Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Latest Pentagon Weapons System: Jaws?

I'd heard about the Pentagon training dolphins, but I didn't know they were ready to move to something nastier so soon!

The Pentagon hopes to exploit sharks' natural ability to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails," says the report, carried in next Saturday's New Scientist.

"By remotely guiding the sharks' movements they hope to transform the animals into stealth spies, perhaps capable of following vessels without being spotted."

The unusual project is being funded by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which pioneered the Internet as a platform for robust communications.

Scientists involved in the scheme presented their work last week at a meeting on Ocean Sciences in Honolulu, Hawaii, according to the report.

A team at Boston University have implanted electrodes into the brain of a spiny dogfish in a shallow tank.

The implants, controlled by a small radio transmitter, stimulate either the right or left side of a brain area dedicated to smell, causing the fish to flick around in that direction in response to the signal.

This is bizarre, but DARPA always has taste for the crazy! Remote control sharks is a new one! I wonder what PETA thinks. And I don't wonder because I sympathize with their cause, I wonder because I'm sure their hysterical reaction will be hilarious. (H/t: Reason! With bonus Austin Powers connection)