Humans have been talking about walking on water for centuries, but the water strider has accomplished this feat for quite some time. Join Biomimicry 3.8's co-founder and visionary, Janine Benyus and discover the amazing talents of gerrida (aka water striders).
The next time you’re at a pond, look on the surface and you’re sure to find a water strider. Those are those spidery-looking insects, maybe with four legs, that literally skim their way across the surface of the water. The water has what’s called surface tension on the top that’s like the skin of a custard or something. The water strider is light enough and its weight is dispersed enough and its feet are shaped in a particular way to just dimple the water. It uses those dimples in the water to row; it’s actually rowing with those dimples.
There’s a group at MIT who made a little mimic of this and created a little device that will row itself across the surface of the water. Life uses all kinds of mediums that we (humans) don’t use. We move through the water but we don’t really use the surface of the water… the surface tension of the water like the water strider does. It’s amazing.
In this episode, we sit back, relax, and explore the world of biomimicry beers. Can a brewery mimic a closed-loop ecosystem? Yes, and let's look to Montana's own Wildwood Brewery to see how it can be done.
In this episode, zoologist and football fanatic Douglas Koester discusses what we can learn from the woodpecker, both on and off the field. Filmed on location at the Washington-Grizzly Stadium at the University of Montana.
We learned a bit about how nature senses from the star-nosed mole (vimeo.com/46782541) but now we turn our attention to the equally fascinating platypus. Let's learn how this venomous, egg-laying, dull-billed mammal forages for food using only its highly sensitive bill.
AskNature Nuggets | Episode 21
How does nature….Sense?
Australia is home to some straaaange creatures, but none as perplexing as the platypus. When Europeans first heard of this duck-billed, egg laying, venomous, beaver-tailed mammal they assumed it could only be an elaborate hoax.
Sensitive receptors on the platypus’ bill allow it to detect the direction and proximity of weak electric fields that are created by muscular contractions of the small aquatic animals that the platypus feeds on. When it dives the platypus actually closes it’s eyes, ears, and nostrils and uses only its sensitive bill to hone in on its meal.
So maybe we can learn a thing or two from the platypus about how we might improve navigation and motion detection systems.
Everybody knows, penguins can’t fly. Their flipper-like wings -- optimized for life at sea -- are better suited to underwater acrobatics than aerial maneuvers. But nonetheless, the penguin has an impressive strategy for getting “big air” when it needs to leap to shore to evade a hungry leopard seal.
The maximum swimming speed for a penguin is usually between four and nine feet per second. But in short bursts the penguin can double or even triple that speed in order to launch itself up onto the ice. Emperor penguins manipulate the air-trapping properties of their dense coat of feathers and selectively squeeze the air out as they swim. Tiny bubbles emerge and form a lubricating coating on the feathers’ surface. This cuts drag and enables the penguins to reach speeds that would otherwise be impossible.
This “air lubrication” effect is known to marine engineers and is being used to increase the speed and reduce the energy costs of large ships. What else do you think we can learn from the penguin’s strategy?