Category Archives: self service

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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gecko feet sticks by the force of electricity

gecko2 geckoElectronic circuits typically constructed on very thin silicon surfaces. Now, suppose that we want to transfer such a circuit unto a non-flat surface such as cloth or leather. Circuits are fragile and any surface contact during movement can be destructive. Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois turned to the gecko lizard for the solution. Geckos are masters at sticking and then freeing their feet as they walk across a ceiling. The gecko foot has countless micro-size filaments which adhere to most surfaces by flexible, reversible molecular adhesion.

Technical application:

climb, stick to walls or on street

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lizard tail for stabilizers

Lizard_EchseTownsville.jpg.w300h413Lizards are some of the most versatile animals on the planet. Geckoes for example can climb straight up walls, even across glass ceilings upside down. Their feet have been studied to learn how to make better adhesives. Now, lizards are the subject of a new investigation which includes the dinosaurs. Researchers are looking at how lizards use their tails for balance, resulting in similar mechanical “tails” for robots.

Technical application:

stabilizers

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porcupines inspire for medical applications and wound healing

crop North American porcupines are well known for their unusual defense. An adult is coated with perhaps 30,000 needle-like hairs. An unfortunate dog that gets too close may find its nose resembling a pin cushion. Furthermore, the needles are not easy to remove. They are coated with microscopic, flexible plate-like barbs x1944__560x420_natural-quill-digital-photo-and-sem_jpg_pagespeed_ic_39VRY2tUR-.jpg.w180h102which make penetration relatively easy, but extraction requires a strong and painful pull.

 

Technical application:

surgical applications

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tree frog climb wet and dirty surfaces as well as upside down surfaces without falling

TreeFrog_Laubfrosch_cropped.jpg.w300h400Here is an activity to try with a length of adhesive tape. Press the tape against a dusty surface several times. As expected, the tape quickly loses its holding strength as dust particles collect and coat the sticky side. In contrast, consider tree frogs which thrive in dusty, wet, or muddy surroundings. Yet they cling securely to branches and leaves, even hanging upside down. How are they able to hold on without falling?

Technical application:

holding applications

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our brain inspires for supercomputers

Computers have come a long way but they still primitive compared with our own brainpower. Our brains can handle much more information and processing than any supercomputer yet developed. The brain is so far superior to current braincomputers that scientists seek ways to mimic its “wiring” in modern computers.

 

Technical application:

supercomputing

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Saliva a wound-healing elixier

researchersThis example of a practical design in nature may lack appeal but it is vitally important to our health. A common phrase is to “lick one’s own wounds.” This saying expresses the effort to care for one’s own needs and generally look out for oneself. However, there is a more practical application. Dutch researchers are studying the chemical compounds in human saliva. They find an abundance of simple proteins called histatins that actively fight infection. Also present are compounds that cause epithelium skin cells to close quickly over a wound. Most of us have experienced the benefits of these saliva components. Small cuts inside the mouth tend to heal more rapidly than external injuries, and mouth healing leaves little scaring.

Technical application:

wound healing

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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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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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Miracle Tree helps to get clean Water for a cheap price

Moringa_oleifera_drumstick_fruitIn today’s world more than one billion people lack access to clean drinking water. This leads to untold suffering and death from dysentery, typhoid, and other diseases associated with contaminated water sources. Children are especially victims of unsafe water. One solution to this serious problem comes from a tree which grows worldwide in both tropical and arid areas worldwide, called the miracle tree.

Technical application:

water filters

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