The key to stronger structures lies under the sea

Engineering SeaSince the beginning of time, humans have turned to nature in order to find inspiration for art, efficiency and feats of engineering.

Birds and bats inspired the airplane, while turtle and tortoise shells produced suggestions for better shields. Predators like lions and cheetahs gave way to military innovations both powerful and swift, but stationary underwater dwellers?? What can they bring to the table?

Surprisingly, quite a bit.

A recent article on Engineering.com cites exciting research focusing on the orange puffball sea sponge. While the creature undoubtedly sounds like a pushover, it houses some unique internal qualities that have fueled a new revolution in a variety areas, from better bicycle spokes to strengthening skyscrapers.

What makes the orange puffball sea sponge so unique? Unique “structural rods” which assist this sea creature from buckling under the pressure of the ocean.

According to Engineering.com, “The rods, called strongyloxea spicules, measure about 2 millimeters long and are thinner than a human hair. Hundreds of them are bundled together, forming stiff rib-like structures inside the orange puffball’s spongy body.

Researchers at Brown University, say there is currently nothing man made that mimics the sea sponge’s unique internal structure.

To put it simply: An entire building revolution could spring from this, helping structures resist natural disasters like earth quakes while ensuring products last longer and can withstand outside pressures. Truly fascinating!