Nature was cool enough to endow squid and octopi with measures to change their colors to hide from predators. They do it through sensitive pigment and light reflecting cells called chromatophores. Now, add a dash of modern science and hip hop as the stimuli for these cells and you'll get to see an squid light show that could blow your mind.
Watching Cypress Hill's Insane in the Brain play on the back of a Longfin Inshore squid is fascinating — the cells react to the music by changing color and contracting. Scientists exposed the squid to the tunes via a suction electrode attached to the nerve in the upper side of its caudal fin. The electrode simply transferred the electrical stimuli from an iPod playing the tunes to the squid.
The result is an interesting mix of nature, science and rock and roll. That's not a combination you see or hear everyday, but once you see it as it looks under an 8x microscope, likely you'll be hooked.
That was the whole point of the exercise. The experiment came from the team at Backyard Brains, a company that exposes and engages kids to concepts in neuroscience through compelling and hands-on experiments. In fact one of their last DIY experiments created an apparatus called a SpikerBox that made a disembodied cockroach leg dance to the Beastie Boys through the same sort of process used on the squid. That sounds pretty compelling to me!
The folks at Backyard Brains worked with marine biologists at Woods Hole, MA to conduct the experiment, so presumably no squid were harmed as they unwittingly turned into the light crew for Cypress Hill and created the ultimate, off-the-hook science experiment.
You'll probably be looking at this video more than once — after all, you don't need to be a kid to be wowed by science.