by David Coppedge

Imagine carrying 850 times your own weight. Step aside, Hercules, and meet the Hercules beetle: the strongest creature in the world. ScienceDaily1 said that researchers in Belgium are not just impressed with its show of strength. They are finding inspiration for “intelligent materials.”

The Hercules beetle has a shell that is able to change colors when the humidity changes. The normally green shell turns black as water enters microscopic pores that interfere with light. Scientists are not sure why the beetle has this feature, but they want to imitate it. “The sort of structural behaviour displayed by the Hercules Beetle could be an important property for ‘intelligent materials’,” one researcher said. These materials could work as passive humidity detectors without the need for electronics – useful, for instance, in food processing plants to monitor moisture conditions.

Switch your attention from feats to feet. In a story on ScienceDaily last month, MIT wizards have learned from mighty lizards.2 They have produced a dissolving bandage, inspired by gecko feet. “Drawing on some of the principles that make gecko paws unique, the surface of the bandage has the same kind of nanoscale hills and valleys that allow the lizards to cling to walls and ceilings” the article explains. “Layered over this landscape is a thin coating of glue that helps the bandage stick in wet environments, such as to heart, bladder or lung tissue.”….

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