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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Insects’ remarkable non-Newtonian properties coming to light

British physicist David Tyler writes, quoting a recent research study
Forest tent caterpillar, Agriculture Canada
Exquisite design drives biomimetic adhesion research


"Even back [in the 17th Century], scientists knew that there is more to insects than meets the eye. While the most basic system of mechanical interlocking found in arthropods is the claw, insects do not merely have a miniature version of this. Many surfaces in the natural world are simply not soft enough to allow claws to be inserted, or are too smooth to provide a safe grip. The question of how insects stick, crawl and run on vertical surfaces and even upside down remains as hotly debated between scientists now as it was in the 17th century."


[ ... ]


The authors confirmed that the adhesive secretion is a water-in-oil emulsion and that the two phases were essential to avoid sliding. They found that, on the nano-scale of operation, non-Newtonian effects were even more marked than anticipated.

Go here for more.

In the context, non-Newtonian just means that they are adherinig at the quantum level of the universe, which flips the bird at Newton’s laws of gravity.

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