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Nanotech Roundup

February 24, 2012

The flight of butterflies could inspire miniature flying robots.



How butterflies fly. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Butterflies flap their wings more than 25 times per second and navigate their way through dense masses of flowers without ever crashing. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University are studying their flight patterns with a video system that captures 3000 images per second. The team wants to understand not only the position and dynamics of each wing flap, but also how the butterfly orients its body to control its flight. The team plans to use the results of the studies to help design tiny highly maneuverable flying robots.

In other news, researchers report in the Journal of the American Chemical Society that they’ve developed micro-rockets that could power microscopic medical devices inside the human body. The length of the rockets is much less than the width of a human hair. In an acidic environment, the microrockets produce a stream of bubbles that propel them forward. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.