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Computer Science and Mini-beasts

A ladybird eating an aphid

Copying the little creatures

Mini-beasts are amazing creatures. Despite their small size and apparent insignificance, they can do some staggering things, from creating amazingly strong materials like silk to being able to fly in ways a jet fighter would drool over.

Computer Scientists and engineers will look anywhere for inspiration, and that includes looking at mini-beasts. The more biologists study them and understand the amazing things they do and how they do it, the more the computer scientists can create machines that copy them. Here we see for example, how computer scientists have taken ideas from the way hover flies sneak up on mates, from the trails ants leave, and from the way crickets communicate.

It works the other way too, with computer scientists working with biologists to better understand the way mini-beasts can do the amazing things they do. That includes creating clever technology to allow us to see what is happening at high speed or creating clever databases that help biologists work out what the mini-beasts are up to.