Friday, March 03, 2006

Jaws joins up

It's a little known scientific fact that sharks are very patriotic creatures. They love nothing more than doing whatever they can for the good ol' US of A. So when DARPA went looking for volunteers for a new research program, toothy over here raised a fin. I'm not sure he would have swam forward so quickly had he known that he was about to have electrodes jimmied into various parts of his brain, but hey, live and learn. The DOD's plan is to use Blue sharks as underwater spies. Their natural abilities make them a perfect choice for reconnaissance and surveillance. They are silent, fast, strong, and don't run out of batteries. Researchers have already proven that they can control animal movement through electrical impulses in previous experiments:

John Chapin of the State University of New York Health Science Center in Brooklyn has used a similar tactic to guide rats through rubble piles (New Scientist, 25 September 2004, p 21). Chapin's implant stimulates a part of the brain that is wired to their whiskers, so the rats instinctively turn toward the tickled side to see what has brushed by. Chapin rewards that response by stimulating a pleasure centre in the rats' brains. Using this reward process, he has trained the rodents to pause for 10 seconds when they smell a target chemical such as RDX, a component of plastic explosives.
DARPA and the Department of Defense may be treading on thin ethical ice here, but they have given assurances that the sharks would be treated humanely. They would be monitored closely to avoid exhaustion or sickness. So, will it ever be safe to swim again?

New Scientist Technology - Stealth sharks to patrol the high seas

4 comments:

Jay Pea Are said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jay Pea Are said...

just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water.

Jay Pea Are said...

Is this another reason for the the cuban people to hate sharks?

Alex said...

Sharks is jankee plot to overtrow di revolution. Everybody know dat.