Quantcast
Connect with us

Are plant hydraulics a path to adaptive dream machines?

Published

on

WASHINGTON – Airplanes might soon have flexible wings like birds and robots could change shape as they please thanks to research under way on mimosa plants, researchers said.

The shrub’s leaves, which can retract at the slightest of touches, could inspire a new class of structures that can twist, bend, harden and even repair themselves, explained University of Michigan professor of mechanical engineering Kon-Well Wang.

“This and several other characteristics of plant cells and cell walls have inspired us to initiate ideas that could concurrently realize many of the features that we want to achieve for adaptive structures,” he said Saturday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“The phenomenon is made possible by osmosis, the flow of water in and out of plants’ cells. Triggers such as touch cause water to leave certain plant cells, collapsing them. Water enters other cells, expanding them. These microscopic shifts allow the plants to move and change shape on a larger scale,” he said.

The mimosa is a type of plant able to move itself in a way that is visible to the naked eye in real time. The plant’s “hydraulic system” makes that “nastic motion” possible.

“Triggers such as touch cause water to leave certain plant cells, collapsing them. Water enters other cells, expanding them. These microscopic shifts allow the plants to move and change shape on a larger scale,” the researcher explained.

ADVERTISEMENT

Observing the process can be a gateway to designing cells with special mechanical properties, he believes.

“This and several other characteristics of plant cells and cell walls have inspired us to initiate ideas that could concurrently realize many of the features that we want to achieve for adaptive structures,” Wang said.

“We can design those cells according to our needs. We can put those cells into structure, control them in different sequences,” he explained.

“Currently we are looking at basic research only, but there are some applications that we have in mind,” Wang said.

ADVERTISEMENT

He mentioned the notions for example of planes able to change the shape of their wings while in flight as birds do; and other machines that change their shape perhaps to go under a bridge.

“You cannot make a plane wing deform to be able to achieve optimum flight condition in different scenario,” he said. But “this kind of technology could help that because we can make the wing active and change its mechanical properties.”

Meanwhile, auditory sensory cells that help humans hear and give them various detection capabilities are another source of inspiration from nature to develop more sophisticated technologies.

Chang Liu, professor of mechanical engineering at Northwestern University, led a research group that produced artificial hair cells.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The hair cell is interesting because biology uses this same fundamental structure to serve a variety of purpose,” he told a press conference. “This differs from how engineers typically design sensors, which are often used for a specific task.”

In creating these artificial cells with the use of nanotechnology, researchers have significantly improved the sensitivity of the sensors while understanding better how various animals use them.

And all fish are equipped with lateral auditory cells as well.

However, amphibians are not equipped with such sensors, which provide still more information about the movement of water, said Chang Liu.

For now, he is focusing on medical applications as sensors of fluid in the apparatus or at the end of a catheter.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Donald Trump whines: ‘My life has always been a fight’

Published

on

The full interview with President Donald Trump finally aired on ABC Sunday, revealing the shocking way that he views his life.

Trump lamented that he's had such a hard life, as the son of multi-millionaires who paid to get him out of trouble multiple times.

"You're a fighter. You, you, it feels like you're in a constant kind of churn--" host George Stephanopoulos began.

"Yeah, uh, my life has always been a fight," Trump said. "And I enjoy that I guess, I don't know if I enjoy it or not, I guess -- sometimes I have false fights like the Russian witch hunt. That's a false fight. That's a made-up, uh, hoax. And I had to fight that."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

The right-wing scored more in years of Trump than eight years of George W. Bush: report

Published

on

President George W. Bush oversaw eight years that restricted rights, banned LGBTQ equality, appointed anti-choice judges and so much more. But under Donald Trump's presidency, social conservatives have managed to roll back any progress made by President Barack Obama's leadership.

A new Axios report listed out any anti-LGBTQ, anti-women and anti-poor policies.

“He campaigned saying that he would be a good friend to LGBT people,” James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, told VOX. "Actions speak far louder than words. And what he's done has been a wreck."

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Israel’s Netanyahu just christened a building named after Trump — that doesn’t even exist

Published

on

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spent his Father’s Day dedicating a new Trump Tower-type building that hasn't been built in a town that doesn't exist.

Standing in front of a large sign saying "Trump Heights," Netanyahu, who is being forced back into another election, announced the building before planning even began, Axios reported.

A great day on the Golan. PM Netanyahu and I had the honor to dedicate “Trump Heights” — first time Israel has dedicated a village in honor of a sitting president since Harry Truman (1949). Happy Birthday Mr. President!! @POTUS pic.twitter.com/fdYWzokFLK

Continue Reading
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

I need your help.

Investigating Trump's henchmen is a full time job, and I'm trying to bring in new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have more stories coming you'll love. Join me and help restore the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link

Investigating Trump is a full-time job, and I want to add new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have stories coming you'll love. Join me and go ad-free, while restoring the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link