A b of very little brain

A b of very little brain

With apologies to A A Milne, the “b” in the title does, of course, refer to the bee not the bear.

Most of our readers will already be aware of the navigational abilities of bees and the fact that they are essential for both biodiversity and food production. However, until this morning, some may have missed the fact that  Professor James Marshall of Sheffield University has created a digital version of a bee’s brain made of silicon to help design the next generation of autonomous technology. If you did not hear it, there was a very engaging interview with Professor Marshall on the BBC’s Today programme this morning (at 1 hr and 26 minutes in).

The research is fascinating and the commercial applications appear to offer a step change advance on current technologies.

The mathematics is pretty distracting too. Apparently, the brain of a bee is the size of a pinhead and 0.0002% the volume of the human brain. It has around 1 million neurons whereas the human brain has around 100 billion.  As everyone knows, men have larger brains than women. Thanks in part to Professor Marshall’s research, we can now measure that difference in number of bees. Depending on the time of year, we can now categorically state that, men have between 1 and 7 more hives of brain capacity than women. You heard it here first!

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