Clever Animals Inspire Lookers – And Engineers

first_img     How did these optical secrets emerge in such different species as arthropods, fish and birds?  The leader of the Israeli group remarked, “It is astonishing how through evolution, fish and silver-colored spiders have independently succeeded in achieving light-reflecting structures with similar efficiencies, although differences in mechanism is apparent.”  Another team member who spoke of the “clever solutions that emerged in the course of evolution” said, “It is very surprising that fish and spiders, pertaining to completely different taxonomic groups, independently acquired through evolution the ability to generate mirror-like reflections on their skin by depositing guanine crystals.  This suggests that the solution must be quite efficient and it is, therefore, extremely promising for the materials scientists to try and understand the structural principles of these photonic crystals working as (colored) mirrors.” 1.  Finn, Tregenza and Norman, “Defensive tool use in a coconut-carrying octopus,” Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 23, R1069-R1070, 15 December 2009, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.10.052. Ahem, you Israeli idolaters: Darwinism has just been falsified, not confirmed.  What’s astonishing is that you would trade in a solid foundation for an idol with feet of clay.  Look to the Rock from which you were hewn.     How often do the evolutionists start chanting their worship rituals into otherwise stimulating discussions about biological wonders?  It will be so good when we can get science back to observation.  Meanwhile, all of us can look forward to cool gadgets and inventions coming from the intelligent-design science of biomimetics. In the tank, fish are glistenin’ In the lab, folks are whistlin’; A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, Copyin’ a living wonderland. Gone away’s Mr. Charlie, Here to stay – not so gnarly – Intelli-design, the trend of ’09, Copyin’ a living wonderland. In the hangar we can build a robot, And pretend that it’s a hummingbird; They’ll say “Follow Darwin!” we’ll say “No, not! Design by evolution is absurd.” Later on, we’ll conspire As we dream, zoo-inspired, To build unafraid, with plans that God made, Copyin’ a living wonderland.(Visited 22 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Incredible animals provide endless delights with their antics.  Even microorganisms are capable of amazing feats.  Sometimes these living things inspire inventors, too.center_img Coconut octopus:  Tool use was supposed to be a late marker of primate intelligence as chimpanzees were evolving upward to manhood.  That’s so 1890.  Now that we know crows can use tools (05/26/2009), why not octopi?  Sure enough, PhysOrg, Science Daily and Live Science all reported on a “lucky accident” of finding “tool use in an invertebrate.”  Based on the paper in Current Biology,1 Live Science explained, “The veined octopus (Amphioctopus marginatus) apparently can stack discarded coconut shell halves just as one might pile bowls, sits atop them, makes its eight arms rigid like stilts, and then moves the entire heap across the seafloor.  These soft-bodied creatures perform this ungainly ‘stilt walking’ to use the hard shells for shelter later when needed.”     Marine biologist Julian Finn “never laughed so hard underwater” upon observing the trick.  New Scientist included a video; so did National Geographic, which said the discoverers were “blown away” when they saw it.  “Tool use, once thought to be a uniquely human behavior, is seen as a sign of considerable mental sophistication among nonhuman animals, ”NG said.  The article quoted a chimpanzee expert commenting, “Even chimps do not use natural materials to create shelters over their heads.”  This octopus is making good use of its sophisticated robotic arms (02/09/2005, brain (10/25/2009) and complex eyes (10/16/2006, bullet 2).  Live Science followed up with a list of 10 animals that use tools.  Only half of them are primates; two are non-mammals. Hummingbird robots:  Who isn’t fascinated with hummingbirds hovering around the backyard feeder?  Scientists at University of Buffalo are studying “hummingbirds flight to develop self-propelled surveillance devices,” reported PhysOrg.  Hummingbird wings develop 3-D vortices that provide optimal lift.  Scientists interested in designing small robotic flyers that can negotiate caves, tunnels and tight places are taking their cues from the world’s smallest birds.  “One solution being explored is the design of tiny, flying surveillance devices called micro-air vehicles that are bio-inspired, based on lessons drawn from the behavior of insects and birds.” Batty feet:  Scientists thought some bats used suction to cling to wet leaves.  Nope; Science Daily reported that the sucker-footed bats don’t use suction.  “Instead, they use wet adhesion, secreting a fluid, possibly sweat, that enables the pads on the bats’ wrists and ankles to attach to surfaces.”  The report on PhysOrg includes a video of the bat clinging to glass. Microfuel and micro-art:  Even single-celled organisms have their own tricks of technology.  Energy is, of course, a matter of great concern these days.  Space.com reported on the latest attempts to use algae for biofuel.  And New Scientist posted a gallery of artistic patterns produced by microbes (some with human help).  Image No. 7 is sure to give you a double-take.  And say: if bacteria are so clever, why not just use them instead of imitating them?  PhysOrg reported about scientists at Argonne National Laboratory who are harnessing microbes to turn nanoscopic gears.  This is easier than building nanomachines from scratch: There exists a wide gap between man-made hard materials and living tissues; biological materials, unlike steel or plastics, are “alive.”  Biomaterials, such as live skin or tissue, consume energy of the nutrients to self-repair and adapt to their environment,” [Igor] Aronson said.  “Our discovery demonstrates how microscopic swimming agents, such as bacteria or man-made nanorobots, in combination with hard materials can constitute a ‘smart material’ which can dynamically alter its microstructures, repair damage, or power microdevices.” Hopefully PETA will not complain about making them into galley slaves.  See also Live Science. All that glitters:  Photonic crystals, the geometric arrangements of nanoscopic surfaces that play tricks with light, are still a hot topic in physics and biomimetics.  PhysOrg reported about work at the Weizmann Institute of Science who are studying “Sparkly Spiders and Photonic Fish.”  A variety of unrelated creatures use guanine molecules to create the tiny patterns that amplify some wavelengths and cancel out others.  The result is a reflective surface brighter than what pigments could produce: “These fish and spiders are able to make guanine crystals of very specific size and orientation to achieve the reflectivity they require.”last_img read more

