11 June 2007 00:00 [Source: ICB]
The bees' knees: a more effective detector than sniffer dogs
DO YOU have any colleagues who take just 15 minutes to train and never get bored at work? If you do, then they have something in common with the sniffer bee.
Inscentinel Ltd, a small biotechnology company based in the UK, specialising in the olfactory ability of insects for trace vapour detection, has come up with a new piece of bomb-detecting technology, the honey bee.
The bees have been trained by using classical conditioning methods to recognise chemical substances in the air. These include explosives.
Each time a particular chemical is passed through the air, the bee is given some food and extends its tongue to eat. This means that the bee can be trained to repeat the action each time it comes into contact with and recognises the chemical, and this is then recorded by image-detecting software inside a mobile fume cupboard.
The technology could be used globally to detect both terrorist bombs and land mines and may also be used in food quality and safety, and in medical diagnostic sectors.
Watch the sniffer bees being trained at http://tinyurl.com/ 2papme
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