Engineers are finding design inspiration in new places. We’ll find some, too. Today on Engineering Works!
When most of us think of engineering design, we picture computers and high-tech laboratories. A lot of engineers do, too. But some are finding inspiration in odd places. Like the Australian outback. A spiky inch-tall lizard called the thorny devil that lives in the dry, 100-degree-plus desert is giving engineers ideas for efficient ways to move traces of water from one place to another.
This lizard doesn’t even have to open its mouth to get a drink. All it has to do is step into water and the water wicks up its legs and disappears. Researchers don’t understand how this works, but it could give important clues to designing emergency gear to help humans collect water in the desert.
Other engineers are studying everything from beetles than can detect forest fires burning 60-miles away to the way flies buzz through the air and how geckoes scamper up and down walls.
They don’t want to build artificial beetles or flies or geckoes. They do want to understand how these creatures do it so they can use the same principles to build things humans can use.
An artificial fly, for instance, could be sent into a collapsed building through passages too small for humans to find and report on survivors buried in the rubble.
We’re not an artificial fly, but it’s time for us to buzz on out of here. See you next time.
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