Bio-inspired Architechture

4 11 2011

So today I was able to learn something completely new about architecture thanks to a classmate. This is an area that I have no experience, and thus was difficult for me to grasp the idea. This definitely helped me understand how collaborating with a person in a different field could be difficult. I think we figured some things out and appreciate each others science.


So staying with the them of bio-inspired architecture I decided to  look up a few cool buildings that use either organic structures like bamboo or imitate nature.




This house’s walls are made of bamboo and straw. This is located in China and both of these things are found throughout the area.





Okay so again this is just using different biological things in buildings… But its a very unique idea that the roof of the buildings are covered in grass. Not sure that there is a real practical reason for this, but I thought it looked really cool.



Alright, this isn’t a building, but it goes inside a building and its reusing things in the process of product design. Not sure this is that comfortable, but I’m sure some people who are really big on recycling might have to have it!!


Bio Inspired Design

29 10 2011

Whale Turbine Blades

These turbine blades actually imitate flippers of a humpback whale in that the leading edge is not actually smooth. Covered in small bumps or tubercles, they possess ~32% less drag and can be more efficient for creating energy.

Bionic Car

This car may look funny, but the design comes from a tropical fish (Boxfish).  This bionic car developed by Chrysler has less drag then a normal can and thus consumes less fuel during transportation.



Fastskin swimsuits

Do you remember when the new swimsuits came out in the Olympics? Well those weren’t just a fashion statement by the athletes  sponsored by Spedo, but an increase in technology. Inspired by sharkskin, these suits reduce the boundary layer between the swimmer and the water thus reducing drag and creating an environment that a person can swim faster in. Most notable, this suit was worn by Michael Phelps when he won his gold medals.



How much electricity do you need for lights??

8 10 2011

The answer now is none during the day. Though windows provide light, they also allow for some increase in heat. Several companies have designed what are being called “light tubes.” these are very interesting and possibly a money saver. These tubes function as sky lights in a sense, but are much better. The tubes are lined with refractive material that make the light in the home much brighter! They also have clear filters that reduce certain UVs that produce heat.

It’s interesting because there seems to now be a mini competion by companies for whocan produce the best light tube. This type of economic competition is exactly what is needed to come up with more efficient means of providing resources such as light in a home.

Under the magnifying glass: Temple University (assignment 2)

2 10 2011

Temple University main campus is an urban environment located in North Philadelphia. On the surface one might see herds of students and staff moving throughout the campus in and out of buildings with little attention to their surroundings. What most people do not notice is the wide array of natural processes that are taking place. Nature is seen in almost every corner of the campus! Many different types of plants along with small mammals can be seen as you walk around, all with multiple functions that allow them to survive.

Function Organism 1 Organism 2
Packaging Seed pods (form) Nuts (form)
Water purification Soils (Process) Squirrel kidney/ mammalian kidney (process/system)
Water availability Water collecting leaves (form) Large stalk/trunk of plants for storage (form)
Transportation of materials Light seedlings/ berries, nuts (system) Squirrels (form)
Protection from biota Sharp edge plants (form) Poison berries/ plant material (process)
Cleaning Hydrophobic leaf surface (process) Squirrels (process/form)
Absorbing Large stalks on plants (form) Grass/soil (process)
Feedback systems Squirrels (system/process) grass/soil systems (process)
Protection from abiotic factors (i.e., weather) Fungi (form) Dense under-brush (form)

Seed pods: Seed pods provide a great example of packaging in nature. Each seed, whether packaged by its self or with others, is secure and protected from outside forces. This packaging system also allows for transportation safely to new locations.

Nuts: Nuts serve multiple purposes in a natural environment. They are first good for packaging seeds in many cases. They also provide a structure for transportation along with a food source.

Soils: Soils provide a complex system fro filtering water. This is not only the soil, but the micro-organisms that live within the soil. At the same time the soil provides a source for water storage along with a habitat for many creatures.

Squirrel: The squirrel is a curious small mammal that lives throughout the Temple University campus. Being a mammal it has one of the most sophisticated filtration devices in its body, the mammalian kidney. This structure can also be used as a cleaning device for bodily fluids, filtering out all the harmful things in the bodily fluids

Water Collection leaves: Many of the leaves seen in plants throughout this habitat are useful for collecting water. This allows for the plant to acquire the water needed to ensure survival.

Large stalk/trunk of plants: These storage systems for water and nutrients are crucial for survival. They allow water to be stored for later use and also allow for the transportation of nutrients throughout the plant.

Light seedlings/berries: Along with nuts and seed pods. Light seedlings are imperative to dispersal of plant materials. Many seedlings like the ones seen below are able to dispersed by slight wind which allows for long distance dispersal without a drain on resources.

