Friday, June 3, 2011

Being creative

There have been creative thoughts brewing in my noggin for a couple of days now, and today, I think I figured out how I can best be creative. 

I am not a crafty sort of person, I don't paint, or draw, or sculpt, or knit or crochet, or make things from wood,  or any other of the traditional "crafts" a person can think of. I write stories on occasion, short snippets usually, not novels or poems or anything. If and when I DO write, I write in spurts, often going for months without getting any inspiration for new material. 

What I AM good at however, and I often take time to investigate, is mechanical stuff, science and technology stuff in particular. I love a good gadget, especially if it has moving parts. And it doesn't have to be designed by humans to catch my eye either. This particular "gadget" I discovered today is made up of nothing BUT moving parts. LIVE ones. Check this video out to see what I mean.

What you're seeing there is a colony of fire ants that has created a "raft" from their own bodies, a mechanism they employ when their nest is flooded, so they can escape and move along to colonize somewhere else. As you can see, because they are utilizing the surface tension of the water to keep themselves afloat, the "raft" is virtually unsinkable, even when physically forced down into the water. 

Seeing this has helped inspire me to do what has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, and that is to invent something. Do something, or rather, make something useful for humanity that has never been thought of, let alone done before. I was having a hard time thinking of ideas, after all, it IS the 21st century, right? There aren't many areas of our lives that have NOT been invented for and reinvented again and again. We have "convenienced" ourselves to death with all the gagdets and gizmos we use every day to make our stay here in the physical world all that much easier. So what could there possibly be left to invent?

These ants have shown me that I need look no further than to our natural world, to the other creatures that inhabit it with us, to find inspiration for things to invent. An invention to help us live fuller and more productive lives, and is this particular case, LONGER lives. How often do we find ourselves faced with the problem of how to stay on TOP of a body of water? We don't have the ability to walk on water like an ant, so we use devices to keep ourselves afloat, such as boats and ships, and, when things go awry, inflatable rafts. These rafts can be rather big and bulky, even when deflated.  They have to be, using inflation technology, so they are large enough to carry a specific amount of weight when inflated. 

Scientists are studying these fire ants to apply their "technology" to advance our understanding of waterproofing. For details, read this. However, I see no reason we cannot adapt their method of flotation to our own use, in making our own rafts. They would be very thin and lightweight, but be able to carry heavy loads and not sink, even when protruding beneath the surface. 

Think of the possibilities of such an invention. Lifeboats on ships could be so small you could carry one in your pocket like a handkerchief, or perhaps they'd be a little larger, the size of a standard notebook. Fold it out and throw it on the water, and then jump aboard, and you could stay afloat indefinitely till help arrived. 

I have to say, I truly believe that nature has all the best ideas right under our noses, if we only stop to look. Modern conveniences, all invented and improved upon by man? I say NO, most of the things we take for granted were first "invented" by our friends outdoors, we've only "borrowed" their clever solutions to everyday problems.

I want to invent, to create, and to do that, I'm going to study nature. I'm going to find out what animals do to survive, and maybe I'll find a few more inspirations along the way. 

No comments:

Post a Comment