Scientist Learns About Moth Brain, Uses Word "Crepuscular"

Illustration for article titled Scientist Learns About Moth Brain, Uses Word Crepuscular

There are many reasons to watch the video associated with this research. Firstly, it shows you robotic flowers. Secondly, it explains how moths adjust to flying in extremely low light. Thirdly, if you’re an Archer fan, you get to hear the word “crepuscular” used correctly in a sentence.


Most hawkmoth research focuses on the mechanics of its flight. but scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology used its flight to find out something about its brain. The moth operates under extremely low light conditions, but still is able to fly with speed, agility, and precision. Scientists guessed that the moth was slowing its brain down to take in pictures with the most light.

That would mean that the moth would lose agility, and the scientists constructed robotic flowers that would sway in a fake breeze while noting the exact position of the hawkmoth’s proboscis. What they found was the slowed brain function made no difference to the hawkmoth’s precision, until the flower started moving faster than it ever would in nature. The moth only gave up mental function until the loss affected its “job,” and no more. That doesn’t help us design aircraft or other robots that are able to operate in low light, but it does give us a lesson in how important it is to design a robot with the exact specifications for its particular function.


If you want to see spectacular videos of a hawkmoth keeping up with a robot flower, go ahead and take a look at the video. It’s totaly crepuscular! Enjoy.

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Careful boys, he’s crepuscular!