Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Alien robot?

BeeIn the photo (right) you'll see a bee. On its back is what looks like some sort of rectangular object, with something sticking out of it at the top, on its back. The sheen gives it a metallic look. So what might this mysterious object be?

One possibility is a tracking device placed there by a naturalist. Such devices really exist - see here for an account with a photo. However, the devices are rather bigger, at present, than the object here. So what about an insect drone? Yes, those exist too - see here for stuff on those. However, those devices don't, at present, look too much like real insects. A third possibility is that the bee is actually an alien robot observing life on Earth.

That last possibility sounds a bit far fetched but it isn't at all. Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, pointed out in this week's New Scientist that technology evolves far more quickly than biological life. So artificial intelligence is likely to quickly take over from biological intelligence as alien civilizations become more advanced. And, in my opinion, if an advanced alien civilization was interested in visiting Earth they'd quite likely send robots rather than biological life forms. Such machines would not just be more intelligent that biological species but would be far better at surviving the conditions in space and on alien worlds. And why not use robots disguised as a Earth insects to observe undetected? But surely any alien technology capable of navigating vast distances of space would make a better job of building a bee than the one above? So, it probably isn't one of those either.

BeeLooking at a close up (right) of the object on the bee's body it no longer looks rectangular. Indeed, it isn't a single object at all. It now looks like a group of allantoid* objects. They could be bits of pollen or seeds from a plant. Either way, I don't think any exotic explanation, like aliens, is required.

Oddly, I've noticed that once I see the zoomed version, the first photo actually looks different. I no longer see a rectangular shiny object on top of the bee but something more like the allantoid things. That sounds like misperception at work. If so, then some of you probably never saw the 'rectangular object' in the first place! None of this changes what I said about alien robots. If I see any insect behaving strangely, I'll take a close look at it. And maybe say hello.

* OK I admit it, I'd never come across that word before.

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