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Cambridge Centre for Physical Biology


Prof. L Mahadevan

Soft Math Lab - Harvard University


Super-organisms such as social insects solve complex physiological problems  collectively, sans plan or planner, on scales much larger than the individual.  Motivated by observations in the field and in the lab, I will describe our attempts to understand how insects build and use active architectures to regulate their micro-environment in such contexts as termite mound morphogenesis and physiology, active ventilation in bee clusters, and escape strategies in ant collectives. These everyday examples of functional collective action link physics, physiology and behavior on multiple scales and might be of relevance beyond the world of social insects, which I will try and demonstrate with robot experiments.