Dolphins are not called man’s best friends for nothing. The aquatic mammals’ ability to think nonlinearly may help improve man-made sonar.
Recent research, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society A, shows that the aquatic mammals may be able to pinpoint prey hidden in bubbles by using some complex mental math.
The research was inspired when lead author Tim Leighton watched dolphins blow multiple tiny bubbles around their prey as they hunted during an episode of the Discovery Channel’s “Blue Planet.” Leighton speculated that these mammals—well-known for their superior intelligence—were probably using a sonar techniqute to track their prey, because the alternative explanation would be that they were just ‘blinding’ their sensory apparatus when hunting, which would likely deter the objective.
Based on this assumption, his research team modeled the types of echolocation pulses emitted by dolphins. Processing them using nonlinear mathematics was able to explain how dolphins are able to successfully hunt their prey with bubbles. While it is not conclusive that dolphins use nonlinear processing, using dolphin-like sonar pulses may help humans detect and identify objects in bubbly water. This may especially be helpful for the military to find objects, such as mines, in breaking waves and shallow waters.
Read a detailed article on Discovery News.