Aussie ants take a bow

Share this post:

Written by: Anne Nicholson, Brand Strategy Lead IBM A/NZ

Mauro Martino

Mauro Martino

While ants can be the villains of any picnic, in Network Earth they are the star turn in this award-winning short thanks to IBMer Mauro Martino. Mauro is a scientist and artist who works in IBM’s Cognitive Visualization Lab. His mission is to build tools that help people to “disseminate information as short videos – where the data and the visualisations are the actors.”

In 2016 he collaborated with three of his colleagues at Northeastern University. Jianxi Gao, Baruch Barzel, and Albert-László Barabási, and wrote a paper in Nature called Universal resilience patterns in complex networks. “The video I created, Network Earth, helps illustrate their theory by visually depicting the symbiotic relationship and mutualism between a handful of ant species and the plants upon which they depend, across Australia and New Guinea.”

Mauro built the video using IBM’s Network Data API. It’s a new service that provides insights into network data through cognitive algorithms for visual exploration and computational analysis.

Mauro’s enchanting design won the National Science Foundation award, a Vizzie, for best data video in 2016.

Fun facts about Aussie Ants

  • Some ant species are ruled by a single queen and others are supported by multiple queens

    Red ant

    A nip from a Red ant can cause severe pain

  • Bull ants have impressive vision and are able to track and follow intruders from a distance of 1 metre
  • Sugar ants do love their sugar, but anything sweet is considered yum
  • A Blue Ant is an ant in clever disguise. It’s actually a species of flower wasp
  • The technical name for ant farm is a formicarium
More Data stories

Building a Cognitive Enterprise: How to accelerate your digital transformation for the new normal

Author: Doug Robinson, Managing Partner, Global Business Services, IBM Australia and New Zealand  We are at a tipping point in history where the impact of technology is so significant it can completely transform the way business is done. The convergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation, Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and 5G […]

Continue reading

Six sessions you don’t want to miss on Techweek TV

Author: Ian Hulme, Director Business Design, Global Business Services New Zealand New Zealand’s only digital festival, Techweek, kicks off on Monday 27 July with plenty of great sessions to tune into. Like many organisations, NZ Tech has had to pivot and has gone almost entirely virtual this year. IBM is a key sponsor and has […]

Continue reading

Supercomputing a COVID-19 vaccine

How the world’s most powerful computers are changing the way we create vaccines.   COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread around the world, passing 14 million confirmed infections, and the death toll surpassing 600,000. A vaccine can’t come soon enough but history suggests it will be many years before a workable one is widely available. The […]

Continue reading