6 posts tagged biomimicry
Scientists have built a digital camera inspired by the compound eyes of insects like bees and flies. The camera’s hemispherical array of 180 microlenses gives it a 160 degree field of view and the ability to focus simultaneously on objects at different depths.
Human eyes, and virtually all cameras, use a single lens to focus light onto a light-sensitive tissue or material. That arrangement can produce high-resolution images, but compound eyes offer different advantages. They can provide a more panoramic view, for example, and remarkable depth perception.
The new artificial version, created by by John Rogers and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and described today in Nature, could potentially be developed for use in security cameras or surgical endoscopes.
“The resolution is roughly equivalent to that of a fire ant or a bark beetle,” Rogers wrote in an email to Wired. “With manufacturing systems more like those in industry, and less like the academic, research setups that we are currently using, we feel that it is possible to get to the level of a dragonfly or beyond.” (via Tiny New Compound Camera Is Built Like a Bug’s Eye | Wired Science | Wired.com)
Proteins are able to self-assemble into a wide range of highly ordered structures that feature a diverse array of properties. Through biomimicry - technological innovation inspired by nature – humans hope to emulate proteins and produce our own version of self-assembling molecules. A key to accomplishing this is understanding how protein-folding – a process critical to the form and function of a protein – is extended from individual proteins to complex assemblies. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have now shown that a concept widely accepted as describing the folding of a single individual protein is also applicable to the self-assembly of multiple proteins. Their findings provide important guidelines for future biomimicry efforts, particularly for device fabrication and nanoscale synthesis. “We’ve made the first direct observations that the concept of a folding funnel with kinetic energy traps for individual proteins can be equally applied to the assembly of ordered protein structures,” says Jim DeYoreo, a scientist with the Molecular Foundry, a DOE nanoscience center at Berkeley Lab, who led this research along with Berkeley Lab chemist Carolyn Bertozzi. “Our results tell us that efforts to discover and codify the design rules for the self-assembly of complex molecular systems will have to take into account the impact of kinetic traps associated with conformational transformations.”
A number of life-support machines are connected to each other, circulating liquids and air in attempt to mimic a biological structure.
The Immortal investigates human dependence on electronics, the desire to make machines replicate organisms and our perception of anatomy as reflected by biomedical engineering.
A web of tubes and electric cords is interwoven in closed circuits through a Heart-Lung Machine, Dialysis Machine, an Infant Incubator, a Mechanical Ventilator and an Intraoperative Cell Salvage Machine.
The organ replacement machines operate in orchestrated loops, keeping each other alive through circulation of electrical impulses, oxygen and artificial blood.
Salted water acts as blood replacement: throughout the artificial circulatory system minerals are added and filtered out again, the blood gets oxygenated via contact with the oxygen cycle, an ECG device monitors the system’s heartbeat.
As the fluid pumps around the room in a meditative pulse, the sound of mechanical breath and slow humming of motors resonates in the body through a comforting yet disquieting soundscape.
The interpretation of anatomy with a mechanical vocabulary reflects strongly on the Western perception of the body.
Defining the body as a machine - where dysfunctional parts can be replaced by mechanics - speaks of how we understand life.
These objects encompass social debates about the ethics of euthanasia, the quantification of both the value and quality of life, making physical a poetic desire to conquer our own mortality.
The medical machine - whether in use or not - is an object which transcends its materiality. Designed and created to perform a single, most meaningful function, we never subject these devices to a critical investigation as industrial products within the context of material culture.
This work aims to explore the nature of these devices as objects of our times, liberated from their restrained purpose while still charged with its resonance.
By exploring the medical instruments while detached from the human body and functioning as an independent being, each electronic body part accentuate the distance between the organic and the artificial.
Through the visibility of motors, electronic circuits, fluid pumps, audio-visual signals and particularly the scale and electric exhaustion of the work, we are confronted with the stark contrasts that lie in the primitive functions of precision hardware.
The Immortal is occupied with the compelling and discomforting nature of these objects, Â the products of our attempts to conquer biology with engineering.
The absence of the body only underlines that the machines filling the room are inherently biological.
Long strands of bull kelp ripple beneath the surface of churning coastal waters, drawing fuel from the sun and, perhaps, pointing out a better way for humanity to capture and use energy. Seaweed is just one of the innovations of nature from which engineers are drawing inspiration as they seek to design energy systems that are cleaner and more efficient. In plants—the engines of photosynthesis—and in creatures as small as insects and as large as whales, advocates of “biomimicry” are looking for systems that can help humanity better meet the challenge of fueling civilization sustainably. Biomimicry simply means using designs inspired by nature to solve human problems. The idea is that over 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature itself has solved many of the problems that humanity finds itself grappling with today. Since energy is one of the greatest challenges facing the world, with much of the research aimed at designing systems that would work in greater harmony with the planet, it is not surprising that science would look to nature for answers. (via Biomimicry Pictures: Nature Yields New Ideas for Renewable Energy and Efficiency)