What is Cyborg?
A cyborg, a portmanteau of “cybernetic organism”, is a being with both organic and bio-mechatronic body parts. The term was coined in 1960 by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline. In 2020, a breakthrough in this technology is being taking rounds in the corridors of the Global Scientific Community where scientists funded by the United States Navy have revealed they have successfully augmented locusts and hijacked their ability to sense a wide range of chemical odours, including explosives.
The Locust Cyborg
Until now Locusts were a menace for farmers across the globe for having an extra appetite for farm products and their ability to reproduce fast thereby consuming large areas of farmlands and the crops growing in them. For more details, read the article below.
According to a pre-print research paper published on February 11,2020 in BioRxiv, the insects have been used to detect gases released by substances like ammonium nitrate, commonly used by terrorist groups for bomb-making, and the military explosives TNT and RDX. Individual locusts were able to successfully sniff out incendiary material, but the results improved when the scientists compiled data from seven or more locusts, where the detection capability was distributed across a mini-swarm.
The Washington University scientists cocooned the locusts in tiny wheeled robots that could be positioned at will. The researchers chose to work with American locusts because they are “sturdy” and “can carry heavy payloads,” the preprint paper reveals. The real challenge was finding a way to read the locusts’ minds without subjecting them to extensive surgery. The procedure involved making a “minor” incision in the locusts’ heads that allowed the insects to continue moving their mouthparts and antennae freely afterward.
The robot-bound locusts were exposed to five different explosives and a few other chemicals. Within 500 milliseconds of exposure to each substance, a discernible and distinct pattern of activity appeared in the insects’ brains. Good-quality signals can be picked up by the electrodes for around seven hours after locusts receive their implants but fade beyond that, the researchers write. However, that there are still practical challenges in keeping the augmented locusts alive.
After reading this article I felt happy enough to know that these “small buggers” could be useful in some way rather than destroying our crops and fields.