The supercomputer helped figure out the biomechanics of the unusual strength of ants

One of the unique characteristics of ants is their combination of small size and incredible strength. When carrying a load, the main burden falls on the ant's neck. What is the secret of its extraordinary strength? To answer this question, a team of researchers at Ohio University decided to use a supercomputer with 8300 cores.

The ant's neck is a small soft tissue joint that connects the lateral exoskeleton to the rib cage. Its special design allows the ant to carry heavy weights.

First, the scientists made an X-ray image of a cross-section of the ant's body, on the basis of which a detailed 3D model of 6.5 million elements was then created, which accurately recreates all the acting forces. For this, a supercomputer was needed. The results of computer modeling were confirmed in the process of experiments with ants placed in a centrifuge, where they were subjected to various overloads.

Simulations have shown that the ant's neck mechanism can support 5, 000 times its weight, but only if it keeps its neck straight. When turning the head, the load capacity drops noticeably. Thus, scientists have discovered the biomechanics of a unique natural interface that can be used in the future to create robots designed to work with heavy loads.