>> Thursday, April 10, 2008
this lizard above wicks water FROM IT'S FEET TO IT'S MOUTH. nature is an embarrassment of riches. This article from national geographic explores engineers using nature as inspiration. from page 3:
"As we walked, Parker explained how the metallic sheen and dazzling colors of tropical birds and beetles derive not from pigments, but from optical features: neatly spaced microstructures that reflect specific wavelengths of light. Such structural color, fade-proof and more brilliant than pigment, is of great interest to people who manufacture paint, cosmetics, and those little holograms on credit cards. Toucan bills are a model of lightweight strength (they can crack nuts, yet are light enough not to seriously impede the bird's flight), while hedgehog spines and porcupine quills are marvels of structural economy and resilience. Spider silk is five times stronger by weight and vastly more ductile than high-grade steel. Insects offer an embarrassment of design riches. Glowworms produce a cool light with almost zero energy loss (a normal incandescent bulb wastes 98 percent of its energy as heat), and bombardier beetles have a high-efficiency combustion chamber in their posterior that shoots boiling-hot chemicals at would-be predators. The Melanophila beetle, which lays its eggs in freshly burned wood, has evolved a structure that can detect the precise infrared radiation produced by a forest fire, allowing it to sense a blaze a hundred kilometers away. This talent is currently being explored by the United States Air Force."