South Africans hunt for bargains online

first_img26 January 2009Local e-commerce comparison site Jump Shopping chose bidorbuy as the best South African online auction site for the third year running in 2008. Bidorbuy attributes its success to a simple business model: make a website and allow other people to trade on it among themselves.Established in 1999 for individuals to buy and sell their wares online, bidorbuy’s registered users passed the 300 000 mark by November, a growth of 40%, while average sales have risen from about R9-million a month a year ago to about R20-million a month currently.About 80% of transactions are concluded in the auction format, the remainder being fixed-price sales. In line with perceived international trends, the company expects an increase in fixed-price listings.“The move towards fixed-price items seems the logical next step,” says bidorbuy director Andy Higgins.“After all, some people prefer to come to the site, browse, and buy. They don’t want to waste time on a lengthy bidding process at the end of which they may have nothing to show for it, because someone else might outbid them and walk away with the item they wanted to buy.”Crazy Wednesday, Snap FridayHowever, according to bidorbuy, their sellers do not quite see it that way: many maintain that they have a better chance of selling their merchandise, and at a higher profit, when they list them in auction format.The buyers, meanwhile, favour the auctions starting from R1 with no reserve, which have become so popular that the company has dedicated two days of the week to such auctions: Crazy Wednesday and Snap Friday.Most of the R1, no-reserve, items on bidorbuy are in the low to medium value category, though every now and then a seller will stage a surprise and raise everything: a two-bedroom apartment in Helderkruin, in Gauteng’s West Rand, closed at R390 000, having opened at R1 without reserve, while a second-hand Mercedes Benz CLK320 has also appeared on a R1 no-reserve auction.“It must be emphasised that auctions are not an efficient way of selling all goods – they do not always work well for items whose price can be anticipated in advance,” Higgins says. “But auctions do excel when they are called to set the price for items of indeterminable value, for example collectibles or used items. In those cases, the auctions provide a very good dynamic pricing mechanism.”Simple formulaAll in all, the bidorbuy business model boils down to a very simple formula: make a website and allow other people to trade on it among themselves, the company says.“As a company, bidorbuy has no contact with the goods traded on its site. It does not need to worry about warehouses and shipping and other complicated details.”Bidorbuy also points out that its business model has shown unusual vitality in these times of the economic gloom.“Up to a point, consumer-to-consumer online sites like bidorbuy.co.za thrive on recession, because that is when people come to the site to sell in order to improve their finances and to buy bargains in order to save on their expenses.”SAinfo reporter Would you like to use this article in your publicationor on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more