Embracing the Superpowers of Nature

Human “superheroes”, like Superman that saw the light of day in 1938, are still fairly young, as opposed to animals that have come a long way and developed superpowers that even modern science cannot fully comprehend, let alone live up to.

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The lecture by Ilya Gomyranov of the Skoltech Center for Open Education featured a whole collection of animal superheroes, such as incredibly strong cockroaches that can withstand loads hundreds of times their own body weight, and pigeons with their excellent geographic memory, good nose and extraordinary navigational ability, making them world champions in orienteering. Other stars are the non-aging naked mole rat and rodents ‒ ubiquitous models for aging and cancer research ‒ whose mystery, if puzzled out, will help beat cancer and increase life expectancy to nearly three hundred years.

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An animal that the evolution has propelled virtually to the level of nanotechnology, the gecko has a complex multi-level skin microstructure on its paws that helps it cling firmly to any surface. A tiny piece of adhesive tape imitating the gecko’s skin is strong enough to bear the weight of a human body!

Ilya Gomyranov argues that every animal has superpowers of its own. So do humans, with our abstract thinking and high intelligence that we use to invent new technologies inspired by the wild world.

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