Long story short: Cephalopods don't have their neurons organized in the same way that we vertebrates do. An octopus has as many neurons as a cat, but instead of relying on a central brain, the octopus' neurons are far more scattered. Some are centralized into what we might think of as a "brain"—in this case, a donut-shaped organ that actually wraps around the octopus' esophagus. But the bulk of the neurons are distributed throughout the octopus' body. When the octopus moves, the centralized and decentralized neurons work together, sharing information and the duties of processing and control*.
Researchers like Hochner think that distributed processing system could make for better robots that can do more thinking on their own. Now, his work is paying off. In the video above, you can see the robotic arm produced by an interdisciplinary, team funded by the European Commission, of which Hochner is a part. The 17-inch arm can grasp objects and is the first step in a larger plan to build an entire robot octopus.
I'll say that again, "Robot octopus." Feel free to squeel with delight.
*For the record, this is my guess for why the technically dead squid in that video Xeni posted on Monday still reacted when doused with soy sauce. Squid have distributed neurons, just like octopuses. So some of its "brain" was dead. But the distributed neurons spread throughout its arms were still, apparently, somewhat functional. In the video, I mentioned that one of the scientists I spoke with told me that the humane way to kill an octopus was to kill the whole octopus at once.
I can’t believe I have to write this, but maybe jamming other people’s shit up your ass isn’t a great idea. When done by medical professions, under very specific circumstances, a fecal transplant can mean the difference between life and death: implanting feces containing healthy gut microbiome into a patient’s body has been used by […]
Good news! This week, folks living in as far north as Michigan may get treated to a stunning light show as Auroras will be shining brighter and further away from the planet’s axis than usual. What a rare treat! The bad news: the same phenomenon that causes the Northern Lights to do their thing could […]
In 1990, once NASA’s twin Voyager probes had completed their grand tour of the solar system, it came time to shut off their cameras to preserve power and memory for the other scientific instruments onboard. But before that happened, there was one last photo opportunity not to be missed. Carl Sagan, a member of the […]
Trains may not be the most popular means of conveyance nowadays, but chances are you grew up playing with toy trains or building a model set to wrap around the Christmas tree. In either case, it’s safe to say that locomotives have long carried a unique sense of awe and scale, especially when they’re hundreds […]
When it comes to redesigning or renovating a living space, envisioning changes before they occur can be tricky for most. Thankfully, the web is home to tools that can remove some of the guesswork, like Live Home 3D Pro for Mac. This app lets you create detailed and furnished floor plans for everything from sheds and […]
For many startups and fledgling businesses, web hosting — and the fees associated with it — can take a sizeable chunk out of the company budget and limit growth down the road. But, that’s not to say there aren’t hosts out there who can get your site online while staying within your budget. Arch Hosting is a […]