No, DARPA has not trained swarms of bees to attack on command. Nor have they invented the bee hand from “Bioshock”. Nor have they weaponized Nicolas Cage screaming “BEEEEEEEEEES!” Have I used up all your memes? Good, moving on.
Scientists at MIT decided to put proteins found in bee venom called bombolitins in carbon nanotubes, because that’s what they do there. I used to walk past MIT’s campus and I once saw a student and her professor sitting on a roof fiddling with what I swear was a WWII era mortar. It’s like Aperture Science without the brakes there, seriously.
Anyway, after doing this, and discovering that “because it’s cool” was not a good reason, they discovered that the bombolitins changed how the nanotubes fluoresced when they bonded with even one molecule of explosive in the air. The tubes just fluoresce anyway, but it changes the wavelength.
Different bombolitins even react to different types of explosives. Oh, and it doesn’t need a specialized environment to operate. Basically, bees are helping us find explosives with incredible precision and accuracy.
Now get on that bee hand, MIT.
[ via the stinging wits at Gizmag ]