Life data

Top 10 scientific discoveries in 2020

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The following is the Top 10 scientific discoveries in 2020 recommended by recordtrend.com. And this article belongs to the classification: Life data.

Beijing time on December 31 news, from flying snakes to surfing fish, nature has provided an infinite source of inspiration for human invention and creation. Many new inventions and new technologies come from the imitation of nature, and a discipline born from them is called bionics. Jennie benus is the co-founder of the bionics Institute, a non-profit organization in the United States. She published the book Bionics in 1997, which made the term widely known.

“Bionics is basically about finding the ecosystem that has solved a design challenge and then trying to imitate what you know,” she wrote

Anoplogaster cornuta is a super black deep sea fish

While scientists studying the natural world have made new discoveries, inventors and engineers are constantly drawing inspiration from these discoveries and applying natural solutions to new technologies. Whether it’s building better robots, tracking cancer cells more effectively, or improving space telescopes, we can find useful solutions in biology. Here are the top 10 scientific discoveries in 2020 published by Smithsonian magazine that may bring new inventions.

1. Mudskippers “surf” on the backs of other marine creatures

Instead of clinging to the skin of the whale, the sucker of the minnow hovers above the skin, forming a low-pressure area, thus adsorbing on the side of the whale

Minnow is the best free rider in the ocean. According to reports, the fish, 30 to 110 cm in length, also known as sucker fish, has a sucker on its head that can fix itself to a whale or shark, just like a “sticky flat hat”. But it’s not just a free ride. A 2020 study found that when these fish swim with their hosts, they can actually “surf” on their hosts’ backs. That is to say, the mullet glides along the host’s body and tends to gather near the whale’s blowhole and dorsal fin, where the drag force is less – they will nibble on dead skin and parasites during “surfing”.

Brooke flamming, Jeremy goldbogen and other researchers have found that the location chosen by the fish is the key to their attachment. In particular, the area between the blowhole and dorsal fin of the blue whale has “much slower fluid” than the area a few centimeters up, Flammang noted. In fact, the sucker of minnow is not close to the skin of the whale. In most cases, the sucker hovers above the skin, forming a low pressure area, which is adsorbed on the side of the whale.

Flammang, a biologist at the New Jersey Institute of technology, has started working on an artificial suction cup inspired by the fish. She hopes the sucker will be used to install cameras and tracking devices for endangered marine animals such as blue whales. At present, the ordinary suction cup used by researchers can fix the camera on the subjects, but the grip can only last 24 to 48 hours. Flammang’s new equipment is expected to last several weeks and effectively reduce resistance. The team is currently designing a shape for the sucker on the surface of her camera and testing it. Eventually, they will field test the device on live animals, including whales, dolphins, sharks and mantas.

“The bio inspired progress in attachment in Dr. Flammang’s lab will revolutionize the way we implant labels on animals, making them more successful and effective,” wrote goldbogen, a marine biologist at Stanford University. “Maybe in the future, bio labels can not only attach, but also surf and crawl in the ideal place for physiological sampling like fish ’。”

2. Fins are as sensitive as fingertips

Adam Hardy, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, found that fins can be used not only to swim and steer, but also to be as sensitive as the fingertips of primates. The researchers came to this conclusion by studying Neogobius melanostomus. It is a widely salty benthic fish, native to the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, but has invaded many rivers in Europe, even as far as the five lakes in North America. These small fish usually live on rocks, and their ventral fins have become more and more sucker like.

Neogobius melanostomus usually lives on rocks, and its fins are “as sensitive as the fingers of primates”

To determine how sensitive the goby’s fins are, the team euthanized the fish and injected saline to keep their nerves functioning during the experiment. They then used a special device to record the pattern of nerve impulses as the fins swept through a fixed wheel. Melina hale, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago and co-author of the study, said measurements showed that fins could sense “very small details.”. Researchers hope that this discovery can inspire the research of robot perception technology, especially in the field of underwater robots.

