There's a scientific field called biomimetics that is all about studying nature and stealing its technology. That makes sense -- if you want to build a flying machine, you start by looking at birds. But the more we study, the more we find that biomimetics isn't just about building a more fishlike boat. Even the smallest, slimiest creatures employ tech that will some day revolutionize everything from solar panels to TV screens.
Just consider the fact that ...
5The Bombardier Beetle's Fuel-Injection System Beats Any Car's
The bombardier beetle is one badass motherfucker. If you mess with one of these beetles, you can expect to get sprayed with a 212-degree blast of burning, noxious chemicals from a turret on the end of its abdomen. It's like a little chemical warfare tank that will go off with just the slightest bit of provocation.
"Oh, shit. Honey, I swear this never happens."
If you think it's amazing that a lowly bug evolved to do that, it's even more remarkable when you consider the complexity of the mechanism that makes it happen. Inside, it has two different chemicals and a mixing chamber. The chemicals react and get so hot that pressure builds in the chamber, which is then released through the openings on the beetle's abdomen. It can squirt the burning jet up to 20 centimeters.
"Shit! Did I get it in your hair? I promise I wasn't trying to do that."
Lots of animals squirt poison. The bombardier beetle, however, shoots quick-fire pulses like a machine gun -- one that can fire up to 500 times a second. For the sake of context, a top-of-the-line minigun on its fastest setting will fire about 100 times a second. The beetle is able to do all of this thanks to a remarkable system of internal valves that are way more efficient than what us humans have been able to build.
How We Can Steal It:
Keep in mind, all sorts of technology requires the misting and mixing of chemicals -- everything from car fuel-injection systems to the nebulizers that asthma sufferers use. Come up with a better misting system and you can change the world.
That's why researchers took the bombardier beetle's design and used it as the model for uMist. It's here that we should point out that, in order to mimic what the beetle is born with, it takes a machine that freaking looks like this:
As you can see, mimicking the beetle's tech isn't easy. But it'll be worth it -- the beetle design allows us to control the temperature, velocity and size of the droplets being sprayed, which means the potential applications are nearly endless. We're talking about better fuel efficiency and lower emissions in vehicles and a new type of gas-turbine aircraft engine that can reignite in mid-flight if it loses power. Oh, and get this: the technology could even create needle-free injections, or as all the Trekkies out there would call them, hyposprays.
That's right. The bombardier beetle doesn't just hold the key to advanced aeronautic systems; it could also give us Star Trek medical technology.
"Of course I still respect you. Yes, I'll call you tomorrow."