CAUGHT IN FIRE ? FOLLOW THE ANTS
PANICKED ANTS PARADE TOWARDS FIRE EXITS
“The ant is knowing and wise, but he doesn’t know enough to take a vacation .” – Clarence Day
Well, the quote seems to be pretty true !!! Ants can become ideal advisors to architects as well , studies suggest .
The fire escape is a very important element under consideration for architects while designing any multi-storeyed building or malls etc . It’s very important to keep the hallways to entries and exits as visible as possible to enable easy escape routes . Fire drills can prove useful in improving evacuation times, but such tests are rather artificial. It would be fairly easier jobs for architects if they could assess how people would react in various layouts during a real panic, but it isn’t ethical to fake such an event.
Looks like we do really have somebody to help them out here !
Civil engineers at Monash University in Australia set up a table-top building model with moveable walls and exits. They then populated the miniature structure with ants. After the ants had settled into their new habitat for a few days, the experiment began. Pellets of an ant repellant were inserted at various locations, and the resulting ant behavior was observed. As the ants sought escape routes, observers noticed that the ants escaped twice as fast through openings in corners as through similar openings located midway along walls. Middle-of-the-wall exits tended to cause confusion and crowding of the ants. The ants escaped more efficiently through corner routes.
The corner route worked well even if the opening was partially blocked by a vertical column. A smooth flow of ants filed rapidly around the obstruction. A similar column placed near middle-of-the-wall exits caused major confusion and slowed ant movement. Why is that? Engineers take seriously the lessons from ants because they are social insects. The Monash University engineers suggest that, in limited but useful ways, ants mimic the behavior of people. Based on the lessons they learned, corner exits may provide the most efficient escape routes—where feasible—for office buildings, sports arenas, and public transit facilities.
The ant behavior and related computer simulations of crowd behavior show that evacuation time might be cut nearly in half when mid-wall exits are moved to corners. The corner walls appear to serve as a “funnel” to direct traffic, but mid-wall exits don’t funnel anyone. Some fleeing ants moved directly past the mid-wall openings, while others collided with ants moving in the opposite direction. We have much to learn from the tiniest details of God’s creation.