FIFA World Cup: flying oracle instead of octopus Paul

Fruit fly game in virtual arena predicts match results for Germany's soccer women

Prediction of the flying oracle for the next matches © Rudolf-Virchow-Zentrum
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It was Krake Paul at the men's World Cup, now it's fruit flies: Würzburg fly researchers have their animals anticipate the upcoming games by means of a virtual arena. How often the flies bring the ball into one of the flags decorated with the national flags could prove to be an omen for the actual game. At the first game of German women, the animals were at least at the result, if not correct in the number of goals: They typed 1-0 for Germany. For the game against Nigeria the fly forecast is 1: 1.

Scientists at the Rudolf Virchow Center in Würzburg hope to predict the outcome of the Women's World Cup with the help of a flying oracle. The prediction of a game result by the flies takes exactly 120 seconds. During this time, the fly moves on a so-called Buchner ball in an artificial arena. The two goals are represented by the national flags of the playing teams. The turns of the ball that creates the fly are recorded and used to calculate the intended movements of the fly. According to this data, the panorama of the virtual arena changes. If the fly reaches one of the two goals, this is considered a successful shot on goal.

Predicted victory in the first game

"Octopus Paul has only eaten food. But our flies actually play football. That is why we have the utmost confidence in the results, "said the initiators of the campaign. "Usually, we research how flies behave on our flies. So intelligent animals - ideal conditions for an oracle. "Five games have already predicted the fruit flies, the first game of the Germans, however, not quite true with 1-0 for the hosts - but at least in terms of victory, the flies were right. For the upcoming game Germany - Nigeria the flips typed 1: 1.

Behavioral research with a difference

The idea for the oracle has been developed and implemented by Sebastian König and PhD student Till Andlauer from the Research Center for Experimental Biomedicine at the University of Würzburg. Usually, the researchers here are concerned with the question of how certain behaviors arise and what role brain and genes play in it.

To test the behavior and observe the scientists are working on equipment such as the virtual arena. Among other things, they investigate the factors of initial activation. This means that a living thing tries out a behavior, evaluates the consequences and learns from it for the future. This behavior has long been controversial in science. display

However, in long-standing experiments on the fruit fly Drosophila Heisenberg was able to prove that the initial activity actually exists. But how often do such behavioral activities occur? Which factors influence you? Can genes and neurons be identified that allow or regulate these activities? Are there brain regions that have no influence? Finding answers to these questions is the goal of Martin Heisenberg and his team.

Here you will find the current predictions of the fly oracle

(Rudolf Virchow Center / DFG - Research Center for Experimental Biomedicine, 29.06.2011 - NPO)