Science continues to astound me. A few years ago, if you were to tell me that scientists would soon figure out a way to control cockroach movements much like a remote control car, I would have laughed. But then those little Hexbug things started taking up residence on my hardwood floor, and it didn't seem so far fetched. Well folks, science has done it again. Scientists have figured out a way to control cockroaches remotely, and it gives me newfound respect for the often maligned creature.
There is so much coolness here, that I can't even contain myself. Have you ever taken a good look at a Madagascar hissing cockroach? They are pretty imposing guys, to say the least. But they are small and can sneak through crevices that most of us didn't know existed. Imagine the possibilities here.
The scientists involved mention using the cockroaches in hostile environments , where they are known to thrive and survive. But how does it work? You're going to have to go back into the recesses of your memory and pull up Rick Moranis and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Got it? Remember how the kids were able to ride on the ant by manipulating his antenna? It's kind of like that. The scientists built an electronic backpack (that they are saying is low-cost, but it's all relative) that contains a micro controller, a wireless receiver and a transmitter.
Scientists put the backpacks on the cockroaches (crazy, right?) and connect the controller to electrodes in the cockroaches antennae and abdomen. More specifically, the electrode is implanted into the insect's cerci (which houses the roach's senses). The sensors, just like the children in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, act as a rein to move the roach.
This inspired me to take a good long look at this old kid's movie and it again with my brood. Guess what? Even those the graphic effects are decidedly low tech, the story line is still fantastic. When the shrunken kids come across an Oreo cookie and dive into the cream-filled inside, I can almost take the sweetness. Looking for a family movie? Dig up this classic.
Back to the cockroach robot: The public hasn't been completely excited about this new robot. They wonder about the roach's free will. Do we ask the roaches in our homes and restaurants how they feel before we spray them with poison? I look at this completely differently. Rather than killing these insects, scientists are providing the roaches with a chance to save lives. And that, my friends, is awesome.
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