3. Invincible beetle exoskeleton

This kind of beetle is called “devil iron ingot beetle”, which is absolutely worthy of the name. Most insects live only a few weeks, but this beetle lives as long as eight years, roughly equivalent to thousands of years of human life. In order to achieve such a feat, they evolved the extraordinary exoskeleton “armor”.

This beetle is less than 2 cm long, but it can survive being run over by a car. David kisselus, an engineer at the University of California, Irvine, and his team once drove a Toyota Camry to crush a beetle twice, but it still survived. After several technical experiments, the team found that the beetle could withstand 39000 times its body weight.

The beetle, which is less than 2 cm long, can survive even if it is run over twice by a car. It is called “devil iron ingot beetle”

There are several factors contributing to this magical phenomenon. First, the beetle’s exoskeleton is flat, not round like a ladybug’s. Secondly, their exoskeletons are protein rich layered structures, each layer can move independently without damaging the whole exoskeleton. Third, the two halves of the exoskeleton are connected together like a jigsaw puzzle. Each layer follows the curve of the jigsaw puzzle, and the thinnest part of the junction is reinforced. For example, the two exoskeletons at the head chest junction are locked each other.

In the paper, the researchers proposed that by learning from the “devil iron ingot beetle”, we can design an interlocking fastener with similar characteristics but less layers, which can be used to fix aircraft turbines, etc. The team created a 3D printed “laminated” model. They predicted that the discovery could help develop new aviation fasteners that would improve strength and significantly increase toughness. In fact, this design can be used in any situation where two different materials need to be connected, such as metal and plastic in bridges, buildings and vehicles.

4. The super melanin of 16 species of deep sea fish was explained

Karen Osborne, a marine biologist at the National Museum of natural history, once accidentally fished a deep-sea fangfish out of a crab net. When they tried to take a picture of the black fish, they found that no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t get the details of the fish. They later found that the fish was “not photogenic” because its tissue absorbed 99.5% of the light from the camera flash.

Their study included the fangtooth fish (Carassius auratus) and 15 other species, all of which have super black pigmentation and can integrate into the dark deep-sea environment. Although light does not reach this part of the ocean, some fish glow. For the cunning predatory fish, the dark body color can absorb as much light as possible, which is the best invisibility cloak.

Idiacanthus antrostomus is also a super black deep-sea fish, and its ability to absorb light is the second in the study

Many land animals and marine animals are black, but human made black reflects about 10% of the light, and most other black fish reflect about 2%. To break through the “super black” threshold, the 16 species need to reduce the proportion of reflected light to 0.5%. To do this, they evolved huge encapsulated melanosomes (cells that contain melanin) that are very tightly packed. In other black (but not super black) animals, melanosomes are more loosely arranged, smaller and rounder in shape.

By mimicking the shape, structure and distribution of melanosomes in these super black deep-sea fish, material scientists may be able to produce artificial super melanin. The pigment can be used to cover the inside of a telescope to get a better view of the night sky, or to improve the light absorption of solar panels. Karen Osborne also pointed out that the discovery will even arouse the interest of naval researchers, “if we can produce armor with this kind of melanosome, it will be very suitable for night operations.”.

5. Flying snakes will fluctuate for stability

Snakes can not only crawl on the ground, but also swim in the water, but these are not enough. There are five kinds of “flying” snakes in the world. To be exact, their flight is more like a highly coordinated landing, and it looks a bit like their twisting and cornering on land, with the help of gravity. Perhaps, as Virginia Tech biomechanics researcher Jack Socha describes it, the snakes fly like a “giant twisting band.”.

These “flying snakes”, belonging to Chrysopelea, can compress their round trunks into flat triangles to obtain more air resistance, and glide from one tree to another, with a distance of tens of meters. For scientists, however, the left and right swings they make in the air seem meaningless. In the study, Jack Socha’s team rented the four storey gymnasium of Virginia Tech, and put reflective strips on 7 flying snakes. They recorded more than 150 jumps on high speed cameras (without worrying about the safety of these snakes, the research team had to pass safety regulations and equipped with foam floor and fake trees in the Stadium).

