The Science of Science Fiction: A Trip to the Moon

New Series: The Science of Science Fiction

Think of your all-time favorite science fiction film. Now, think of all the scientific components of that movie. Are they all accurate? Of course not, it’s science fiction. But I bet when you were younger you thought some of it was true, and maybe you still think some of it has the potential to come true. That is one of the reasons science fiction is so appealing as a genre. However, some might argue that the portrayal of science in science fiction can be misleading to the general public. In our new series, the Science of Science Fiction, we’ll break down some of the science in our favorite examples of a beloved genre.

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Ants Never Have Traffic Jams: What We Can Learn About Collective Problem Solving

Every day animals make decisions: what to eat, where to go, and how to survive. Many of these decisions help us solve individual problems, but sometimes they allow us to solve problems collectively. Collective problem solving is the act of making a group decision without a leader. Humans do this regularly—it’s the essence of democracy. But amazingly, scientists also find this behavior in animals, even insects! At CU Boulder, graduate student Helen McCreery and her team studied collective problem solving among ants. By studying this behavior in ants, scientists can learn a lot about the animal kingdom as a whole.


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