Naked Scientists Podcast

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 30th May 2009

Bioengineering - Engineering Inspired By Nature

Bamboo trees in Kyoto, Japan. (c) Paul Vlaar

How does nature inspire technology and engineering?  We find out how bamboo may make effective wind turbines and how the protein that enables bees to flap their wings can soothe your bad back. Also this week we explore the explosive backsides of bombardier beetles and how they have inspired powerful fire extinguishers. In the news: how oil lies hidden below the North Pole and why some fatty acids help our immune system more than others. Plus, in Kitchen Science we pop some corn kernels to find out how polystyrene is made.

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 21:33 - Bombardier spray cans

    Aerosols and spray cans from the bottom of the bombardier beetle; Andy McIntosh tells us more.

  • 28:31 - Extra-elastic resilin

    Chris Elvin tells us about the super-springy protein that his lab managed to synthesise.

  • 35:27 - Super-renewable bamboo turbines

    Forget wind turbines made from vast sheets of metal - make them from fast-growing bamboo! Jim Platts tells us more.

  • 42:07 - How do sunflowers follow the sun?

    I grow sunflowers in my garden for several years now and it always follow sunrise from east to west each day, but what I would like to know is, do they slowly unwind during the night so that at sunrise they’re pointing east again ready and waiting for the sun-up? Or do they remai...



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