Understanding the Biomimicry Taxonomy gives us a simple way for designers and biologists to collaborate and approach a new design challenge in a life-conducive way. The main aim for using the taxonomy is making the question. Instead of asking how to make less toxic pigments, ask how a Morpho butterfly modifies its colour.

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By Chris Stevenson

Technological Problem:

How to find a natural hard packaging that is biodegradable.

Function of Hard Packaging:

Hard packaging is used for storing consumable things in, such as food and drinks. These packages are often made out of plastic and polystyrene which are not environmentally friendly as they pollute our land and they aren’t biodegradable.

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Solutions:

We found a design called WikiCell. This design mostly uses natural particles (with the exception of the synthetic biochemical polymer, chitosan, and the algae extract, alginate) to make a thin gelatinous casing that can hold liquid products. The WikiCell membrane is made from a combination of isomal (sweetener) or bagasse (a fibrous residue from sugarcane), alginate and chitosan. Shrimp skin (chitosan), is very similar to that of the WikiCell’s casing and provides a hard membrane sp that products may be packed to avoid breakage. Electrostatic forces hold the membrane together. These membranes have resistance to water diffusion. They also have adjacent shells which will allow the WikiCells’s to have stability over time. For different types of food and drinks, a wide variety of membranes can be produced. This will be done using a WikiCell Machine.

Most packaging is made from plastic, which is not biodegradable and just keeps breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces over a period of time. It also is made at the cost of valuable resources, example oil. WikiCells will allow food for food to be packaged in a fully biodegradable way and take away the oil-to-packaging process.

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By Chris Stevenson

What is Biomimicry:

Biomimicry (which derived from the words bio, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning imitate) is a design process which looks for sustainable solutions by imitating nature’s patterns and strategies which have been tested over time. An example is studying a leaf to create a better solar cell. The main idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems that we are struggling with, such as energy, food production, transportation, non-toxic chemistry, climate control, packaging and many more.

The Bullet Train:

The Shinkansen Bullet Train which belongs to the West Japan Railway Company is the fastest train in the world which can travel up to 200 miles per hour.

While they were designing the bullet train, they had a massive problem. The train was very noisy. Every time the train came out from the tunnel, the air pressure changed which resulted in large thunder claps. This noise caused residents a quarter of a mile away to complain.

The train’s chief engineer and a keen bird-watcher turned to nature to see if they could find something travels quickly and smoothly between two very different substances. They found out that the shape of a kingfisher’s beak was ideal for this situation. Their beaks were ideal because a kingfisher will dive into a body of water to catch a fish with very little splash.

Once they had copied the shape of the kingfisher’s beak, they modelled the front of the train from that design. Not only did this design result in a quieter train, it also made the train use 15% less electricity while travelling at a speed 10% faster than what it was originally designed for.

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By Chris Stevenson

In-vitro Meat is a Rapidly growing Industry:

Recent advances in tissue engineering have made it possible to “grow” synthetic meat using single animal cells. After further years of testing and refinement, a wide variety of meat products are now available in what has now become a rapidly expanding market.

In-vitro meat has many advantages. Being just a cluster of cultivated cells, it is produced without cruelty or harming animals. It is surprisingly healthy and pure whilst keeping its original taste, texture and appearance of traditional meat. What is perhaps most important about in-vitro meat is that it requires far less water and energy to be produced, which greatly lessens the impact on the environment.

Like GM crops, political and psychological hurdles delayed its introduction to consumers. The emerging food crisis, however, along with endorsements from animal welfare groups, gave the impetus to the development of it. It is now a mainstream product in many countries around the world, even though it is still years away from completely replacing traditional meat.

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By Chris Stevenson

How a Camera Works:

Photography is by far one of the most important inventions in history. It has allowed us to see many different things that are many miles, even years, apart from us. Cameras allow us to capture moments in time and preserve them for thousands of years to come.
The basic technology that makes all of this possible is quite simple. A still film camera consists of 3 basic elements: a chemical element (the film), an optical element (the lens), and a mechanical element (the camera body itself).

The optical component of the camera is the camera lens. The lens is simply just a curved piece of glass or plastic. Its job is to take the beams of light that are bouncing off of an object and redirect them so that they will come together to form a real image – an image that looks like the scene in front of the camera lens.

How does it do this? It is very simple. The light travels speed as it moves from one medium to another. Light travels slower through glass than it does through the air, therefore, the lens will slow it down.

One part of a light wave will reach the glass before the other when these waves enter a piece of glass at an angle, making it slow down first. This is similar to pushing a trolley from the pavement onto the grass at an angle. The right wheel will hit the grass first which makes it slow down while the left wheel is still on the pavement. Because the left wheel was briefly turning faster than the right wheel, the trolley turned right as it moved onto the grass.

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The effect on light is the same – as it enters the glass at an angle, it bends in one direction. When it exits the glass it bends again as the parts of the light wave enter the air before the other parts of the wave and speed up. In a regular converging or convex lens, one or both sides of the glass curve out, meaning the rays will bend towards the centre of the lens when it enters. In a double convex lens, such as a magnifying glass, the light rays will bend on entry and exit.

This will effectively reverse the light’s path from the object. A light source, example a candle, will emit light in all directions. These rays of light all start from the same point – the candles flame – which are then constantly diverging. A converging lens will take these rays and redirect them to all converge back to one point. At the point where the rays converge, you will get the real image of the candle.

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If you would like to find out more information about the specific parts of a camera, an interesting site to go to is: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/camera1.htm

By Chris Stevenson

Technology Beyond 2035

Posted: February 7, 2013 in Mechanics

Bionic Eyes

Although yet to become mainstream, bionic eye implants are now available not only to restore sight, but actually to better human vision.

The generation of these implants began in 2010. They were somewhat crude initially providing only a pixelated view of the world and requiring the use of glasses frames for mounting.

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By Tabola Kganane

Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease:

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. AD is diagnosed most often in people over the age of 65. By 2050, Alzheimer’s is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally. There are many common symptoms of AD, even though it develops differently for every individual. Early symptoms are mistakenly thought to be age-related problems, or signs of stress. The most common symptom in the early stages of AD is the difficulty in remembering recent events. Symptoms can include confusion, mood swings, irritability and aggression, trouble with language and long-term memory loss. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death.

In the 2020s, new treatments will develop for Alzheimer’s, reducing the risk of getting the disease by more than half. After another decade of progress, an effective cure for Alzheimer’s was found. Researchers have identified precise mechanisms and processes involved in the loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex and subcortical regions. With a new generation of drugs, faulty genes can be “switched off” while the itself can be regenerated using stem cells.
This breakthrough was partially aided by reverse-engineering of the human brain, which provided researches with a complete model of its neurological system down to the cellular level. Nanobots, which were first developed in 2025, are now being used thoroughly around the medical establishments and these machines can precisely target individual cells.

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By Chris Stevenson