EAP 1586 FINAL EXAM 50% NAME:
Reading Explorer 4: Unit 4 Lesson A
DIRECTIONS: Choose the best answer for each question. Highlight your answers!
(50 questions 1 pt. each)
Design by Nature: Biomimetics
[A] One cloudless midsummer day, biologist Andrew Parker knelt in the baking red sand of an Australian desert and gently placed the right back leg of a thorny devil into a dish of water. The thorny devil – a small lizard that has learned to survive in the extreme heat of the Australian desert – has a secret that fascinated Parker. “Look, look!” he exclaimed. “Its back is completely drenched!”1 Sure enough, in less than a minute, water from the dish had traveled up the lizard’s leg, across its skin, and into its mouth. It was, in essence, drinking through its foot. The thorny devil can also do this when standing on wet sand – a vital competitive advantage in the desert. Parker had come here to solve the riddle of how it does this, not from purely biological interest, but with a specific purpose in mind: to make a device to help people collect water in the desert.
From Natural Wonder to Useful Tool
[B] Parker is a leading scientist in the field of biomimetics – applying designs from nature to solve problems in engineering, materials science, medicine, and other fields. His studies of the body coverings of butterflies and beetles have led to brighter screens for cell phones. He has even drawn inspiration from nature’s past: While visiting a museum in Poland, he noticed a 45-million-year-old fly trapped in amber2 and observed how the shape of its eye’s surface reduced light reflection. This shape is now being used in solar panels to make them more efficient.
[C] As part of the next phase in his plan to create a water-collection device inspired by the lizard, Parker sent his observations to Michael Rubner and Robert Cohen, two colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Parker is full of enthusiasm about the many possibilities of biomimetics. Rubner and Cohen, on the other hand, are much more practical; they focus on the ideas that have a chance of being applied successfully. This combination of biological insight and engineering pragmatism3 is vital to success in biomimetics. And it has led to several promising technologies.
[D] Though Rubner and Cohen are certainly impressed by biological structures, they consider nature just a starting point for innovation. Cohen says, “The natural structure provides a clue to what is useful … But maybe you can do it better.” They consider a biomimetics project a success only if it has the potential to make a useful tool for people. “Looking at pretty structures in nature is not sufficient,” says Cohen. “What I want to know is can we actually transform these structures into [something] with true utility4 in the real world?”
Unlocking Nature’s Secrets
[E] The work of Parker, Rubner, and Cohen is only one part of a growing global biomimetics movement. Scientists around the world are studying and trying to copy a wide variety of nature’s design secrets. In the United States, researchers are looking at the shape of humpback whale fins in order to help wind turbines generate more electric energy. The shape of the body of a certain fish has inspired designers at Mercedes-Benz to develop a more efficient car design. By analyzing how termites5 keep their large mounds at the right temperature and humidity, architects in Zimbabwe have built more comfortable buildings. And in Japan, medical researchers have developed a painless needle that is similar in shape to the proboscis6 of a mosquito.
The Bio-Inspired Robot
[F] Potentially, one of the most useful applications of biomimetics is the robot. Robots can perform tasks that might be too boring or dangerous for humans, but they can be extremely difficult to build. Professor Ronald Fearing of the University of California is creating a tiny robot fly that can be used in surveillance7 or rescue operations. Fearing’s fly is a simplified copy of the real thing. “Some things are just too mysterious and complicated to be able to replicate,”8 he says. It will still be years before his robot fly can perform anything like an actual fly, but Fearing is confident that over time he will close the gap between nature and human engineering.
[G] At Stanford University in California, Mark Cutkosky is working on a robot gecko. Cutkosky studied the extremely small structures on the tiny lizard’s feet that allow it to run up and down vertical walls. He applied what he learned to create Stickybot, a robot that can walk up and down smooth vertical surfaces. The U.S. military, which funds the project, hopes that one day Stickybot will be able to climb up a building and stay there for days, monitoring the area below. Cutkosky believes there will be a range of nonmilitary uses as well. “I’m trying to get robots to go places where they’ve never gone before,” he says. For now, Stickybot can only climb extremely smooth surfaces – unlike a real gecko, which can run up just about any surface very quickly.
[H] Despite the promise of the field and the brilliant people who work in it, biomimetics has led to surprisingly few business successes. Perhaps only one product has become truly famous – Velcro. The material was invented in 1948 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral, who copied the way seeds called cockleburs stuck to his dog’s fur. Some blame industry, whose short-term expectations about how soon a project should be completed and become profitable conflict with the time-consuming nature of biomimetics research. But the main reason biomimetics hasn’t yet been a business success is that nature is incredibly complex.
