Nature, the origin of inventions

Nature has it all figured out. What takes us thousands of years to invent, nature does intuitively and seemingly effortlessly.

On the surface everything seems simple enough, yet at the micro and nano level, things are extraordinarily complex in the most awe-inspiring way.

Like in the case of the screw. In 1912 humans “invented” a screw-like mechanism.

The helix of a screws shaft can twist in two directions. That shaft converts rotational motion to linear motion and a torque to a linear force.



The invention itself is incredibly simple yet groundbreaking in terms of applications.

Human beings began using screws as part of simple machines and to increase our output, like in heavy duty printing press machines and water pumps. It was only in the 15th century that we started using them as how we know them today – metal fasteners. Or the “things used to hold together Ikea furniture”.

The Erodium cicutarium as shown in the video, uses its bristle to create the screw shape. Depending on how its feeling (humidity and season), it uses this directionality for a springy launch and self-burial. Ah, Nature’s Tonka trucks.

It begs the question, was Erodium cicutarium or a like plant the inspiration behind the screw?

Unfortunately no one knows, but it does seem plausible. The fact it exists already increases the probability of similar life; plant or animal.

What it does implicitly go to show, is that nature is not a WYSIWYG.   Below that pile of leaves you come across in a forest is a very small weed. You may not see it do extraordinary things, but now you know it does.

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