I had planned to write this week about the new guidance on masks and the omicron variant. I think it is positively astounding how fast scientific research is moving and tracking the virus as it morphs and changes – and knowledge is power, right? Given that the data is pretty clear that this variant requires an N95 or KN95 mask to stay safe, it seemed worth talking about.

I thought while I was on the topic I’d dip into new strides to discredit doctors who knowingly spew false information, but it seems that amidst the actual science, we have arrived at the place where people have to be told that drinking your own urine is not, in fact, an alternative to the vaccine and is, in fact, bad for you. Really? This is what we’ve come to? Medical professionals have to put out actual, official statements telling folks not to drink their own pee to fight COVID?

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

I find this discouraging and disheartening. So I am going to direct our collective attention to something altogether more heartwarming.  I speak, of course, of the goldfish that have been taught to drive a robot-car on land. It was my favorite story of last week.

In this experiment, a team of Israeli scientists trained six goldfish to use specific body movements, translated through a computer hooked to a camera, to drive their tank to reach a target, resulting in nummy treats.

Well, you guys, the fish nailed it.

Not only were they able to complete the task and reach the target, but they did it “repeatedly and even with obstacles in their way,” according to NBC News. This after only 10 driving lessons each! That’s fewer than my teenage son had.


The fish became so skilled, in fact, that future tests are planned to see if they can achieve the same success with a target not immediately visible to them. I’ll be waiting with “baited” breath for that one.

In some ways, I suppose, this experiment makes total sense. After all, salmon swim vast expanses to return to their birthplace in order to spawn. That’s pretty impressive. However, as full-stop amazing as that is, from a biology point of view, it is a vastly different thing to be drawn or guided by an innate sense (most scientists think the earth’s magnetic fields play a key role) to an ancestral breeding ground than it is to deliberately steer towards an object introduced to you because you want a treat.

I’m not saying one is more impressive; I’m just saying they are different. In addition to being surprisingly cute (seriously, check out the video), this experiment is teaching us about the processing power and adaptivity of another, possibly undervalued species with which we share this planet. We are learning about another way of being, another kind of intelligence. We are reassessing our place in the grand picture in order to better understand it.

I admit, this challenges the previously held notion of the “10-second memory,” but perhaps instead of using “be a goldfish” to mean “forget about it” (fellow Ted Lasso fans, I’m looking at you), we use this quirky motto to suggest we all be curious, inquisitive problem solvers who surpass expectations.

Be a goldfish – a curious, clever goldfish.

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