The future is now, and it is the cyborg beetle! Yes I shit you not, this is as awesome as it sounds. I had a friend who tried to make a lobster prosthetic once, but apparently it gets all wet and the shell makes it more difficult than it should be. I can’t wait to make myself a cyborg ant, one day. The paper is here, detailing the cyborg in all its machine glory. It injects -1.5 V of current into ‘the brain’ which starts (or stops) the flying motion, then controls the left and right wings with current injected into the muscles. They can do some other nifty things by injecting current into ‘the brain’ as well. They try to make the beetle fly by giving it a virtual reality screen, but apparently that is less effective. Stupid intelligent beetles.
I was reading this week’s edition of Science and there was a blurb about cricket research. Apparently, the strongest crickets are those with the biggest heads, as cricket fighters have known for years. Wait, what? Cricket fighters? Yes, apparently there is actually a sport of cricket fighting! And as this Discovery channel video shows, it is apparently kind of a big deal.
Cricket fighting originated in the Song dynasty (960 – 1279 AD). The fights, which generally last five minutes but occasionally go up to forty five minutes, are deathly boring. Try searching on youtube for some videos. These poor crickets are caught after the winter snows, because obviously the only crickets worthy of fighting are those hardy to survive the winter. They are then brought into the city where clubs of all levels – from amateurs to professionals – conduct cricket matches. Unfortunately, there are problems with cricket doping. Luckily, no real harm comes to the cricket although the loser gets a bit depressed and won’t fight for another twenty four hours.
Insect fights happen elsewhere in the world. The coolest is probably the rhinoceros beetle fight because, really, those things look badass. Personally, I would love to see rival ant armies trained and martialed into sprawling insect wars.