Rally-X and Locusts

Posted on Tuesday 5 July 2005

racerX.jpg
I’ve been thinking about Locusts quite a bit lately as they are both destructive and also very fascinating creatures. One of the interesting bits about Locusts is their ability to avoid crashing into each other while flying through the air in numbers that make highway congestion look mild in comparison.

An article on the National Geographic site details the part of the Locust’s brain that controls this function:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/08/0806_040806_locusts.html


The bit that interests me is the fact that locust “see” much more quickly than humans, the world actually looks quite slowed down to them in comparison. If a bird or another locust is on a collision course the locust can process the information in 45 milliseconds and change course.

I was watching my son play a retro game called Rally-X, an interesting feature of this crude game (by todays standards) is the superimposition of the other cars and targets in the upper right hand portion of the race track. As you move along you must split your attention between navigating your car along the track and also navigating your general course and direction. This splitting of attention is the thing that we parents seem concerned with, but these abilities seem to be hard wired into many boys.

I am not convinced that games are not useful for gaging the cognitive abilities of humans to track multiple events and to merge multiple frames of reference at one time.


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