Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 19 January 2014

"And I for one welcome our new insect overlords."

First it was fish in space, now 800 common ants are orbiting 370km  above our heads. The insects have been sent up to the International Space Station to investigate how they move about in microgravity.

The idea is to apply the results of the experiment to the field of robotics, possibly in the development of the scavenging battlefield drones that may yet be the future of warfare on this plant.

Science fiction fans, however, will have a different dystopian vision in mind; the occupants of the ISS receive a considerably higher dose of radiation than they would get from natural sources on Earth. While human crews are rotated to reduce exposure, the ants are presumably up there for a while.

And any science fiction fan worth his (or her) sodium chloride knows what happens when you expose ants to radiation....

As a bonus, the post title, popularised by 'the Simpsons' and a host of internet memes, was inspired by the 1977 film 'Empire of the Ants'*”, in which another lot of irradiated ants, rather than destroying civilization, enslave humans to refine vast quantities of sugar for them.

I imagine Action on Sugar will be advocating a remake for propaganda purposes any day now.

*(Very loosely) based on the H G Wells short story of the same name.


  1. I did not know that, I thought it was a Simpson's original

    Thanks for improving my knowledge on this Sunday afternoon

  2. Me too!

    And isn't it time 'Them!' was remade?

  3. Good to hear from you, PC!

    I have to admit, I thought so too until I did a bit of googling.

    And, Julia, I agree - as long as Hollywood could be trusted not to ruin it second time round.

  4. Is the video supposed to be the good news?

  5. ah now Google I cnas accept , If you had said wikiipedia I might be a little bit sceptical.

    Yes I'm still around

    I still aten't dead as Granny Weatherwax would say. Mainly lurking at the moment, but I do read everything that comes along in my feeds

  6. To be perfectly honest, PC, I didn't entirely trust the sources I found and, when I decided to sort it out, I couldn't find the quote in the version of the film on Youtube so I have amended the post.

    The Youtube video may have been cut, or the quote may have been from associated publicity material, if, indeed, it is related to the film at all.

    Demetrius, for ants it is.

    Incidentally, 'Them' was, I believe, the first major feature to make use of the LA storm drains which have played an important part in many films since.

  7. Yes I would have expected to find it in the quotes section of Imdb page of the film

    this chap reckons it is a Simpsons original


  8. Did a series once on these ants. Good to see they've gone on to greater things.

  9. Yep, PC, I hold my hands up and admit to some over-hasty research to add a bit of extra interst to the post. The sophistication of the phrase is, I'm sorry to say, well above the linguistic level of the film script so full credit to 'the Simpsons'.

    Still, it was only ever meant to be an aside to the main issue: ants in space, guys, ANTS IN SPACE!!!

    JH, please feel free to add a link.


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