Fly tricks: Early science films

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Source: New Scientist

“(Percy Smith) made a gimcrack device made up of a see-saw and two old tin cans. The tin cans slowly filled up with water, and when it would reach the bottom, clunk! it fired the shutter of the camera. And using this extraordinary home-made piece of aparatus, Percy Smith made the very beautiful film, Birth of a Flower.”

“The acrobatic fly was a bit of a close-up film-make, rather than shot through a microscope. And what Percy did was to tie the fly down with a tiny piece of silk thread, and then just pass small objects to the fly. It looked as though the fly was juggling, and that is what the public saw. But in actual fact, Percy came to the conclusion that the fly was just doing what came naturally to it, i.e. trying to walk.”

(I was reading up on Charles Urban when I stumbled upon this film.)


6 Responses

  1. Nice little insight on a snowy Saturday afternoon – with nature at its best!
    Thanks Anne,

  2. Hi Joan, reminds me of the flea circus at the Oktoberfest. Have you ever been? “Teaching” a fly to juggle like this … that’s essentially how the flea “trainer” works his magic too. Wouldn’t have any application for our teaching, now would it? 😉 I wish our science teachers at school had had zany ideas like this. Who knows, I might have grown up to be Madame Curie.
    Have a good Sunday!

  3. Yes, I’ve heard about the flea performance at the ‘Wiesn’ but have never actually experienced it. Something to watch out for in 2010.
    And on this Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, the Marktweiber do their dancing at the Viktualienmarkt – have you ever seen them in action?
    So happy Fasching / Mardi Gras and have a nice Sunday.

  4. Haha, just imagine I’m actually working – got lessons all morning and in the afternoon.
    It’s sometime early in the morning … don’t know exactly when.
    I went along once but it was so crowded and snowy that I didn’t get much from it.
    So Anne, I’ll be looking forward to your report if you make it!

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