Hi, home defenders. Since I've polished off Fracas and the ongoing bane of my existence that is the Nuclear column early for a change, I thought it might be nice to resurrect this feature, which long-term readers may remember from the very first publication of HD. Ah, those were the days, eh? Back when we were funny? No? Well, anyway...
Actually, I should probably point out that this isn't satire. I know it's hard to tell sometimes, so just a quick heads up. DARPA, insect cyborgs and bat bombs are all very much grounded in reality. In addition, you'll doubtless notice that this isn't technically a weapon - though I'm sure it could be, with a little imagination. Thank you for your time.
Pentagon scientists are intending to develop remote-controlled insect cyborgs for military use.
The Defence Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) - the blue-sky arm of the U.S. Department of Defence - began advertising this week for research proposals in a project that aims to "develop new technologies utilizing insect biology, while developing foundations for the new field of insect cyborg The specific goal of the project is to control the movement of the insect to a distance of five hundred metres, stop it, and transmit back information relevant to military application, such as audio-visual data or gas and chemical readings.
DARPA suggest that introducing micro-electrical mechanical systems - or MEMS - into the insects during the early stages of metamorphosis will provide a "more reliable bio-electromechanical interface to insects, as compared to adhesively bonded systems to adult insects" - so if, like me, you immediately thought of duct tape, I'm afraid you might as well give up now.
However, they're quick to reassure prospective candidates that "Although flying insects are of great interest (e.g. moths and dragonflies), hopping and swimming insects could also meet final demonstration goals". Phew! We're not out of the game yet, Jiminy...
Previous wacky schemes to allow our animal friends to share the fun of warfare include the World War II bat bomb
project, in which hibernating bats were to be fitted with tiny incendiary devices and dropped from planes. Once the
bats had roosted the bombs would explode, causing widespread damage to the target city. An early test of the
project failed when the sleepy bats failed to wake up, and fell to their deaths. Aww. It was eventually shelved in
favour of the atomic bomb.
Interested readers may wish to obtain the "BAA 06-22, Hybrid Insect Micro Systems, Proposer Information
Pamphlet" from the FedBizOpps website, at this URL:
Good luck, boffins!