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Friday, July 17, 2015

My Computer's Got Crabs

I really like www.gizmag.com… they have some really cool news stories about technology from around the world… occasionally making stops in Japan.

I don't pretend to know how my computer works, but apparently enough people do to ensure I'll never be the smartest guy in the room (with regards to computers).

However, I may not even be the smartest guy at beach - and I did so want to be the hero there.

Apparently some brainiac Japanese researchers have created a computer that works with crabs.

No… not that angry IT guy… but rather those scuttling marine/land critters that make their way onto one's dinner table and taste sooooo good.

Apparently, one Yukio-Pegio Gunji (and team) have figured out a way to use the natural behavior of soldier crabs - and only this species - to design and build logic gates.

What are logic gates? Apparently they are the basic components of an analogue computer.

These Kobe University scientists looked at Mictyris longicarpus (soldier crabs) - via field experiments on Funaura Bay, Iriomote Island in Japan.

These crabs are interesting… they do NOT, as single entities (or small groups), enter the water… but will become more brave when they bump into each other and form larger and larger groups… platoons, if you will.
A crab computer might present its own set of problems when you are trying to watch on-line porn.
And… when formed into a large swarm, they have no problems entering the water… as well… when the swarm gets spooked by a predator, they move in what is pretty evidently a straight line. Always.

This is predictable behavior.

As well… when two swarms of soldier crabs collide into one another, they react in an 'excuse me' manner and UNLIKE two balls bouncing off each other at opposite angles, these crabs meld together into a new larger swarm and then move at the COMBINED angle of the original swarms.

And… since they always do this, researchers can use this predictable behavior in the creation of the computer logic gates.

For the crabs, the researchers placed two, count'em, two swarms of crabs (I have no idea what constitutes a swarm of crabs, but assume a whole mess of crabs like in the photo above) into a large, but simple maze.

See image below, looking at Image 1 through 4:

Placed in separate side roads, when they bump into each other, they always moved up into single road…

Researchers then realized, that since the swarms will always go in the same direction… they added more avenues to test that theory. See image below:

The researchers were pleased to discover that the combined swarm would always continue in that same direction… no doubling back… no going to a side… just always moving into the new (but same) direction every time.

To be honest, Gizmag kind of lost me after that… you can read the original article HERE:

I'm not going to pretend to know any more… but should YOU wish to build your own crab computer, you can learn more about it by reading the research paper HERE.

Apparently I'm not smart enough to understand any more than what I presented to you above.. the Gizmag description… it confused me… like all of a sudden the soldier crab was replaced by that fake crab beginning with a "k."

By the way… the Japanese word for crane is kani… pronounced like the name "Connie".

When I first arrived in Japan and had to give self-introductions to my junior high school classes, I would pull out a swathe of photographs, pass them around and give a description of my life back in Toronto, Canada.

One of the photos was of the very beautiful Connie… I called her my girlfriend, but in truth she was just a girl who was a friend… and man, I wanted her to be more… but at that point in my life I was apparently repugnant to every single female in the western hemisphere.

And then Japan... God I love Japan…

Anyhow… after I told the class "My girlfriend's name is Connie" - one of the junior high school boys couldn't take it any longer and burst out laughing, making pincer gestures with his fingers doing the Vulcan salute in a manner that would have shocked Mr. Spock, if he ever released his emotions…

Funny guys those Japanese… I bet my student probably grew up to be the guy who created this crab computer… I have no proof that he did… but weirder things seem to happen around me (aka the "It's A Small World" paradigm) that would be even better predicable behavior.

Apparently when your computer dies on you, now you can eat it.
Andrew Joseph

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