An interesting way of solving a wireless network problem was found today in fruit fly brains, reports Discovery News.
See, bug brains and wireless networks have a common problem. "Who's the leader?" To an individual brain cell or network node, it doesn't matter if it's the leader or not, so long as it definitely knows who's in charge. The bug solution has been applied to networks, for a saving of cpu power dedicated to routing.
In bug brains, neurons first see if there are any leaders near them. If so, they decline to become a leader -- someone's beaten them to it, why bother? If they don't find a leader, then this section of brain is leaderless, and they announce to their immediate neighbors that they are the leader. This tends to organize the leadership cells evenly through the fly's brain in a very efficient pattern.
To do this for wireless network, you only need two dedicated signals. One for "Any leaders around here?" One for "Yes, I am the leader." When a node turns on, it sends the first signal. If it doesn't hear the second one, then it puts out the second signal and sets itself to leadership mode. This isn't terribly difficult to set up even in hardware alone, so routers can route more efficiently....for cheap.