Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Fruit Fly Guy

The NYT has a nice portrait of Michael Dickinson. I've admired his work ever since I first encountered it. He has devoted much of his career to trying to understand the fruit fly, unravelling a lot of the mysteries of insect flight in the process.

One of the most surprising things he has found is just how richly instrumented these tiny creatures are.

They can taste with their wings,” he adds, as his enthusiasm builds. “No one knows any reason why they have taste cells on their wing. Their bodies are just covered with sensors. This is one of the most studied organisms in the history of science, and we’re still fundamentally ignorant about many features of its basic biology. It’s like having an alien in your lab.