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Biology and Physics? Biophysics, biomimetics ?

  1. Oct 30, 2008 #1
    I am a grade 12 physics student and I am looking into potential topics/concepts for an upcoming physics 'fair-style' project. I have a stong interest in biology, especially zoology, and would like to come up with a project that incorporates both disciplines of science. The assignment is to create a display (including informative posters, hands-on activities, demonstration, etc) and an 8-10 minute presentation, designed to entertain and educate students (from grades 9-12) from my school. Topic choice is pretty open, buy the presentation/display needs to outline one or more physics concept.

    I've come up with 2 topic ideas so far:
    1. Biomimetics - velcro, adhesives based on gecko setae/'toe pads', synthetic 'shark skin' materials, etc.
    2. Animal locomotion - how animals move, examining the mechanics of their motion, etc.

    Both topics seem interesting to me, especially biomimetics, but I'm finding it hard to come up with demos/activities, and to link them to relatively basic physics concepts.

    Does anyone have any ideas for additional topics? Or suggestions as to how I can develop the topics listed above (i.e. linking to physics concepts, demonstration and/or activities, etc.)?

    Any imput would be greatly appreciated!

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2008 #2
    Nobody has any ideas?
  4. Nov 4, 2008 #3
    Perhaps organic solar cells could be an interesting topic. Maybe explain solar spectrum and how our eye got adapted. Describe how does measuring process of some animals look like... there are quite many topics out there, all could be interesting or very boring.
  5. Nov 4, 2008 #4
  6. Nov 4, 2008 #5
    The physics of how senses work is a good topic? How does the human eye work? What is the role of the cones, rods etcetera. How does the eye respond to different light levels and different wavelengths within the visible spectrum? What is the Purkinje Effect?

    Human hearing is also a good one - how does the human ear detect frequency? what is the role of the cochlea? Hair cells in the cochlea?

    Other animals also have interesting senses you could use: A snake's sense of smell. How an electric eel uses an electric field to sense its surroundings. Etc.
  7. Nov 5, 2008 #6


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    On the topic of biomimetics, a lot of really cool optics goes into how butterfly wings generate color. There are some examples of scientists using the same principles to create useful devices.

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