Juniper Times

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High Tech Nature – Four Really Cool Plants and Animals

It’s amazing how many scientifically advanced features can be found in nature. Plants and animals have many traits that can be useful to humans. Below are four examples of creatures that have noteworthy characteristics.

The Boxfish

High tech Factor: Aerodynamic Fuel Efficiency

The little boxfish is quite a speedy fellow, jetting through water at speeds of six body lengths per second. This isn’t just a feat of strength though, the fish’s cube-like shape is an important contributor to its aerodynamic qualities. Engineers who tested its abilities were stunned to find a boxfish replica able to slip through air by far more efficiently than the most compact cars around. This, they concluded, was due to the fish’s bony outer skin, which provided maximum strength while maintaining minimum weight. Tiny vortexes form in the water around the fish providing stability and outstanding maneuverability.

How we can use that

Already,based on the boxfish, new designs for super high fuel efficiency vehicles with stunning aerodynamics have be conceptualized. The increased mileage and decreased carbon emissions will be easy on your pocket and our environment.

The Gecko

High Tech Factor: Removable Adhesive

Ever wonder how lizards manage to scurry across smooth walls and ceilings so effortlessly? Well, each toe on the gecko’s foot has ridges with thousands of hairs protruding. Each hair in turn, has hundreds of microscopic filaments. The intermolecular forces (called van der Waals forces) produced by these filaments are sufficient to support the reptile’s weight. Researchers are studying the gecko’s foot to discover how they can replicate it.

How we can use that

The adaptations of such a material are numerous. Uses range from high grip foot wear to band-aids that stay put when wet to a tape alternative to surgical sutures.

The Dragonfly

High Tech Factor: Multi-Faceted Eye

Certain insects such as dragonflies and honeybees are equipped with special multi-faceted eyes made up of hundreds of hexagonal lenses. Each of these faces a slightly different direction and detects different bits of information. The separate images combine to create a wide mosaic view that provides the insect with superb motion detecting abilities.

How we can use that

Scientists are exploring ways to mimic the wonderful compound eye and integrate this science into high speed motion detectors and tiny multi directional cameras. Potential uses include medical adaptations of the cameras that can be swallowed by a patient. Doctors could then view the patient’s insides through the compound eye of the device.

Lotus Leaves

High Tech factor: Water Repelling

The leaves of the lotus plant are remarkable for their water repellent quality. The surface of each leaf is covered with microscopic raises which are, in turn, coated with crystals made of a waxy substance. Drops of water that get on the leaves are suspended by the waxy bumps and instantly roll off before reaching the surface of the leaf. The water also cleans the leaf as it goes by carrying off dust and impurities and leaving the leaf clean and dry.