A few weeks ago I was completely fascinated by scientists putting UV threads in window panes in order to prevent birds from crashing into window panes and dying. They’d noticed that birds don’t “see” glass but are able to avoid spiderwebs when flying quickly through a forest. Spiderwebs have, you guessed it, ultraviolet light that birds can see, and know to avoid. So I’ve been talking about these ideas and biomimicry with Cormac, because it’s cool.
This afternoon on NPR we heard a story about hagfish; the slime they create to fight off sharks and other sea creatures has threads in it that are strong, like silk. The hope is that the thread can be used to replaces fibers like spandex, which are created from oil, a non-renewable resource. Hagfish threads are made from proteins which can be created in a lab rather than directly from the hagfish, creatures that are difficult to raise in captivity. ”
“Proteins are a renewable resource because we can get organisms to make them,” says Douglas Fudge the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
Here’s a link to the NPR story: http://soundcloud.com/theworld/hagfish-slime-could-provide
And a cool video of hagfish being attacked by sharks! Biomimicry is cool for kids.