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  • Humans are incredibly good at inventing stuff.

  • I mean, just in the last 50 years, we've come up with technology

  • that's totally transformed our world, like cell phones and the internet.

  • But natural selection has been solving problems for billions of years,

  • and it's led to some super efficient solutions.

  • So lots of researchers look to nature for solutions

  • that we might not have thought of on our own.

  • Here are 8 of the coolest ideas we've borrowed.

  • Mosquito bites are, like, unquestionably awful.

  • But have you ever noticed you rarely feel the actual bite?

  • It's the mosquito's saliva that makes you itch--and delivers diseases.

  • But if there's one good thing mosquitos have ever done for humanity,

  • it's inspiring scientists to design less painful injection needles.

  • A mosquito's proboscis, the part it bites you with,

  • is made up of seven different movable parts.

  • Two of those parts hold hold onto your skin,

  • while two more carefully saw through,

  • making way for thestrawpart to dive in and suck up your blood.

  • I mean, it sounds horrible, but it is less painful than just jabbing into your skin.

  • So in 2008, a team of Indian and Japanese scientists

  • copied the size of a female mosquito proboscis

  • to make a tiny needle with a tiny pump to suck up blood.

  • Its size, combined with the pump, makes getting poked practically painless.

  • Then, in 2011, a second group copied three

  • of mosquitos' seven moveable mouthparts to make a motorized needle

  • that pokes first with one tiny saw, then the other,

  • while vibrating slightly to ease into the skin.

  • That makes way for the sharp straw to draw blood or deliver medicine.

  • The serrated edges of the saws make less contact with your skin

  • than a regular hypodermic needle, so you feel less pain.

  • Another animal that's helping with healthcare?

  • The mussel.

  • Mussels stick themselves to all kinds of underwater surfaces,

  • like rocks, piers, and boats, with glue that they make.

  • And not only is this glue waterproof

  • it'll actually set underwater, and repair itself if the bond is broken.

  • Researchers studying mussel glue have identified

  • some of the specific proteins that make it stick,

  • and the research has inspired all kinds of new glues,

  • like a new waterproof, less-toxic glue for plywood.

  • And in 2014, a team at MIT genetically engineered E. coli bacteria

  • to produce some of the gluey proteins,

  • combined with the proteins the bacteria use to produce biofilm.

  • They ended up with a glue that works underwater, just like natural mussel glue.

  • At this point the researchers can only make

  • small amounts of the glue at a time, but the stuff could eventually be used

  • for everything from repairing ships

  • to sticking people back together during surgery.

  • There's also a Danish team working on synthesizing a glue

  • based on mussel proteins

  • one that does more than work underwater.

  • It also repairs itself like mussel glue.

  • Mussel glue contains an amino acid that bonds very strongly to iron

  • so strongly that even if the bond is broken, it'll re-form.

  • The Danish researchers' glue is designed to do the same thing.

  • The glue is still in development,

  • but it's the kind of thing that could also someday be useful for surgeries

  • or any other situation where you could use a waterproof glue that can fix itself.

  • Now, I don't know if you've ever gotten up-close-and-personal with a shark.

  • But if you decided to pet one for some reason,

  • you'd probably notice that its skin is sandpaper-rough.

  • That's because it's covered in tiny, tooth-like denticles,

  • which help sharks both swim faster and stay clean of parasites and bacteria.

  • The denticles affect the flow of water around the shark,

  • which reduces the friction as it moves through the water,

  • allowing it to swim faster.

  • The concept has inspired high-tech swimsuits,

  • where the fabric is designed to have the same kinds of tiny bumps.

  • And researchers are also working on ways to use shark skin's adaptations

  • to keep ships clean of clingers and hospitals surfaces safer from germs.

  • The microscopic surface of shark denticles is covered in ridges

  • whose shape makes it hard for parasites and bacteria to get a grip.

  • By copying that texture, one company created a material that,

  • compared to a smooth surface,

  • reduces the presence of MRSA bacteria by 94%.

  • Like sharks, whales are pretty great swimmers.

  • And some whales have bumps that help them out, too.

  • Humpback whales zoom through the ocean hunting schools of fish.

  • But they can't just scoop up big mouthfuls like blue whales do with plankton,

  • because fish tend to swim away when you try to eat them.

  • So humpbacks use a technique called bubble net feeding.

  • They use their giant flippers like airplane wings to swim in tight circles

  • while blowing bubbles, which concentrates the school of fish

  • so the whale can just swim up through the middle and swallow them.

  • That got scientists wondering why on earth there are knobs and bumps,

  • called tubercles, on the leading edge of humpback whales' flippers.

  • It turns out that those knobs and bumps can make lots of flipper

  • or wing-like things more efficient by funneling water or air

  • into the troughs between the bumps on the wing.

  • Putting the bumps on wind turbine blades lets them

  • turn more wind energy into electric energy.

  • And sticking them on airplane wings could make them more efficient

  • and less likely to stall.

