Nature & Technology: 15 Consequences Of Collaboration
We are the children of technological civilization. During the history mankind was trying to “curb” nature, to become its “master”, mindlessly using its resources. But the truth is that we are the part of nature. Sometimes being unable to solve some problem we turn to nature looking for the answers. And very often the ideas we get from it are just amazing and they make our life easier and better. So we would like to present you 15 consequences of nature and technology collaboration.
1. Biological batteries
We all know that modern batteries are extremely harmful for the environment. That is why now a lot of special centers for battery recycling exist. But in future scientists are going to create so called biological batteries. Such batteries will be safe for the environment and for people as well. Surgeons say that the batteries made of biological bacterial enzymes can be implanted into human body.
2. Bird-Proof Glass
Scientists say that every year in Europe about 250 million birds die because they fly into glass windows. Trying to solve this problem, German engineers turned to nature. They noticed that the orb weaver spider makes a special web that has an ability to reflect ultraviolet rays. Birds see the reflected ultraviolet rays and thus avoid the web. According to the engineers if we put on glass material that can reflect UV rays, birds will see the windows and avoid them.
3. Aircraft Configuration
One of the most famous examples of nature imitation is an aircraft. Configuration of the planes imitates birds, their wings, body and tail. An airfoil that assures ascensional power was also taken from birds.
The engineers faced a problem with high-speed trains. When such a train enters a tunnel, the waves of air pressure appear. When the train comes out the tunnel, because of these waves we can hear a very loud sound. The sound is heard on 400 meters distance. It all creates a problem of noise pollution. The problem was solved with the help of nature observing. It was noticed that the kingfisher when catches fish enters the water very smoothly without any splash. This smoothness is achieved thanks to the kingfisher’s wedge-shaped beak. Taking into consideration this fact, Japanese engineers designed the Shinkansen bullet train with a longer nose. Such a form of the train reduces the atmospheric pressure by 30%, thus speed increased and the passengers say that now it is more comfortable to ride.
5. Waterproof surface
Scientists noticed that the leaves of the plants do not sop. The reason is that their surface is covered by a myriad of tubes that create kind of air gap between the leaf and the water that falls on it. This technique was used to create waterproof materials and surfaces. As a result the surface does not get wet.
6. Wind Farms
It is a known fact that wind farms occupy large area. Due to their large size they are placed on a big distance one from another. Also they are not very efficient. In solving this problem scientists turn to nature, looking for an answer there. And they found it observing the schooling fish. These fish have an ability to use the vortices that their neighbours produce and thus they can economize the forces they spend on swimming. The same principle was used in wind farms. The neighboring turbines turn in the opposite direction what caused 10 times efficiency increase. Also efficiency increases with vertical blades.
7. Wind Turbines
Nature, in particular humpback whales, helped scientists to improve wind turbines. Though humpback whales are very large they can easily move in the water, showing great agility. It can be explained by the fact that the whales on their fins have irregular bumps, called tubercles. There are fast-moving channels of water in the tubercles that help the whales to move easily at low speeds. When it was used in producing of the turbine blades, the lift increased by 8 %, and drag reduced by 32%.
8. Solar Panels
Butterflies gave to the researchers of the University of Exeter an idea how they can improve the solar panels efficiency. Observing their wings researchers noticed that butterflies can concentrate the solar energy with the help of scale cells. In such a way their flight muscles are warmed up quicker. When it was applied to the solar panels, their efficiency increased by 17 times. Also this technique allowed to reduce the solar panel cost and its production became faster and simpler. The researchers also paid their attention on how the butterflies hold their wings. Being placed in the v-shaped position, solar panels can accumulate the maximal energy amount.
9. Early Warning Systems
Everyone knows that tsunamis can cause damage and destruction of a very large scale. When tsunamis reach the shore, they are usually very high, while in the ocean their height can be a few centimeters only. For tsunami waves detection you should place sensitive pressure sensors at a depth of 6 km. Since the sensors are located deep in the water, a sending signals problem occurs. Plus another problem of a sound disruption can reduce the message accuracy. Dolphins helped to find the way out. They are able to recognize other dolphin’s whistle being at 25 km distance. Using the dolphins’ technique EvoLogics company created a tsunami early warning system.
10. Shark Skin Stops Bacteria
A lot of algae often attach to the bodies of marine animals. But there is an animal that managed to avoid this and it is a shark. There are v-shaped scales on the shark’s skin. These scales are called denticles and they serve to reduce drag and to prevent the increase of the microorganism amount on them. The company Sharklet Technologies used this to create special surface materials that can prevent bacteria attaching. It is obvious that such material is very useful and it can be used in many different establishments, for example, in public bathrooms, in restaurants, and in hospitals, what is incredibly important.
11. Medical Tape
Scientists found one more way to use the silk of the spiders. They make medical tape that can be used on newborn babies. The main trait of the spider’s silk is that it sticks in some places only to catch the prey and the other places are not sticky so that the spider can move across its web. This method was applied in the field of medicine. A silicon-based film attaches to a backing material. Then into the silicon they cut a grid with a laser. Such a technique helps to take the tape off with no damage. Since the newborn do not have the epidermis, the outermost skin layer, the doctors can use this tape for safe attaching of the tubes to newborn babies skin.
12. Spider Dress
Inspired by nature Anouk Wipprecht created Robotic Spider Dress. The Dress is designed in such a way that it has a collar and mechanical “legs”. These “legs” can move and react thanks to special sensors installed in the dress. For the first time Anouk Wipprecht mentioned about the Spider Dress concept in 2012, and now she made it real. The Dress combines and unites two worlds: the world of fashion and high tech world. Those who have seen the Spider Dress say that it looks a little but scary, but attractive, and it also has modern 3-D printed design that makes it even more unusual.
13. Cyborg Roses
In Sweden at Linköping scientists of the Laboratory for Organic Electronics University invented a cyborg rose. This research is carried out within the project “possibility of using photosynthesis as a large-scale source of power”. The project is at its begging at the moment, but scientists managed to impress the media. They prove that with the help of electronic stimulation they can change the colour of the rose’s petals. By the way it was media that gave to the roses this name “Cyborg Roses”.
14. Fast Running Robot
Another example of inspiration that technology got from birds. Florida institute for human & machine cognition with Massachusetts Institute of Technology develop a fast-running robot. The source of inspiration for researchers was the ostrich with its amazing ability to reach high speeds. At the moment this project is in the progress but scientists claim they have already achieved good results.
This example of “natural” technology millions of people use every day. Velcro is a kind of fastening products that in 1941 was invented by Swiss George de Mestral. The legend says that the idea of Velcro came to him when he walked with his dog in the woods. After the walk he had to clean his clothes and his dog’s hair from the burrs. Having studied the plant under the microscope he saw tiny hooks on the edges of the leaves. Then there was a lot of experiments with the materials and now we have our modern version of Velcro made of nylon and polyester.
This list can be continued with many other examples. We adopt forms, shapes, principles of functioning, schemes of behaviour from nature. It is high time to admit that we are not nature masters. Nature is just forgiving and patient towards people. The only thing we can do is to stop or at least to reduce the harm and damage we make. Nature of our planet is unique and we should appreciate it while we have such an opportunity.
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