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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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Monarch Butterflies as a Test of Evolution

The Discovery Institute and the National Academy of Sciences have recently published books with butterflies prominently displayed on the cover.  The two books give opposite viewpoints on whether life was designed or a product of evolution.  Maybe a look at a real-world butterfly research project can shed light on the debate.     A paper […]

Yet Another Dinosaur Extinction Theory: Bugs

A press release from Oregon State claims that insects may have finished off the dinosaurs.  Two main reasons were given for this hypothesis: (1) the extinction coincides with the rise of flowering plants and their pollinators, and (2) the impact theory has serious problems. “There are serious problems with the sudden impact theories of dinosaur […]

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 […]

Amphibian Imprints Found

Full-body imprints of amphibians claimed to be 330 million years old have been reported from Pennsylvania.  “The imprints show the unmistakably webbed feet and bodies of three previously unknown, foot-long salamander-like critters that lived 100 million years before the first dinosaurs.”     The story in a press release from the Geological Society of America […]

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 […]

Early Beetle Was Armed

According to Live Science, a beetle preserved in amber, dated at 100 million years old, was caught in the act of using chemical warfare.  “Soldier beetles” capable of this kind of advanced defense system were not thought to have evolved till 60 million years later.     This article contains several statements worthy of the […]

Early Reptile Had Modern Ears

Modern ears are nothing new; they go back 260 million years.  That’s the gist of a paper in PLoS ONE that reported on a Russian reptile fossil.1  The research team was surprised to discover that the creature had impedance-matched ears, a novelty thought to have evolved 50 million years later.  Somehow this innovation survived one […]

Birds Eat Dark Moths, Therefore God Does Not Exist

Michael Majerus watched birds eat peppered moths from his window for seven years (06/25/2004), then drew his conclusions.  In a presentation to a science conference in Uppsala, Sweden on August 23, he said that the peppered moth story proves evolution, which means there is no supernatural being to save us, there is no second coming, […]

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 […]
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