Credit: Max Planck Institute for Metals Research
These discoveries aroused great expectations. Is it possible to simply copy the structure of the soles of insects' feet and before long find equivalent biomimetic, i.e. nature-inspired, adhesive materials in everyday use? The researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research and their colleauges at Gottlieb Binder GmbH in Holzgerlingen, a specialist company for fastener systems, needed plenty of staying power themselves, because the first generations of the surfaces they created with a variety of methods were not effective adhesives.
However, the scientists have now taken a big step forwards in copying the biological adhesive mechanism. They have developed a material with a biomimetic microstructure that exhibits excellent adhesive qualities, basing it on investigations of the foot soles of several types of beetle. Their particularly strong adhesive force is the result of very small, specially shaped hairs reminiscent of tiny mushrooms.
In rigorous tests carried out by the Max Planck researchers with measuring instruments developed especially for the purpose, the artificial adhesive system gave an impressive performance and demonstrated many benefits. It lasts for hundreds of applications, does not leave any visible marks and can be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water. The researchers found that five square centimeters of the material can hold objects weighing up to one hundred grams on walls. However, this limit is much lower for ceilings. Smooth structures, such as glass or polished wood, are good bases but woodchip wallpaper is not very suitable.
"Insects also find it difficult to travel over slightly roughened surfaces - it's a fundamental problem for adhesion mechanisms," explained Project Leader Stanislav Gorb.
To manufacture the material, a mold, similar to a cake tin in baking, is used in which the required surface is embossed as a negative image. The mould is filled with a polymerizing mixture which is allowed to cure and then released from the mould. This sounds easy, but is the result of a "great deal of trial and error." The researchers found the construction of the microstructural "cake tin" particularly challenging and exactly how it works remains a trade secret. Optimizing the polymer mixture also taxed the researchers: if it is too fluid it runs out of the mold; if it is too viscose, it won't even go in.
Potential applications range from protective foil for delicate glasses to reusable adhesive fixtures - say goodbye to fridge magnets, here come the microhairs, which will also stick to your mirror, your cupboard and your windows. For example, the new material will soon be found in industrial production processes in the manufacture of glass components. It has already been shown to perform in higher weight categories: the artificial adhesive fibers on the soles of a 120 gram robot helped it to climb a vertical glass wall (Daltorio et al. 2005).
In their current research, the scientists are trying to improve the adhesion by refining the structures even further. "However, there's still a lot of work to be done by the Working Group. Something that functions smoothly in the laboratory is a long way away from large-scale production," explained Stanislav Gorb.
Source: Max Planck Institute for Metals Research
|Written by Dr. H. P. Bustami|
|Saturday, 16 August 2008|
His larvea feed on burnt wood and so mother nature invented for a tiny little beetle a special device to "hear" the fires which can provide a home to his offspring. Even in 80 kilometres distance the insects from the family of the jewel beetles (or metallic wood-boring beetles) can detect the infrared light emitted by fires. The zoologists from the University of Bonn (Germany) now provided evidence for this fire sensor which is fivefold as sensitive as technical infrared sensors.
The heat stimulus which arrives on the beetles surface is directly transformed into a mechanical stimulus for which the beetle has special mechanical receptors which are common in insects (for example in grasshoppers and crickets to detect sound waves being part of the "ears" of these insects).
Eventually these pressure variations caused by the transformed heat stimulus elicit an electrical impulse in sensory neurons. These sensory neurons relay the information to the insect brain.
Such sophisticated infrared sensors are not very common in nature and show again the high developed mechanisms in apparently "primitive" animals like insects. Man is far away from reaching such perfection in his own techniques.
Source: Martin Müller, Maciej Olek, Michael Giersig, and Helmut Schmitz: Micromechanical properties of consecutive layers in specialized insect cuticle: the gula of Pachnoda marginata (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae) and the infrared sensilla of Melanophila acuminata (Coleoptera, Buprestidae), J. Exp Biol 2008 211: 2576-2583.
by Brian Thomas, M.S.
"Bees learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they discover the flowers in a different order," according to a Royal Holloway, University of London press release.1 Researchers watched as bees encountered "computer controlled artificial flowers" at random, then quickly calculated the shortest route before visiting them all again.
Current computer programs that perform these kinds of calculations operate by totaling the lengths of each possible route and then comparing them to find the shortest one.
