Category Archives: force

Zebrafish hearing can inspire to heal hearing disorders at humans

ZebrafishThe zebrafish lives in tropical waters and is a popular aquarium resident. This fish has clusters of hair cells spaced along its body. The hair follicles sense pressure changes and vibrations in water. This information helps the zebrafish navigate and avoid predators. The hairs are rooted in skin cells which have nerve connections with the brain. Studies show that when a hair cell is damaged, the zebrafish regenerates a replacement.
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Squid – Arresting device

squidandwhaleLaw enforcement faces the challenge of stopping fleeing vehicles. Non-violent methods include roadblocks and spike strips laid across the pavement. However, neither is entirely successful because drivers sometimes avoid the barriers.

The U.S. Department of Home Security is studying new technologies for stopping vehicles. One promising device is inspired by the squid.

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Shark Skin as an bacteria barrier

shark2.jpg.w300h225In the sea, a whale’s skin is home to barnacles, algae, and bacteria. In contrast, shark skin is squeaky clean. Parasites appear unable to attach to the shark skin. It is thought that the many small ridges and bumps on the shark’s skin surface discourage attachment. Bacteria prefer to colonize a smooth surface; a textured surface many require too much energy. The shark skin does not kill bacteria but simply discourages their presence. As a result, there is little chance of bacteria overcoming their resistance to shark skin.

Technical application:

In hospitals nursing call buttons, bed rails, and tray tables.

In restaurant door handles, especially in public restrooms

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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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future glass will withstand the impact of a baseball

shellHow do sea shells stay in one piece as they are buffeted constantly by strong currents and waves? After all, most shells consist of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) which is a brittle and relatively weak material. Calcium carbonate takes many forms including marble, limestone, and chalk.

One secret of success is the distribution of fine cracks within the shell structure.

Technical application:

ultrastrong glass

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Human climbing with efficiently scaled gecko-inspired dry adhesives

spidermanWe present a mechanical concept which improves upon the gecko’s non-uniform load-sharing and results in a nearly even load distribution over multiple patches of gecko-inspired adhesive.

Since the discovery of the mechanism of adhesion in geckos, many synthetic dry adhesives have been developed with desirable gecko-like properties such as reusability, directionality, self-cleaning ability, rough surface adhesion and high adhesive stress. However, fully exploiting these adhesives in practical applications at different length scales requires efficient scaling (i.e. with little loss in adhesion as area grows). Just as natural gecko adhesives have been used as a benchmark for synthetic materials, so can gecko adhesion systems provide a baseline for scaling efficiency.

Technical application:

climb buildings, for cleaning a ships body

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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.

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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.

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