Archive for the ‘biomimicry’ Category

Science says your cat’s tongue is ideally suited for grooming fur

December 28th, 2018

That sandpaper-like texture of your cat's tiny pink tongue is what makes it ideal for grooming fur. The secret: hundreds of hollow, rigid spines lining the surface of the tongue, according to a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This is just the latest bit of colorful research from David Hu, who runs a biolocomotion laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology studying how various creatures move. He is perhaps best known for his work with fire ants, but his lab also studies water striders, snakes, various climbing insects, mosquitos, and, um, animal bodily functions like urine. (One of his students, Patricia Yang, recently made headlines with her insights into why wombats produce cubed poo.)

It was another of Hu's graduate students, Alexis Noel, who came up with the idea for the cat tongue experiments. She was watching her cat try to "groom" a fluffy microfiber blanket one night and noticed its tongue kept getting snagged in the fibers. She found very little prior research on the biomechanics of cat grooming, and concluded the topic was ripe for experimentation.

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Posted in biolocomotion, biomimicry, biophysics, cat science, Physics, science | Comments (0)

New software will let artists control how light interacts with objects

November 30th, 2018
Clouds contain billions of individual water droplets that are difficult to plot in computer graphics for movie scenes.

Enlarge / Clouds contain billions of individual water droplets that are difficult to plot in computer graphics for movie scenes. (credit: Dartmouth Visual Computing Lab)

Animators will now be able to precisely control how microscopic particles interact with light in their renderings of objects, thanks to a research collaboration between computer scientists at Dartmouth University and staff scientists at Pixar and Disney. The team will describe this new work next week at the SIGGRAPH Asia event in Tokyo, Japan; a paper is also forthcoming in the journal Transactions on Graphics.

The breakthrough will allow animation artists more creative leeway when designing the look of various objects by giving them the ability to customize the way light travels through them. It should have the biggest impact on renderings of so-called "volumetric materials"—clouds, fog, mist, skin, or marble statues, for instance. (Marble is a material that reflects some light off the surface but allows some to pass through, giving it a translucent appearance.)

"There is a whole range of dramatically different appearances that artists just couldn't explore until now," said Dartmouth co-author Wojciech Jarosz. "Previously, artists basically had one control that could affect the appearance of a cloud. Now it's possible to explore a vastly richer palette of possibilities, a change that is as dynamic as the transition from black-and-white images to color."

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Posted in biomimicry, Computer science, Gaming & Culture, mathematical modeling, moviemaking, Physics, science, siggraph | Comments (0)