With the help of reflective tape, the team used a 3D computer model to reproduce the flight process of the “flying snake”

The flight of these snakes was very short, so the team used reflective tape to reproduce them using a 3D computer model. They found that flying snakes swayed vertically twice as often as horizontally, and their tails swayed up and down. Isaac Eaton, a mechanical engineer at Virginia Tech University, said: “the undulating motion of other animals is for propulsion, and we have proved that flying snakes do it for stability.”

The team hopes their findings will help develop a flying snake like search and rescue robot. According to Isaac Eaton, the advantages of these robots lie in their ability to move stably and through narrow spaces. Working in some very narrow spaces may cause typical robots to trip or fall. Their goal is to one day develop robots that mimic the movements of snakes, combining all the twists, bends and sudden turns.

“By combining these actions, you can have a platform that can move in complex environments: robots can climb a tree or a building, glide quickly to another area, and then glide or swim to other places,” said Isaac Eaton. “This invention will face a lot of engineering challenges, but the capabilities of these really flying snakes are not very good And the progress in the field of biological design in recent years has inspired me a lot. “

6. Filtration system made of Ascidian

The caudate ascidians are somewhat tadpole like in shape, only slightly larger in size; they can be up to 10 cm in length. These tiny creatures live freely hundreds of meters below the sea, where food is scarce.

Using laser scanning tools, the researchers uncovered the complex “snot palaces” built by the creature, as Kakani Katija, a biological Engineer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Institute and author of the study, called them. They have no hands or feet. They build a complex “mucus chamber” with their own secretions. This is a filter device composed of internal and external filters, which can greatly improve the feeding efficiency of the sea squirt.

This is a filtration system that can feed on organic particles

Just as spiders hunt with webs, they also use these sticky structures to capture the tiny, sparse food particles passing by. Their tiny bodies are located in the center of the “mucus chamber” and swing their tails to send water from the labyrinth of pipes to the entrance. In the dark deep sea, any wrong action can lead to death, and this mucus balloon can also provide protection for them.

Kakani Katija hopes to draw inspiration from these small animals and one day develop a bionic inflatable filtration system. Considering that these animals can filter particles smaller than the virus, maybe medical grade or HEPA filters can be improved with this equipment. “We are still in the exploratory phase of this project and I hope other researchers will continue,” she said

7. Luminescent blue mucus of Nereis Lepidoptera

Luminescent organisms, such as fireflies, usually flash for less than a second, up to 10 seconds. But chaetopterus sp But some of them are “gifted.” they can produce a bright blue sticky substance that can shine anywhere for 16 to 72 hours. Because the mucus always glows in vitro, it will not waste the energy of the organism, which is very good for the survival of the silkworm. This also raises the question: how does this mucus glow for such a long time?

Researchers Evelien de meulenaere, Christina puzzanghera and Dimitri D. Deheyn examined the complex chemical composition of the mucus and found that it contained ferritin, which could release ions or charged atoms. This form of ferritin can react with blue light to trigger the generation of more ions, which forms a continuous luminous feedback circuit.

The mucus of polychaete, Lepidoptera, can emit light in vitro, so it will not waste the energy of organism

The team hopes to replicate the unique ferritin (a protein associated with bioluminescence) of the silkworm, the sand worm, to illuminate cancer cells during surgery. Deheyn also said that they could develop a synthetic biological battery that could be used in the event of an emergency power failure, similar to a sticker that glows in the dark.

“The reason the light-emitting stickers keep glowing is that they accumulate sunlight during the day and release it at night,” deheyn said. “Now imagine that you don’t need sunlight, you just need to add iron, and these stickers can be used as portable biological lamps in emergency situations, such as in helicopters or aircraft tarmac that may need lighting.”

8. Bumblebees may know how old they are

Bumblebees, also known as bumblebees, are bulky and clumsy compared with common bees. However, this impression may not be accurate. One summer day, sridar Ravi, an engineer at the Canberra campus of the University of New South Wales in Australia, observed that bumblebees can move freely through branches and bushes. He was shocked that an organism with such a small brain could overcome these challenges.

