Thursday, December 20, 2007
Those Dirty Rats Aren't so Dirty After All
Here's a great example - clearing mine fields. Most people think about solving this problem using very expensive equipment and, most expensive of all, human beings (expensive, most notably, in terms of lives lost). When those solutions aren't practical, some countries use trained dogs (which are very expensive to acquire, train, and keep happy). Poorer countries will simply unleash a flock of sheep in a mine field and hope that gets the job done, but in a third world country, a flock of sheep is worth a fortune.
Enter the broad-thinker. Why not train ubiquitous and much-hated rats, who have a great sense of smell, to sniff out mines? Turns out, it works incredibly well: