Gabe Pyle | Biomimetic Design | July 2015
I traveled with my church to the island of Trinidad to help run a camp for the next week, and we’re right on the edge of the bush. So I got the chance to do this week’s (and next week’s) BCI session in a more tropical setting.
Be: As I closed my eyes, I focused on what else I could sense. I could detect the faint smell of rotting mangos, which are scattered EVERYWHERE on the ground. I could feel tiny bugs occasionally jumping on my legs (I’m sure I smelled very tasty to them). I could hear 3-4 distinct bird calls around me—bird voices that were colorful and vibrant and far more exotic than anything I’ve heard in Ohio. I could hear mosquitos buzzing by my ear (I’m sure they were buzzing around elsewhere, but I could not hear them). I could also hear ripe fruit falling nearby, and a dog barking in the distance.
Contemplate: For my Insect Catcher project, I wanted to find out how nature:
I was able to notice the leaves of the plantain tree, which are quite large.
On these leaves, the water had collected into tiny beads. They weren’t rolling off, so there was clearly still some adhesion taking place, but I still had to wonder why the water was beading up so. I concluded that it must have been because of the waxy cuticle. Feeling the leaf confirmed that the leaf was waxy. Whether that is the only strategy at play is not certain.
I also saw a tiny spider, and considered that the spider uses her web to catch her prey. But why is the web sticky? Is it because the material itself is sticky? Is there some microstructure that gives it its stickiness?
Then I finally saw some of the birds I had been hearing. I considered how they captured organisms. I suppose they use their beaks and peck to catch the bugs they eat. Do they eat on the fly, like a bat? Or do they pick the bugs off the ground, or the branches? Of course their eyes help them to spot the prey. Do perhaps their beak structures help them at all?
Imagine: If the spiderweb gets its stickiness from its structure, like the gecko’s foot, then perhaps the Insect Catcher could utilize a kind of “temporary stickiness” strategy using spider-web or gecko foot technology?
And while treating the outside surfaces of the Insect Catcher with a waxy coating to help keep it clean might give it an odd texture, perhaps the inside of the catcher, where the insects would interact with the product, could benefit from the waxy coating.
In other news, while this wasn’t part of my BCI session, we have encountered several geckos so far—I think one might be chilling inside my cabin, actually…
But we’ve caught a few, and I got to hold one and take a closer look at it. I even dropped some water on it to see if the water droplets would bounce off.
After a while he started to trust us, and we could let him climb around on our hands without him trying to bolt.
He also changed colors, which was unexpected. I didn't know geckos had this capability. Will have to look into this further. Perhaps I take this up with the gecko chilling in my cabin.