What base do spiders and ants count in?

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Michael

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What base do spiders and ants count in?
« on: 05/08/2010 09:30:03 »
Michael  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
The bit about spiders (and subsequently ants) being able to count got me thinking. You said that spiders let their silk be taken by air currents until it attaches somewhere, travel to the far end of the silk thread counting their steps, then return half way to drop a stringer down to the ground (or wherever) for a third point of support.

What you (conveniently?) neglected to address is:

What number base spiders count in (I'm guessing base 8).

To know when they'd back-tracked half way they'd have to do long division (or multiplication using fractions).

Care to address those "oversights"?
 
Terrific podcast.

Michael 
San Diego, CA US

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 05/08/2010 09:30:03 by _system »

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Offline Eric A. Taylor

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What base do spiders and ants count in?
« Reply #1 on: 05/08/2010 18:54:41 »
I'd think spiders would count in base 8 and ants in base 6.

Seriously, I don't think ants or spiders "count" in the way you think. Spiders and insects have very simple brains. Clearly they have something like memory (bees and ants can find their way home, even if they are out of sight of it) but I don't think it works like human memory. They aren't thinking "Ok 1296 steps to get HERE so I need to backtrack 1296 steps to get home. Ok off we go 1, 2, 3,....How these creatures experience the world is completely different. I can't even begin to imagine it.
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Offline Ophiolite

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What base do spiders and ants count in?
« Reply #2 on: 06/08/2010 10:54:28 »
How these creatures experience the world is completely different.
Although here we are discussing that point in a thread on the web.
Observe; collate; conjecture; analyse; hypothesise; test; validate; theorise. Repeat until complete.

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Offline annie123

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What base do spiders and ants count in?
« Reply #3 on: 17/08/2010 21:46:42 »
I asked them the same question - more or less - about ants counting and they replied on a podcast at the end of July.

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Offline Eric A. Taylor

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What base do spiders and ants count in?
« Reply #4 on: 02/09/2010 05:58:38 »
They replied to two of my questions on the radio program two weeks in a row. It was very cool!!!!
I was once a STAR!!! Well part of a star at least.