Listening Exercise (upper intermediate/advanced): Decoding the `internet of ants`.

weaver ant

 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Here`s a new listening exercise with a video from the BBC Future section on the BBC News website. The website is a really excellent resource, both for reading and listening. I`d highly recommend you explore the site. It has some fascinating stuff on there, a very welcome distraction from the actual`news`!

So, click on the link to get started.

Try to answer the following questions after 1 listening. Don`t look at the text below!! Complete both the listening and gap fill before checking your answers, ok!

  1. What is the main point that the speaker makes about ants, at the beginning of the video?
  2. Where do ants not live?
  3. What species of ants are being studied in the lab?
  4. What was not included, by the speaker, as something that ants do in the list below?
  • Protect trees from plant eating animals
  • Search for sustenance
  • Help disperse seeds
  • Construct dwellings
  • Cultivate fungi
  • Form complex, mutually beneficial associations with trees

 

  1. Who and collected the ants being studied in the lab? Where from and using which particular tool?
  2. How long has the evolution of ants been?
  3. What is the `anternet`?
  4. Why was is important not to squander data during the early days of the internet?

 

 

Fill the gaps in the text using the words below. First try without listening again.

 

Observe, get, going, make, use, meet, leave, back, model, feedback, process, needs, early, bumbling, expensive, recently, simple, worth, mutualistic, conceivable, central, between, yet, pickaxes, nest, arenas, analogy

 

What`s amazing about the way an ant colony works is; no ant knows what 1. ……… to be done. An ant is just 2. ………… around without any particular goal, responding only to what happened to it very 3. ………. and, especially to its interaction with other ants. So, an ant doesn`t know what it`s doing. And 4. ……., when you put the behaviour of all the other ants together, colonies do very complicated things.

There are more than 14,000 species of ants, they live in every 5. …….. environment on earth and, they do amazing things: they build 6. ……., they forage for food, they grow fungus, they create 7. ………., complicated relationships with trees, they defend trees from herbivores. And, they do all of this without 8. …….. control.

We`re sitting in my lab and we have different colonies in different 9. …….. These are all Harvester ants that we brought 10……. from Arizona. So, all of these colonies are here because of a lot of hard work by many undergraduates with 11. ………

Ants have had more than 130 million years to evolve very interesting algorithms for using very 12. ……….. interactions to accomplish tasks in different environments.

Learning about ants has made me curious about how ants could 13. …….. other systems that also use simple interactions to solve problems. We find a very interesting 14. ……… between the way Harvester ants regulate foraging using 15. ……… and the way that data transfer is regulated in the internet, using acknowledgements. We call this analogy 16. ………. the way that Harvester ants forage and the way that the internet works `anternet`. So, there`s a protocol in the internet called `TCP` which regulates how quickly data goes out. The way it works is that a data package doesn`t 17………. the source computer until it gets an acknowledgement from the router that the previous data package had the bandwidth to go on.

In the 18. …….. days of the internet, when operating costs were very high, it was very important not to waste data by sending it out if there was no bandwidth to carry it. For Harvester ants foraging is very 19. ………, because they`re working in the desert where water loss is very important. And so it`s not 20. ……… it to go out to forage unless there`s enough food available to 21. …….. it worthwhile. Different systems without central control may use the same algorithms to 22. …….. the same kind of environmental challenges.

I`ve been very interested to be talking with researchers that are thinking about cancer as an evolutionary 23. ……… to see if we can learn from the ecology of larger organisms that are very easy to 24. …….., like ants, and learn to investigate whether the same kinds of evolving processes may be 25. …….. on inside bodies that have been occurring on earth for many millions of years. And we might 26. ……..ideas about how our own engineering systems could 27. ……. algorithms like the ones that ants have evolved to solve our own environmental problems.

 

ANSWERS:

  1. Ants don`t know what they`re doing.
  2. Ants live in `every conceivable environment`. (Although, not in Antarctica actually!)
  3. Harvester ants.
  4. Help disperse seeds.
  5. Undergraduates, Arizona, pickaxes.
  6. 130 million years
  7. The analogy between the way that ants regulate how they forage and the way data transfer is regulated on the internet.
  8. The high operating cost.

Gap fill:

  1. Needs, 2. Bumbling, 3. Recently, 4. Yet, 5. Conceivable, 6. Nests, 7. Mutualistic, 8. Central, 9. Arenas, 10. Back, 11. Pickaxes, 12. Simple, 13.model, 14. Analogy, 15. Feedback, 16. Between, 17. Leave, 18. Early, 19. Expensive, 20. Worth, 21. Make, 22. Meet, 23. Process, 24. Observe, 25, going, 26. Get, 27. Use.

