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Fly Swiftly

The common swift is being eyed by aircraft engineers who want to go fast, high, and green.  Science Daily says these engineers are “inspired by nature.”     Calling Apus apus a common “swift” is like calling an orange an orange.  They are swift!  These incredible birds dart about effortlessly and spend their lives almost […]

Thanks to Clam Design, Stronger Materials Are Coming

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs have produced a lightweight composite material 300 times stronger than its constituents.  How?  By taking inspiration from clams.     The team, writing in Science,1 described nacre, the shiny mother-of-pearl found inside clam shells.  Because of the way it sandwiches crystalline aragonite with layers of protein (07/26/2004), nacre resists […]

Knowledge of Light Is Power

Now that engineers are becoming adept at manipulating materials at the scale of billionths of a meter, they are taking first steps toward using a power source familiar to plants: light.  Science Daily described the first humble attempts to get light photons to drive nano-sized machines.     The article did not mention whether photosynthesis […]

Snails Walk on Water

Why is that scientist staring at a snail?  He’s watching a miracle: walking on water.  This is not our exaggeration: Matt Kaplan on National Geographic News entitled his article, “How Snails Walk on Water Is a Small Miracle.”  If we can figure out the trick, we might be able to make little robots do it […]

Living Better Bioelectrically

Electric eels are inspiring a new generation of fuel cells.  Science Daily reported that a remarkable fusion of engineering and biology may lead to tiny electronic devices that run on biology’s own energy currency, ATP.  “Engineers long have known that great ideas can be lifted from Mother Nature, but a new paper by researchers at […]

Fastest Squirt Gun in the Fungi

A paper on PLoS One described the highest-speed flights in all nature: the spore discharge mechanisms in certain fungi.  A dozen scientists in Ohio worked to capture the action on ultra-high-speed cameras.  It took 250,000 frames per second to reveal how fast the projectiles accelerate.  The answer: from 20,000 to 180,000 g (where g = […]

Butterfly Wings Xeroxed

If you can’t build it, copy it.  Scientists have had a hard time reconstructing the photonic crystals that make butterfly wings shimmer with light (01/29/2003), so they made, in effect, a carbon copy.  PhysOrg described how scientists at Penn State made impressions of the regularly-spaced geometric shapes from a butterfly wing and transferred it to […]

New Camera Imitates Eyeball

Scientists at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University have succeeded in manufacturing stretchable optical electronic sensors on curved surfaces.  This will open up a whole new world of new imaging products – inventions that imitate the human eyeball.  The team said this about the eyeball in their paper in Nature:1  The human eye is […]

Defeat Spam: Imitate the Body’s Defenses

Your body’s immune system is inspiring the next generation of email spam-fighters.  The University of Southampton reported that “An algorithm for spam recognition inspired by the immune system will be presented at the first European conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE XI) being held in Winchester this week.”     The idea is that “in the […]

Can Worms Outsmart Humans?

Worms may seem creepy to some people, but they possess some amazing abilities.  How many of you had to struggle through calculus class, for instance?  Worms know it by heart, reported Greg Soltis at Live Science.  Their brains instinctively apply the logic of calculus to input signals from sensory inputs.  A University of Oregon biologist […]

Lick Your Wounds

Saliva contains a powerful anti-infection protein, say scientists from the Netherlands.  Science Daily reported that if this compound could be mass-produced, it offers hope for those with diseases, burns and injuries prone to infection.     Saliva is a complex concoction with many kinds of molecules.  With controlled experiments, the researchers were able to identify […]

Is Artificial DNA Intelligently Designed?

Japanese chemists have made a new kind of DNA, reported Science Daily.  It resembles natural DNA, but is composed of bases that are shorter, modified forms of the ones cells use.  “The finding could lead to improvements in gene therapy, futuristic nano-sized computers, and other high-tech advances,” the article says. An evolutionist should extend his […]

Leaf Vein Patterns Are Not in Vain

The vein patterns in a leaf approach perfection.  If the requirement is to reach every cell with the shortest and most efficient paths, leaves do it just right.  A team of scientists at Cornell, “inspired by plant leaves,” tried to build a network in a polymer substrate that would maximize distribution of fluid with evaporation-driven […]

Animal Patterning Keeps Scientists Puzzle-Solving

Here’s a fascinating area of research for a budding young scientist: the development of animal patterns.  Look at the dazzling wing patterns on butterflies in an illustration on Science Daily or consider a zebra’s stripes.  How do such patterns emerge from a single fertilized egg?  “Although this has been studied for years,” said a researcher […]

Cell Electronics Is High-Tech

To describe a living cell these days, you have to borrow electronics lingo.  Notice how two recent articles described cell specs: Ham radio immunity:  What acts like a radio dial, a signal amplifier, and a precision rheostat?  Your immune system, according to Science Daily.  Scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital described how the cell […]
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