Halloween’s First Line of Offense Could Totally Whip You at Laser Tag

too close, a little too close

Flies.  yeah, they’re gross, but we’re not here to talk about that.  We’re here to appreciate the magnificence belonging even to those creatures attracted to slimy carrion (they can smell it from 10 miles away!) or the ever delicious ex-scream-ment.  (halloween puns may or may not be essential to an october blog.  discuss).

Frank(enstein)ly, our eyesight is pathetic, and a fly’s put ours to shame.  Blow flies (the family of which includes most every basic fly you can think of), can see 100 frames per second (FPS).  We can see 20 ish FPS.  Your basic movie is filmed with cameras shooting at 24 FPS, which when projected together appears as motion to our eyes.  But if a fly were to watch, say, The Fly, they would see one single image followed by a long period of stillness, then another image followed by more stillness.   Like watching stop-motion animation on 5 x slow-mo.  Boredom and frustration ensue.  This is really the result for a human too, but at least we can appreciate Jeff Goldblum pre-jurassic park, or Vincent Price pre-death (depending on which version you happen to be watching).

fly flight simulator (fly at bottom, eez tie-knee)

In fact, that’s how scientists (enter the scientists) think it works.  Flies don’t think about the meaning of the things they see, only the basics.  I can eat it, it could kill me, it’s sexy.  Maneuver accordingly.  Whereas we humans gotta make it all complicated and take up valuable milliseconds in the brain breaking down the meaning of things we see; is it art?  how does this affect others?  how might i use it for future reference?  If we tried to fly as fast as a fly does, there would be splattered us’s all over everywhere.  We just see too slow.

Scientists (there they are again…) have actually created flight simulators for flies, hooking them up to a mini harness that records their movements and electrodes that monitor brain reactions.  Can we take a moment to picture some lab coat trying to get a tiny harness on a fly?  moment.  Anyway, robot builders are stoked because they want to make a robot that can react automatically to its surroundings with the sensory data systems similar to a fly’s brain, which is simpler and more efficient than ours.

P.S. cats can see 50-60 FPS, so they can watch TV, but they tend to get bored quickly.  Probably cuz slo-motion is boring, or you have deplorable tv taste. I find the mouse cursor gets better cat-batting results.



  1. I wonder how many fps dogs see? They seems to be pretty glued to the tube at times, of course, they’re also much more easily amused much like most bipedal humanoids!


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