Category Archives: periodical 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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“Killer Whales” inspire for Undersea Hydrophone

KillerwhalesSound is always produced and heard as a vibration, whether a violin string, vocal chords, or an ear drum. Sound vibrations in our hearing range vary between 20 and 20,000 cycles per second. Sound waves travel in air as vibrating air molecules, and also through water as pressure waves. Underwater microphones, or hydrophones, have long been used to track whale migrations, fish populations and submarines. The devices also service undersea oil wells and map the seafloor.

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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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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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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human eye as a model for better wiping systems

220px-Heckscheibenwischer_kl eyelid_2Engineer and inventor Robert Kearns (1929-2005) lived in Detroit, a region surrounded by the auto industry. One misty, rainy day he drove his Ford Galaxie across town. He was irritated by the constant scraping and vibration of the windshield wipers on the semi-dry windshield. At this time, most wipers had just two settings, one for normal rain and the other for a heavy downpour. Kearns also had only one good eye, and the constant smearing motion of the wipers did not help his vision or driving concentration. What happened next is what the Wall Street Journal calls “the kind of inspiration that separates inventors from ordinary people.” Kearn simply asked himself whether windshield wipers could mimic the blinking of our eyes.

Technical application:

windshield wipers

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will our lungs help to reduce carbon dioxid emissions on our planet?

lungsOur hard-working lungs clearly show intelligent planning. Within our lungs, countless tiny air sacks called alveoli exchange gases from the bloodstream, supplying fresh oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. The component membranes which allow separation and passage of the gases are about one thousand times thinner than a printed period. The total gas exchange area adds up to at least 70 time an adult’s total body surface area, or the size of a volleyball court. Specialized chemicals, especially carbonic anhydrase, help carry on the continuous gas exchange process.

Technical application:


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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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