Natural ‘engineering’

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A spiderweb with engineer ... kevlar, move over! This spider species even reinforces its web in 4 directions.

Most of what humanity has developed to make life easier is simply copied from nature. The invention of the wheel is considered a milestone in human development, but dung beetles worked out the exact same solution millions of years before humans did. And let’s not talk about the duck vs. the boat, or the gull versus the airplane.

Today we have access to wonderful fabrics, which are as strong as steel but with a much lower weight. Kevlar, for example, is used in bulletproof vests, and that says a lot about the properties. Kevlar is an aramid fiber. The principles behind this synthetic fiber are actually borrowed from a group of small crawlers that ‘engineered’ a substance that is even stronger and more amazing than Kevlar. Especially during the rainy season (which is just around the corner) we can admire their ingenious insect-catching contraptions (or swear at them if we want to prune the plants in our garden).

Lots of people consider these works of art scary. Just take a closer look ... you might change your opinion.

Hordes of scientists and engineers are working around the clock to steal the secrets of the spiders. There’s even an official name for this ‘cheating’: bio-engineering. The bio-engineers have moderate success, however. There you have it again: nature is unbeatable!

 

 

 

 

 

Leon Pors

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