Advances in the science of biomimetics increasingly are reported in major scientific journals around the world. Scientists have attempted to mimic various designs or processes in the biological world for centuries, and 21st-century scientists show no signs of slowing down. In fact, it appears that now, more than ever, scientists are looking to nature for inspirations for their inventions. In June 2007, the journal New Scientist announced a new self-healing glue inspired by human bones (see Butt, 2007). In July 2007, MIT’s Technology Review reported the flight of a robotic fly at Harvard University, and how the government hopes eventually to use such “flies” in surveillance missions (see Ross, 2007; cf. Lyons, 2007). Nature, an international, weekly science journal, recently highlighted another impressive, life-inspired product—a biomimetic adhesive called “geckel,” that can adhere to both dry and wet surfaces (Haeshin, et al., 2007, 448:338-341).
The term “geckel” is derived from the names of the two creatures that inspired the new versatile adhesive: geckos and mussels. (Gecko + mussel = geckel.) Scientists closely examined the gecko’s “foot pads composed of specialized keratinous foot-hairs,” which “allow the gecko to cling onto vertical and even inverted surfaces” (Haeshin, et al., p. 338). By developing “nanotubes” that mimic “the bundles of fibers that make up the hairs on gecko feet” (Bullis, 2007), scientists have produced small tape samples that can be reused dozens of time. One obstacle to “gecko tape,” however, is water. Re-usable tape that mimics “gecko adhesion is greatly diminished upon full immersion” (Haeshin, et al., p. 338). Thus, scientists turned to the mussel.
Mussels have the ability to adhere to wet or fully immersed surfaces. Northwestern University biomedical-engineering professor Phillip Messersmith observed: “Mussels can stick to anything.... They adhere to a piece of wood, which is organic. They also adhere to the skin of whales” (as quoted in Patel-Predd, 2007). Their astounding stick-to-itiveness comes from a secretion of “specialized adhesive proteins” (Haeshin, et al., p. 338). After years of study, scientists have been able to manufacture a polymer that imitates the adhesive proteins of mussels.
Now, by combining what they have learned from gecko and mussel adhesion, researchers have developed a new adhesive, complete with nanotubes and a sticky protein polymer. Geckel is sticky, reusable, and can attach both to dry and wet surfaces. Scientists foresee it being used in many things, including medical tape and electronic equipment.
Sadly, many of the same scientists who spent thousands of hours studying the marvelous qualities of geckos and mussels believe these animals just evolved over millions of years. They believe that a big bang, plus spontaneous generation, plus time, plus chance equals awe-inspiring animals that hold the key to the invention of many impressive products. Researchers are designing new products based on living creatures that supposedly were not designed. Does this make any sense? None at all. The fact is, design demands a designer. Geckos and mussels, which scientists still cannot fully imitate, were designed by an intelligent Being—“The everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 40:28, ASV). “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all...living things both small and great” (Psalm 104:24-25).
Bullis, Kevin (2007), “Climbing Walls with Carbon Nanotubes,” Technology Review, June 25, [On-line], URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/Nanotech/18966/.
Butt, Kyle (2007), “Nature Sticks to Design,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/3413.
Haeshin, Lee, Bruce Lee, and Phillip Messersmith (2007), “A Reversible Wet/Dry Adhesive Inspired by Mussels and Geckos,” Nature, 448:338-341, July 19.
Lyons, Eric (2007), “Who Makes the World’s Best Fliers?,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/3436.
Patel-Predd, Prachi (2007), “Nanoglue Sticks Underwater,” Technology Review, July 18, [On-line], URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/Nanotech/19061/.
Ross, Rachel (2007), “Robotic Insect Takes Off for the First Time,” Technology Review, July 19, [On-line], URL: http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/19068/.