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Biomimicry

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

The teeth inside squids' sucker rings help the creatures hang onto prey, and they could he...

There seems to be no end to the proposed human technologies based on attributes of the squid. The animals' beaks have inspired a material that could be used for medical implants, their muscles may lead us to color-changing clothing, the chitosan in their "pens" has been used to create a proton-conducting transistor, and their movements served as the inspiration for a soft-bodied robot. Now, it turns out that the teeth inside the suckers on their tentacles might be the basis for materials that could be used in fields such as reconstructive surgery.  Read More

In this lab setup, the glider is able to locate and perch in front of a power line

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are currently being considered for many applications, although one factor that a lot of people tend to gloss over is the aircrafts' limited battery range – being able to stay airborne for only 10 to 30 minutes at a time definitely limits their usefulness. Researchers at MIT, however, are developing a possible solution. They're working on a fixed-wing UAV that can perch on power lines and use their emitted magnetic fields to recharge its battery, before continuing on its way.  Read More

A climber uses the Z-Man paddles to climb up a glass surface

Geckos are likely better climbers than any other animal, so it's no surprise that a number of researchers have tried to copy that ability via man-made technology. One group, from Stanford University, was particularly successful with a small climbing robot known as the Stickybot. Four years ago, we heard about how they were also looking into applying the Stickybot tech to a system that would allow humans to climb up vertical surfaces. Now, DARPA has announced the first successful demonstration of that system, known as Z-Man.  Read More

A MagnetoSperm in action

When it comes to moving simply but effectively through a liquid medium, few things are as good as sperm. This fact isn't lost on scientists, who have built tiny sperm-like robots (or even used "hijacked" sperm) in efforts to create new methods of targeted drug delivery, among other potential applications. The latest such endeavor has resulted in a batch of microrobots known as MagnetoSperm.  Read More

The adhesive fibers in one of the man-made attachment discs, holding down a nylon thread

In recent years we've seen a number of attempts at artificially replicating the strong-yet-light characteristics of spider silk. It turns out that the silk itself isn't the only thing that's inspiring scientists, however. Researchers from the University of Akron have recently created their own version of the "attachment discs" that spiders use to secure their silk fibers to surfaces, when building webs. These man-made discs could conceivably prove superior to conventional glues as a form of adhesive.  Read More

The defense mechanism of the bombardier beetle has inspired a film that could be used to d...

Taking inspiration from the defense mechanism of the bombardier beetle, researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a film that, when damaged, instantly releases a hot foam to discourage malicious actions. The technology could be used as a simple, yet elegant and reliable way of discouraging theft and vandalism on ATM machines.  Read More

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