  • They could make surfboards more maneuverable,

  • and fan blades quieter and more efficient.

  • Researchers are trying them out on everything

  • from submarines to kayak paddles.

  • There's another more wind turbine innovation inspired by marine inhabitants.

  • Specifically, it's modeled after the way fish form schools.

  • Those tall wind turbines with blades

  • known as horizontal axis wind turbines

  • can't be too close to each other,

  • or they interfere with each others' air dynamics.

  • The closer together they are, the more they interfere,

  • which limits the amount of energy they can produce over a given area of space.

  • But schooling fish swim very close together

  • without interfering with the water around each other,

  • which made scientists wonder if fishy physics

  • could be the key to compact wind farms.

  • And it is.

  • Vertical axis wind turbines are turbines with shorter blades

  • that spin around the pole.

  • By themselves, these turbines

  • generate less energy than horizontal axis turbines.

  • But they interact with the air in a way that's similar

  • to how schooling fish interact with water,

  • and researchers have used the similarities to apply

  • what they've seen in schooling fish to the way the turbines are arranged.

  • That means the turbines can be packed closer together,

  • which takes up less room so you can get more electricity

  • out of the space you have available.

  • Coral are great builders.

  • Tiny individual animals, called coral polyps,

  • build up the structural skeleton of coral reefs by producing calcium carbonate,

  • otherwise known as limestone.

  • And they use the carbon dioxide in ocean water

  • as part of their building process.

  • We humans like to build lots of things with concrete.

  • But unfortunately for us and coral reefs and the whole planet,

  • manufacturing cement, a main ingredient in concrete,

  • produces about 5% of all the carbon dioxide

  • we pump into the environment every year.

  • Which isnot great.

  • But inspired by the way corals build their skeletons,

  • companies are working on ways to incorporate carbon dioxide

  • into building materials like cement and cement board.

  • Normally, making a ton of cement produces about a ton of carbon dioxide.

  • But using carbon dioxide in the cement itself can reduce those emissions

  • by anywhere from 5 to 40%.

  • Andbonus!—some of these CO2-infused building materials

  • are stronger than the original recipe.

  • Different companies have created versions of this so-calledgreen concrete”,

  • but right now they're still working on developing the process

  • so it can be scaled up.

  • Waterbears do it.

  • Jericho roses do it.

  • Even Brewer's yeast does it.

  • I'm talking about the ability to survive your cells being dried out.

  • Usually, cells don't like to be dried out.

  • They lodge their complaints by dying.

  • Permanently.

  • But some cellslike those of waterbears and Jericho roses,

  • akaresurrection plants”—take it in stride.

  • To bring them back, you can just add water!

  • Researchers studied this ability and found that the secret

  • seems to be a protective sugar called trehalose

  • that allows cells to lose their water without being damaged.

  • One potentially life-saving use for trehalose is to preserve vaccines,

  • which otherwise have to be protected from heat

  • and drying out while they're being transported.

  • Every vaccine recommended by the World Health Organization

  • requires protection from heat,

  • making hauling them long distances difficult and expensive.

  • Scientists have been working on this for over 20 years,

  • and it seems to really work.

  • One 2010 study, for example, used trehalose to stabilize a flu vaccine

  • so it would work with a microneedle

  • that even someone with little or no training could use to deliver the vaccine.

  • The researchers found that when they included trehalose

  • to stabilize the vaccine, it was more effective at protecting against the flu.

  • Velcro might seem like a simple way to stick things together.

  • But it actually wasn't invented until the 1940s, when a Swiss engineer

  • named George de Mestral went on a hunting trip with his dog,

  • and burrs from burdock plants got stuck to his pants and to his dog's fur.

  • Sticky burrs have probably been annoying people for thousands of years,

  • but they gave de Mestral an idea:

  • What if he could use burrs to create a sort of reusable adhesive?

  • He decided to check out the burrs under a microscope,

  • and he saw that they were covered in tiny hooks,

  • which explained why they were so great at sticking to stuff.

  • He recreated the hooked ends of the burrs,

  • which became the rough half of the Velcro.

  • The other, softer side was made of loops for the hooks to grab onto.

  • By the late 1950s, he'd patented and started selling his invention.

  • And then NASA started buying it.

  • They knew things would just sort of float around in orbit,

  • and astronauts needed an easy way to stick things to walls so they'd stay put,

  • but could also be easily detached.

  • Velcro was the perfect solution.

  • People also started using it for things like sports equipment

  • and blood pressure cuffs.

  • And, of course, awesome sneakers.

  • All because de Mestral was inspired by those annoying, sticky burrs.

  • Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow,

  • which was brought to you by our patrons on Patreon.

  • If you want to help support this show, just go to patreon.com/scishow.

  • And don't forget to go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe!

Humans are incredibly good at inventing stuff.

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8 项受自然启发的有用技术(8 Useful Technologies Inspired by Nature)

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    joey joey 發佈於 2021 年 06 月 13 日
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