Category Archives: adjustable

Sea Urchin inspires for Self-sharpening Tools

800px-Sea_Urchin.jpg.w300h201 The sea urchin is well known for its many outward-pointing spines. However, five symmetric teeth at the center of its body are even more impressive than the spines. These teeth are able to chew through solid rock, making a cavity in which the sea urchin hides and withstands the surge of water currents. Scientists have long wondered how sea urchin tee1004__400x300_sea-urchin-teeth.jpg.w300h225th can withstand grinding and scraping against rock surfaces. After all, the teeth are made of calcite (CaCO3) which is just average in mineral hardness.

Technical application:

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Sea Cucumber-Brain Implant

LeopardSeaCucumber.jpg.w300h225Sea cucumbers are found on the floor of all the world’s oceans. Their tubular shape resembles a cucumber taken from the garden. The animals frequent shallow coastal waters and are also found in the deepest ocean. Sea cucumbers, also called sea slugs, are colorful occupants of many salt water aquariums. The sea cucumber has the special ability to change its leathery skin from firm to flabby in just seconds. They tense up their body tissue by linking collagen fibers into a stiff net. When the fibers disconnect, the skin again becomes soft and pliable. Such behavior catches the interest of medical workers, especially brain specialists. Patients with Parkinson’s disease or paralysis can be treated by inserting tiny electrodes in the brain.

Technical application:

solve the contradiction “be soft and be stiff”

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Razor Clam – Anchor

razorclamThe razor clam has a long narrow shell, somewhat resembling an old-fashioned straight razor.  The shells also have a sharp edge. The clam is hunted for food in exposed mudflats along the ocean shoreline. Its defense against people and predators is an impressive ability to burrow underground rapidly. They can dig downward at about one centimeter per second to a depth of 70 centimeters, or about 28 inches.

Technical application:

anchoring vessels, seafloor monitoring equipment, and underwater cables

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a much more efficient impellent for submarines

jellyfishA researcher at Caltech is developing new ways to power submarines and windmills using the lowly jellyfish. Jellyfish have a unique method of swimming through ocean water. Rather than using fins and flippers, they “pump” their body to produce ring-shaped pulses of water called vortex rings. These vortex rings are spinning, donut-shaped masses of water that the jellyfish uses as a launch pad to propel itself forward through the water. This type of swimming is much more efficient than pushing water backward in a single stream.

Technical application:

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electric eel inspires for medical implant

Electric_eelThe 650 volts of electricity and one ampere of current is sufficient to stun large sea creatures within about two meters distance.

The electric eel’s ability comes from 5000-6000 internal layers of cells or electroplaques, stacked in a series circuit like the cells of a car battery.


Technical application:

medical devices

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dolphin-inspired-man-made-fin_1Many sea creatures including dolphins, porpoises, and whales have a tail structure that results in impressive bursts of speed. Their tail fin, called a fluke, is waved back and forth to provide forward motion. Meanwhile, the pectoral and dorsal fins provide directional stability. Dolphins reach speeds of 30-40 miles/hour (48-64 km/hr) and can leap completely out of water. Similarly, massive whales are able to breach or break from the water surface as they churn their tails.

Technical application:

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Cat’s Claw – Safety Thumbtack

cat_paw cat_pinsMany of us remember the misfortune of stepping on a thumbtack, sitting on a tack (!), or reaching into a box of thumbtacks and getting pricked. New York design engineer Toshi Fukaya has now found a simple solution to the painful problem.


Technical application:

spike, tires, grip applications, climbing, grippers

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mimic the chameleons tongue will offer new robot arms

Cameleon_catching_insect.JPG.w300h200Chameleons display many design features including changing skin color and stereoscopic eyesight. Another feature is their ability to capture insects with an extended tongue. Upon sighting fresh prey, the chameleon quickly extends its tongue to twice its body length. The tongue moves outward at ten meters per second (33 ft/sec). Once released, the tongue is in free flight and unguided, so it must be launched with precision. In addition, the tongue must exert very little force to make a sticky capture without pushing the target insect away.

Technical application:

robot arms

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