1 Tahrcountry Musings: Why flies are so hard to swat? Caltech scientists unravel the mystery.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Why flies are so hard to swat? Caltech scientists unravel the mystery.

I have been at times flabbergasted by the alacrity with which the flies avoid the swat. If you have tried to swat flies you know how difficult it is to get a proper swat that delivers. You must have wondered why flies are so hard to swat. Here is the answer for that. Scientists of Caltech in US have come up with an explanation for the riddle. Using high-resolution, high-speed digital imaging of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) Professor Michael Dickinson and graduate student Gwyneth Card of Caltech (California Institute of Technology) have unravelled the secret to a fly's evasive maneuvering. Long before the fly leaps, its tiny brain calculates the location of the impending threat and comes up with an escape plan. It places its legs in an optimal position to hop out in the opposite direction. All of this takes place in less than100 milliseconds after the fly first spots the swatter. The rapidity with which the fly's brain processes sensory information into an appropriate motor response is incredible. This means that the fly must integrate visual information from its eyes with mechanosensory information from its legs at an amazing speed. Here is a piece of advice from the researchers. Dickinson says "It is best not to swat at the fly's starting position, but rather to aim a bit forward of that to anticipate where the fly is going to jump when it first sees your swatter,” The study has been published in the journal Current Biology dated August 28.

1 comment:

Sarita Raghavan said...

interesting stuff