Category Archives: continuous action

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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Pilot Whale for a Self-cleaning Ship Hull and safe of fuel costs

ship Long-finned pilot whales swim in cool regions of the oceans. They grow to 12-16 feet in length and weigh several tons. The whales are characterized by an enlarged forehead and a swimming behavior siwhalemilar to dolphins. The creatures are found to have highly-specialized apparatus for maintaining smooth, clean skin. Countless tiny surface pores produce a slime coating. The gel washes off with movement and is continually replenished. This “skin care” prevents bacteria and algae from gaining a foothold and forming growth colonies. The whale’s surface chemicals also contain enzymes that repel microorganisms. This feature in turn avoids barnacles, tubeworms and other marine life which are otherwise attracted to underwater surfaces.

How can the production of “slime” by pilot whales possibly be useful as a technical application?

Technical application:

clean ships without cleaning

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Dolphin-Monofin

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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your phone, inspired by yourself

Ear.jpg.w300h229 wilhelm_candlestick_telephoneThe eardrum is a marvel of engineering. As thin as tissue paper, it vibrates in response to the slightest changes in air pressure. If the eardrum surface moves inward a distance equal to the diameter of a single atom, one hundred millionth of a centimeter, a distinct sound is perceived. Clearly, a healthy eardrum is very sensitive.  Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) was a professor of vocal physiology at Boston University. At this time, electronic communication was limited to the dots and dashes of Morse Code. In his research, Bell looked for ways to transmit the various frequencies or vibrations of the human voice.

Technical application:

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ultra-small lab equipment based on Bladderworts roots

Bladderwort1 Bladderwort2One of the smallest traps in the world is inspiring physicists in studies of fluids. Bladderworts are a type of plant that grows in standing water or wet soil, and sometimes in very rough conditions. A unique aspect of this plant is its underwater roots which include many microscopic bladder-like traps. The trap looks like a small bubble and is covered with tiny hairs and “trap-doors.” The plants capture tadpoles, protozoa, or even water fleas, depending upon the species. When the unsuspecting victim approaches the trap-door, it suddenly opens, sucks in the creature, and then shuts again, all in less than one-thousandth of a second. Bladderworts are among the smallest carnivorous plants in the world.

Technical application:

ultra thin pipettes

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Dog inspired drying machines

dogshakingPerhaps you have stood near a wet dog as it dries by shaking its fur. Watch out! An impressive amount of water is thrown off in all directions. The shaking technique for furry creatures including mice, dogs, and bears is studied by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. They find that larger animals tend to move their bodies at a frequency of 4-5 shakes per second. Mice and rats move more rapidly, up to 27 shakes per second. Whatever the size, each creature begins the shaking process with its head and then the process moves along the body. Mathematical formulas have been established for the animal shaking process based on size, nature of the fur, water surface tension, and other variables. The animals apparently know these technical details by instinct.

Technical application:

drying machines

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leaf-solar collector; make your own hydrogen

leaf Solar energy is a popular topic today, and plants provide us with ideas for efficient collection of sunshine energy. During photosynthesis, sunlight converts carbon dioxide into water and sugars which nourish the plant. Worldwide, the daily rate leaf2of solar energy absorption by vegetation is six times greater than the output of all the world’s power plants.

Technical application:

produce energy (e.g. hydrogen)

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beaver teeths for sharp cutting-tools

beaver.jpgGerman engineers have applied the tooth sharpening ability of rodents to cutting tools.

Beavers, rats, rabbits and similar rodents depend on their teeth for survival. They are experts at gnawing, and their teeth are designed with a self-sharpening ability. Unlike our own, roSaw_bladedent teeth are covered with enamel on only the front side. Softer dentine is exposed on the back of the front teeth. As the rodent chews and wears down its teeth, it alternates grinding its lower incisors against either the front or the back of the upper incisors. As a result, the hard enamel slowly wears down the softer dentine and the teeth remain sharp. The teeth also continue to grow from the root, maintaining their length. The animals must continue to gnaw or their teeth will outgrow their mouth.

Technical application:

self shaping tools

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Dromedary inspires for seawater-salt removal

DromedaryCamel.jpg.w180h221 The dromedary camel is at home in the hot Sahara Desert where temperatures can exceed 170°F (77°C). Special features of the camel’s nose allow it conserve precious moisture with each breath.

SaharaForestProject.jpg.w300h193

 

 

 

Technical application:

seawater-salt removal, desert greening

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