So long, thanks for all the ...er, FISH BRIGHTER than boffins thought

Don't let the dolphins keep you in your, er, plaice


Smug humans tend to think fish are the stupidest of all beasties. But that belief has turned out to be a load of barnacles after boffins revealed the true intellect of our fishy friends.

Researchers from the University of Bath joined forces with London's Queen Mary University to work out how zebrafish perceive their deep sea surroundings.

They wanted to know if the fish could use parallel visual search, which has only been identified in mammals to date. This allows land-lubbing beasties to respond to several different stimuli at once.

But the boffins were amazed to see similar skills in fish.

When researchers showed the zebrafish a series of coloured discs, they learned to associate the colour red with food and would reliably choose it over all the other discs.

Dr Michael Proulx, of the University of Bath's Department of Psychology, said: "Although vision seems simple and quick, it involves a lot of computational power.

"It is incredible to discover that the zebrafish brain, with its small size and simple structure, can seemingly find a target visually without getting slower.

"No matter how many items we added to the scene to distract the fish, they had no problem responding at the same speed every time."

We've always known sea creatures aren't as stupid as they look. After all, don't fish swim in schools?

A study on the research has been published in PLOS One. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • NASA circles August in its diary to put Artemis I capsule in Moon orbit
    First steps by humans to recapture planet's natural satellite

    NASA is finally ready to launch its unmanned Orion spacecraft and put it in the orbit of the Moon. Lift-off from Earth is now expected in late August using a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

    This launch, a mission dubbed Artemis I, will be a vital stage in the Artemis series, which has the long-term goal of ferrying humans to the lunar surface using Orion capsules and SLS technology.

    Earlier this week NASA held a wet dress rehearsal (WDR) for the SLS vehicle – fueling it and getting within 10 seconds of launch. The test uncovered 13 problems, including a hydrogen fuel leak in the main booster, though NASA has declared that everything's fine for a launch next month.

    Continue reading
  • Photonic processor can classify millions of images faster than you can blink
    We ask again: Has science gone too far?

    Engineers at the University of Pennsylvania say they've developed a photonic deep neural network processor capable of analyzing billions of images every second with high accuracy using the power of light.

    It might sound like science fiction or some optical engineer's fever dream, but that's exactly what researchers at the American university's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences claim to have done in an article published in the journal Nature earlier this month.

    The standalone light-driven chip – this isn't another PCIe accelerator or coprocessor – handles data by simulating brain neurons that have been trained to recognize specific patterns. This is useful for a variety of applications including object detection, facial recognition, and audio transcription to name just a few.

    Continue reading
  • World’s smallest remote-controlled robots are smaller than a flea
    So small, you can't feel it crawl

    Video Robot boffins have revealed they've created a half-millimeter wide remote-controlled walking robot that resembles a crab, and hope it will one day perform tasks in tiny crevices.

    In a paper published in the journal Science Robotics , the boffins said they had in mind applications like minimally invasive surgery or manipulation of cells or tissue in biological research.

    With a round tick-like body and 10 protruding legs, the smaller-than-a-flea robot crab can bend, twist, crawl, walk, turn and even jump. The machines can move at an average speed of half their body length per second - a huge challenge at such a small scale, said the boffins.

    Continue reading
  • Intel: Our fabs can mass produce silicon qubit devices
    If conventional silicon manufacturing processes can be repurposed, it could help create practical quantum systems

    Updated Intel and QuTech claim to have created the first silicon qubits for quantum logic gates to be made using the same manufacturing facilities that Intel employs to mass produce its processor chips.

    The demonstration is described by the pair as a crucial step towards scaling to the thousands of qubits that are required for practical quantum computation.

    According to Intel, its engineers working with scientists from QuTech have successfully created the first silicon qubits at scale at Intel's D1 manufacturing factory in Hillsboro, Oregon, using a 300mm wafer similar to those the company uses to mass produce processor chips.

    Continue reading
  • TACC Frontera's 2022: Academic supercomputer to run intriguing experiments
    Plus: Director reveals 10 million node hours, 50-70 million core hours went into COVID-19 research

    The largest academic supercomputer in the world has a busy year ahead of it, with researchers from 45 institutions across 22 states being awarded time for its coming operational run.

    Frontera, which resides at the University of Texas at Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), said it has allocated time for 58 experiments through its Large Resource Allocation Committee (LRAC), which handles the largest proposals. To qualify for an LRAC grant, proposals must be able to justify effective use of a minimum of 250,000 node hours and show that they wouldn't be able to do the research otherwise. 

    Two additional grant types are available for smaller projects as well, but LRAC projects utilize the majority of Frontera's nodes: An estimated 83% of Frontera's 2022-23 workload will be LRAC projects. 

    Continue reading
  • Scientists make spin ice breakthrough
    Artificial spin ice with smallest features ever created could be part of novel low-power HPC

    Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute and ETH Zurich in Switzerland have managed to accomplish a technological breakthrough that could lead to new forms of low-energy supercomputing.

    It's based around something called artificial spin ice: think of water molecules freezing into a crystalline lattice of ice, and then replace the water with nanoscale magnets. The key to building a good spin ice is getting the magnetic particles so small that they can only be polarized, or "spun," by dropping them below a certain temperature. 

    When those magnets are frozen, they align into a lattice shape, just like water ice, but with the added potential of being rearranged into a near infinity of magnetic combinations. Here the use cases begin to emerge, and a couple breakthroughs from this experiment could move us in the right direction.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022