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Science

Flies That Do Calculus With Their Wings 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the show-your-work dept.
DudeTheMath (522264) writes "Cornell University scientists studied how fruit flies respond to flight disturbances (instead of wind gusts, they used carefully controlled magnetic pulses) and found that the flies recover in as little as three wing beats (at 250 per second) by doing some kind of calculus in a little 'integrated circuit' of neurons that control the wings directly. The pitch and yaw results are already published, and the roll study is forthcoming."
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Flies That Do Calculus With Their Wings

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  • In other words.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scottbomb (1290580) on Friday March 21, 2014 @02:36AM (#46541125) Journal

    What the fly does naturally requires the use of calculus to mimick artificially. Seems pretty natural to me. The laws of physics and mathematics are inseperable.

  • Calculus? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Friday March 21, 2014 @02:42AM (#46541147)
    That's like saying that a dog catching a ball or frisbee is doing calculus. Nope, it's experience. Push me this hard, and I push back that hard. It goes that way about that fast, and I'll go this way. Turbulence pushes me here, I'll twitch back. That doesn't mean calculus, that just means quick feedback.

    A human-built bug might have to do the calculus, but the natural bugs don't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @03:53AM (#46541317)

    So when a dog catches a frisbee, is it doing calculus with its teeth?

  • Re:Calculus? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stox (131684) on Friday March 21, 2014 @04:58AM (#46541457) Homepage

    Actually, it is doing calculus with a highly optimized analog computer. Amazing what Mother Nature can do given enough time.

  • Re:Calculus? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @05:09AM (#46541485)

    That's like saying that a dog catching a ball or frisbee is doing calculus. Nope, it's experience.

    It's not "experience" either. Basically, it's calculus. But the fly isn't doing the calculus. Evolution did the calculus using a massively parallel Monte-Carlo optimization akin to "stupidsort" (stupidsort randomly permutes a sequence and then checks whether it is sorted, iterating when it isn't).

Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.

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