Try to answer the following questions after 1 listening. Don`t look at the text below!! Complete both the listening and gap fill before checking your answers, ok!

  1. What is the main point that the speaker makes about ants, at the beginning of the video?
  2. Where do ants not live?
  3. What species of ants are being studied in the lab?
  4. What was not included, by the speaker, as something that ants do in the list below?
  • Protect trees from plant eating animals
  • Search for sustenance
  • Help disperse seeds
  • Construct dwellings
  • Cultivate fungi
  • Form complex, mutually beneficial associations with trees

 

  1. Who and collected the ants being studied in the lab? Where from and using which particular tool?
  2. How long has the evolution of ants been?
  3. What is the `anternet`?
  4. Why was is important not to squander data during the early days of the internet?

 

 

Fill the gaps in the text using the words below. First try without listening again.

 

Observe, get, going, make, use, meet, leave, back, model, feedback, process, needs, early, bumbling, expensive, recently, simple, worth, mutualistic, conceivable, central, between, yet, pickaxes, nest, arenas, analogy

 

What`s amazing about the way an ant colony works is; no ant knows what 1. ……… to be done. An ant is just 2. ………… around without any particular goal, responding only to what happened to it very 3. ………. and, especially to its interaction with other ants. So, an ant doesn`t know what it`s doing. And 4. ……., when you put the behaviour of all the other ants together, colonies do very complicated things.

There are more than 14,000 species of ants, they live in every 5. …….. environment on earth and, they do amazing things: they build 6. ……., they forage for food, they grow fungus, they create 7. ………., complicated relationships with trees, they defend trees from herbivores. And, they do all of this without 8. …….. control.

We`re sitting in my lab and we have different colonies in different 9. …….. These are all Harvester ants that we brought 10……. from Arizona. So, all of these colonies are here because of a lot of hard work by many undergraduates with 11. ………

Ants have had more than 130 million years to evolve very interesting algorithms for using very 12. ……….. interactions to accomplish tasks in different environments.

Learning about ants has made me curious about how ants could 13. …….. other systems that also use simple interactions to solve problems. We find a very interesting 14. ……… between the way Harvester ants regulate foraging using 15. ……… and the way that data transfer is regulated in the internet, using acknowledgements. We call this analogy 16. ………. the way that Harvester ants forage and the way that the internet works `anternet`. So, there`s a protocol in the internet called `TCP` which regulates how quickly data goes out. The way it works is that a data package doesn`t 17………. the source computer until it gets an acknowledgement from the router that the previous data package had the bandwidth to go on.

In the 18. …….. days of the internet, when operating costs were very high, it was very important not to waste data by sending it out if there was no bandwidth to carry it. For Harvester ants foraging is very 19. ………, because they`re working in the desert where water loss is very important. And so it`s not 20. ……… it to go out to forage unless there`s enough food available to 21. …….. it worthwhile. Different systems without central control may use the same algorithms to 22. …….. the same kind of environmental challenges.

I`ve been very interested to be talking with researchers that are thinking about cancer as an evolutionary 23. ……… to see if we can learn from the ecology of larger organisms that are very easy to 24. …….., like ants, and learn to investigate whether the same kinds of evolving processes may be 25. …….. on inside bodies that have been occurring on earth for many millions of years. And we might 26. ……..ideas about how our own engineering systems could 27. ……. algorithms like the ones that ants have evolved to solve our own environmental problems.

 

ANSWERS:

  1. Ants don`t know what they`re doing.
  2. Ants live in `every conceivable environment`. (Although, not in Antarctica actually!)
  3. Harvester ants.
  4. Help disperse seeds.
  5. Undergraduates, Arizona, pickaxes.
  6. 130 million years
  7. The analogy between the way that ants regulate how they forage and the way data transfer is regulated on the internet.
  8. The high operating cost.

Gap fill:

  1. Needs, 2. Bumbling, 3. Recently, 4. Yet, 5. Conceivable, 6. Nests, 7. Mutualistic, 8. Central, 9. Arenas, 10. Back, 11. Pickaxes, 12. Simple, 13.model, 14. Analogy, 15. Feedback, 16. Between, 17. Leave, 18. Early, 19. Expensive, 20. Worth, 21. Make, 22. Meet, 23. Process, 24. Observe, 25, going, 26. Get, 27. Use.

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