Nature Gadgets Umair Zia Nature-Gadgets-Umair-Zia NatureGadgets UmairZia

One-line Brief
A floating bridge grows stronger with time.
Inspiration from Nature
Water bacteria (Caulobacter Crescentus) extend tiny holdfast structures that are stronger than the strongest man-made super glue.

Problem Statement
Construction principles of a bridge vary for water and land but the structural systems remain the same in both conditions. Both scenarios (water and land) require resistance. Resistance is increased in water by A. Reducing the drag and B. Increasing the reinforcement of the material. Buckminster Fuller thought otherwise and stressed on the utilization of forces instead of adding resistance to them. For him, water would possess an unfamiliar set of design opportunities that are perhaps not present on the land. We must design in harmony with the forces of a medium. A new kind of structural system needs to be devised for a bridge on water and construction technology of the bridge should not resemble that on land.

Nature Review
The key principle to the design solution is found in aquatic bacteria, Caulobacter Crescentus. This remarkable species of bacteria has sticky ends at its ligaments. These tiny holdfast structures have more adhesive power in water than our superglues. This capability of bacteria combined with the upward buoyancy of the water opens up new possibilities of construction of a bridge.

Technology Review
ULB-Brussels project of creating iGem Plates is possibly the most relevant advanced research project in this regard. The project- along with developments in Molecular Glue and Bacterial Superglue- proves that natural technology has already been mimicked to a great deal. What needs to be done is to use this technology in the construction of a water bridge. Technology review shows that tidal and lateral forces of water encourage point-joint strategy instead of deep columns. These point joints could be used to connect different surfaces that remain afloat. Point joints combined with channels of molecular glue connecting different surfaces could work like an unbreakable bridge of protein nanotechnology (please check out the web links under citation montage).

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Nature Gadget
A modular bridge is envisioned where each module is a gas-filled equilateral triangle (1). Triangles join together to form a hexagonal grid (10) and an aquatic molecular glue is injected at designated points on the grid. The glue of one module enters and grows roots into an adjacent module (11-14) like the holdfast endings of the bacteria. These innumerable microscopic connections generate a collective elasticity in the bridge which works in harmony with the forces of water (18-23).

Citation Montage
The following are some useful resources from the design process of this nature gadget.
Row1Column1: Closeup of Aquatic Bacteria (Caulobacter Crescentus)
Row1Column2: Bacteria Lifecycle and Evolution
Row1Column3: ULB-Brussels Project Diagram
Row1Column4: ULB-Brussels iGem Plates
Row2Column1: Asymmetric Division of Bacteria
Row2Column2: Molecular Glue by Danish Researchers
Row2Column3: Bacterial superglue
Row2Column4: Unbreakable Bridges for Protein Nanotechnology
Row3Column1: Underwater Bridge Footings Conventional Method
Row3Column2: Caisson Schematic
Row3Column3: Floating Country (Conceptual Project)
Row3Column4: Underwater City Concepts
Row4Column1: Water-Scraper (Conceptual Project)
Row4Column2: Landy Landfill (Conceptual Project)
Row4Column3: An Example of Underwater Adhesive and Sealant
Row4Column4: Underwater Smart Glue

Created by Umair Zia