Photokina 2014 highlights

Biomimicry

Squids change color by contracting pigment-filled cells known as chromatophores – the Rice...

Scientists have long marveled at the squid's ability to sense the color of its surroundings, and then instantaneously change its own skin coloring in order to blend in. To that end, a number of projects have attempted to create man-made materials that are similarly able to change color on demand. One of the latest studies, being led by associate professor Stephan Link at Rice University, may ultimately result in improved LCD displays.  Read More

Robot raptors that fly like the real thing are designed to act as a deterrent to flocks of...

Birds that stray into the paths of aircraft, eat crops, or spread disease from foraging in large numbers at landfills are, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, downright dangerous. Over the years people have tried everything from scaring them away with loud noises to trapping them – all with varying results. Now a designer from the Netherlands has come up with robotic birds of prey that look and fly exactly like the real thing.  Read More

A green anole, that has regrown the end of its tail

If you ever had a pet lizard as a child, it was quite likely a green anole. As is the case with other lizards, they have the ability to break off their own tail when attacked by a predator, and then regrow it. Scientists from Arizona State University recently announced that they have cracked the code regarding that tail regrowth process, and are now hoping that it could be applied to the field of regenerative medicine.  Read More

A flexible artificial skin is designed to wrap around objects and autonomously camouflage ...

A new device developed at the University of Houston can automatically sense its surroundings and blend into them in a matter of seconds, imitating the behavior of squids and other marine creatures. Once it is perfected, the prototype could have interesting applications for the military, or even make its way into consumer technology.  Read More

MIT's porous tissue scaffold, as imaged by an electron microscope (Image: MIT)

A team of chemical engineers from MIT has developed a new method of stimulating bone growth, by utilizing the same chemical processes that occur naturally in the human body following an injury such as a broken or fractured bone. The technique involves the insertion of a porous scaffold coated with growth factors that prompt the body's own cells to naturally mend the damaged or deformed bone.  Read More

Nemesis Fins are designed to let you swim like a whale ... sort of

If you've ever seen a humpback whale's fins, you might have noticed that they have knobby bits along the front edge. These are known as tubercles, and they cause the water to flow over the fins in such a way that extra lift is created. They've been copied in efforts to produce better wind turbines, undersea turbines, helicopter rotor blades ... and now, Speedo swim fins.  Read More

Ormia ochracea has excellent hearing, and is hated by crickets everywhere  (Photo: Jpaur)

When it comes to animals with good hearing, flies might not be the first one you'd think of. The Ormia ochracea fly, however, has a unique hearing mechanism that allows it to precisely determine the location of a cricket based on its chirps ... it then deposits its larvae on the cricket, which ultimately consume the poor insect. Scientists at the University of Texas Austin have now duplicated that mechanism, with hopes that it could find use in applications such as next-generation hearing aids.  Read More

Functional human platelets (the orange starfish-like things in the picture) could one day ...

Scientists have already successfully coaxed stem cells into becoming red blood cells, which could be used to create "man-made" blood for transfusion. Red blood cells, however, aren't the only component of human blood. Now, researchers at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital have also created functional human platelets, using a bioreactor that simulates the medium in which blood cells are naturally produced – bone marrow.  Read More

A barnacle-encrusted camera found by Gizmag writer Ben Coxworth

If you place pretty much any type of solid material in the ocean, barnacles will firmly attach themselves to it. If you were to try applying a glue to any of those materials while they were underwater, however, it likely wouldn't stick. So, what do barnacles know that we don't? Scientists have recently discovered the answer, and it could lead to advances in human technologies.  Read More

The DOL-Fin is a hydrofoil for your feet

Besides being able to fly like a bird, many people fantasize about having the ability to swim like a dolphin. Divers already have the option of replacing their two regular swim fins with one fluke-like flexible rubber monofin, although aerospace engineer Ron Smith claims that his invention is much more effective. Known as the DOL-Fin, it incorporates a wide rigid hydrofoil-type fin.  Read More

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