There is no way that such tiny brains, using such little energy, could arrive at the right answer so quickly and consistently using the same approach as these computers. So, the researchers speculated that the bees must be using an unknown shortcut algorithm.
Such an algorithm could be a valuable assistance in solving traffic flow problems on roadways and in man-made data networks.
Also crowded into a bee's tiny brain are other shortcut algorithms that enable bees to completely avoid crash landings.2 Research has also discovered advanced capabilities in other insects. For example, ants possess superior traffic flow instincts compared to man-made systems.3 And even slime mold can build more efficient transportation tracks than those devised by Japanese railway engineers.4 All of these algorithms, if they could be discovered or reinvented, have the potential for use in human designs.
Since not even humans with supercomputers could develop these clever algorithms, they must have been purposefully programmed into the insects by an intelligent programmer. Nature by itself could never put together such intricate programs. Even if it could, where would it obtain the power needed to insert them into the exact animals that require them?
Bees, like ants and so many other creatures, clearly look as though they have been expertly designed. Further, it appears that their Designer is vastly more clever than humans, who have trouble understanding, much less duplicating, the abilities of these creatures.
- Tiny brained bees solve a complex mathematical problem. Royal Holloway, University of London press release, October 25, 2010, reporting on researcher appearing in Lihoreau, M. L. Chittka, and N. E. Raine. 2010. Travel Optimization by Foraging Bumblebees through Readjustments of Traplines after Discovery of New Feeding Locations. The American Naturalist. 176.
- Thomas, B. Bee Landing Strategy May Lead to Better Aircraft. ICR News. Posted on icr.org January 12, 2010, accessed October 26, 2010.
- Thomas, B. Ant Algorithms Argue Against Evolutionary Origins. ICR News. Posted on icr.org February 17, 2009, accessed October 26, 2010.
- Thomas, B. Slime Networks Are Better Organized than Railway Systems. ICR News. Posted on icr.org January 29, 2010, accessed October 26, 2010.
By the end of the summer, that first female aphid could have almost six million offspring! Obviously, one plant can't hold that many aphids. So those offspring born with wings fly off to another plant to continue this mysterious process. Once cold weather begins, the female aphids begin giving birth to both male and female aphids, some with wings and some without. The winged males fly back to the original plant, mate, and this time the females produce eggs that can withstand winter so the entire cycle can start again the next year.
The word “understanding” is often used in Scripture and refers to the sense in which God created all things in such a way that they interact and react to countless situations in precisely the way He designed them. The lowly aphid is an astonishing example of this principle!
Introduction: First of all What the heck is this and why would you care? Well, this cycle is the mistake of all newbies to the hobby and why most people fail in their attempts at keeping fish! This cycle is the natural way food, fish waste, and fish breathing is broken down in the aquarium. After the tank is setup and you put those little fishes in the tank the cycle starts. Yes, that is right the cycle starts the second the fish are dropped in the tank! The first thing that happens is the fish breathing. Through breathing the fish enter into the tank along with Carbon Dioxide and other gases is Ammonia. This Ammonia is the first step in the cycle. This Ammonia is broken down into Nitrite and later on the Nitrite is broken down into Nitrate. This Nitrate is the final stage in the cycle and is the easiest element to keep in check and the least toxic to the fish in the tank. These elements must be closely monitored and kept in check. Through biological filtration these elements can be kept at minimums. Biological filtration is very important in any aquarium. These filters are, undergravel filters, ceramic pipe and sponges in canister filters, Bio Wheels on back box filters, and others which we will go into more depth in other pages. These filters are where helpful bacteria can attach themselves and grow to remove these different chemicals and make your tank healthy for your fish.
Where most people fail being new to the hobby is not understanding this cycle - Me being one of them - and having your tank become a glass coffin. Food broken down in the tank also adds to the ammonia levels and is one of the leading causes to fish deaths in a new tank by newbies. Over feeding fish is a major no-no! Especially in an unestablished new tank. And the smaller the tank the worse off it is. Small amounts of water are very unforgiving. For this reason when starting a new tank feed your fish very little!!! The fish will survive on very little food with no problems but by over feeding and sending ammonia level off the charts they will surely visit fishy heaven. Well lets get into each part of the cycle.
