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Artificial Jellyfish Swims On Its Own

Researchers at Caltech and Harvard have succeeded in creating an artificial jellyfish that swims with synchronized contractions like that of real jellyfish.


(Artificial Jellyfish video)

The finding serves as a proof of concept for reverse engineering a variety of muscular organs and simple life forms.

Because jellyfish use a muscle to pump their way through the water, the way they function - on a very basic level - is similar to that of a human heart.

"I started looking at marine organisms that pump to survive," said Kevin Kit Parker, a professor of bioengineering and applied physics at Harvard.

"Then I saw a jellyfish at the New England Aquarium, and I immediately noted both similarities and differences between how the jellyfish pumps and the human heart.

Fans of sf writers Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling may recall the chemotactic artificial jellyfish from their 1994 story Big Jelly:

"...about the size of a deflated football. I dropped it in my swimmin' pool. It was floatin' there, kinda rippling and pulsing, for about two days. Didn't you say that sucker would run for weeks? Forty-eight hours and it was gone!..."

"No way," protested Tug, intensely. "It must have slipped out a crack in the side of your pool. I built that model to last three weeks for sure! It was my best prototype. It was a chemotactic artificial jellyfish designed to slither into undersea vents and find its way to underground oil beds..."

Update 05-Jun-2020: Read this very early mention of the idea of biomimicry (also called biomimetics) in the works of HG Wells; see robot biomimicry from The War of the Worlds (1898). End update.

Via BBC.

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