Cyborg critters.

I DON'T have a problem with creepy-crawlies in general; having killed flies to feed the spiders in my garden as a child I've developed something of a love for arachnids and centipedes don't gross me out either. Lizards are useful to have around the house and every time I'm asked to 'dispose' of one at the insistence of She Who Must Be Obeyed, I try and scare it away while sparing its life; even the baby lizards scurrying across the floor get a free pass.

But I draw the line at cockroaches: those disgusting, scuttling, rapidly multiplying scourges with their twitchy antennae and nightmarish ability to grow wings and fly at you like tiny kamikaze pilots from hell. Of all the creatures on this earth, cockroaches are the one species I would shed absolutely no tears for if they went extinct and the real pity is that there is no chance of that happening. Cockroaches are over 300 million years old, having evolved before the present-day continents were formed (which is why they're absolutely everywhere) and before dinosaurs even existed. Most likely, they'll be around to dance on our radioactive bones long after we have wiped ourselves out.

So when I learned that Japanese scientists had decided to 'improve' cockroaches by implanting machinery onto them my first question was ... WHY? Dear God, why would anyone be insane enough to launch a scheme that would make the maddest of mad scientists reconsider? What is wrong with the Japanese? Are Godzilla and wasabi-flavoured KitKat not apocalyptic enough for you guys?

Worse, they've chosen the largest of the cockroach family for this ghastly enhancement: the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach which can grow to four inches long and one inch wide, and this is presumably because these are the only cockroaches big enough to carry the electronics and still be able to move. Their lack of wings also reduces obstruction when it comes to implanting the devices.

Cockroaches are set to save lives.

But it turns out that the Japanese haven't done this because they hate humanity. Quite the contrary, they've created cyborg cockroaches to save human lives. Here's how it works: first, a removable 'backpack' containing electronics and an ultrathin solar cell film is glued onto the cockroaches' back to power the device. Then, a wireless control module is attached to the thorax, which allows researchers to send electrical signals to the cockroaches' sensory organs, allowing them to control its movements.

As for the why of it...

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