sea-mouse inspired wire for micro circuits

SeaMouse.jpg.w560h311The sea mouse lives at the bottom of northern seas. Actually a worm, the creature’s name results from its furry appearance. The size of a thumb, the sea mouse is covered with many thousands of crystalline fibers called setae. These strands shimmer with iridescent colors as they reflect sunlight which filters downward hundreds of feet.

The setae are about 100 nanometers in diameter. This is about four millionths of an inch, several times smaller than a human hair. In addition, the sea mouse fibers are hollow tubes. Researchers in Finland and Norway have successfully used these fibers in a valuable high tech application.

Technical application:

nano circuits, mediacal implants

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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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sea anemone inspires for drug injection and medical needles

dn17985-1_300A sea anemone looks like an underwater flower with its colorful tentacles. However, this stinging “flower” must be handled with care. The tentacles are armed with tiny harpoon-like structures which can be fired outward. After they strike a passing fish, poison is pumped through an attached hollow thread to paralyze the prey. Some anemones and similar jellyfish are likewise a danger to a person who comes in contact.

Technical application:

There is wide potential application in replacing hypodermic needles in dentistry, skin anti-aging procedures, and diabetic insulin.

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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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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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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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“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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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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PUSH HUMANITY FORWARD!