3D Punk Mantis Vs Science Girl

Yeah, I don’t really think she’s all punk rock and such, but I couldn’t decide on a damn title. This is actually about a science blog I wrote regarding 3D vision in the insect world. You know, gettin’ all entomology and invertebrate on you — Lola-style. But first…

Ready for movie night. Credit: Newcastle University
Ready for movie night. Credit: Newcastle University

Far be it for me, and forgive me for asking, and I don’t mean to pry, but I must first digress into another subject, although similar in nature. [ Random Hector and the Search for Happiness Quote ]

I spend a good chunk of every single day looking for new source material and studies (SCIENCE!). Sure, I scour the news channels like everyone else. It’s a (bad) habit I picked up over 15 years ago when I started doing this kind of thing.

“Wait for news. Report the news.”

But I like to go deeper and chase the first-to-press thing.

Time and tide have taught me that’s the way to go. But the jury is still out on the formula in today’s market. I’ll jump on something, and no one bats an eye. A week later? Everyone’s all over it.

I’ll check the academic press outlets for releases. I’ll visit university websites. I’ll go straight to the source because — you know — sometimes they haven’t marketed or truly released something yet.

My browser is familiar with them all. I only need to type in the first 2-3 letters of a website’s URL and I’m there.

I’m impatient. I know that. I want to know what’s happening in the science world the very minute it’s happening. Yes, I’m a geek. I can’t resist science.

My drug of choice:

  • One million open browser tabs (in 3 browsers at once)
  • F5 is my best friend (CTRL-R when I’m feeling feisty)
  • Copious notes that would make even Sherlock Holmes feel like a toddler

Damn. Train of thought derailed, didn’t it? Okay, on to this kickass mantis thing.

Disco Mantis modelling 3D glasses. Credit: Newcastle University
Disco Mantis modelling 3D glasses. Credit: Newcastle University

See, I have a few core subjects that I love to report on. That’s because I love the research involved. Learning new things is friggin’ awesome. Those core subjects are bugs (because I’m scared of them), robots (because…robots), nanotechnology (because…duh robots), and space (duh! LOL). This darling little insect caught my eye from the moment I saw her.

She had me at hello. And wouldn’t she look lovely in a Devo hat?

I am TERRIFIED of stick insects, mantises, crickets, anything with “sticky” legs. But damn…they’re fucking adorable and fascinating in the hands of a proper photographer or scientist.

This lovely specimen was part of a study on insect vision and how it could be applied to robotics. Ding ding! That hits two of my targets.

See, these researchers fashioned old school 3D glasses and attached them with beeswax to the praying mantises. They tried normal filters first, like we would use. But they had to alter it for insect wavelengths. Second try…blammo. Damned if they don’t see in 3D (stereopsis).

As a matter of fact, the bugs got bored looking through 2D lenses. They only went after the 3D images.

The researchers will now continue the research to find new ways of adding 3D technology to computers and robots.

On the one hand: BUGS…eewwww. On the other: Bugs and robots rock.

Here’s my full report. Enjoy!

Love, Lola

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