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Sep 15, 2013 (Vol. 33, No. 16)

AskNature

URL:www.asknature.org
  • Provides in-depth biological information and practical applications
  • Some awkward site navigation

We can look to nature for inspiration to solve problems that we humans face. For instance, butterflies keep themselves clean without using any energy or detergents via nanoscale structures on their wings. In turn, humans have now mimicked the physical and chemical properties of those structures to create self-cleaning paints and coatings. Many more examples of this type of biomimicry in design and engineering principles can be found at the AskNature website. The purpose of the site is not only to inform people about how biomimicry has already been put to use, but also to inspire designers and engineers to envision new utilities. As such, the site may best be explored via the “How would nature…” search bar, in which users type a keyword, verb or phrase relating to a specific design concept (perhaps something they are trying to create themselves). Nature is bursting with design and engineering ingenuity—go explore for yourself!

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*The opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as reflecting the viewpoints of the publisher, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., the publishing house, or employees and affiliates thereof.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

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