Sharp edge plants: This allows for protection for the plant itself against organisms, such as humans, which can cause harm. This also provides protection for other organisms such as small mammals fleeing large predators.

Dangerous plant materials: This a main feature for protection against biotic factors. If the plant is dangerous to the predator, then the predator is more likely to choose another source of food. Things such as berries and fungi are often poisonous to other biota.


Hydrophobic leaf surface: this surface is interesting because ideally plants need water to survive. That being said, excessive amounts of water can be detrimental to plant structure because of the weight the plant muse bare. This would also allow for the water to clean the leaf surface as it rolls off.

Fungi: This organism can be protective as well as destructive. For very small things, fungi serves as a roof like structure to hide from things such as weather. Although this is true, many fungi have cause a adverse reaction to animals eating them. Some fungi are poisons and cause very serious illnesses.

Dense Under-brush: This provides a large protective area from abiotic factors such as weather. It also provides protection from biotic factors such as predators. This type of protection(form) is particularly useful for small organisms

**information for part three is located on Paul’s blog.

The ability to survive

23 09 2011

So I am not sure how many people have heard of Tardigrades. This is a phylum of over 900 species of very small organisms that have the ability to survive in some of the harshest environments on this planet. They have also been into outer space and  exhibit no major consequences of the increased levels of radiation. This survival is done  by a process known as cryptobiosis which allows the organism’s metabolism to nearly stop. Cryptobiosis has several different states allowing it to exist in areas with no water, low temperatures,  and even lack of oxygen. These are some of the most interesting organisms on the planet!!! As we begin to think about long-term travel through space many lessons could be learned from such an organism. I understand that this invert is not the same as a human that the biological processes are different, but what if we could develop a way to reduce resources needed during a travel period of more than a year (long-term space travel). The only caveat to this is that when using cryptobiosis the organism is not active, thus it would only play a role in travel that individuals could be non functional.

Biology in Life

17 09 2011

Most of the time we walk around looking at things but  don’t notice anything special, especially in nature! Why is this? I feel this is because many of the things used in modern society are derived in some way from nature. Even if the object was not based on a biological object one could see similarities in nature. When out getting lunch today I was looking around and saw a tree with seed pods hanging from it. This formation is very interesting and efficient to me. These pods consisted of one shell with multiple seeds within. This allows for optimal dispersal along with efficiency with space and nutrients for each of the seeds. In modern society both of these attributes are used for storage systems.  Interestingly these seed pods when hanging from a tree look like a mobile for children (Pictures coming soon). Also the idea of being to sustain multiple structures on one life source is interesting. This could be used in storage facilities or even abstract partitions of a major business. Each of the seeds has a potential to expand upon the initial life source (the tree) and in a company each unique department can be seen as a sprouting seed.

Furthermore if you look at some plant structures you can see many modern ideas. If you look at the plant seen below, what do you notice? First you might notice a patterned structure that has a very large surface area:volume ratio which is obviously good for absorption. You also might notice the uni-directional manner in which all the leaves flow to one side. This is actually from the ground, but prevent much weight from being sustained on the leaf structure will being able to adapt to wind and other environmental factors. In modern society, structures are necessary to be used for adsorbate, but might need to be flexible.  One example is that many artificial membranes have a uni-directional, preventing flow in some directions. Also many structures in design have a natural uni-directional state but are flexible. These attributes are beneficial to stability and sustainability, but allow no damage to be done. One example of these are stiff cleaning tools that are used to pull structures from surfaces, but are flexible enough to not break. This can also be seen in some brushes.

The same basic idea exists for things in modern society. In my office one of the  components is  a coffee maker. In this we use a filter. Filtration devices in things such as this are some of the most biological things in the world today. The mammalian kidney is one of the best filtration devices in animals. The ability to filter out toxins and absorb nutrient is essential for most life. The filter in the coffee maker keeps things that are non palatable out of the solution but allows the taste to come through in the liquid.

I also work in a computational laboratory. Computers are as of now the closest things we have to the human neurological system. The ability of computers to store massive amounts of data for all time is amazing. Also their ability to access the information to provide it to each of us is also amazing. The only downside is computers are not the human brain. There is much to learn in the future and organizing how computers work and function will only take time. That being said, they can do amazing things and the networks they create are modelled after the human neurological networks.

Bad Ass Cat

12 09 2011

Everyone can think of old cartoons where the animals are weird colors, but what if you cat could glow in the dark?? This glowing effect is used to confirm if a science experiment has been completed and a certain gene has been inserted. This actually is an experiment to possibly help cats become resistant to FIV. Great possibilities for feline biology and health along with cool side effects!!

Cats Engineered For Disease Resistance