When the gap is smaller than the Bumblebee’s wingspan, they stop to look at it, and then cross the gap sideways without damaging their wings

To test bumblebees, Ravi’s team set up a tunnel and a beehive in the laboratory. They placed a narrow gap in the tunnel as an obstacle, which became smaller and smaller over time. They found that when the gap was smaller than the Bumblebee’s wingspan, they would stop and look at it, then sideways through the gap without damaging their wings. For bumblebees, they need to understand how big they are from different angles in order to accomplish this seemingly insignificant behavior, which many insects do not have.

Sridar Ravi says that if bumblebees with small brains can handle this problem, robots may be able to navigate better without too complex a processor. “The brain doesn’t have to use smaller, more sophisticated neurons,” he said By learning from the working mode of Bumblebee brain, researchers may be able to develop more dexterous robots, and even have higher flight or swimming ability, rather than as clumsy as it seems now. “From passive detection to active perception, this improvement will bring a new era in robotics,” Ravi said.

9. Mineral “armor” of exoskeleton of leaf cutting ant

Li Hongjie, a researcher in the field of plant virology at Ningbo University, cooperated with researchers from the University of Wisconsin Madison in the United States, and found that the exoskeleton of a central American leaf cutting ant has a thin layer of mineral “armor”.

In order to further study the exoskeleton of leaf cutting ant, we need to remove this armor like coating, but how to remove it? In an interview with science news, Li Hongjie said he had an epiphany while brushing his teeth. Mouthwash can remove substances from the teeth without damaging the cheeks, gums and tongue. His premonition was right: the mouthwash dissolved the mineral coating, but did not damage the exoskeleton of the leaf cutting ant. Through more traditional laboratory experiments, the team determined that the mineral coating consisted of calcite with a high magnesium content. In sea urchins, this mixture of calcite and magnesium allows their teeth to grind through hard limestone.

The researchers found that the mineral coating on the exoskeleton of the leaf cutting ant is made of calcite with a high magnesium content

“Integrating magnesium into calcite has many benefits for any nanotechnology field involving calcite, such as plastics, adhesives, building mortars and dental materials,” study authors Cameron curry and Pope Gilbert explained In addition, the mineral coating is not a natural product of leaf cutting ants, but something they can quickly produce when needed, and it will increase hardness with the maturity of leaf cutting ants, almost covering the whole body.

“It’s incredible that this leaf cutting ant can significantly improve the strength of the exoskeleton by rapidly forming a thin and light nanocrystalline coating,” Cameron curry said. “This highlights the potential of this nano material coating in improving body armor.”

10. Moths with poor hearing have “acoustic cloaks”

It’s not easy for a moth to avoid predators who rely on sound to search for prey. But some moths have evolved amazing features to protect themselves from bats.

In early 2020, researchers found that in addition to the fluff that softens sound, the two inaudible moths also have very thin forked scales on their wings that absorb bats’ ultrasound. Each moth’s wings are covered with thousands of such small scales, which are less than 1 mm in length and hundreds of microns in thickness. Each of the scales distorts the sound of the wings, reducing the sound energy, thereby reducing the sound reflected back to the bat. These scales seem to resonate at different frequencies, and as a whole, they “absorb at least three octaves of sound.”.

They’re thousands of millimetres thick, and each of them is a few hundred millimetres long

“These scales are highly structured on a nanoscale, with porous ripple layers at the top and bottom and interconnected by tiny cylindrical networks,” said mark holdrid of the University of Bristol, the author of the study According to his estimation, inspired by this structure, we may be able to develop sound insulation materials with “10 times higher sound absorption efficiency” in the future. What he envisions is a kind of sound-absorbing wallpaper coated with nanoscale structure, which can be pasted on the walls of houses and offices, instead of the huge panels commonly used today.

Holdreid also believes that the discovery will have a wide range of applications in many industries. “We’re really excited about the wide range of applications of this material,” he said. “We can learn from these moth solutions to develop thinner sound-absorbing materials in many fields, from construction to machinery to traffic acoustic design.”

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