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Accurate Chemical Classifier Mimics Insect Nose

Two Germans have built a better chemical classification system by taking their inspiration from insect olfactory organs.  Here’s how they described their achievement in an abstract from PNAS:1 The chemical sense of insects has evolved to encode and classify odorants.  Thus, the neural circuits in their olfactory system are likely to implement an efficient method […]

Nature Inspires Useful Products

Some day soon you may be able to extract water out of thin air, decorate your walls with detachable wallpaper, read street signs clearly in fog, and employ reusable tape underwater.  These are some of the innovations coming from biomimetics – science inspired by nature’s designs. Venus flytrap:  Alex Crosby at University of Massachusetts was […]

Make Your Face Sparkle With Diatoms

Human engineers may join forces with cellular architects to produce the next generation of paints, cosmetics and holograms, reported Science Daily.  Scientists are finding ways to harness the rapid growth of diatoms.  Manufacturing consumer products with these properties currently requires energy-intensive, high-temperature, high-pressure industrial processes that create tiny artificial reflectors.  But farming diatom shells, which […]

Nanofabrication Imitates Shells, Butterflies

A new plastic “strong as steel” has been manufactured according to the specs in seashells, reported PhysOrg.  “By mimicking a brick-and-mortar molecular structure found in seashells, University of Michigan researchers created a composite plastic that’s as strong as steel but lighter and transparent.”  (See these previous entries about how marine organisms manufacture their shells: 06/26/2003, […]

New Atomizer Mimics Bombardier Beetle

There’s a new technology coming to market, thanks to a little bug.  The bombardier beetle has long been used by creationists as a creature with a weapon against evolutionary theory.  Its tightly-integrated combustion apparatus would be useless or dangerous to the beetle unless all the parts worked together from the start.  This, creationists argue, is […]

Thermodynamics: The Real Theory of Everything

Need a theory of everything?  Try thermodynamics.  Mark Haw reviewed a new book by Peter Atkins on the subject in Nature,1 Four Laws that Drive the Universe (Oxford, 2007).  He had high praise for the achievements of the “19th century grandees” Joule, Maxwell and Kelvin: Thermodynamics ought to be the cornerstone of any scientist’s understanding […]

Two Ways to Look at a Fin

Two science articles this month showed very different ways to look at a fish fin.  One looked for evolution; the other looked for design.  One tried to trace an evolutionary story with no practical application; the other tried to find ways to improve our lives.     The evolutionary story involved a fossil coelacanth.  Science […]

It’s Not a Bird, It’s a Plane

Look to the birds of the air, and they will teach you aeronautics.  That’s what designers of the Robo-Swift did.  PhysOrg reported about a new plane that imitates a swift thing on the wing: RoboSwift is a micro airplane fitted with shape shifting wings, inspired by the common swift, one of nature’s most efficient flyers.  […]

Mosquitos Are Water-Walking Champions

We hate ’em, but in one sense we should admire them: mosquitos are the water-walking champions of the animal kingdom.  They even beat out water striders, reported Live Science and EurekAlert based on research from Physical Review E.  Science Daily wrote of “miraculous mosquito legs” and had a picture of the intricate fan-shaped superhydrophobic structures […]

Elephant Trunk Inspires Robot Arm

A German company took inspiration from the soft, supple, yet powerful trunk of the elephant and built an arm to imitate it.  Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a company engaged in “research of practical utility,” rhapsodized on the abilities of the elephant trunk: It is long, gray, soft and – endowed with no fewer than 40,000 muscles – extremely […]

Mother-of-Pearl Inspires Materials Science

It’s not only beautiful, it’s strong.  EurekAlert described how scientists are intrigued by mother-of-pearl, also called nacre, because of its strength: you can drive a truck over it and it will not break.  It is 3,000 times more resistant to fracture than the aragonite from which the oyster makes it.  95% of it self-assembles in […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Design by Darwin

Can Darwin get credit for intelligently-planned research?  Apparently John Chaput thinks so.  A press release from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University states this: Nature, through the trial and error of evolution, has discovered a vast diversity of life from what can only presumed to have been a primordial pool of building blocks.  Inspired […]

Seeds Muscle Their Way into the Soil

A biological motor has been found, of all places, on the seeds of wild wheat.  A team of German and Israeli scientists watched wheat seeds and found they could dig themselves into the ground.  How can a dry seed, with no muscles, nerves or circulatory system, accomplish such a feat?  It all becomes clear when […]

More Optical Design in Eye Retina Than Seen Before

For decades, evolutionists have used the vertebrate retina as an example of poor design (dysteleology).  They have mocked how any designer could have been so unintelligent as to get the wiring backwards – with the photoreceptors behind a jumble of light-scattering cells.  Creationists have countered that despite the arrangement, it works well.1  Now, they may […]

Snot Serious: Artificial Nose Works Better with Mucus

What will they think of next?  Designers of electronic noses cannot yet come close to the natural nose in sensitivity.  But in trying to improve their devices, they tried another trick from nature: artificial boogers.  Yes, believe it or snot, adding a layer of synthetic mucus “improved the performance of their electronic nose allowing it […]
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