Bees' brains more powerful than computers

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: bees, computers, health news

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(NaturalNews) A new study set to be published in the journal The American Naturalist has discovered that bees' tiny brains are capable of performing mathematical functions far more quickly and efficiently than even today's most powerful computers. According to the study, bees are able to quickly calculate the shortest flying routes among their network of flowers and plants in order to minimize flying time, a feat that even the speediest computers take days to solve.

For years, researchers have been trying to solve the "traveling salesman problem", an efficiency conundrum centered around how best to route sales calls to save time and increase efficiency. But scientists from Royal Holloway, University of London, have found the answer in an insect brain the size of a grass seed.

"Foraging bees solve traveling salesman problems every day," Dr. Nigel Raine from Royal Holloway is quoted as saying in The Guardian. "They visit flowers at multiple locations and, because bees use lots of energy to fly, they find a route which keeps flying to a minimum."

The team set up artificial, computer-operated flowers and tracked bee behavior to see how they assessed and picked their routes. Instead of simply following a flying pattern based on the order in which they found flowers, the bees actually recalculated in their brains the best overall route to take to maximize efficiency and save energy.

"Despite their tiny brains, bees are capable of extraordinary feats of behavior," Raine went on to say. "We need to understand how they can solve the traveling salesman problem without a computer."

Previous studies have found that bees have amazing memory capacities for their size. Their incredible olfactory senses are also amazingly powerful at discerning and remember different smells and aromas.

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