Biomimetics Parade Marches Upward

first_img(Visited 174 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Scientists continue to find amazing things about animals and plants that they wish to imitate in technology.A squid-skin-inspired invisibility cloak (Nature). “A squid’s skin contains coloured cells, some of which expand and contract to help change the animal’s appearance.” Imitation of this technique at UC Irvine “has inspired a device that can be made invisible to infrared cameras and adapted to changing conditions.”Scientists mimic a worm’s lethal jaw to design and form resilient materials (Phys.org). With support from the U.S. Department of Energy, “Scientists created a bioinspired gradient in mechanical properties.” The inspiration comes from the polychaete worm, which for a soft animal has a surprisingly touch jaw with which it injects venom into its prey. It withstands large forces through the layering of materials. “The design of the jaw, with a gradient of hard materials at the tip connected to softer tissues, dissipates force and prevents serious damage to the jaw.”Photo by David Coppedge.Cactus roots inspire creation of water-retaining material (Phys.org). “During rare desert rainfalls, cacti waste no time sopping up and storing a storm’s precious precipitation.” Imitation of this process “could eventually have a host of applications in agriculture, cosmetics and medicine.”The raw power of human motion (Phys.org). Even the Arabs are getting into biological engineering. At King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, researchers are designing robots that can hitchhike on human energy. Triboelectric generators “capture mechanical energy from their surroundings, such as vibrations and random motion produced by humans, and convert it into electricity.”Mushrooms, feathers combine in biodegradable shoes (Phys.org). Researchers at the University of Delaware are skipping over the imitation part and going direct to the natural material. “Two University of Delaware students put their best foot forward at this year’s National Sustainable Design Expo, showing off a biodegradable shoe they fashioned using mushrooms, chicken feathers and textile waste.” The feathers provide growth medium for the mushrooms, which cushion and provide support. Hopefully the shoes don’t biodegrade while you’re walking around cactus to study water-retaining material.Bioinspired polarization vision enables underwater geolocalization (Science Advances). Ants, bees, crickets, dung beetles, and spiders may seem like under-log vermin to some people, but they are nuggets of gold for biomimetics hunters. Each of these, as well as honeybees and other animals, have the ability to detect and use polarized light. Even less explored are underwater animals, where light is highly polarized—a source of information animals can exploit. Science Daily points to squid and the mantis shrimp as examples. The paper says tells how their bioinspired technology can vastly improve on GPS information that degrades with depth:With its never-ending blue color, the underwater environment often seems monotonic and featureless. However, to an animal with polarization-sensitive vision, it is anything but bland. The rich repertoire of underwater polarization patterns—a consequence of light’s air-to-water transmission and in-water scattering—can be exploited both as a compass and for geolocalization purposes. We demonstrate that, by using a bioinspired polarization-sensitive imager, we can determine the geolocation of an observer based on radial underwater polarization patterns. Our experimental data, recorded at various locations around the world, at different depths and times of day, indicate that the average accuracy of our geolocalization is 61 km, or 6 m of error for every 1 km traveled. This proof-of-concept study of our bioinspired technique opens new possibilities in long-distance underwater navigation and suggests additional mechanisms by which marine animals with polarization-sensitive vision might perform both local and long-distance navigation.Biologically inspired membrane purges coal-fired smoke of greenhouse gases (Phys.org). Sandia National Labs is using information gained by research on enzymes to develop “A biologically inspired membrane intended to cleanse carbon dioxide almost completely from the smoke of coal-fired power plants,” this article explains.Gecko-inspired adhesives help soft robotic fingers get a better grip (Science Daily). The gecko is back, starring in another biomimetics role. At UC San Diego, “Researchers have developed a robotic gripper that combines the adhesive properties of gecko toes and the adaptability of air-powered soft robots to grasp a much wider variety of objects than the state of the art” (see picture in the article). The new project draws on previous work “at Stanford University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory recreated that mechanism with a synthetic material called a gecko-inspired adhesive.”Credit: Illustra MediaNew camera inspired by butterfly eyes improves image-guided cancer surgery (Science Daily). Cancer patients, look at what The Optical Society is doing with butterflies. “By mimicking the intricate visual system of a butterfly, researchers have created a camera that provides surgeons with both a traditional color image as well as a near-infrared image that makes fluorescently labeled cancerous cells visible even under bright surgical lighting.”Can we imitate organisms’ abilities to decode water patterns for new technologies? (Science Daily). Animals leave flow patterns in their wake, whether in air or in water. Other animals take advantage of that information for hunting or predator avoidance. The article mentions a variety of animals: copepods, bats, seagulls. A researcher at USC “would like to understand how these water flow patterns are perceived at a local level, by an organism or a bio-inspired vehicle, and decode them to ascertain what’s happening in the water at a larger scale.”Cheer the biomimetics parade, and join it! Think of your kid’s next science project. What in the backyard can inspire him or her to learn and design an application?last_img read more

