Boffins from the Vienna University of Technology and US researchers have hatched out a plan to control fruit flies with lasers.
We are not sure of what inspired someone from a university to think "the world would be a better place if we could control fruit flies" and then to think "what would happen if I fried the beggars with a laser".
According to RedOrbit, after taking that initial inspiration, that same boffin convinced his chums at the Information Management and Preservation Lab within the Department of Software Technology and Interactive Systems at VUT to develop something called FlyMAD (Fly Mind Altering Device) which targets either light or heat to a specific body region of a fly that is in motion, triggering a response.
FlyMAD has allowed the boffins to zero in on two specific neuronal cell types that deal with courtship behaviour of the fruit fly. So when a male fly is just getting his box of chocolates and floral tie ready for his first date he has his neural pathways fried with a laser and made them moonwalk. It also stuffed up their courtship song.
FlyMAD, unlike previous techniques used in this field, provides researchers with a much more highly improved temporal resolution of their subject animals.
The entire system basically consists of an enclosed box in which the flies are housed. A video camera, can track several flies at once, captures the motion of the flies. The flies are then subjected to targeted irradiation that effectively allows the researchers to alter neural pathways.
The results of this study, which could potentially yield new and further insight into the mammalian brain, was published online on May 25 in the journal Nature Methods.
Of course it is not clear when scientists will be turning their lasers onto dating humans. We will know when they start to think that moonwalking is a good way to pick up members of the opposite sex.