Sunday, May 1, 2011

An Insect Smarter Than A Supercomputer
This is a bumblebee (genus Bombus), and it is smarter than you are.

When it comes to certain tasks this tiny insect, with a brain the size of a grass seed, is smarter than a supercomputer.

In the game of chess, humans and computers often duel it out to a standstill.There is one mathematical puzzle, however, where neither would stand a chance against this fuzzy hymenopteran.

The travelling salesman problem.

Imagine you are a salesman and you must visit a number of cities to sell your product. The problem before you is how to hit every city at least once and to travel the shortest possible distance in the process.
Supercomputers solve this problem the hard way, calculating all the possible routes and distances before arriving at a solution. This method can take hours or days, depending on the complexity of the problem.

Meanwhile, researchers have discovered that bumblebees solve this problem all the time. Given a selection of pollen-rich flowers, these bees don't hit the flowers in order of discovery, but rather take a broader approach and automatically find the shortest path to land on all the flowers at least once.

This should blow your mind. A bumblebee's brain contains fewer cells than we have clumped at the base of each optic nerve, and yet they can master complex tasks that even a human would have trouble with. More study is definitely needed, but in my opinion this bit of knowledge forever shatters our arrogant view that only organisms with brains similar to ours are capable of true intelligence.


  1. Next time when I come across a bee..this'll be the first thing that'll come in my mind.

  2. Insects also have a strong sense. I often see at home, on the wall, how the ants with its larvae move to a higher place when the rains will fall within 1-2 days.

    Life in the Backyard


  3. with daisugi here..seen insects and wldlife knowing bad weather appoaching..especially floods and scientific documentation yet so far..even snails are faster in avoiding flood..climbing up to higher places..