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Fueling all of the world’s machines takes a lot of energy. You need fuel for your car, factories need fuel for their machines, and it seems like everybody on earth needs fuel for something important. Fuel is what makes the world go around. But fuel is finite, and damaging to the environment, and that is why we have biofuels. Biofuels use organic matter, like plant matter, to generate energy. Imagine using the grass in your yard to fuel your car. One example of a type of biofuel that people use everyday is ethanol. Ethanol breaks down corn to create fuel to power people’s automobiles. However, biofuel is not the perfect answer as there are a few problems concerning the breakdown of plant matter. However, researchers have found that termites could be the solution.
In order to create biofuel out of plant matter, plant material must be broken down. One problem with this process is a material that is known as lignin. Lignin is a tough and fibrous material that is found inside of plants. Basically, lignin is a plant’s internal structure. Lignin also forms the structure that carries water throughout the plant. Lignin poses a problem for the biofuel industry because lignin cannot be broken down easily on account of its toughness. After a plant dies, the lignin inside slowly breaks down over time, releasing the nutrients into the soil progressively.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison have discovered powerful enzymes within the digestive tract of termites. These enzymes are extremely corrosive, and they could work to successfully break down lignin so that it becomes useful for creating an alternate source of fuel. Obviously, the reason why termites have such strong stomach enzymes is because they have to break down wood. Therefore, termites have experience breaking down lignin first hand. That is pretty logical I guess. I wonder how nobody thought of that before?
Do you believe that termites are more useful than most people make them out to be? What do you think makes termites useful to people?
Who does not own a smartphone these days? The future seems like it has finally arrived as modern engineering has revolutionized the way humans live. In order to create devices like smartphone cameras, you certainly must possess the proper amount of education. If you are an engineering major, you may want to add entomology related classes to your schedule as modern engineers are seemingly always referring to insects in order to revolutionize technological designs. The most recent example shows us how engineers were inspired by insects when building the latest iPhone camera.
Believe it or not there is such a thing as insects that parasitize other insects. One such insect is known as Xenos peckii. The females of this species are blind. Since all the females activity is limited to waiting for mates, the females do not need to have acute eyesight, so nature went ahead and made the females blind. The males, on the other hand, require tremendously acute eyesight in order to locate and reach the females for mating purposes. For a short time, the males of this species release themselves from their hosts in order to reproduce. Unfortunately, this insect has only a few hours to locate a mate that will bear baby insects. If this insect fails to locate a mate within that short time span, it will die, and consequently lose its chance to reproduce. Imagine knowing someone for only three hours before choosing them as a suitable mate for reproduction.
In order to make this happen in time, the males are endowed with super-eyesight (for insects), which allows them to complete the task of reproduction with greater efficiency. Researches figured that the eyes of the peckii ought to be the eyes of our iPhones since they are so sharp and focused. Their cameras were built after the insect’s eyes with success, and the engineers are already considering this insect to be the definitive model for robot eyes.
What other technological marvels have been inspired by arthropods?
The brown recluse has long been known for its venomous bite, but scientists are now looking at it’s incredible silk for inspiration for the future. Using a novel micro looping technique, brown recluse spiders are able to make their silk stronger than any other spiders’. Scientists believe that can apply the same technique the brown recluse uses to make its silk to making stronger synthetic materials, particularly in the interest of space travel. One major possibility is that this new technique of weaving together strands could inspire scientific developments such as help to improve impact-absorbing structures used in space travel in particular, as well as in our everyday lives.
The research team studying the technique of the brown recluse have noticed that instead of producing round ribbons of thread like most spiders, the brown recluse produces silk that is thin and flat. It is this key structural difference that adds greatly to the silk’s strength. The thin, flat structure is flexible enough to withstand knots created during spinning that add strength to the structure of their webs. The thin structure instead of round allows the spider to create many micro-loops along the structure, adding strength to the individual strand without taking up more space like a knot on a round thread would do. Needless to say, this could lead to much stronger fabrics begin created. Say goodbye to clothes ever being destroyed by tears or frays again!
What other kinds of possible benefits could using this new spider spinning technique bring to the world? What kinds of inventions, new kinds of clothes, etc.?
For some reason there are many scientists and engineers that are obsessed with the quest to turn insects into robots, and during the past decade or so, science has been moving towards realizing this strange dream at a startlingly rapid rate.
One thing that researchers have been able to accomplish involves steering a bug in particular directions by remote control. However, many experts and scientists have questioned the real-world usefulness of insect cyborgs. Due to the lack of government interest in cyborg insects, many cyborg-insect developments are being accomplished in the private sector. One such business that deals in insect cyborgs has recently made a technological breakthrough.
A Massachusetts based company believes that its researchers can manipulate the neural systems of dragonflies by means of light flashes. Once this technology is perfected, the researchers at this private company hope to use these robotically modified dragonflies to make bees into more efficient pollinators.
Do you believe that insect cyborgs can solve real world problems? If so, which issues could robotic insects help resolve?
To help homeowners protect against a winter pest invasion Certified Termite & Pest Control recommends the following prevention tips:
Halloween is a time of tricks and treats, and what better way to add a little Halloween spirit to your party this year than to serve your guests insect-infused cocktails. Think about it; you could name one Beetle Juice. And what could possibly express the spirit of Halloween better than a cocktail featuring creepy crawlies? Here are some cocktail ideas that are sure to be a hit at your party!
So, I couldn’t find any recipes with spiders, but I thought the next best thing would be beetles…you know…because you could call it Beetlejuice. The cocktail “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice” was created by bartender Bryan Galligos from Bacchus Bar in Portland, OR. The ingredients include: 1 rosemary sprig, 1 ½ ounces of apple brandy, 1 ounce of apple cider, ½ ounce of simple syrup, ½ ounce of lemon juice, 5-7 basil leaves, and a beetle from the Newport Jerky Company for garnish. First you want to char the rosemary and place a martini glass over it as it smokes. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, the apple brandy, apple cider, simple syrup, lemon juice, and the basil leaves. Shake them well and pour the mixture into a martini glass. Finally, garnish the glass with a beetle.
Another great insect infused Halloween drink is called The Dromedary, and it is the brainchild of the proprietor of Dromedary Bar in Brooklyn, NY, Michael Lombardozzi. This cocktail utilized cricket bitters, a product made with toasted crickets that came out earlier this year. The ingredients include: 2 ounces of Myers Original Dark Rum, a ½ ounce Barbadillo Pedro Ximenez Sherry, a ½ ounce lime juice, 1 ounce almond syrup, 2 dashes of Critter Bitters, and 3 pineapple leaves to use as garnish. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, the rum, the sherry, lime juice, and almond syrup. Make sure you shake it well and then strain the mixture into a hurricane glass over crushed ice. Then just add two dashes of the Critter Bitters and garnish with the pineapple leaves.
Would you have the guts serve your party guests insect infused cocktails this Halloween?