Fruit Flies, Fighter Jets Use Similar Evasive Tactics When Attacked

Fruit Flies, Fighter Jets Use Similar Evasive Tactics When Attacked

When startled by predators, tiny fruit flies respond like fighter jets – employing screaming-fast banked turns to evade attacks. Researchers at the University of Washington used an array of high-speed video cameras operating at 7,500 frames a second to capture the wing and body motion of flies after they encountered a looming image of an approaching predator (abstract). ‘We discovered that fruit flies alter course in less than one one-hundredth of a second, 50 times faster than we blink our eyes, and which is faster than we ever imagined.’ In the midst of a banked turn, the flies can roll on their sides 90 degrees or more, almost flying upside down at times, said Florian Muijres, a UW postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the paper. ‘These flies normally flap their wings 200 times a second and, in almost a single wing beat, the animal can reorient its body to generate a force away from the threatening stimulus and then continues to accelerate,’ he said.

First there was the anternet, and now this?  It almost sounds like humans a giant insects…

RIP, Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1949
Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1949

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the world famous AK-47 assault rifle, has passed away today, at the age of 94.  He was a true genius and a patriot of his country.  Coming from a very simple family, with very little education, after serving as a tank mechanic and later as a tank commander, after being wounded, he designed more than 150 models of small weapons – rifles, assault rifles, machine guns, etc.

Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer … I always wanted to construct agriculture machinery.

Such were the times, I guess – growing up in the post Civil War, Revolution and First World War country, serving during the Second World War and seeing all horrors and dangers first hand, his peaceful mind was turned the other way.

I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists … I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawn mower.

Looking into his engineering genius, I see the good old principle of keeping things simple:

When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, ‘All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed’ … So this has been my lifetime motto – I have been creating weapons to defend the borders of my fatherland, to be simple and reliable.

Truly inspiring.  RIP.

Mine-seeking dolphins make historic discovery

howell torpedo

Slashdot shares a story of mine-seeking dolphins making a historic discovery – a 11-foot long torpedo from 19th century.  Apparently, there were only 50 of this ever made, and this is the second one being discovered.

When first created, the Howell torpedo had major implications for helping the United States be the dominant naval force in the world. The design was quickly outdated, though. Only about 50 were ever made, between 1870 and 1889, when the technology was surpassed.

The 11-foot long torpedo is made of brass and had a range of 400 yards while traveling at 25 knots. Not bad for the 1800s.

The dolphins themselves follow simple system for alerting the Navy of any found objects. They take a dive and, if they find nothing, touch the back of the boat with their snouts. If they find something, they touch the front of the boat.

Sharks with laser beams and telepathic seals: it’s your move now.

I can’t stand that this is what America is; that w…

I can’t stand that this is what America is; that we trade our children’s lives for the opportunity to purchase items specifically invented for killing. I can’t stand it. It’s pathetic and embarrassing and barbaric.

Jason Kottke

3D Printed Guns (Documentary)

This one actually sent me into a lot of thinking (which is still not complete).  On one hand, I am very anti-gun.  On the other, I am very pro-Open Source.  I do agree with the point Cody raises about there being no more politics or politicians, just a pseudo-selection between the candidates who protect the same class of people.  Also, Nick’s saying that 3D printing technology is getting better and cheaper fast, and that law has always been way behind technology – this all makes 3D gun printing a complicated issue.

Thoughts?

10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down

10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down

Myth #3: An armed society is a polite society.
Fact-check: Drivers who carry guns are 44% more likely than unarmed drivers to make obscene gestures at other motorists, and 77% more likely to follow them aggressively.

  • Among Texans convicted of serious crimes, those with concealed-handgun licenses were sentenced for threatening someone with a firearm 4.8 times more than those without.

  • In states with Stand Your Ground and other laws making it easier to shoot in self-defense, those policies have been linked to a 7 to 10% increase in homicides.