The Beauty of Ladybugs' Origami-Like Mechanism

Khryss | Published 2017-05-21 03:14
If you were one of those curious kids who just kept on exploring, you might've met a ladybug and observe it (like, really). Well, either these researchers were one of those type of kids or they're just really into "natural" origami. Okay, hear me out. A recent study from the University of Tokyo explored the mechanisms of ladybugs' strong and collapsible wings. First fact: its wings are way larger than its black-spotted wing cases. So, with the help of high-speed cameras, they were able to record a video that we can view here. But these Japanese scientists wanted to know more- they wanted to know the specific details of how ladybugs tuck their wings. To do this, they've replaced its red and black colored cases with transparent ones called elytron. The artificial wing cases (a UV-cured resin often used in nail art) and the other materials (i.e. CT scanners) enable researchers to see how the wing folds and help figure out such precise pattern of folds. The process is even incredibly similar to origami! And scientists have actually used origami paper to redo the steps on how the wing folds. "I wasn't sure if the ladybug could fold its wings with an artificial elytron made of nail-art resin," says Kazuya Saito, a professor at the University of Tokyo and the lead author on the study. "So I was surprised when I found out it could." They also found that certain veins that use "tape springs" stabilize the wings as they expand. "The ladybugs' technique for achieving complex folding is quite fascinating and novel, particularly for researchers in the fields of robotics, mechanics, aerospace and mechanical engineering," Saito said, according to the university's press release. The study could have implications for everything from our daily items like fans and umbrellas to the more complex ones like wings and space technology (i.e. folding antennas and solar arrays)!
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