Since this is partially a blog so that I can remember all the neat stuff we’re doing, here’s what we’ve done today:

While out today, Nic saw a globe and remembered “I’ve always wanted to ask you where this island came from.” I reminded him about studying Pangea and the shift of the continents over the multi-millions of years.

Once we got home we looked up Pangea and found some good images of the artist’s renderings of this scientific theory. (Just typed Pangea into Google and then selected the ‘images’ area.) He then remembered the cool in-motion animation of the Pangea separations at the Indiana State Museum (bottom level).

Later as Nic was zoob-building (I’m pretty sure he does that in his sleep, too) we started talking about ‘swarm robots.’ We had seen a learning program about robotics (Nic’s other greatest passion) in which they showed various inventors/researchers who are working on ‘swarm robot’ technology. We chatted about why they’d call them ‘swarm’ (relying on what he’s studied about animals that do swarm) and what benefit swarming would have to robotics.

From this he decided to build a swarm of zoob robots. Then he wanted to create an entire universe for them. So then he studied videos about various animal families to look at their social structures. We talked about packs (wolves and hyenas), prides (lions), mobs (meerkats) and the various herding animals. We also talked about the difference between matrilineal and patrilineal social structures. This led to an interesting discussion about how some groups have alpha male and/or female members. Nic was particularly intrigued by the concept that in some animal groups only the alpha pair are allowed to mate, and the consequences (infanticide) within some groups when this rule is broken.

By the end, it seemed to him that his swarm robots were most like the mountain gorillas with leaders, but not necessarily alpha pairs.

Cool conversations with a very astute mind.