The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

(This strongly relates to the construct of avatars in Second Life; think 
of the gnats as prims. Their homeostatic behavior is amazing.
Hieroglyphs of an ancient species...)

Gnat swarming behavior

The following video was made about 100 meters from the Jordan River trail
in Salt Lake City (West Jordan / Midvale), Utah. The site is a pond per-
haps one or two acres across; there are numerous birds (swallows, swifts,
red-wing and yellow-head blackbirds, etc.) around. When I first saw the
gnats, near sundown, they swarmed in a typical ellipsoidal fashion, i.e.
similar to a free-falling water balloon in slow motion. I noticed several
columns forming; in a short while, they became vertical, long and narrow.
They swayed and held shape. In gnat swarms, males and females behave
differently; in one of the vertical columns, a roughly spherical 'head' is
visible to one side, and I wonder if there might be sexual differentiation
here. What is fascinating to me is the relationship of millions of gnats
to an over-arching geometry; this parallels slime mold behavior to some
extent. I've seen lots of gnat swarms before, but nothing like this. We're
leaving the Salt Lake City area today, so I have no time to investigate
this further at the moment (we're leaving today), but I'm interested in
any further input, images, videos, you might have.


'Radio' - modified recording in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir building; note
the laptop in the foreground which controls and monitors the organ, light-
ing, recording, etc., as far as I can tell.

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