Well, we've decided to give back to the Internet and today we launched NPR's Official AntCam:
The ant farm is at NPR's Washington headquarters — on the third-floor News Desk, if you must know — and it was very generously provided by NPR's Homepage Editor Laurel Dalrymple, who hasn't had much luck keeping these poor insects alive at her own home.
But the truth is: We all just found this farm mesmerizing. It's lit by LED lights and instead of sand the ants are working to build a colony using a blue gel full of amino acids, sugars and fungicides to keep the ants alive.
That gel was developed by a group of Syracuse students and researchers at the University of Colorado working on a NASA experiment. It allowed the ants to dig and survive in a zero-gravity environment. National Geographic explains that after 19 delays, the experiment finally launched on-board the doomed Shuttle Columbia.
After the disaster, NatGeo followed up saying the students didn't give up.
If all goes as planned, the 60 harvester ants — all female — will create something unique and beautiful before long. We'll leave the cam up and let you monitor the progress along with us.
Update at 8 a.m. ET, April 30: As you can see from this photo, we're a very high-tech operation. The camera is taped to a stack of books. The ant farm is taped to ledge of an editor's cubicle.
Update at 5:51 p.m. ET. When They Started:
The ants, by the way, were put into the farm at around 1 p.m. ET.