Researchers at Queen Mary, University of London and Royal Holloway have discovered that bees learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they discover the flowers in a different order. This ‘Travelling Salesman Problem’ often takes supercomputers days to solve, but Bees are now the first animals proven to do it. Computer-controlled artificial flowers were used to track the bee’s path and found they quickly learned the shortest route. Since a bee’s brain is only the size of a pinhead, researchers are hoping to identify the neural circuitry required and use that understanding to construct their own systems that rival the computational power of existing machines
Fascinating. A humbling reminder that despite the fact we consider computers near godlike in their abilities – there are solutions even the brightest minds can’t duplicate with a Turning-based machine. Or even reproduce at all.
Has often made me wonder if some day we’ll have a quantum or other non-Turing ‘co-processor’ with our current machines that is based on an architecture more suited to solving these types of difficult problems.