Seahorse Posteriors Inspire Tech

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SciShort_7_9_15If you’ve ever looked at a seahorse in the aquarium and thought, “Geez, dude, you’re useless…” then it turns out the joke’s on you: the little guys are packing serious tech. Scientists at OSU just released findings from their research that suggest the little quirky fish may be a natural blueprint to the creation of stunning technology.

The tail of a seahorse is uniquely designed (by evolution or an all-powerful space monster, depending on where you went to elementary school) to allow the fish to be a more tenacious and agile predator. Seahorses don’t use their tails to swim, but rather as bionic grabbing tools. Due to the unique combination of shapes, including a square outer plating, that make up the tail structure, they’re remarkably strong and flexible, too. This makes them fascinating pieces of bio-tech waiting to be exploited.

Ross Hatton, a professor in the OSU College of Engineering, co-authored the study.

“We found that this square architecture provides adequate dexterity and a tough resistance to predators, but also that it tends to snap naturally back into place once it’s been twisted and deformed,” Hatton commented in a recent press release. “This could be very useful for robotics applications that need to be strong, but also energy-efficient and able to bend and twist in tight spaces.”

There’s no telling yet where the research will be applied, but robotics is an obvious direction. Increasingly bots that look and move like something out of science fiction are becoming the norm, and one can only imagine the mutant killing machine that will be created with this research.

“Human engineers tend to build things that are stiff so they can be controlled easily,” said Hatton, “but nature makes things just strong enough not to break, and then flexible enough to do a wide range of tasks. That’s why we can learn a lot from animals that will inspire the next generations of robotics.”

 Let’s just hope they remember to build an android that protects us from all the ones they’ll soon be able to build that can hunt and kill us. I believe that’s what’s known as the Terminator corollary…

By Sidney Reilly

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