Monday, May 23, 2011

Wild Blue Yonder

As an Army brat, I've long been partial to our ground-based military forces in the ongoing fraternal rivalry between services. This week, though, the flyboys got my attention, reaching out in compassion to a community that means a great deal to me.
U.S. Air Force Seeks Acoustic Squirrel-Detector

Predators of the threatened Mojave ground squirrel include badgers, coyotes, snakes, falcons, hawks -- and now U.S. military aerial strikes.

That's because the squirrel makes its home in a section of California's Mojave Desert also used by the Air Force as a practice area. But the military has to make sure not to accidentally bomb the squirrels, being threatened and all, and expends a lot of time and money trying to find them so as to avoid that.

Frustrated, the Air Force recently put out a call for proposals that might make tracking these animals -- and, in turn, lots of others -- easier.

The military specifically wants a sort of acoustic fingerprinting technology. Though often very effective, acoustic tracking -- registering the unique sounds animals make rather than, say, visual cues like zebra stripe bar codes -- is usually limited to birds and cetaceans (whales, dolphins).

There's no particular reason for that limitation, especially in this case, as Mojave ground squirrels (really, squirrels in general) are tremendously talkative animals, which should make them easy to track with sound.

The basic idea is to keep track of all of the Mojave ground squirrels within the Air Force's danger zone, identifying them based on their distinctive calls. That data could then be turned into a map, showing where to bomb and where to avoid.
A friend of the squirrel is a friend of mine. Well done, USAF.

19 comments:

T.J. said...

That's nuts.

Squeaky said...

I'm more partial to Smash the Market Place myself, but Wild Blue Yonder was a good tune.

/end random post

zman said...

I find that the fly girls get my attention.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=672Uod0X-1g

T.J. said...

I didn't see J-Lo in there...

Squeaky said...

The Cincinnati Reds' Double-A Pensacola fans should demand a recount. "Mullet" was robbed.

http://goo.gl/KwZzO

Dave said...

that made me chuckle.

Dave said...

and if you didn't realize, hunters call the sound a squirrel makes a "chuckle," so my comment was hilariously funny to the g:tb squirrel hunting contingent.

TR said...

A car crushed a squirrel on a nearby street this morning. I walked right by it going to the train. Its guts were hanging out quite morbidly and it caught my eye more than I would have liked. I think I stared at it like Wes Bentley staring at that plastic bag in American Dream. Not the most invigorating start to the week.

My condolences, Rob.

Hamlet said...

fucking cars

Dave said...

hamlet's diction has really gone downhill.

rob said...

now *that* is funny.

alas, poor fogtb, it is i who suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, cast as 'hamlet' as i grunt and sweat under the weary life as president of my homeowners association (to wit, the hamlet at leesburg). twas i, logged in to fair gtb under these auspices to conduct enterprises of great pith and moment, who exclaimed so boldly:

fucking cars.

Whitney said...

They put their trust in a guy whose bloghandle is a character famous for his inability to get the job done when the situation called for it? Leesburg home-o's, you're gonna get what you paid for.

Whitney said...

No offense, little buddy.

rob said...

i didn't create the bloghandle - it was born long before my reign.

Whitney said...

I know, I know. Bill Shakespeare and all.

Whitney said...

By the way, I am starting to feel about the New York Mets the way Rob feels about the Redskins. Not quite sure what to do about it.

rob said...

i find impotent rage to be surprisingly therapeutic

rob said...

from mike pelphrey on loose-lipped owner fred wilpon:

"Maybe next spring when we have our media workshop, Fred can come and sit in.”

rob said...

holy crap did kevin durant just make two silly passes