Flies only devote 12 brain cells to learning from experience. Now, scientists have discovered how to program those cells directly, according to BBC NEWS. It required a genetic modification of the cells so they had a receptor for a particular chemical, plus laser-activated release of that chemical in the presence of a particular odor, but at the end of the process, the flies had learned to treat that odor as though the worst thing in the world had happened to them the last time they smelled it.
In short, we are not far from being able to write directly to organic memory. At least with simple insect brains, we will be able to teach living things to love or hate odors and perhaps other experiences.
I sort of like the idea of, say, hundreds of cockroaches programmed to swarm out of TSA checkpoints and home in on the smell of explosives. Now that would solve the booty call problem in a way that would deter even the most hardened of terrorists.
Thank you for an image that will haunt me until I die, Stewart.
Posted by: Lawrence | Oct 19, 2009 at 10:54 AM
You think I should have reserved the movie rights?
Posted by: Stewart Baker | Oct 19, 2009 at 01:20 PM