Environmentally friendly and efficient propane heat pump

Heat pumps use environmental energy to provide us with heat. However, they generally require synthetic refrigerants, which contain environmentally harmful fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases). Fraunhofer researchers have ...

Synthetic two-sided gecko's foot could enable underwater robotics

Geckos are well known for effortlessly scrambling up walls and upside down across ceilings. Even in slippery rain forests, the lizards maintain their grip. Now scientists have created a double-sided adhesive that copies this ...

The science and fiction behind Blade Runner

Science – or strange permutations of it at least – is everywhere in the cinema. At any one time on movie screens around the world, humans are being threatened by lethal viruses, cured from terminal illness by miracle ...

Medical advances turn science fiction into science fact

Exoskeletons helping the paralysed to walk, tiny maggot-inspired devices gnawing at brain tumours, machines working tirelessly as hospital helpers: in many respects, the future of medicine is already here.

Bionic particles self-assemble to capture light

Inspired by fictional cyborgs like Terminator, a team of researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Pittsburgh has made the first bionic particles from semiconductors and proteins.

'Bionic man' walks, breathes with artificial parts

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, after all. We have the technology. The term "bionic man" was the stuff of science fiction in the 1970s, when a popular TV show called "The Six Million Dollar Man" chronicled the adventures of ...

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Bionics

Bionics (also known as biomimicry, biomimetics, bio-inspiration, biognosis, and close to bionical creativity engineering) is the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology.[citation needed]

The word bionic was coined by Jack E. Steele in 1958, possibly originating from the technical term bion (pronounced bee-on) (from Ancient Greek: βίος), meaning 'unit of life' and the suffix -ic, meaning 'like' or 'in the manner of', hence 'like life'. Some dictionaries, however, explain the word as being formed as a portmanteau from biology + electronics. It was popularized by the 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, which were influenced by Steele's work, and feature humans given superhuman powers by electromechanical implants.

The transfer of technology between lifeforms and manufactures is, according to proponents of bionic technology, desirable because evolutionary pressure typically forces living organisms, including fauna and flora, to become highly optimized and efficient. A classical example is the development of dirt- and water-repellent paint (coating) from the observation that the surface of the lotus flower plant is practically unsticky for anything (the lotus effect).[citation needed]

The term "biomimetic" is preferred when reference is made to chemical reactions.[citation needed] In that domain, biomimetic chemistry refers to reactions that, in nature, involve biological macromolecules (for example, enzymes or nucleic acids) whose chemistry can be replicated using much smaller molecules in vitro.

Examples of bionics in engineering include the hulls of boats imitating the thick skin of dolphins; sonar, radar, and medical ultrasound imaging imitating the echolocation of bats.

In the field of computer science, the study of bionics has produced artificial neurons, artificial neural networks, and swarm intelligence. Evolutionary computation was also motivated by bionics ideas but it took the idea further by simulating evolution in silico and producing well-optimized solutions that had never appeared in nature.

It is estimated by Julian Vincent, professor of biomimetics at the University of Bath's department of mechanical engineering (Biomimetics group), that "at present there is only a 12% overlap between biology and technology in terms of the mechanisms used".

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