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Extreme Biomimetics

Imitating spider silk or gecko feet is one thing, but some researchers are going to extremes to try to do what living organisms do. DNA railcar:  Researchers at University of Oxford have constructed a “programable [sic] molecular transport system” that travels like a railcar on DNA molecules, reported PhysOrg.  And that’s not all: they would […]

Fossils by Faith

Fossils are real artifacts you can hold in your hand.  The stories behind them are not.  How does science connect the one with the other?  Sometimes, it requires faith in incredible stories. Stay, sis:  Darwin portrayed a world in flux, with natural selection continually sifting and amplifying minute changes over time.  Why, then did Science […]

Fishy Just-So Stories

“How the Seahorse Might Have Got Its Shape” (italics added) is a backpedal on the Just-So Story formula (e.g., “How the Zebra Got Its Stripes,” Kipling).  Was the evolutionist hedging his bets this time?  PhysOrg continued the possibility thinking with its subtitle, “The shape of the seahorse has long baffled marine scientists, but new research […]

Amazing Mammals

As the Superbowl approaches, millions of spectators will enjoy the feats of our own sports heroes.  But what if animals put on games with their capabilities?  Human athletes would find it hard to compete. Swimming:  A polar bear performed a phenomenal feat of endurance swimming, reported the BBC News.  According to a zoologist who observed […]

Update: Maple-Copter Evolves by Design

The rotating helicopter resembling a maple seed, reported on 10/21/2009, has undergone numerous rounds of guided evolution (if that is not an oxymoron). The clever inventors have been trying numerous successive variations on their design, reported PhysOrg. The article includes two video clips showing the young engineers, Evan Ulrich, Darryll Pines, and Sean Humbert from the University of Maryland, testing their product.

Has Biomimetics Surpassed Biology?

An article on Science Daily announced an invention that is “Better Than the Human Eye: Tiny Camera With Adjustable Zoom Could Aid Endoscopic Imaging, Robotics, Night Vision.”  While true that human eyes do not have zoom lenses, how does the comparison hold up?     The invention both imitates and surpasses human vision in some […]

Encouraging News About Iraq’s Marshes

Over seven years ago (05/01/2003), we reported on the devastation of Iraq’s ancient southern marshes by Saddam Hussein.  Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi who fled Hussein’s regime, had organized “Eden Again,” a project to try to restore the marshes after Hussein’s diversion of the rivers turned the lush ecosystem into a desert.  The extent of this […]

The Brain as the Computer Robots Need

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially once you realize how incredibly powerful it is.  In some ways it’s like a computer that needs maintenance; in other ways, it is too powerful to describe in machine language.  Here are a few mind matters to mind because it matters: Reboot to clear the ringing:  […]

Insect Wings Are Rainbows of Color

Scientists in Sweden have found that a feature of transparent insect wings – their shimmering colors – may have a purpose.  They are not just accidental patterns like the rainbow colors of oil on water, but are stable structures genetically determined for insect recognition and mating.  They call them “wing interference patterns” (WIP) but their […]

Never Say Die: Researchers Spend 37 Years Looking for Evolution in Darwin’s Finches

The Grants are still at it.  Peter and Rosemary Grant have been studying Darwin’s finches since the 1970s, looking for evidence to support Darwin’s theory of natural selection.  Their latest paper in PNAS produced results that were tentative at best.1     Up front, they had to admit that you can’t see the birds evolving.  […]

Beavers: Natural Engineers Do It Better

A curious case of biomimetics was reported by Science Daily: engineers imitating beavers.  River restoration is a big project in many states that would like to return their rivers to the way the colonists first found them.  “When engineers restore rivers,” the article began, “one Kansas State University professor hopes they’ll keep a smaller engineer […]

Soft Tissue Fossil Treasure Trove Found in China

Live Science announced a major new fossil find in China with some 20,000 fossils.  It was found in a 50-foot thick layer of limestone The fossils are exceptionally well-preserved, with more than half of them completely intact, including soft tissues.  Apparently they were protected across the ages by mats of microbes that rapidly sealed their […]

Plant Wonders Are in the Details

When you step on a weed growing out of a crack in the sidewalk, do you have any idea what kind of amazing machinery you stepped on?  Maybe a closer look will help. Communications and switching systems:  When a seed sprouts, it needs to first grow upward in the dark while trying to protect itself.  […]

Design Science Scores

A team of scientists at Leeds University (UK) led by well-known design scientist Andy McIntosh has won an award for innovative design inspired by nature.  “The team’s work has received the outstanding contribution to innovation and technology title at the Times Higher Education awards in London,” reported the BBC News.     By studying and […]

Strange Beasts Walked the Earth

Narnia is a fantasy world of talking beasts and chimeric monsters, as seen in the release of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third movie in the series, great for an adventurous escape to a different world (see Narnia.com).  While fauns and minotaurs may be mythical, some of the extinct beasts found as fossils in […]
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