The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

anatomy of a sponge
You wouldn't think something as lowly as a natural sponge would do a better job at technological engineering than us humans. But that's the case with the glassy, or "Venus flower basket" sponge, which grows ultrathin glass fibers that are superior in design to industrial-grade fibre optic cable. Fibre optics are considered the backbone of modern, and developing, telecommunications infrastructure.

Interesting stuff. Even more interesting is the field of study that led to this discovery. Biomimetics involves the replication of natural animal and plant processes, like spider webs, to build better mousetraps (among other things, like velcro). It's being used today on things as diverse as building artificial heart muscles to exploring Mars.