Three years ago, Assistant Professor David Hu took a close look at how fire ants work together to build waterproof rafts to stay alive. By looking at the edges and tops of rafts, the team discovered that ants grip each other with their mandibles and legs at a force of 400 times their body weight.
Now, he's taking an even closer peek. Hu froze ants and scanned them with a miniature CT scan machine to look at the strongest part of the structure – the inside – to discover how opaque ants connect, arrange and orient themselves with each other. It turns out they're very strong, very smart and very clueless.