DARPA is soliciting research proposals for creating cyborg insects, which would presumably be used for military and paramilitary applications. I’m not sure whether I should be excited or terrified. Imagine armies of cicada cyborgs spying on enemies with tiny cameras and deafening enemy troops with robotically-enhanced screeching power. (story found on BoingBoing.)
From this page on the Darpa site:
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting research proposals in the area of Hybrid Insect MEMS. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in science, devices or systems. Specifically excluded is research, which primarily results in evolutionary improvement upon existing state-of-the-art.
DARPA seeks innovative proposals to develop technology to create insect-cyborgs, possibly enabled by intimately integrating microsystems within insects, during their early stages of metamorphoses. The healing processes from one metamorphic stage to the next stage are expected to yield more reliable bio-electromechanical interface to insects, as compared to adhesively bonded systems to adult insects. Once these platforms are integrated, various microsystem payloads can be mounted on the platforms with the goal of controlling insect locomotion, sense the local environment, and scavenge power. Multidisciplinary teams of engineers, physicists, and biologists are expected to work together to develop new technologies utilizing insect biology while developing foundations for the new field of insect cyborg engineering. The HI-MEMS may also serve as vehicles to conduct research to answer basic questions in biology.
The final demonstration goal of the HI-MEMS program is the delivery of an insect within five meters of a specific target located at hundred meters away, using electronic remote control, and/or global positioning system (GPS). Although flying insects are of great interest (e.g. moths and dragonflies), hopping and swimming insects could also meet final demonstration goals. In conjunction with delivery, the insect must remain stationary either indefinitely or until otherwise instructed. The insect-cyborg must also be able to transmit data from DOD relevant sensors, yielding information about the local environment. These sensors can include gas sensors, microphones, video, etc.
Reminiscing about the Brood X emergence of 2004:
Princeton: Bugging the bugs: Students collect data on cicadas.
During the next few weeks — as these “Brood X” cicadas emerge from 17 years of subterranean growth and play out their brief but noisy above-ground mating ritual — Princeton students will investigate a range of questions about how the insects behave and interact with the environment.
Golf: Muirfield the summer home this year for cicadas. Cicadas disrupting pro golfers. (thx b1nge).
“I thought we had some big bugs in Africa, but these things …” Ernie Els said.
Golf: A New York Times article about how the cicadas are making life miserable for pro golfers. Awwww. (thx AJay).
Usually, the biggest problem during the week of the Memorial Tournament is rain. This year, the biggest problem could be insects.
Photos: The Great Washington, D.C. Cicada Invasion from John M. Esparolini.
Photos: Brood X in Southern Indiana , from Janee.
These lovable (though somewhat creepy) creatures come out every 17 years, digging their way out from underground. In their 17th summer, they fly around, rather clumsily, mate, lay their eggs, and then die. Their above-ground show lasts about 6 weeks.
Photos from the New Jersey epicenter: cicadas invade
Princeton university from Julie Angarone.
From what I see and hear you will find cicadas galore down Prospect Street and at 171 Broadmead. The upper old campus (Nassau Hall etc) is slowly being inundated, and they are running rampant down near New South and the dorms near the dinky.
MP3 Music: Brood X (Magicicada septendecim) by George Fox.
Seventeen years was such a long time
Now we’re coming out and going up to the sky
BBC.com Trillions of bugs to invade USA. (thx Roy).
Trillions of insects are set to invade the eastern US as they burst from the earth after 17 years underground.
Cicada Mania was interviewed for and featured in this New
York Times article.
PRINCETON, N.J., May 18 – The cicadas are back. Or, since they’ve never actually left – just dropped out of sight – they’re out again.
Cicada fun fact: when they die, they smell really bad — kind of like "land shrimp".
Cicada Mania was mentioned in this recent
Washington Post article. (thx Donna)
In isolated pockets across the Washington area, periodical cicadas have begun to emerge in heavy numbers, the silent beginning of an infestation of black-bodied, red-eyed insects that is going to get a lot more intense and a lot more noisy before it ends next month.
Cicada Mania was mentioned in the Christian Science
Monitor article Invasion of the teenage insects.
Every 17 years they emerge. To some, it’s a dream come true: an opportunity to see nature in full-blown action. To others it’s a waking nightmare: the invasion of the really big bugs with the big red eyes.
Too good not to share: Cicada-licious: cooking and enjoying periodical cicadas: the ultimate guide to cooking and eating cicadas. [Adobe Acrobat PDF] Link goes to archive.org.
Washington Post :Cicada Emergence by the Numbers. This article features an exceptional chart outlining the probability of a cicada emergence. (thx Mike).
High-protein, low-carbohydrate diet fanatics take note: The billions of cicadas emerging from the ground en masse this month are a healthy alternative to that bacon double-cheeseburger without the bun.
The Washington Post’s Express is available online as a PDF Dowload it and read Helen Fields’ "Cicada Survival Guide".
Some people just couldn’t wait to meet the cicadas of Brood X—even if it meant traveling hundreds of miles.
Baltimore Sun heading: Ick! ‘Looks Like A Bumper Crop (thx Roy).
With uncanny mathematical precision, and with sex on their minds, millions of red-eyed cicadas that last saw daylight in 1987 are poised just beneath the Maryland soil, raring to wriggle out, raise hell, make love and die, carpeting the ground with rotting carcasses.
TerraDaily: After a 17 Year Wait, Milllions of Locust-like Insects To Swarm Parts Of The… (thx Roy).
Locust-like insects called cicadas will make their appearance soon in biblical proportions across large swathes of the United States for about three weeks — only to vanish and re-appear again.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed me on the 5/14/2004 episode of 360. Also on 5/14 I participated in a round table discussion of cicadas on Ira Flatow NPR’s Science Friday. Patrick Jenkins of the Newark Star Ledger interviewed us for the 5/13 edition of that paper.
The transcript of my interview on Anderson Cooper’s 360. BTW, the camera adds 20 pounds of fat and 40 pounds of ugly.
New York Times: After 17 Years, They’re Back, and in the Mood for Love
TERRIFYING creatures from a lost age strike from the depths of the earth!
In 1956, those words were used to describe ”The Mole People,” a sci-fi horror film about an ill-fated encounter with a subterranean civilization. But they might apply just as well today to a production coming soon to lawns across the Eastern United States: the invasion of Brood X.