Bio-inspired

The point is, porcupines inspired improved surgical tape

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 10, 2012   View Article

Porcupine quills penetrate the mouths of their would-be attackers with ease and prove extremely difficult to remove. Those qualities are inspiration for a futuristic tape that could help surgeons work faster and ease their patients’ post-operation pain.

“We like to turn to nature for inspiration because evolution is really the best problem solver,” Jeffrey Karp, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who led the adhesive’s development told NBC News.

Ant-inspired Internet – the ‘Anternet’ – may be coming soon

Publication: NBC News   Date: August 27, 2012   View Article

Ants get stuff done without anyone in control. Understanding how they do what they do could help us design more robust and efficient networks, according to a biologist who studies ant colony behavior.

A recent study shows that harvester ants, for example, regulate how many ants are out searching for food in a way that resembles how Internet protocols regulate the amount of data being transferred according to the amount of available bandwidth.

Can drones fly as well as Luke Skywalker

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 19, 2012   View Article

Next-generation drones may fly like Luke Skywalker zipping through the Endor forest on a speeder bike, suggests new research which focuses on how birds such as northern goshawks determine their maximum speed limit.

These birds race after prey through the forest canopy without smacking into tree trunks.

They avoid this fate by observing a theoretical speed limit, according to scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sunflowers inspire improved solar power plant

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 11, 2012   View Article

The well-tuned geometry of the florets on the face of the sunflower head has inspired an improved layout for mirrors used to concentrate sunlight and generate electricity, according to new research.

The sunflower-inspired layout could reduce the footprint of concentrating solar power (CSP) plants by about 20 percent, which could be a boon for a technology that’s limited, in part, by its massive land requirements.

CSP plants employ arrays of giant mirrors, each the size of half a tennis court, to beam the sun’s rays up to heat a tube of fluid in the top of a tower. This hot fluid drives steam turbines that generate electricity.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach