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Tag: biomimicry

Regulated respite

Dragonfly wings have served as inspiration for flexible splints. And it seems we could learn a thing or two from grizzly bears. Despite consuming up to 20,000 calories per day and hibernating for long periods, the animals are able to regulate their blood sugar levels. A US research team fed honey water to six hibernating grizzly bears during wake...

Paws for thought

A stroll in the woods can help reduce stress levels; so too words of encouragement from nursery children. Now a Belgian sound designer is lifting people’s moods with the noise of cats purring. Visitors to his website include those without cats of their own who nevertheless enjoy the soothing strain. With the help of a generator, purring can be...

Combined strength

The ideal prosthetic limb is both stiff and flexible. The human protein P53 helps the body to fight cancer, preventing damaged cells from turning into cancer cells, and the latter from spreading. It is, however, very ‘floppy’, infrequently produced by the body and quickly broken down. Which explains why a research team in Sweden took a closer look at...

Strong connection

Nature offers plenty of scope for innovation. From street-lamps to cooling packaging and micro-hydraulic robots. Taking inspiration from one of the strongest materials in the world - spider’s silk - a team of scientists from the University of Cambridge has developed a new alternative to single-use plastics. First came protein research to ascertain what made the spider’s silk so...

Bright pursuit

A sky full of stars - a rare sight for city-dwellers on a clear night. Artificial light sources prevent the night sky from being seen in all its glory. Now a Dutch-based design firm has developed a streetlight concept that could combat light pollution. The lamp is inspired by the way grass sways in the wind and resembles a...

Bending right

Venture outside during a storm. A strong gust of wind and your umbrella is blown inside out. A sophisticated mechanism prevents the same thing from happening to dragonflies in flight. Their filigree wings are interwoven with a honeycombed web of protein resin which provides flexible support. If the creature’s wings are overextended, further bending is prevented by the presence...

Flighty flexibility

Spiders or mice can make us jump instinctively. Butterflies, meanwhile, use a special technique to escape their enemies. First they bend their wings upwards to gather air. Next their wings collide to push the air out backwards, enabling rapid acceleration. The downward stroke keeps the insects in the air. Through the use of high-speed cameras in wind tunnels researchers...

Turning a blind eye

Standing in a darkened room, we perceive someone’s presence without seeing them. The same is true for the elephant-nose fish, whose special organs discharge small voltages into the water around it, creating electric fields. If these electric fields are disturbed by an intruder, electroreceptors on the fish’s skin raise the alarm. By swimming around the intruder, the fish can...

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