Why Would a Locust Watch Star Wars?

This will test your powers of lateral thinking. Claire Rind, at Newcastle University showed Star Wars (Episode IV A New Hope – the original one) to locusts and in doing so won a 2005 Ig Nobel for her efforts.

Now why would she do that? The neuro-circuitry of locusts has been extensively mapped and Dr Rind was trying to track whether the locusts could detect imminent collisions. “We were studying the responses of visual stimuli. We found locusts have dedicated nerve cells specifically to detect collisions,” says Dr Rind. So watching Tie-fighters and X-Wings fighting above the Death Star was just the thing.

But what is the point of it all? The research was part-funded by car-maker Volvo who plan to use the Star Wars research to design an artificial eye for its future cars. Who’d have thought it?

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