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'New' Israeli Bionic Hornet Concept Is 70 Years Old

Bionic hornets? According to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel is developing a nanotechnology-based "bionic hornet" no bigger than an insect. This weaponized bug would be able to chase, photograph and kill targets, easily maneuvering in urban landscapes. Very futuristic - not.

Frankly, if you are going to spend your time reading what amounts to science-fictional claims relating to 'bionic hornets' - there won't even be prototypes for three years - you might as well read the real story.

In his excellent 1936 short story The Scarab, science fiction writer Raymond Z. Gallun describes exactly what the Israelis seem to want.

The Scarab paused on its perch for a moment, as if to determine for itself whether it was perfectly fit for action. It was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length...

...With a buzz that any uninformed person would have mistaken for that of a beetle, it started out on its journey...

...the Scarab buzzed into the great workroom as any intruding insect might, and sought the security of a shadowed corner. There it studied its surroundings, transmitting to its manipulator, far away now, all that it heard through its ear microphones and saw with its minute vision tubes.
(Read more about the Scarab flying insect robot)

The Scarab also had the ability to deliver a soporific "sting" upon command. Note also that the Scarab is right on top of the latest trends, including wireless power (see Wireless Power For Laptops, Cellphones?).

Why would Israel, which possesses the most powerful military in the region, want tiny weapons? "The war in Lebanon proved that we need smaller weaponry. It's illogical to send a plane worth $100 million against a suicidal terrorist. So we are building futuristic weapons," Prime Minister Shimon Peres said.

As long as the Israelis are developing their 'bionic hornet' specification, they might as well read the literature:

  • Blurbflies
    From Jeff Noon's Nymphomation (2000); these are the perfect disinformation and propaganda devices.
  • Bee Cam
    From Karen Travis' City of Pearl (2004); this is just what you want for autonomous surveillance.
  • Aerostat Monitor
    From Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age (1995), these tiny devices kept a watch on the borders.
And they should take a look at the current development efforts: This story has been repeated in various places, with the same very skimpy facts. Some sites erroneously report that Israel already has one of these. Reuters is as good a source as any.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/19/2006)

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