If you ever wondered what happened to that really cookey brand of (often drug fueled) mad science that seemed to predominate academia in the 1950s and 60s… apparently they moved to Israel. A recent report from The Telegraph that saw some coverage by George Noory’s legendary Coast to Coast AM revealed that Israeli researchers at Ben-Gurion University working in the field of animal behavior all got together one day and decided to see if they could teach a goldfish to drive… seriously… it’s 2022 and that’s a thing that happened.
You Might Not Joke About Goldfish Memory After This
The way scientists managed this feat is impressive by itself, neverminding that it actually worked. They set up a system that allowed the fish to be rewarded first if they reached a target on the wall in a small room. The researchers were then able to meticulously record every response from the fish. They were amazed that the fish not only learned to cope with obstacles placed in their way but continually improved their time, forever disproving every joke you’ve ever heard about a goldfish’s memory. The test fish started completing the challenge in about 30 minutes, by the end of the study, they had it down to about 60 seconds.
According to The Times of Israel, the scientists say “they have demonstrated a fish’s ability to navigate on land, allowing it to drive a specially designed “Fish Operated Vehicle” around a room.”
“Six goldfish trained to use the apparatus managed to find their way around the small room and toward a reward, wrote the authors of a study published this month in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.”
The fish “were able to operate the vehicle, explore the new environment, and reach the target, regardless of the starting point, all while avoiding dead-ends and correcting location inaccuracies,” said Shachar Givon and Matan Samina, who published the research along with Ohad Ben Shahar and Ronen Segev.
According to Coast to Coast AM, “The jaw-dropping experiment, scientists say, suggests that the way a fish comprehends its surroundings and navigates within them “may be as successful in a terrestrial environment as they are in an aquatic one” and that this finding “hints at universality in the way space is represented across environments.”
With so much research being devoted to things like astronomy and curing disease, it’s nice to know that the important questions are being studied too and science can still be fun.