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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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

How Useful Is Evolution Theory?

Is evolution good for anything?  There’s no question it keeps a lot of scientists busy, but has it helped the proverbial man on the street?  Here are two perspectives.     Michael LePage hit the sales beat for evolution on New Scientist this week: Evolution is a beautiful theory.  It explains everything from why some […]

Sweet Solutions from Nature

Human engineers continue to look at plants and animals for inspiration.  Biomimetics – the imitation of biology for design technology – shows no sign of running out of ideas. Sweet gas:  A spoonful of sugar in the gas tank?  Science Daily reported on progress in converting plant sugars into clean-burning hydrogen – using biological enzymes.  […]

Squid Beak: “A Truly Fascinating Design”

A new class of flexible yet tough materials may be in our future, thanks to a study of squid beaks.  Scientists at University of Santa Barbara, reported National Geographic News and Science Daily, were curious how the squid anchors its tough, hard beak in soft tissue.  Try anchoring a knife in Jell-o and you get […]

Scientist Harnesses ATP Synthase

How would you like shorter waits at airports?  fast screening for disease?  the ability to detect biological warfare agents quickly?  That may be possible soon – thanks to an amazing man-and-nature cooperative technology reported by Science Daily.  A team led by Wayne Frasch at Arizona State is on the verge of an invention that can […]
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