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Calculating Crustaceans?

Posted By Prucia Buscell, Thursday, April 26, 2012

Can crabs perform logical tasks? Yes, if a few thousand of them get together, this most ancient species can be technologically cutting edge.

Blue Soldier Crab
Blue Soldier Crab
Yukio-Pegio and Yuta Nishiyama of Kobe University in Japan and Andrew Adamatzky of the Unconventional Computing Centre at the University of West England have built a computer that uses huge swarms of blue soldier crabs to take the place of the usual silicon circuits. It's described in a Braniac post by Josh Rothman, and in a paper the scientists wrote in the Journal of Complex Systems.

When huge numbers of soldier crabs mass and move together in a directed way, they can signal ones and zeros, and the AND, OR and NOT "logic gates" that are the building blocks of computers. It's called collision computing, or billiard ball computing. When researchers compelled the crabs to run through a maze-like gate, they responded the same way electrons would. How did they compel the cabs? They scared them with a shadow that imitates a big predatory bird.

Adamatzky, who wrote a book about collision based computing, has been exploring slime mold computing. Scientists are increasingly interested in the ways natural systems maybe used to solve computing problems.

Blue Soldier Crabs

Blue soldier crabs live in warm shallow waters near beaches and mud flats in the Indo-Pacific region and tend to appear at low tide.

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