First cycle (Ammonia): NH3 and NH4. The first part of the cycle starts with ammonia. And also this is the most toxic substance to fish. Ammonia is given off by fish through their gills. Also through fish waste (Poop and pee). And other sources such as a dead fish left in the tank and food decay. A test kit to monitor this is a must. Levels in a new tank will soar and should be monitored daily and always keep an eye on the fish. This first cycle is the toughest and should be toughed out by fish that can tolerate these levels better than expensive low tolerant fish. More on the best fish to use later. If done properly this cycle can be dealt with and no problems will arise. Lucky for us that there are bacteria in the air everywhere that thrives on ammonia. When enough ammonia is in the tank these little hungry bacteria settle in the tank and start eating the ammonia. Now this might not sound like a tasty treat for you or me but these bacteria love the stuff. They will establish a colony in a tank in the gravel, clay pipe, Bio Wheels, ECT. Anything that they can attach themselves to and multiply on. Unfortunately the ammonia levels soar during this time before the bacteria can establish itself and keep levels low.
With just .5 to 1 PPM (Parts per million) fish will show signs of stress clamping of fins and fast breathing through their gills. At higher levels these signs get worse and more noticeable. With levels of 6 to 7 PPM fish deaths could occur. In a new tank these and higher levels will be reached before the ammonia-eating bacteria can establish itself and drop levels. With pH levels above 7 (neutral) or alkaline water this ammonia is even more toxic to the fish. Acid water with ammonia in it is less harmful to fish than is alkaline water. Water changes at this time are a MUST! You must change the water at the very least by at least 25%. More preferably the water should be changed every 2 or 3 days. Get a gravel cleaner and clean the gravel every week at this time. You do not want anything increasing the ammonia level any higher than they have to be. Make sure the tank is well aerated during this first stage as well.
Why your fish are breathing heavy is because the fish are being suffocated by the ammonia. Ammonia interferes with the fishes ability to get oxygen into their bodies. It may sound dumb but the fish drowns from lack of oxygen. High aeration, low feeding amounts; small number of fish, and frequent water changes and cleanings at this time and you and your fish should make it through this phase.
Second Cycle (Nitrite): NO2. Nitrite is the waste product from the ammonia-eating bacteria. This substance is less toxic than ammonia but in high levels it to can cause death. Nitrite in a fishes blood stream can hamper their red blood cells in their ability to carry oxygen. At high levels this to will cause fish to suffocate and can be seen by a fish swimming frequently to the surface to get air. Although I have found that the first stage is the most difficult for the fish and once this stage has been cleared and the fish survive this stage should be easy.
Nitrite eating bacteria will establish itself to in the gravel and other media as does the ammonia bacteria. Although the same as with the ammonia bacteria. Nitrite levels will soar as it takes time for the nitrite-eating bacteria to establish its colony. You should get a test kit for this as well. For when the nitrite levels hit zero your tank will be fully cycled. Also I noticed that this is the slowest and levels soar the highest during this cycle. All of my tanks stayed off the readable chart levels for more than 2 to 3 weeks. And even then only slowly dropped to zero. Nitrite eating bacteria take longer in their multiplying time. And since the nitrite level are rising quickly from a pretty well established ammonia eating bacteria it takes a while for the NO2 eating bacteria to equal the output from the NH4 bacteria. Be patient at this stage and you be on your way to being able to add new fish.
Third Cycle(Nitrate): NO3 Once you have fully cycled your tank the NO2 bacteria will produce NO3 nitrate as a waste product. This is a pretty stable substance and is pretty much nontoxic. But at high levels this too is toxic to fish. This is where your plants and water changes come in at. How it was told to me was "as to not pollute change the water and dilute". Nitrate is a natural fertilizer Plants will use the nitrate as a food source.
Also if you do not have plants in your tank save the water for houseplants. The fish waste and the nitrate will combine for a nice food source for them as well. (radar note: very smart to do this, your inside plants will like this and so will your outside shrubbery and ornamental plants and young trees when you do an occasional one-third water change. Never let fish water go to waste, ha ha) They will also like the water with no chlorine in it. Nitrate at levels of 80-140 PPM. can also be toxic to fish so be sure that you do water changes at least every two weeks. For those of you that have 10 gallon tanks a once a week no less than 25% water change should be done. At lower water volumes and no plants levels climb quickly. My 10-gallon tanks will be from a 10-20 PPM. To 80-100 PPM. in one week at around 30-40% water changes. I change the water every week. There are bacteria that will eat nitrate and require another filter that contains sponge balls to attach themselves to. I believe they turn the nitrate into nitrogen gas and it leaves the tank but water changes are less expensive and the fresh new water will be good for the fish.
