General Question

simone54's avatar

How would I figure out how much a mile would be to an ant?

Asked by simone54 (7560 points ) April 27th, 2014

I was out on a hike with my girlfriend when I noticed a long chain of ants. They were carrying their eggs from one ant hole to another, about ten feet apart. It appeared as if they were moving their colony. It made me think about when I had to move across the country before. I wondered how far their move was relative to when I moved.

How would I go about figuring that out?

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6 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

Perhaps if you had to walk across the country with your possessions in your jaws, you might stand a chance for comparisons. Of course, the ants could cooperate and have their things trucked from hole to hole, but even then you’d have some tough figuring. For instance, an ant can easily transport 4 times its own weight the length of a football field without stopping for breath. If you were the size of an ant, you could watch your competition gallop past you at the speed of a fire truck while carrying a grand piano.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I love this question! I can think of a couple of ways to do it.
1) You can look at the size of an ant and compare it to the size of a human. then multiply the 10 ft distance by that ratio. But that is too easy in my mind. You were thinking about moving so…

2) You can measure the speed an ant walks and compare that to the speed of a human walking. Then figure how long it takes the ant to walk the 10 feet and compare that to how far you would go.
But here is the method that really intrigues me .
3) Compare the colony moving time to an ant’s life time. What percent of it’s life is it moving its household goods? How does that compare with you?
As an example: say an ant lives one year and they manage to move the entire colony in half a day. Assuming your lifetime is 80 years, that is like you spending 40 days moving your household goods.

Wealthadvisor's avatar

When you really think about it, a mile is a mile, 5,280 feet. So an ant’s mile and our mile is the same distance. What you need to calculate is:

1. In energy expended, how far would a human have to walk to equal the energy expended by the ant.

Here is some information that may help in the calculation.

http://www.theincredibleant.com/ant-how/how-fast-are-ants

bolwerk's avatar

A mile is a fixed distance. If you want to know a comparable distance relative to typical body height or (or human body to ant length, I guess), it’s a pretty easy (if tedious) proportion problem.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Yeah a mile is a mile, but my strides are pretty long, about a yard each. I’m pretty leggy. I’m guessing your average ant stride is about an eighth of an inch at full haul. So a mile for me would be 1760 strides and for an ant 42,240 strides.

Brian1946's avatar

Using @Adirondackwannabe‘s estimation of an ant stride being about 1/8” and an adult human male’s stride being about 36”, an ant walking a mile is about the same as a human walking 288 miles.

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