray into military research.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.
- Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
- The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
- Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.
- In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
- This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
- Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.