A single-celled slime mold (physarum polycephalum) can solve mazes, mimic the layout of man-made transportation networks and choose the healthiest food from a diverse menu – and all this without a brain or nervous system:
Lesson: deploy resources efficiently – really smart solutions often arise naturally, yet knowing what’s best still requires lots of prior research. But hey, if a slime mold can do it…
Scientists have created an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart:
Lesson: even the most difficult concept can be somehow ‘brought to life’ – be it in a new context, through the addition of a couple of key ingredients, or sheer appliance of science!
Today is the 50th birthday of the first practical LED, an invention built on an understanding that has transformed our lives: enabling cheap, mass-produced and very hardy display and lighting technologies.
A while back, GE produced a great piece of branded content featuring its inventor, Prof. Nick Holonyak, where he offers some insight into the moment that his light emitting diodes were first conceived:
He leaves us with the advice to “Learn more, do more, build more, reveal more”, which doesn’t take a physicist to know is just brilliant advice for life, for ‘inventors’ of all kinds.
A simple plus/minus 1V signal from a beat-heavy song can be used to stimulate the motor neurons in the leg of a cockroach. This is an example of such.
Using setups like this can help us understand how neurons and muscles work, and can assist us in understanding our own nervous systems.
I’ll tell you what else this helped me understand: we’ve reached such mastery of nature that we’re now just having fun with it. I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but the above example is certainly a bit macabre.
Nucleus Medical Media’s 2011 3D medical animation demo reel shows surgery, anatomy, mechanism of action (MOA), and physiology produced for medical devices, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology, marketing agencies, lawyers, and more.
What Nucleus don’t include in their showreel’s YouTube description, but will become apparent, is that they are probably among the finest computer animators working today.
In my view they depict very complicated biomechanical processes so very clearly, and quite beautifully too. Here’s the aforementioned showreel:
My question is, how is it these guys are nailing it so hard?! Are they scientists trained in CAD, or the reverse?