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High-Tech Squirrels Trained to Conduct Espionage 269

Pcol writes "In the July 20 issue of the Washington Post, columnist Al Kamen reports that the BBC has translated a story headlined 'spying squirrels,' published in the Iranian newspaper Resalat on the use of trained animals to conduct espionage against their country: 'A few weeks ago, 14 squirrels equipped with espionage systems of foreign intelligence services were captured by [Iranian] intelligence forces along the country's borders. These trained squirrels, each of which weighed just over 700 grams, were released on the borders of the country for intelligence and espionage purposes.' According the story the squirrels had 'GPS devices, bugging instruments and advanced cameras' in their bodies. 'Given the fast speed and the special physical features of these animals, they provide special capabilities for spying operations. Once the animals return to their place of origin, the intelligence gathered by them is then offloaded. . . .' Iranian police officials captured the squirrels before they could carry out their assignments."
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High-Tech Squirrels Trained to Conduct Espionage

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 22, 2007 @07:44PM (#19949877)
    This story reads like an April Fools' joke.
  • by smurfsurf ( 892933 ) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @09:28PM (#19950749)
    Four years ago,, a now defunct satire magazin visually resembling a top german news magazine, published a fake interview with the then chancellor Gerhard Schröder, in which he pronounce Germany's interest in establishing a nuclear strike capacity.

    Two years ago, a iranian news agency found this fake interview and thought it was a reliable news source. They broke the story and there was a big bruha in Iran. The german consulate in Tehran even had to issue an official denial :-)
  • by bussdriver ( 620565 ) on Sunday July 22, 2007 @11:02PM (#19951497)
    Rats wouldn't be ideal for all military applications, there are other rodents that may be more beneficial yet similar enough to be used instead. (I know there are a great many kinds rodents, but they are still much easier than trained dolphins, modified or not.)

    Not to say I think it is real; however, its not unrealistic. A great deal of brain research is performed upon rodents and there is a lot of military related funding on technology of interest and its not impossible to have even a decade lead on some technology. (one only has to look at the dates of declassified research and how slowly they disclose it.) The USA was working on firing guns with the mind to cut reaction times back in the 60s and they only disclosed that they were even working on it about 5 years ago! I bet that an influential amount of related research came from that program's funding, which is what I think is the primary reason for the delay in its declassification. (I personally knew a man involved in that program who told me after he was allowed to do so.)

    Again, I'm not saying it is real; it doesn't seem like a bad idea either... I'm not so limited to think that robots are the best answer to everything.
  • Source? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Peregr1n ( 904456 ) <> on Monday July 23, 2007 @06:38AM (#19953857) Homepage
    Interesting that the column refers to 'BBC translators' with no link. There's no sign of this story on the BBC website. Would it be cynical of me to suggest that the columnist has inflated this story out of hearsay?
  • Poor Squirrels (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CaffeineAddict2001 ( 518485 ) on Monday July 23, 2007 @09:48AM (#19955269)
    During WWII the UK used Carrier Pigeons to deliver plans. The Nazis got wise and gave orders to shoot pigeons on sight.

    Although the UK had some rather nasty ideas of their own:
    "A thousand pigeons, each with a two ounce explosive capsule, landed at intervals on a specific target might be a seriously inconvenient surprise."
  • Re:Squirrels? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by claytongulick ( 725397 ) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:51AM (#19956093) Homepage
    > If you could get a squirrel to enter a house and just sit there

    Thats a big "if".

    I had a squirrel get lose in my house once (it fell down the chimney) and let me tell you the LAST thing it did was "sit there".

    That squirrel was PISSED. It completely wrecked the kitchen, broke many dishes, was on top of the cabinets, the sonnabitch ripped drywall from the walls and ceiling. There was much screaming and telling the kids to "get in their room and close the door" whilst I bravely ran away from the enraged critter waving a broom at it from a safe distance.

    Eventually it got tired of playing with us and left the house through the front door (which I had previously opened).

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