Mimicking Nature-A A +A
By Rox Peña
Thursday, June 28, 2012
ANIMALS like dogs, elephants and dolphins are trained by humans for circus acts. Others are taught to do specific tasks like bomb and drug sniffing. These are some ways by which animals learn from humans. In many ways however, it is us humans that learn from animals. The term for this is bio-mimicry. Here are some examples which I gathered from Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/).
Scientists at Syracuse University studied how to harness the natural light produced by fireflies (called bioluminescence) using nanoscience. Their research entitled “Designing Quantum Rods for Optimized Energy Transfer with Firefly Luciferase Enzymes," may someday result in multicolor strings of light that don't need electricity or batteries to glow.
Here’s another one. There’s now a device which mimics the process of photosynthesis that green plants use to convert water and sunlight into energy. The device generates hydrogen independently in water using only sunlight. The hydrogen can then be used as a source of clean and sustainable energy.
Researchers have also turned their attention to ordinary garden insect- butterflies. Scientists long have known that butterfly wings contain tiny scales that serve as natural solar collectors. When butterflies spread their wings and bask in the sun, those solar collectors soak up sunlight and warm the butterfly's body. Researchers are looking for the secret of how the black wings absorb so much sunlight and reflect so little.
Even for military use, man looks at nature. Scientists are looking at a crustacean called mantis shrimp to improve the design of military body armor as well as vehicle and aircraft frames. Researchers were interested in what enabled the club-like arm of the shrimp to withstand 50,000 high-velocity strikes on prey during its lifespan. They found that the club is a highly complex structure, composed of three specialized regions that work together to create a structure tougher than many engineered ceramics.
Here are other nature-inspired inventions from http://scienceray.com/.
Bullet Train - The 500-series Shinkansen Japanese bullet train drew its inspiration from owl plumage to reduce air resistance noise and the air piercing nose cone design was inspired by the kingfisher’s beak.
Lotus paint - Lotus leaf, due to the presence of wax, does not retain any water or wax on its upper layer. This is called lotus effect. Based on lotus effect a paint named Lotusan is developed by a German Professor Wilhem Barthlott, from the University of Bonn.
Shark Suit - Fast Skin Shark suit is designed by Speedo based on the scales of shark. It has been observed that the reason for the ability of shark to swim fast is nothing but the design of its scales.
Velcro - the famous brand of the hook-and-loop fasteners that were designed by Swiss Engineer George de Mestral in 1940. He designed it after the observation of how the hooks of the plant burrs stuck in the fur of his dog and his pants. Observation of this under microscope showed him numerous tiny “hooks” that belonged to the plant.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on June 29, 2012.