The University of Konstanz in Germany has created a virtual world- for insects! They study locusts’ movements and brains at the same time by attaching scanners to their heads while they walk about on a movable sphere, following the virtual locusts projected on the walls. They also study these insects in crowds, using little tags they’ve glued onto thousands of bugs. It does seem like something out of a dystopian science fiction novel, but don’t feel too bad for these locusts. They were bred to be eaten, so working in a virtual lab is probably the best life they could hope for. Who knows? Maybe these bugs think they’re playing the coolest video game ever. They still give Tom Scott the heebie-jeebies. But maybe you could think about these locusts the next time you put on your virtual reality headset and step into another world.
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Read more about these experiments at the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour.