Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weird Science: Robo Bee

Hi World,

You've probably heard about the honeybee situation, by now.  If I've heard of it, in the sheltered little community of my psyche,  where I co-exist peacefully among my imaginary friends,  venturing out only when required to cook, nurture  or earn, then I can't imagine how you would have escaped hearing about it.

And you may have even read these words allegedly spoken by Albert Einstein:

If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.

I say "allegedly" because it seems to me that anytime some person on the internet wants you to buy into their opinion, that opinion will, 56% of the time, have some tie-in to something Einstein once said. The rationale is, if Albert said it, not only is it true, but it is far more complex and  misunderstood than you are capable of digesting because Albert was a genius and clearly you are not.  The quote will be followed by some sort of testimony that goes something like this.  "My ________ _______ ________ ____________ _____ back in __________ and so you should listen to me and buy my ____________."

You can fill in the blanks however you want.  Here are a few examples:
  • My Mother's grandfather's brother worked on his team back  in 1916 when  he developed the theory of relativity, and  these new magnets, developed by me using my grandfather's brother's notes, demonstrate many of those findings.  I will sell you some.
  • My Aunt's parents were his neighbors in Great Neck in 1950, and they often played Canasta together.  This is the deck  of cards they played with, and I will sell it to you for 90 million USD.
  • My Grandfather attended his funeral in 1955 and the Rabbi said that the last thing Einstein said is "This is the best spaghetti sauce from a jar I have ever tasted".  If it was good enough for Einstein, surely it is good enough for you? 

It's fun, right?  It would make a great game for nights when the electricity goes out.

I'm not saying that Einstein didn't say anything about honeybees, but I will reference the game of Telephone. You probably played Telephone in grade school.  You whisper something in someone's ear, and  they whisper it in someone's ear, and  so on, and at the end of the line of 10 people or so, you find out that what was originally said, and what was allegedly  said, are two different things.  And then you all have a good  laugh about it.  "Ha ha, I never said let's build an atomic bomb, what I said is let's make popcorn and watch Wizard of Oz again."  Something like that.

Maybe what he actually said was, "If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth,  man would still have another 400 years left to live".  And somehow, through thousands of translations over time, we end up with only four years.  Or maybe, what he originally said was, "If I get my hands on that bee,  I'm  going to smack it off the face of the earth, because I have four years worth of research to study, and I can't get through a single page with that incessant buzzing."  How do we know it wasn't something like that?

Also, assuming he did say that exact thing, word for word, how did he arrive at 4 years?  I think all  Einstein quotes should be required to show their work, because even Einstein probably had bad days when he got sick of people asking him things, and just said whatever came into his head.  If I were a genius like Einstein, I would make up things all the time.  I would make up some  real whoppers. Actually, I do make up stuff all the time, but I'm not a genius so nobody really takes me seriously.  That's a real blessing.

Wow, I am so off topic here,  it's  kind of spectacular.  It's like the Cirque du Soleil of blog posts.  Or the Siegfried and Roy of blog posts.  I could, potentially, get eaten by a lion at the end of this post.  Einstein once allegedly said something about that, according to my Grandmother's hairdresser.

Back to the honeybees, I think we can all agree that if the honeybees were to die off, we would be in a pickle.  Or perhaps not. Because.

*******THE POINT OF THE POST******brought to you by SueBee Honey... (NOT TRUE).

Scientists are now working on a robotic bee that, once developed, will be produced in swarms in order to ensure that pollination continues to take place. The bees would be the size of an insect, would fly and navigate under their own power, would  adapt to changing circumstances, and would  also work together as a group.   And once these bees are developed, you and I will no longer be needed, so we will be required to have a crystal inserted in our arm, and when the crystal turns black, we'll need to report to the nearest government extermination center.  Oh,  wait, that's Logan's Run.   Never mind.  Okay, back to the bees.

These artificial bee swarms should be ready to go in the next 10 years, give or take. I can't wait to see what the real bees make of them.  Wouldn't it be ironic if the robobees felt threatened by the real bees and attacked them and wiped them out?  There's a plot Hollywood should get a head start on.

And  that makes me think...why robobees?  Aren't there other ways to go about this?  For instance,  maybe we could raise  more bees, or perhaps stop killing off the ones we have.  Or, maybe we could grow some new bees using that 3D printing technology that I talked about a couple of weeks ago (Meat Cubes?).  I read last week that they are using that same technology to potentially grow replacement organs.  If they can grow a liver or a cube of bacon, why  can't they grow a honeybee?

In closing, if we can't raise more honeybees, or grow some honeybees,  or successfully build robobee swarms, maybe we could take some of the honeybees we have, and  rebuild them.

Surely, we have  the technology?
We have the capability to make the world's first bionic insect.
The honeybee will be that insect.
Better than it was before.
Better, stronger, faster.

Science is stranger than Science Fiction.

Chicken out


If you are interested in reading the actual article that I skimmed, you can find it in
the March 2013 issue of  Scientific American, along with this picture, which I also borrowed because I like pretty things.



7 comments:

  1. :-)

    Purple monkey elevator. That's all I have to say about that.

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl, I had to look up Purple Monkey Elevator. I still don't get it. 'Splain it to me Lucy. Lucy Pearl.

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  2. Once again, hilarious - and true.

    According to a book I read on his life, Einstein was a smart man but he wasn't a very nice person, especially to his family. It made me look at his accomplishments in a new light. What price did others pay for his fame? Off-topic, sorry :)

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    1. Thanks Jenny_o. I'm disappointed to hear that Einstein wasn't particularly nice. He looks so nice in his pictures. Now I'm conflicted. I'm going to have to read that book. Oh, and don't worry. Totally off-topic in the trend here. I'm always off topic and looks like Pearl is pretty good at it, too:-)

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    2. Speaking of off-topic, I can't seem to spell today. It is getting on my nerves.

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  3. Robo-bees? I wonder if it will work better than bat bombs.

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  4. Whaaaa? Bat Bombs? I had to look it up. OMG DBS, that's weird science gone all retro. Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention. Poor bats! Here's the website if anyone is interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat_bomb

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