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How Ingenious Animals Have Engineered Air Conditioning


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Channel: It's Okay To Be Smart
Categories: Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science  
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Are humans nature’s greatest architects? When we look elsewhere in nature, we find some pretty amazing animal architects. Species like ants, termites, prairie dogs, birds, and more have engineered some incredible structures. This week we look at how a few of these species have mastered physics to install air conditioning in their homes!

Special thanks to Dianna Cowern AKA Physics Girl for helping us get the physics right in this video!


Gould, James L., and Carol Grant Gould. Animal architects: building and the evolution of intelligence. Basic Books (AZ), 2007.

Hansell, M. (2007). Built by animals: the natural history of animal architecture. OUP Oxford.

Cosarinsky, M. I., & Roces, F. (2012). The construction of turrets for nest ventilation in the grass-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri: import and assembly of building materials. Journal of Insect Behavior, 25(3), 222-241.

Kleineidam, C., Ernst, R., & Roces, F. (2001). Wind-induced ventilation of the giant nests of the leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri. Naturwissenschaften, 88(7), 301-305.

King, H., Ocko, S., & Mahadevan, L. (2015). Termite mounds harness diurnal temperature oscillations for ventilation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(37), 11589-11593.

Vogel, S., Ellington, C. P., & Kilgore, D. L. (1973). Wind-induced ventilation of the burrow of the prairie-dog, Cynomys ludovicianus. Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, 85(1), 1-14.

Bahadori, M. M. (1978). Passive cooling systems in Iranian architecture. Sci. Am.;(United States), 238(2).


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It’s Okay To Be Smart is hosted by Joe Hanson, Ph.D.
Director: Joe Nicolosi
Writer: Joe Hanson
Producer/editor/animator: Andrew Matthews
Producer: Stephanie Noone and Amanda Fox

Produced by PBS Digital Studios
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