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Thursday, September 09, 2021

I wouldn’t have thought that an article that goes into detail about water-skimming bugs and how they inspired walk-on-water nanorobots would be all that interesting. But it was.

So how do those things, both insect and robot versions, imitate Jesus?

It was long thought the insects used their legs to create waves to push themselves forward, like a wave hitting a boat.

In 1993, Mark Denny, a Stanford University marine biologist, pointed out a problem: If water skimmers moved by creating waves, newly hatched water skimmers would be immobile because they weren’t strong enough to create waves. In reality, newly hatched water skimmers move just as well as full grown adults.

Last year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology mathematician John M.W. Bush and two graduate students solved the riddle by placing dyes and particles in water and using a high-speed video camera.

Bush and the graduate students discovered that water striders move by pushing down on the surface of water enough to create valleys but not enough to break the surface. The water then bounces back like a trampoline to push the insect forward.

Yes, I find it fascinating. Yes, there’s probably something (else) wrong with me.

There’s plenty more tiny robot fun at Carnegie Mellon University’s NanoRobotics Lab. In addition to the waterstrider, there’s the digestive-tract capsulebot and the space-exploring geckobot.

Domo arigato, Professor Metin Sitti.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/09/2021 11:20:39 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink |

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