Learn how a swarm of maggots eats a pizza, in Washington

Olga Shishkov will discuss (and maybe demonstrate?) how a swarm of maggots eats a pizza, next Saturday night, February 16, at the Improbable Research session at the AAAS Annual Meeting, in Washington, DC.

Science magazine introduces the research: “If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can watch 10,000 maggots demolish the above pizza in 2 hours. Now, scientists have a better sense of how these fly larvae gobble food so quickly, a possible boon for sustainable food production.”

Details are in the newly published study:

Black soldier fly larvae feed by forming a fountain around food,” Olga Shishkov, Michael Hu, Christopher Johnson, and David L. Hu, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol. 16, no. 20180735, 2019. Here’s a snippet from that study:

A single larva is shown in figure 1a. Figure 1b and electronic supplementary material, video S1, show a swarm of larvae consuming a 16-inch pizza in 2 h.

Prior research

David Hu, co-author of the new study (and leader of the lab), shared the 2015 Ig Nobel Prize for physics, for testing the biological principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).

That urination research is documented in the study “Duration of Urination Does Not Change With Body Size,” Patricia J. Yang, Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo, and David L. Hu, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111 no. 33, August 19, 2014, pp. 11932–11937.

Next Saturday night in Washington: Details

Here’s the lineup of speakers at next week’s Improbable Research show, in Washington:

  • Marc Abrahams, founder of the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner David Wartinger (Using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones)
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Abigail Baird (fMRI discovery of brain activity in a dead salmon)
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Nathaniel Barr (“On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit“)
  • Ig Nobel Prize winner Jiwon (“Jesse”) Han (The physics of walking backwards with a cup of hot coffee)
  • Marguerite E. Matherne (How effective is tail-swishing in large animals?)
  • Eric Schulman (A history of the universe in 100 words, in Czech)
  • Olga Shishkov (The biomechanics of maggots)

It’s at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, in the Diplomat Ballroom, Saturday, February 16, 2019, beginning at 8 pm. This session (unlike most of the AAAS Annual Meeting) is open free to the public. Please join us there!

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