From nature to research results – what we are losing on the way

Vera Albiez, Bachelor- Electric and Energy Engineering, University of Applied sciences Mannheim, Germany and Master - Bionik, Rhein-Waal University, Kleve Germany
Shani-Nini Walker, Bachelor- Nature Science, The Open University, Israel, and Master - Bionik, Rhein-Waal University, Kleve Germany
Prof. Neil.Shirtcliffe, one of the two the course leaders of the Biomaterials B.Sc., Rhein-Waal University, Kleve Germany

Natural organisms are complex in their way of functioning and they often possess many properties which are the response to various environmental influences. Looking on an organism as a system, their features and functions are tied to each other and don’t serve only one isolated need, but interact in many ways.

When doing a bionic research it is therefore of importance, to note the situation of the organism which is being examined. It matters, for example, if it is alive or dead. For various and sensible reasons, biological samples are mostly examined in a dead condition, if the research deals with structural features and undergo a complex sample preparation. It is easier to control them in a dead condition, however, some interactions or properties themselves change or even go missing compared to when the organism is alive. In this way, it is difficult to capture and copy the desired feature in its natural form and the results are different. This point has been demonstrated by an example of comparing living to dead butterflies and dragonflies.

The second point that will be discussed, deals with the importance of the experimental approach and the physical circumstances chosen thereby. Also, those have an influence on the results and should be carefully considered. Scientist commonly like to use mathematical formulas that describe the world in a simplified way. This, however, narrows down the use of natural features and functions when copying them to technology, because those formulas are valid under ideal conditions only. More than that, the situation of limited ways of experimenting and examining an organism is created, instead of thinking outside the box and investigating influences which are not part of the variables in the formulas. A suggestion of a different approach to bionic research will be explained through experiments which were done on dragonflies and butterflies.