From “Materials Inspired by Mother Nature: One-Pound Boat That Could Float 1,000 Pounds” (ScienceDaily, Mar. 25, 2012), we learn
Combining the secrets that enable water striders to walk on water and give wood its lightness and great strength has yielded an amazing new material so buoyant that, in everyday terms, a boat made from 1 pound of the substance could carry five kitchen refrigerators, about 1,000 pounds.
Olli Ikkala, Ph.D., described the new buoyant material, engineered to mimic the water strider’s long, thin feet and made from an “aerogel” composed of the tiny nano-fibrils from the cellulose in plants. Aerogels are so light that some of them are denoted as “solid smoke.” The nanocellulose aerogels also have remarkable mechanical properties and are flexible.
“We are in the middle of a Golden Age, in which a clearer understanding of the forms and functions of cellulose architectures in biological systems is promoting the evolution of advanced materials,” said Harry Brumer, Ph.D., of Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
Another major achievement is that the media release writer managed to get through the whole assignment by just presenting the facts and not mentioning either Darwin or how the strider allegedly evolved these capabilities. No one knows, but that won’t stop us benefitting.