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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The leaf beetle inspires a human invention

Leaf beetles use surface tension to get hold of the leaves they are navigating on
Image credits: Flickr / Gilles Gonthier

Written by  Daniel Cressy at

"A sticky species of beetle has inspired researchers to develop a device that uses switchable 'liquid bridges' to attach to a variety of surfaces.
Bioengineers Michael Vogel and Paul Steen, of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, based their device on a technique used by the leaf beetle, which sticks to leaves using the combined surface tension of many drops working in concert to generate an adhesion force of more than 100 times its own body weight.
The device consists of a plate punctured with hundreds of tiny holes, through which liquid is pumped. Pushing droplets through these holes creates 'liquid bridges' when the plate comes close enough to another surface, generating an adhesive force through surface tension, they report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA1."


Here is an image of the device created by Vogel and Steen:


Here are some facts concerning the "leaf beetle:

Beetles in the family Chrysomelidae are commonly known as leaf beetles. This is a family of over 35,000 species in more than 2,500 genera, one of the largest and most commonly-encountered of all beetle families.Adult and larval leaf beetles feed on all sorts of plant tissue. Many are economically important pests of agriculture. (source:
This specific type of beetle employs a mechanism similar to the one the gecko uses to stay attached even to glass, but the difference is that the gecko resorts to dry capillary forces known as van der Waals forces for securing itself to surfaces. Thousands upon thousands of nanofibers adorn the gecko's feet, and they are able to produce sufficient force to keep the animal secured even to mirrors. In their investigation, Vogel and Steen managed to produce a device that required no moving parts, which considerably advances the array of fields it could be employed in. 

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.