Naval and marine engineers are always searching for ways to make the hulls of boats, ships and submarines more efficient. As the hull of the vessel cuts through the water, it loses efficiency as a result of the frictional drag created by the water passing over its surface.
Smaller craft have hulls made of fiberglass, wood, resins or synthetic plastics. Larger ships are generally made of steel or some type of metal alloy which is then covered with several coats of protective paint. These paints have been formulated to prevent rust and corrosion and to reduce drag in the water.
Now the attention of some engineers at Ohio State University have turned to an invasive water weed known as Brazilian fern, Salvinia molesta. The fern is very buoyant and moves very easily through the water, which is what drew the attention of the engineers.
Upon microscopic examination of the surface of the plant, they found a very unique design. The leaves of the fern appeared to be covered with what are best described as eggbeater hairs. What they discovered was air being trapped inside the hairs, making the leaves extremely buoyant and slippery. The hairs were coated with a wax covering which made them hydrophobic. The frequency of the hairs creates an air bubble layer on the surface of the leaf, preventing water from ever reaching the surface.
However, the tips of the leaves were slightly sticky, causing them to adhere to the water which provided stability of the plant in the water. These tips are hydrophilic, (water loving), which causes them to ever so lightly adhere to the water.
It was the combination of slippery and sticky working together that help lead the engineers to develop a plastic coating in the lab. The coating feels like a soft and plush micro-carpet complete with eggbeater shaped fibers.
The coating developed by the engineers, perfectly mimicked the leaves of the Brazilian fern. Their tiny eggbeater fibers trapped the air bubbles and prevented any water drops from reach the surface. This made the coating very slippery.
And like the fern leaves, the tips of the fibers were just sticky enough to adhere to the water, giving it great stability in the water.
They are already talking about the potential commercial value of such a coating in the marine industry. Once perfected, the coating could be placed on the hulls of any watercraft, increasing their buoyancy, reducing their drag and increasing their stability. The coating could be used on ships of all sizes with those having the largest surface area in the water, such as submarines and aircraft carriers gaining the greatest benefit.
The Brazilian fern is a marvel of design. Tiny hairs having a truly unique shape, perfectly placed across the surface of the leaf and tipped with the opposite effect of the rest of the hair are a testimony of the infinite brilliance of our Creator God. He designed them perfectly from the very beginning.
Plant With ‘Eggbeater’ Texture Inspires Waterproof Coating, Science Daily, Nov. 10, 2011.
At last, a definitive work on design by a leading biblical creationist…
Today, the ID (intelligent design) movement is capturing headlines (and igniting controversy) around the world. But in the process, many are coming to think that a credible challenge to the dominant Darwinian naturalism of our time means backing away from a clear stand for the truth of the Bible.
Now creationist heavyweight Jonathan Sarfati, whose Refuting Evolution has the most copies in print of any creation book ever, challenges this mindset head on. In the process, By Design is set to become a classic of the creation movementin the same vein as Dr Sarfatis comprehensive Refuting Compromise, which is arguably the most powerful biblical and scientific defense of straightforward Genesis in existence.
Paperback, 150 pages