Insects inspire simpler prosthetics


Evolution’s got everything going for it. