Tonawanda News

Columns

February 24, 2013

DuVall: Rand Paul's goldfish-like memory a sign for GOP

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — Oh, and they’re not trying to study the democratic values of golden shiner fish. They’re studying behavioral habits among schools of the fish because they’ve proven adept at adapting to environmental changes (read: water pollution).

These little fishies, it seems, are far better than human technology at sensing changes in their environment and altering their behavior to compensate. So it would stand to reason if we can figure out how the fish are doing it we might be able to replicate it.

And make robots do it. At least that’s what Couzin said. 

I’ll be honest, he lost me with the robot thing.

But that’s just the point. I have no clue how golden shiner fish can help improve robot technology. No one does. I also had no idea that lightning could literally be caught in a bottle or what the practical application of it might be. But I’m sitting here tapping keys on a laptop computer that, when I open it, gives me access to all the information in the world.

How’s that for lightning in a bottle?

Are there examples of research grants gone awry? Of course. NASA spent thousands of dollars developing a pen that would write in space, where no gravity exists to pull the ink to the tip. The Russians brought pencils.

But 40 years later, the technology that helped win us the space race also served as the grandfather of the Internet. Which we now use to look at videos of kittens falling off things and guys accidentally getting hit in the groin with humorous objects like oversized whiffle bats.

So what’s the lesson here? For starters, if you want to stop being the stupid party don’t be so outwardly hostile to science. 

Oh, and before you go on TV criticizing something, have at least half a clue what you’re talking about — lest you wind up looking like that guy whose kid just picked up a whiffle bat.

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Contact him at eric.duvall@tonawanda-news.com.

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Contact him at eric.duvall@tonawanda-news.com.

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