VIEW HEADLINES ONLY

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 […]

Electronic Nose Can’t Outsniff Yours

Electronic nose makers are smelling your dust, said Science Daily.  “Despite 25 years of research, development of an ‘electronic nose’ even approaching the capabilities of the human sniffer remains a dream,” the article said.     Biological noses are great at discriminating between volatile compounds.  We can immediately sense things that are fruity, grassy, and […]

The Gecko in the Flight Simulator

It’s a lizard!  It’s a plane!  It’s Supergecko!  Researchers at UC Berkeley (where else) put a gecko into a wind tunnel to watch it fly.  News about gecko’s magic feet that allow it to run vertically up glass is almost old hat now (08/27/2002, 01/04/2005).  Even a gecko can lose its footing, though, and thereon […]

Animal Feats Inspire Imitation

Imagine carrying 850 times your own weight.  Step aside, Hercules, and meet the Hercules beetle: the strongest creature in the world.  Science Daily said that researchers in Belgium are not just impressed with its show of strength.  They are finding inspiration for “intelligent materials.”     The Hercules beetle has a shell that is able […]

Did Birds Evolve Aeronautical Engineering?

Two news stories on birds may not seem to flock together.  One is about their supreme aeronautical engineering.  The other ponders when they evolved.     A story on EurekAlert and Science Daily describes how engineers are eyeing birds, bats and insects for design ideas.  The appeal is clear from the following comparisons: A Blackbird […]

Nose Code Rockets Smell Discrimination

You have a code in your nose.  Scientists working on fruit fly olfactory systems have found that a mapping mechanism between components maximizes the fly’s ability to discriminate smells.  The coding system provides a non-linear response that appears finely tuned to maximize the information content of odor inputs.     The components of this system […]

A Step Closer to Gecko Adhesive

Scientists are getting closer to imitating the amazing wall-climbing ability of geckos.  Science Daily reports that a team from UC Berkeley manufactured tape with hard polymer fibers just 600 nanometers across that mimic the spatulae on gecko feet.     This latest attempt at imitating the gecko works only on smooth, clean surfaces, but requires […]

A Pitcher of Health, and Reasons to Love Slime

Pitcher plants contain chemicals that just might help medicine and agriculture, reported PhysOrg.  A Japanese team found a myriad of interesting proteins in this “evolutionary marvel,” a plant that eats insect meat.     Now for some slimy good news.  PhysOrg said, “You know algae.  It’s the gunk that collects on the sides of a […]

Butterfly Wings Flash Shiny Optical Tricks

You can get brilliant colors without pigment if you build patterns near the wavelengths of light.  Butterflies have the trick down to a science.  Their wings shimmer and shine with brilliant colors produced by nanostructures that scientists want to imitate.     Science Daily told how butterflies and moths, even the white-winged varieties, use nanostructures […]

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 […]
All Posts by Date