TCD’s Ant Man: Dr Colby Tanner

Despite what this picture taken at Dublin Airport suggests, ants are rare in Ireland, and, experts believe, they are becoming rarer (Credit: Jen)

Ants are members of the group of social insects (insects that live together in large colonies) which includes bees and termites. They are fascinating creatures to study.

They organise their societies with precision, every individual has a clear role, they are brilliant builders, ferocious in defending their interests, and have incredible physical and sensory abilities.

Dr Colby Tanner, ant researcher based at the TCD Theoretical Ecology Group would certainly agree that ants are fascinating.

Colby has been working recently in the University of Lausanne with a group using infra-red as a way to track individual ants, in order to  find out exactly where they go and what they do, within the colony.

LISTEN: Interview with Colby Tanner

Broadcast on Science Spinning on 103.2 Dublin City FM on 26-04-2012

Social media make people smarter

There may be those that think Twitter and other social media are part of a general ‘dumbing down’ of society, yet the emerging evidence suggests that social media are making people smarter.

Professor Andrew Jackson, of the Theoretical Ecology Group at TCD, and his PhD student, Luke McNally, have devised ingenious methods of testing whether increasing social interactions by media like Twitter, makes us smarter.

They created ‘digital brains’ that played games that replicated how people interact in society, over and over again, for a period of time that equated to 50,000 human generations. The results were fascinating.

LISTEN: Interview with Andrew Jackson

Broadcast on Science Spinning on 103.2 Dublin City FM on 16-04-2012

READ: The article below appeared in The Sunday Times on 12-04-2012