Reading about the latest developments in technology can really make me feel like an old fart. Consider fly swatters. For most of my life, if there was a fly that was annoying you, you rolled up a newspaper or magazine, crept up on the little Musca domestica Linnaeus, and quickly swatted it into oblivion. Those of us who believed in the importance of always having the right tool invested in a fly swatter. It soon became apparent that, unless you also purchased and wore a holster, this handy tool would never be handy when needed.
The true geek version of the fly swatter (which I confess to owning) was an electric model. Other than a satisfying sizzling sound when you scored a hit, the only real benefit of this gadget was to Duracell Corp’s bottom line. Just when you thought fly swatting technology had reached its pinnacle, scientists at Stanford’s Bio-X program raised the bar.
Catching flies for medical research used to require patience, stamina and anesthesia (for the flies), but a Stanford robot can grab them quickly and gently without drugs. Since the flies are unharmed, they can even be relocated and released into the wild.
So far, the researchers have limited their target to Drosophila (fruit fly), but Musca domestica Linnaeus (common house fly) can’t be far away.