Don’t Mess with a Porcupine — Unless You Want to Create Better Needles and VelcroBy Michael Frank on December 11th, 2012
The porcupine is an awkward, ungainly, silly little creature that just so happens to be armed with 30,000 weapons on its back, any one of which will hurt like hell if it penetrates your skin. But why? Scientists at Harvard have just published a study that explains that the quills more easily penetrate flesh thanks to nearly microscopic backward-facing barbs that smooth their entry, requiring only half the force that an equal-sized needle would need. Scientists think they could imitate the quills’ shape to create better hypodermic needles…the trick will be undoing what the porcupine’s quills do naturally, which is to stay stuck. What would require less re-engineering might be adhesives made the same way, with a “skinlike” surface faced against a field of very small quill-like needles. Via Scientific American.
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