Using conductive spray paint, scientists have even found a way to make any object into a touch screen.
By spraying a thin coat that carries an electric charge onto a guitar, for example, it's possible to hook it up to a computer and make it respond to touch through a system called electric field tomography.
When NSIT - then called the National Bureau of Standards or NB - developed a glider that could carry a 1,000-pound bomb, it needed a new type of guidance system that could ensure safety and accuracy. F Skinner, a psychologist known as a father of behaviorism along with Ivan Pavlov, proposed using pigeons.'I watched a flock of birds lifting and wheeling in formation [in the sky],' he later said about the idea.'Suddenly, I saw them as 'devices' with excellent vision and extraordinary maneuverability. 'Behavioral conditioning of animals was Skinner's specialty, and he specifically trained them by withholding rewards.
He first designed a harness that would hold a pigeon's body and wings while allowing its head and neck to move freely. F Skinner trained pigeons to eat seeds from screens showing video footage of battle zones, puttig their favorite seeds on the most difficult to reach targets.
He put their favorite seeds on the most difficult to reach targets, such as ships in enemy waters.
Eventually, the birds were able to continuously peck 10,000 times in 45 minutes, which was much longer than the time needed for a falling bomb to reach its target.
By gradually increasing the time between the pigeon's peck and its food reward, Skinner trained the birds to peck furiously at the image as it moved.
To teach them, Skinner trained pigeons to eat seeds from screens showing video footage of battle zones.
It features 24 hours of battery life and claims to be a 'mini-disco on the move'. While the system worked perfectly in tests, the Navy was hesitant to actually put pigeons in control of its expensive and fatal bombs, so no birds ever attempted an actual military missions.'Clearly [they] had trouble accepting a psychological approach to an engineering problem,' one historian wrote.In order to successfully hit targets, pilots had to fly low to the ground - this was dangerous and increased the likelihood of being shot down by enemies.One option was to fly high and drop several bombs in the hopes that at least one would hit the target, but that was inefficient, expensive and led to more collateral damage.
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