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Want To Know The Best Way To Find Your Lost Sock? Ask An Animal

Date:
May 20, 2005
Source:
American Physical Society
Summary:
What is the fastest way to locate a randomly hidden object? Animals searching for food may instinctively be following the best strategy.
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What is the fastest way to locate a randomly hidden object? Animals searching for food may instinctively be following the best strategy.

In an upcoming paper to be published in Physical Review Letters, the authors -- O. Benichou et al. -- model a search as alternating between two phases - a slow, systematic search phase during which a forager scans an area, and a fast phase in which the searcher darts to another area before beginning another slow search phase.

To minimize the time needed to find the object, the researchers calculate that the average time spent in "motion" phases should vary as either the 3/5 or 2/3 power of the average duration of the "search" phases. Comparing their model with experimental data from 18 different foraging species, including fish, birds, and lizards, the authors find that the animals actually do follow this optimal strategy.

The authors believe the model could also apply to many other situations, including human searching behaviors. So you might want keep it in mind next time you lose your keys.


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The above story is based on materials provided by American Physical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Physical Society. "Want To Know The Best Way To Find Your Lost Sock? Ask An Animal." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050519145433.htm>.
American Physical Society. (2005, May 20). Want To Know The Best Way To Find Your Lost Sock? Ask An Animal. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050519145433.htm
American Physical Society. "Want To Know The Best Way To Find Your Lost Sock? Ask An Animal." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050519145433.htm (accessed May 29, 2015).

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