Thursday, July 18, 2024

The fly and built-in GPS

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
"Subtly charming problem solver. Extreme tv enthusiast. Web scholar. Evil beer expert. Music nerd. Food junkie."

The House of Science is like a collection of stories. Beautiful tales told to live in all their freshness. But also in all its complexities. Arch to marvel at the treasures of the world. In this new episode, we will focus on a very common insect: the fly.

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[EN VIDÉO] The menacing fly is spinning like a fighter plane
Flies use the same techniques as fighter planes to avoid predators. Demonstration with this video made with high speed cameras.

flies. Usually, they annoy us by going around in circles in our kitchens or living rooms. Then the temptation is great to seize and conquer the anomaly. But let’s take a deep breath and take the time today to try to understand it. For if they adopt what appears to us to be the most exasperating habit, it is, in fact, quite simply… for love! While waiting for the female to feel anxious, the male can actually walk in circles for hours. His way of making himself interesting…

It still looks a bit like more evidence that a file flies They are not very smart. It must be said that with a brain The size of a poppy seed and no more than 100,000 nervous cells, they were not helped. However, scientists are categorical: these small insects are able to remember and, accordingly, learn. Flies, for example, can distinguish between dangerous places and safe places.

For example, their brain, no matter how small, is able to calculate the direction of their movement even though their heads and body are not pointing in the same direction. when ? Yes, when you walk down the street and turn your head towards the person accompanying you. This is what your brain does, too. Flies have very few friends, but it can still happen to them. When they flap their wings to go forward, but a strong enough wind pushes them backwards, for example.

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flies and vector calculus

When closing a file eyesYou’ll also still be able to tell where you are in the room and in what direction you “look”, thanks to cells that scientists call directional cells in the head. Well, it’s the same with flies. hiding in a little brain, cells indicating the angle at which their head is pointing. A bit like the needle on a compass pointing north.

But there are also other cells that indicate which direction the flies are moving. No matter which way they turn their head. the researchers So show that in the brain of flies, four classes of nervous cells sensitive to a movement Visible. It is enough to break the movement of these small insects along the three axes of space. and add a component Speed. a bit like a student in physique That would break the course of the study object.

Thus it appears that the brain of flies is capable of very complex calculations. Types of directed operations. It is thanks to neurons that translate information into waves whose height, for example, is an analogue of the length of the vector. It remains to explain how this funny insects They were able to trace their previous paths. How their brains integrate signals about the direction and speed of their movement over time to form memories. But one thing is for sure now, the flies… They aren’t that stupid!

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