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The surprising (and invisible) signatures of sea creatures - Kakani Katija

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On land, animals leave footprints that tell us a lot about their size, form and capabilities. Marine organisms do this too, but these footprints are harder to see since water is translucent. Bioengineer Kakani Katija explains how she uses dyes, lasers and more to make them visible, so that she and her intrepid collaborators can understand more about how sea organisms move.

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TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

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  • Speaker Kakani Katija
  • Director Biljana Labovic
  • Animator Lisa LaBracio

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
Bio-inspired design in a powerful process that can allow us to learn how organisms and the natural world have overcome challenges in their environment and ultimately apply these lessons to challenges we face in our society today. Common engineering challenges that are constantly being addressed are related to energy, transportation, food, and health. To learn more about bio-mimicry and the real-world challenges these ideas are being applied directly towards, the Biomimicry Institute is a great resource.

The first step to bio-inspired design is to understand the mechanisms and methods organisms and the natural world use to solve challenging problems. For organisms living in fluid environments (in other words, living in air or water, both freshwater and seawater), these solutions are constrained by how fluid moves.

Fluid (or flow) visualization involves creative ways to reveal how a transparent fluid moves, and these tools have been around for eons. Leonardo DaVinci was the first to use flow visualization nearly 500 years ago. See this Ted-Ed lesson that shows an early sketch by DaVinci, this website describes how researchers recreated DaVinci’s visualizations through the human heart, and a book called “Learning From Leonardo” describes DaVinci’s drawings and his notebooks in more detail.

More than 500 years later, the methods we use to visualize fluid motion have become more complex and data-rich thanks to the development of computers and digital imagery. Instructional videos from the National Committee for Fluid Mechanics Films reveal the state-of-the-art visualization methods in the 1960s.  Read the notes here!  Examples of how these early techniques have been used at NASA to study aircraft and space systems at Glenn Research Center and Armstrong Flight Research Center.   Take a look and see what these techniques included.  Finally, current state-of-the-art flow visualization techniques are described here.  To learn more about how these flow visualizations are conducted in the field, this Journal of Visualized Experiments video provides excruciating detail.

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Speaker Kakani Katija
  • Director Biljana Labovic
  • Animator Lisa LaBracio

Share

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