A common problem seen among many adhesives is losing the grip in the presence of water. But Sandcastle worms living along the Californian coast have overcome this issue! These reef-building marine animals are so named because they construct shelters by binding grains of sand together with a strong underwater adhesive secreted by them. Now researchers have been inspired to replicate the secretions of sandcastle worms to form a new kind of underwater glue.
Did you know that crocodiles are capable of digesting steel nails or sometimes even glass? Crocodile stomachs are extremely acidic because their digestive juice contains high levels of hydrochloric acid. Yet how do crocodiles survive with this much of acidity inside their bodies? To keep from digesting itself they’ve got layers made of epithelial cells to protect itself from the deadly acid. Otherwise the crocodile will be digested instead of its meal!
Natural spider silk is already remarkably strong. Isn’t it amazing to hear that scientists have created silk that comes from spiders, added with man-made ingredients to give it extra strength? This was done by feeding spiders with water laced with graphene nanotubes. When silk from these spiders were gathered it was found that graphene had been passed into the fibers! This approach could be extended to other biological systems and lead to a new class of artificially modified biological materials.
Paper is made of cellulose fibers laid in various directions giving them a characteristic rigidity. When we crumple a paper by applying energy, these fibers are permanently deformed creating sharp creases. During break down of fibers, part of energy is released producing a burst of noise. Yet if we flatten a crumpled bag and crumple it again, there will be less noise because the fibers are mostly already broken.
When we crumple a paper bag it gives out so much noise. But if we flatten a crumpled bag and crumple it again, there will be less noise. Explain what causes these noises?
We humans use different strategies to conserve body heat and survive through cold temperatures. But did you ever think that the behavior shown by aquatic birds like herons and cranes by standing on only one leg carries a similar reason? Since these birds stand on water a lot of the time and as their legs are not covered with feathers, they are likely to lose body heat faster. That’s why they tuck one leg under the wings saving much heat as they can.
Corals are extremely efficient at adsorbing harmful substances like heavy metals found in aquatic environments. Even though this procedure can be unfortunate for the coral, it has provoked an idea to create a synthetic material that mimics coral’s ocean cleaning attributes! These coral-like adsorbents which mimic the structure of corals will help remove toxic heavy metals from the ocean!
We all know that sea water is salty and therefore is not suitable for drinking. But can you believe that when we freeze saltwater or seawater slowly, what we get is freshwater ice! Salt ions don’t fit well in the ice crystals and hence left behind in the liquid. However if we freeze it too quickly salt can get trapped in pockets in the ice.
Tongue is a constantly moving muscle which consumes a significant area of our brain to regulate its movements and keep out of the way of our teeth, help us swallow and avoid choking. It is covered with densely packed touch receptors constantly providing feedback to the brain about what’s going on in the mouth. Sticking our tongue out or biting it, hinders its movement and reduces amount of stimuli that might otherwise interfere with our attention leaving more brain-power available to concentrate.
Have you noticed that when thinking hard or when performing a delicate task, especially kids use to stick out their tongue from the mouth! Why do people stick out and bite their tongues like this when concentrating?
Have you noticed that monkeys use to climb onto the shoulders of people and run their fingers through the hair? In this manner, Macaque monkeys in Thailand pluck out strands of human hair! Want to know what they do with it? They jerk strands of human hair back and forth between their teeth and use as dental floss to serve their dental hygiene needs. They’ve found this as a much better alternative for coconut fibers and twigs.
If an aerial robot or a drone loses a part mid-flight, you would expect it to crash. But it could stay airborne by mimicking fruit flies, which can keep flying even after a catastrophic loss of limb! To uncover the insects’ secret, biologists have placed flies with a clipped wing into a wind tunnel and analysed their movements using high-speed cameras. Programming robots to copy these moments can keep them in flight.
Have you ever seen a Seagull performing the rain dance? This is a hunting ritual which helps keep the birds alive. The seagulls stamp their feet on grass mimicking the rainfall. These vibrations encourage worms to move towards the surface and then birds easily prey on them.
Commercial airplanes don’t carry oxygen tanks. Instead there is a chemical oxygen generation system. It consists of a mixture of chemicals including Sodium chlorate, Barium peroxide and Potassium perchlorate. By pulling the emergency oxygen mask, we remove a firing pin which generates heat and initiate a chemical process that produce oxygen. After filtering out other byproducts this oxygen gas is channeled to our masks through a system of tubes.
When travelling in an airplane if there comes a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from the panel above your head. We must tug on our masks to start oxygen flowing. But do you know where do they get the oxygen from? Do commercial airplanes carry a huge tank of oxygen just in case such an emergency occurs?
Did you know the African desert-dwelling resurrection plants that completely dry out during yearly droughts, can burst into life again when rain arrives? Actually this is done by replacing almost of the water in their bodies with a sugar called Trehalose during the dry season. A technique inspired by this natural processes is going to revolutionise public health care by allowing vaccines to be stored for years without refrigeration.
Plastic waste covers our oceans and landfill. You too must have contributed to this catastrophe by throwing away the plastic disposable cutlery, each time you visit a restaurant. Indians have found an alternative for this. Edible Cutlery! These spoons are made from rice, wheat, sorghum and water. The recipe has no fat so spoons stay solid in hot liquid as well. You can eat with it and then eat it.
Did you know that flood waters will not drown fire ants, because they’ve got an ultimate vehicle for an emergency flood escape! It is none other than the pancake-shaped living raft built by the entire ant colony by grasping onto one another using their mouth parts and claws. This can assemble itself in about 100 seconds, and keep thousands to millions of passengers safe and afloat for days, even weeks.
Being exposed to sun’s radiation can give you a tan, but its ultraviolet content can also bring us harm. Here comes the value of sunscreen which protects us again UV rays! Yet why use regular sunscreen when you can apply a DNA film to the skin that would last forever? Researchers have developed a coating made of DNA that gets better at protecting skin from ultraviolet light the more you expose it to the sun. It is also capable of slowing water evaporation and keeping the tissue hydrated.
It’s common for caterpillars to eat each other when they’re stressed out by the lack of food. But isn’t it peculiar if they start eating each other when the plant food is right in front of them? That’s because some plants like tomato can produce a defensive chemical called methyl jasmonate which is toxic to pests. This can make tomatoes unappetizing for the attacking caterpillars and turn them to cannibalism.
Sweat is something that makes everyone annoyed and uncomfortable. In day to do life, we do many things to keep our body temperatures down to keep sweating at bay. Anyhow, thanks to a group of
researchers, this all might change as they’ve introduced a new wearable innovation that turns sweat into energy. It is a flexible square patch that can be applied to the skin, where enzymes in the device could feed on human sweat to produce power. So in the near future it won’t matter if you forgot to charge your phone because your sweat will charge it for you, anywhere you go.
Did you know that the coconut water we throw away every day in our households has many nutritional benefits? The clear liquid extracted from young, green coconuts is less sugary than sports drinks, and offers nutrients like potassium and calcium. Not only that, it has been used successfully as a substitute for saline by medical professionals.