Nitrogen Cycle Graphs (link)
Conclusion: I will share with you my results of dates and times and what tests I performed. I did not have the help of using someone's gravel or other material to speed the process along. If you know of someone or if you know of a pet store that takes good care of their aquariums. Ask them for some of the gravel. At the pet store ask if they will give you a scoop of gravel or if you have to purchase a scoop of it. Remember that the gravel they give you should be place into a piece of cheese clothe and placed in your tank after the fish have been in there for 3 to four days. This will make sure that some ammonia levels have been raised to a point where the bacteria have a food source. You can place the gravel right in the tank if you wish and the gravel matches or does not bother you with your own. This will jump start your tank and shorten the time it takes to cycle the tank.
Remember to be patient and don't run out and Max that tank out without cycling it. The ammonia levels will jump off the charts and you will lose your fish. Watch the over feeding of the fish. A hungry fish will last longer than a fish that cannot get oxygen into its body. Aeration at high levels makes that water extremely oxygen rich. Change the water often. Changing the water often will dilute levels. After the tank is cycled then you can add more fish. Fish should be added at a slow level even after the tank is cycled. Remember that the amount of bacteria in the tank will only rise to a level of waste being produced by that number of fish. Adding a lot of fish will again rise levels of ammonia and nitrite till the bacteria can raise it's levels to match the new load in the tank. Add fish at 4- 6 fish per 1 to 2 weeks as to number 1: raise levels slowly and number 2: not shock the community with large numbers of new fish. Next we will talk about types of fish to use for this cycling of the tank! Stay tuned! Same Bat (I mean BAD) channel!
All due credit goes to my wife, who does most of the tank cleaning and filter changing and water changes. I fix faulty filtering devices or decide to replace them and I set up the initial tank cycles, provided the shrimp and the snails and the original fish for the tanks. Debbie does most of the maintenance work and also the rock and plant arrangements (although the big Plecos just knock things over and uproot plants at will). She is also the one who thought up containing the Java Moss within the kind of netting that often comes with apples or potatoes so it doesn't grow indiscriminately and spread out like a 70's Afro hairdo.
The bottom line? You cannot just plop fish into water and expect them to live. The fish and the plants and the microbes all must work together and depend upon each other for survival. There has to be a source of light that the plants and algae can use photosynthesis while helping to recycle the waste materials from the fish. The fish need the water to be aerated and occasionally replenished in part with fresh source water to imitate life in a natural stream or lake or pond. The plants and bacteria need the fish to provide waste materials they will convert into food. The fish need the bacteria to recycle their waste and the plants to both help in the process and provide food for some varieties. As owners we must change filters and do water refreshment, provide fish food and cultivate the shrimp and snails that help keep the big fish healthy. We also use Java Moss in the live breeder tank to provide shelter for baby fish and small snails and shrimp.
Also, I recommend smoothed gravel stones so that the Corydoras cats or loaches do not rub off their barbels and mouths trying to dig in the gravel for fish food and shrimp. Too many people buy that cheap sharp-edged gravel and then wonder why their bottom-dwelling fish do not live long. We have some sand mixed in with the gravel so that at the very bottom there is good rooting for rooted aquatic plants and to provide more "housing" choices for bacteria and shrimp alike.
A Corydoras resting on smoothed river gravel such as used in our fish tanks
The Earth is quite similar. Plants could not have survived long without animals and vice-versa. The symbiotic relationships between species of all kinds is beyond one human to document in a lifetime. Earth is a fantastic testimony to a Great Designer and also to the sin and fallibility of mankind and the unswerving truth of the Laws of Thermodynamics that show us that life and matter and everything are devolving from an original state rather than evolving into higher forms. Our genome is degrading, our ecosystem survives but has challenges (the declining bee population, for example) that have absolutely nothing to do with man and his pitifully tiny impact on our massive planet. Anthropic Global Warming my butt! The Sun is the engine that drives global warming and cooling and the Earth has design features that react to the activities of the Sun to help balance the temperatures out.
The Earth was made in six days by God with all kinds of plants and animals in place, ready and willing and able to do their part to keep the biosphere going despite the 2LOT and whatever mankind does to harm or try to help. We have barely scratched the surface of the lessons we can learn from organisms if we would be wise enough to recognize them for what they are - brilliantly designed biological machines far more efficient and intricate than we have yet been able to completely fathom.