We're Only Just Starting To Understand The Miracle Of Hagfish Slime

The incredible properties of hagfish slime have fascinated scientists for decades, but researchers are only just beginning to make sense of this mucilaginous secretion. In doing so, they hope to create superfibers that could one day be used in everything from bullet-proof vests to artificial tendons. » 4/10/14 1:22pm 4/10/14 1:22pm

Tomorrow's wind turbines could look like enormous owl wings

Engineers often take inspiration from animal designs because they're more efficient than machines are. In the case of owl wings, nature has a major advantage over human engineering: owl wings are uncannily quiet. Now, researchers are considering outfitting wind turbines with an upscaled equivalent – if they can figure… » 11/25/13 12:05pm 11/25/13 12:05pm

Doctors keep skin grafts in place using parasitic worms

Spiny headed worms are a clingy lot. They're intestinal parasites with long, cactus-like heads that are perfect for penetrating, and then grabbing hold of, the insides of their host's digestive organs. Now, bioengineers have co-opted these hanger-ons' latching mechanisms for something therapeutic: skin grafts. » 4/16/13 9:30am 4/16/13 9:30am

What's creepier than swimming alongside an aquatic snake? A mechanical

When the pending robopocalypse strikes, you may be tempted to seek refuge in the water. Don't do it — and watch this video to see why. It's the HiBot ACM-R5 robotic snake, a twirling and swirling amphibious machine developed by Japanese researchers. And what's just as remarkable (or is that horrifying?) is that it… » 11/27/12 7:40am 11/27/12 7:40am

How Studying Ant Behavior Can Make Social Networks Better

People who go on social networking sites are often compared to ant colonies — but it may be truer than anyone realizes. A new study from the University of Madrid suggests that the behavior of real-life ants could inspire developers to improve the way these sites function. By constructing an algorithm modeled off the… » 6/05/12 10:39am 6/05/12 10:39am

The Pentagon's robotic cheetah is the fastest mechanical mammal ever…

18 miles an hour may not seem terribly fast, but that's the new land record for legged machines. This speed was clocked by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) robo-cheetah project, which is investigating technologies that allow machines to traverse terrain in new unique ways. Explains DARPA of… » 3/05/12 10:50am 3/05/12 10:50am

This butterfly could hold the secret to letting you see in the dark

The opalescent wings of the Morpho butterfly embody a perfect marriage of aesthetic beauty and biological functionality. Scientists believe that a better understanding of this creature's wings and their chemical makeup could have big implications for imaging technologies like night vision goggles that rely on sensing… » 2/15/12 12:00pm 2/15/12 12:00pm

Judging from this Japanese robot, the guide dogs of the future will…

You're looking at the most recent prototype of Japanese robotics manufacturer NSK's mechanical seeing-eye dog. This model uses Microsoft Kinect to navigate obstacles, and its creators are adding such features as voice recognition to prevent the robot from leading its master astray. Will future generations be dealing… » 11/05/11 1:05pm 11/05/11 1:05pm

Robotic Venus flytraps will trap bugs and eat them for fuel

It's alarming enough when robots ingest plant detritus like twigs and grass clippings. It's another thing entirely when they can start chowing down on members of the animal kingdom. A pair of prototype robots are designed to catch bugs, a major step on the path toward robots that can hunt, catch and digest their own… » 10/29/11 8:30am 10/29/11 8:30am