SA names Davis Cup team for Lithuania tie

first_img11 March 2014 South African Davis Cup Captain, John Laffnie De Jager has named his best possible side for their forthcoming tie against Lithuania at the Irene Country Club in Centurion, from 4 to 6 April. With five of his first choice players not available, including world number 18 Kevin Anderson, the South African captain had to make some tough decisions in deciding who will wear the green and gold in the important first ever tie between the two countries, with the victor set to progress to a promotion play-off and the chance to advance to Euro/Africa Group I. De Jager named his team as Rik De Voest, Dean O’Brien, Jean Andersen, Ruan Roelofse and Raven Klaasen.Captain satisfied Ruan Roelofse, who has turned out four times previously in the Davis Cup for South Africa since his first call-up in 2012 against Slovenia, declared himself “really happy” to once again be wearing the green and gold. He said his body and game felt good and he was excited about the challenge of Davis Cup. “It is always an honour representing my country. I am looking forward to playing at Irene Country Club again. It was an amazing atmosphere and setup there in February, and I’m sure it will be even better this time,” Roelofse said. The winner of the tie will play against the winner of the tie between Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina in September for a place in Euro/Africa Group I.Tickets The team was boosted by the inclusion of veteran Davis Cup stalwart Rik De Voest, whose wife Carolyn gave birth to their first born, a baby boy, in Vancouver, Canada, only last week. De Voest had previously told De Jager that he would consider playing the tie, depending on the birth of the baby. De Voest is at home on the Irene Country Club courts, having learnt to play tennis there.Doubles star De Jager said that he was satisfied with the team selection in a statement on Tuesday. “It is a pity that Nik Scholtz is not available due to college commitments, but we are fortunate that Jean Andersen is back from injury and Dean O’Brien is also back in the team,” he said. O’Brien made his Davis Cup debut against Russia last year, but the Lithuania tie will be his first Davis Cup appearance at home. ‘An incredible experience’ “I am extremely proud and honoured to be selected to play for my country. It has always been a big deal for me to play for my South Africa and I am excited for next month’s tie. It is a welcoming bonus that it is in my home city,” Andersen said.Boostcenter_img South African doubles star Raven Klaasen, who was part of the victorious team that beat Monaco 3-2 last month at the same venue, will once again spearhead the doubles challenge. Klaasen, who reached the finals of this year’s Australian Open doubles, will be playing his tenth tie for South Africa. “It’s an honour to be chosen again to play Davis Cup for South Africa,” he stated. “I think the support we received for the last tie at Irene Country Club has really taken the Davis Cup experience to another level. “I look forward to once again doing my part to ensure a South African victory. I’m very excited about our team but have no illusions about the challenge the Lithuanians will bring. It will be a good fight,” he added.‘Really happy’ “I couldn’t have been more excited when I heard from John-Laffnie that I had been selected to play another Davis Cup tie for South Africa. Playing for my country is on the top of my list for achievements every year, and to play at home is going to be an incredible experience,” O’Brien commented. He warned that Lithuania were a strong side. “Lithuania has a very strong team. We will need to prepare well and be ready to battle. This is an important tie for us to take another step towards Group I and I am excited to help South Africa reach that goal.” Jean Andersen, who has been struggling of late with injuries, also returns to the team. He has twice previously been nominated for Davis Cup duty and made his debut for South Africa against Poland away in Poland last year. ‘A welcoming bonus’ Tickets for the tie are on sale for R40 each. They are all for unreserved seating. Parking at the Irene Country Club is available for R20 per vehicle. Advanced ticket sales can be made by calling Annette Terry at the Tennis South Africa (TSA) offices between 08:30 and 13:00 daily on (011) 442 0500 or by e- mailing requests to [email protected] TSA tickets can be collected at the TSA offices at The Wanderers Cricket Stadium and special arrangements for ticket collections at the Gauteng North Tennis Association offices in Groenkloof, Pretoria, can also be made. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Brain gain company celebrates African heritage in New York

first_img23 September 2015This Heritage Day, Africa’s myriad cultures will be celebrated in New York City when brain gain company Homecoming Revolution hosts its annual Speed Meet in the Big Apple. The gathering is held in affiliation with Brand South Africa.Captains of industry, African professionals, celebrities and media will meet for the two-day event, which starts with a VIP Heritage Day dinner at the trendy Kaia Wine Bar in Manhattan on 24 September. This is followed by a full-day interactive networking event at the Thomson Reuters headquarters in Times Square on 25 September.Among the invited guests are South Africa’s consulate-general Thulisile Nkosi; media executive Alex Okosi; Brand South Africa board member Thebe Ikalafeng; Paralympic footballer Ibrahima Diallo; artist Ibiyinka Alao; and fashion designer Farai Simoyi.Angel Jones, the chief executive of Homecoming Revolution, said the Speed Meet aimed to inspire Africans living in the US to come home. It would show them that the continent was full of opportunity. “We feel incredibly privileged to be playing such an important role in building our continent’s prosperity. The ‘Africa Rising’ dream can only be fulfilled if there is a significant brain gain on the continent.“There are amazing opportunities on the continent, from jobs to investments to entrepreneurial ventures. Now is the time for global Africans to fulfil their destiny of success and significance.”Speed Meet New York will introduce Africans living in the US to top employers back home, as well as provide advice on returning, property investment and relocation.The gathering in New York follows Speed Meet Jozi, which took place in August. At that event, former South African president Thabo Mbeki called on the African diaspora to return.Brand South Africa has entered into an agreement with Homecoming Revolution in order to leverage opportunities for its Global South Africans (GSA) programme. The agreement, which consists of a number of engagement platforms, including the Speed Meet, will provide exposure for the GSA programme, and assist with growing the network.For more information on this and Homecoming Revolution’s other global events visit the organisation’s website.last_img read more