Swarms on primetime TV

What do killer bees, locusts, field mice, mayflies, starlings, cicadas, cuban land crabs, driver ants, redflies, locust birds, silver carp and honey bees all have in common? The "Wisdom of Crowds" or in other words the ability to Swarm in huge groups.


: Nature's Incredible Invasions


Swarm: Nature's Incredible Invasions (BBC TV): EPISODE 1

Watch Episode 1 When Worlds Collide to see how Driver Ants construct 2-lane motorways policed by Soldiers for the Workers to forage and the US professor who uses Queen Bee Pheromone to become the Bee Man with 100,000 honey bees covering his body.


Episode 1 Summary

The first programme in a two-part documentary reveals the awe-inspiring world of animal swarms. We discover what happens when superswarms invade our lives and, using the latest camera techniques, we go to the heart of the swarm, to reveal how the creatures view our world.

Real-life footage from camcorders and mobile phones captures the amazing impact they can have on our lives. Killers bees mount an attack on an international football match in Costa Rica, while in the US the Illinois River literally boils with leaping silver carp, an alien species that has hijacked the river smashing into boats and injuring people.

In South Australia a sea of mice raid farms as millions consume and destroy on a scale that defies belief. The largest swarm on Earth erupts from Lake Victoria, trillions of flies blanket villages, but the locals have learnt to turn this swarm into a highly nutritious fly-burger. In Rome, cameras fly alongside ten million starlings, the largest swarm in Europe. Their mesmeric waves stop many residents in their tracks, but as they roost they smother the city in tons of excrement.

One man has learnt to control the ultimate swarm, he has become their 'queen bee' with startling results, learning to control what most people fear, and to understand one of the most incredible forces of nature.


Swarm: Nature's Incredible Invasions (BBC TV): EPISODE 2

Watch Episode 2 One Million Heads, One Beautiful Mind to see how swarm intelligence operates and see over and over again how swarms make it extremely difficult for predators to pick-off individuals and are an amazing way for the individuals to look out for each other and instantly share important information.


Episode 2 Summary

Extraordinary photography reveals the incredible swarm intelligence that lies behind animal invasions.

Millions of free-tailed bats form a living tornado in which complex information is exchanged. Huge shape-shifting shoals of herring use swarm intelligence to detect predators. Billions of alkali flies form a rolling wave to evade the gaping mouths of gulls. Vast numbers of shore birds synchronise their migration with swarming horseshoe crabs, a feat of timing unparalleled in the animal world.

Fire ants invade and destroy computer equipment and, when their nest is flooded, create living rafts with their bodies. Inside a driver ants' nest we discover the inner workings of a brain made from thousands of individuals. One swarm is even helping to save the planet from the greenhouse effect.

Incredible images show the true complexity of the swarm and how their intelligence impacts on our world.


About Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson is an expert practitioner in the area of bioteaming, swarming, virtual enterprise networks, virtual professional communities and virtual teams and has published two landmark books:

Bioteams: High Performance Teams Based on Nature's Best Designs

The Networked Enterprise: Competing for the future through Virtual Enterprise Networks

Ken writes the highly popular bioteams blog which has over 500 articles on all aspects of bioteams (aka organizational biomimicry) - in other words how human groups can learn from nature's best teams.

Ken is also founder of an exciting European technology company Swarmteams which provides unique patent-pending bioteaming technologies for all shapes and sizes of groups, social networks, business clusters, virtual/mobile communities and enterprises. Swarmteams enables groups to be more responsive and agile by fully integrating their mobile phones and the web with bioteam working techniques.

The latest Swarmteams implementation is SwarmTribes which helps social object owners (e.g. musicians/bands, sports teams, film-makers) and good cause sponsors (e.g. Volunteering, Environmental, Public Health) to form unique collaborations with their fans/supporters for mutual benefit.


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Bioteams Books Reviews

Mobile phone users: are we now cyborgs

Mobile phone users: are we now cyborgs

The term cyborg is used to designate an organism which is a mixture of organic and synthetic parts so designed to enhance its abilities via technology. William Mitchell a professor at MIT Media Lab believes that through our mobile devices we are all becoming mobile cyborgs and its for the better. In his book Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City which he discusses in an interview with James Harkin Mitchell describes how the new communications technologies have overlaid our city spaces with central nervous systems connecting us into the wireless ether via our mobile devices which act as umbilical cords to anchor us into the information society's digital infrastructure.


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