Google Science Fair finalist explains squid-inspired underwater propulsion

google-sciencefair-finalist-squid-propulsion

Meet [Alex Spiride]. He’s one of the fifteen finalists of the 2013 Google Science Fair. A native of Plano, Texas, [Alex] entered his squid-inspired underwater propulsion system in the 13-14 year old category.

The red cylinder shown in the image inlay is his test rig. It is covered well on his project site linked above. You just need to click around the different pages using the navigation tiles in the upper right to get the whole picture. The propulsion module uses water sprayed out the nozzle to push the enclosure forward. The hull is made of PVC, with a bladder inside which is connected to the nozzle. The bladder is full of water, but the cavity between it and the hull is full of air. Notice the plastic hose which is used to inject pressurized air, squeezing the bladder to propel the water out the nozzle. Pretty neat huh?

We think [Alex’s] work stands on its own. But we can’t help thinking what the next iteration could look like. We wonder what would happen if you wrapped that bladder in muscle wire? Would it be strong enough to squeeze the bladder?

You can see all fifteen finalists at the GSF announcement page. Just don’t be surprised if you see some of those other projects on our front page in the coming days.

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Modeling squid cells in code foregoes connecting voltage to animals

squid-cells-processing

[Kemper Smith] built a little piece of nature in Processing. He was inspired by a biology experiment that excited squid cells using electricity. The result is an interactive display that mimics that biology.

Last August we saw a peculiar experiment that forced Cyprus Hill music on the color changing cells of a squid. The cells make colors by stretching sacs of pigment; the larger they get the more of that color is shown. Normally this is used for camouflage. The image on the left is the reaction from connecting headphone wires while music is being played.

But we can’t all get our hands on this type of wet-ware — especially if life far inland. So [Kemper] got to work writing some Processing code. The result is seen on the right. It does a good job of replicating the motion and color palette of the original. He’s put together a web-based demonstration which you can interact with using your mouse cursor. But we also saw him demonstrate a Kinect based version at our local hackerspace.

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How do squid react to being shocked to the beat of cypris hill?

Well, they probably get annoyed.

Cephalopods have a nifty trick where they can change color by altering the size and shape of chromataphors, or “colored cell thingy blobs”. Like most cells, these chromataphors react to electricity in different ways. Mainly, expanding and contracting.

The folks at Backyard Brains, a group that does neuroscience at home, have decided to run an experiment where they pump the signal from Cypris Hill’s song Insane in the membrane right into the nerve on a fin of a squid to see how the chromatophrs react. Not surprisingly, they pulse to the beat.

Just because it isn’t a surprise, doesn’t mean its not fun to watch.

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Hackaday links: January 14th, 2010

We saw this home made beekeepers hood posted and actually mistook it for an art piece. We thought it was a Super Mario squid. You can see an example on this image, which is located on a site dedicated to cross stitching video game characters.

In an odd coincidence, not related to the 8 bit textiles above, we also found this Mario themed sweater. We wouldn’t wear it, but we’d love to see Wil Wheaton in it.

No. No no no. Bad Scientists. No treat for you.

There are 4 more links after the break, you’ll want to see them to get that baby out of your head.

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