May 21, 2011
Of mice and graduate students
Reading Amy Stewart’s Wicked Bugs and was greatly taken with this tale of the deadly Asian giant hornet:
After the larvae have finished their meal [of dead insects], the adults tap on their heads, which prompts the larvae to offer up a “kiss” consisting of a few drops of clear liquid. The adults drink this liquid, using it as a source of fuel. The Japanese scientists harvested the clear liquid, one drop at a time, from larvae they found in over eighty hornets’ nests. In the laboratory they demonstrated that both mice and graduate students showed reduced fatigue and an increased ability to turn fat into energy after drinking the juice.
Stewart does not specify whether they tested it on the mice or graduate students first.
Say what you like about category theory not having any practical applications, at least my supervisor never made me drink hornet barf.