Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Keyboard detritus-eating insects

Friendly silverfish
  (+19, -4)(+19, -4)
(+19, -4)
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My laptop keyboard is full of crumbs etc. from eating over my keyboard. This makes some keys hard to press, and others "bounce".

My kitchen cupboards are also full of crumbs, but a friendly gang of silverfish help me out by eating them.

The idea is to put the two together. Breed silverfish selectively so they like the sub-keyboard environment. They will not have to be contained in the keyboard as they will like it so much - it is warm, dry, and there is a constant supply of food. They will learn when it is safe to scurry under a key to collect a crumb of bread.

Maybe after a million or so years, the silverfish will evolve to take full advantage of the keyboard environment, tapping into the energy supply from the electrical circuits or the pressing of the keys. They may even develop a primitive sentience and start worshipping human fingers.

Or someone may invent a less rubbish type of keyboard.

ooooooooo, Aug 08 2005

Diversity in Clades http://evolution.be...versityclades.shtml
Discussion of clades and diversity, with reference to silverfish evolution [ooooooooo, Aug 08 2005]

Washable Keyboards http://www.unotron.com/US/Products.html
...they do exist. some for as little as $40 [k_sra, Sep 07 2007]

[link]






       A whole keyboard ecosystem - spiders to prey on the silverfish, a couple of robins perched on the monitor to take out the spiders, an office sparrowhawk to keep the robin population in check... The crumbs from this croissant should keep that little lot running for a couple of weeks.
coprocephalous, Aug 08 2005
  

       Silverfish are among the earliest forms of insect - they predate the development of winged insects, even. Your timescale is, hence, also a bit erroneous. After a million years or so, you'll still have silverfish, exactly the same as the silverfish that have been scuttling around eating cellulose and similar detritus for the past several hundred million years.
Ian Tindale, Aug 08 2005
  

       A million years may be too fast for such significant changes. However there is no reason to assume that because silverfish have (in theory) remained unchanged for hundreds of millions of years, they are unable to evolve further. The keyboard will present a new ecological niche with additional selective pressures (keys, scalding coffee, electricity), hence promoting evolution. Presumably (although I don't have evidence to hand - see link for some discussion though) many new insect species have evolved from the silverfish line in the past million years. It is just that the ideal environment for good old fashioned scavenging silverfish from 350mya has always existed.   

       The evolution/selective breeding aspect may be sped up in a massive automated keyboard colony with millions of keys being pressed by friendly robots, and large loaves of bread continually crumbed overhead. Mutagenesis should be promoted with some radiation to get really fast results.
ooooooooo, Aug 08 2005
  

       No need to breed - just relocate. Move your existing silverfish to the keyboard. Around the outer edge of the keyboard slather a thick layer of vaseline, which the silverfish cannot traverse. They will be forced to remain, and begin to beg piteously when they have eaten all crumbs and smaller comrades. You will feel good about your next bag of Fritos.
bungston, Aug 09 2005
  

       //some radiation to get really fast results.//
There is the monitor.
Zimmy, Aug 09 2005
  

       Where does the silverfish poop go? Wouldn't that clog the keyboard too? (Not to mention the silverfish themselves, mini-ninjas they are or not.) But overall, nicely half-baked.[+]
sophocles, Jan 03 2006
  

       maybe the silverfish recycle themselves and each other? +   

       i can actually see all the accumulated crumb detritus through the perspex bottom of my old applepro keyboard, but can't get it out. why isn't there a crumb tray or a grille for it to fall through?
rainbow, Jan 04 2006
  

       Yes, the fact that silverfish have been around in much the same form for hundreds of millions of years doesn't imply that many distinct species could not have evolved away from silverfish uring that time. For example, silverfish, in the right environmental conditions, may have evolved into what we now know as elk, leaving the original silverfish species unchanged.
hippo, Jan 04 2006
  

       Time for another bun.
the dog's breakfast, Sep 07 2007
  

       see link, [ooooo]. i have to bone the bugs. no likey (-)
k_sra, Sep 07 2007
  

       I think you'll find small ants do the job quite effectively. They keep the office clean of all sorts of detritus :-/ (We have particularly voracious ants here on the borderlands with Mexico)
gtoal, Sep 07 2007
  

       I refer to my ants in my house as 'the cleaning robots'. +.
Heathera, Sep 07 2007
  
      
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