[I] Nonetheless, the gap with nature is gradually closing. Researchers are using more powerful microscopes, high-speed computers, and other new technologies to learn more from nature. A growing number of biomimetic materials are being produced. And although the field of biomimetics has yet to become a very successful commercial industry, it has already developed into a powerful tool for understanding nature’s secrets.
1 If something is drenched, it is completely wet.
2 Amber is a hard yellowish-brown substance used for making jewelry.
3 Pragmatism means dealing with problems in a practical way.
4 The utility of something is its usefulness.
5 Termites are small insects that eat wood.
6 A proboscis is a long mouth part, usually of an insect.
7 Surveillance is the close observation of a person or place, especially by the police or army.
8 If you replicate something, you make a copy of it.
____ 1. In paragraph A, why is Parker in the Australian desert?
He is visiting a museum as a guest lecturer.
He is there on summer vacation.
He is there to study the thorny devil and how it collects water.
He is returning the thorny devil to its natural habitat.
____ 2. What is the purpose of paragraph E ?
to give examples of designs inspired by different species of fish
to show that there are different biomimetics projects around the world
to explain how researchers in Japan have developed a painless needle
to highlight the biomimetics work of Parker, Rubner, and Cohen
____ 3. Which animal is NOT mentioned in the passage?
____ 4. What can we infer from this passage?
that people around the world buy a lot of biomimetics products
that it is impossible to have another product as successful as Velcro
that successful biomimetics projects take a lot of time to create
that robot flies will soon look and act exactly like flies in nature
____ 5. In the second sentence of paragraph G, what does it refer to?
the gecko’s foot
the robot gecko
____ 6. Which biomimetic invention mentioned in the passage has had the most commercial success?
a water collection device
____ 7. Which paragraph describes what Stickybot can do?
____ 8. Which paragraph gives examples of Parker’s work in biomimetics?
____ 9. Which paragraph contrasts Parker’s views with Rubner and Cohen’s?
____ 10. Which paragraph explains why there are not more well-known biomimetic products?
DIRECTIONS: Chose T or F for the following statements
____11. A thorny devil is a small lizard that drinks water with its foot.
____12. Parker is using the idea of the thorny devil to make a movie.
____13. They consider a biomimetic project a bad idea.
____14. In the United States researchers are looking at the shape of a lizard in order to help wind turbines.
____15. Potentially, one of the most useful applications of biomimetics is the robot.
DIRECTIONS: Complete the sentences using the words in the box.
16. The cell phone is an electronic ____________________ that many people say they could not live without.
17. The university agreed to ____________________ his research for the next two years.
18. He hasn’t managed to design a life-like robotic cat. ____________________, he keeps trying.
19. Reading novels gives us a(n) ____________________ into the lives of other people.
20. She had always been interested in ____________________ studies, so she decided to become a doctor.
DIRECTIONS: Match the sentences that go together.
There is a gap.
It is vital.
It is a gradual process.
It is vertical.
It is a phase.
____ 21. Clean drinking water is extremely important for a community.
____ 22. The letter I is made with one long line.
____ 23. He has a space between his two front teeth.
____ 24. Learning a new language takes time.
____ 25. The baby is going through a period where he puts everything in his mouth
Reading 4A: Design by Nature: Biomimetics
DIRECTIONS: Choose the best answer for each question.
What could be another title for the passage?
What Can Be Learned from the Thorny Devil
Borrowing Clues from Nature
A New Form of Engineering
Robots Imitating Animals
As Parker finished the experiment in the Australian desert, he was ______.
Insects were NOT studied in the development of ______.
efficient car design
One of the few bio-inspired products that has been profitable was developed by ______.
George de Mestral
According to the author, the main reason that there are not more successful bio-inspired products is because ______.
the study of nature is very complicated
biomimetic research takes a long time
bio-inspired products are not very popular
biomimetic research is very expensive
DIRECTIONS: Match the vocabulary word with the correct definition.
_____ 31. countless a. change
_____32. Descend b. to go down
_____33. disturbed c. unable to count
_____34. Evolution d. components, elements
_____35. Factors e. bothered, shaken
_____36. Flashing a. more difficult
_____37. Harsher b. aristocratic
_____38. Invisible c. turning on and off
_____39. Layers d. not visible, hidden
_____40. Noble e. coating
_____41. Biological a. Pay for something
_____42. Device b. Little by little, slowly
_____ 43. Funds c. organic, living, genetic
_____44. Gap d. gadget, machine
_____ 45. Gradually e. space between 2 things
_____46. Insight a. fundamental, necessary
_____ 47. Nonetheless b. upright
_____48. Phase c. but
_____ 49. Vertical d. stage, level, episode
_____50. Vital e. knowledge
EAP 1586 FINAL EXAM 50% NAME: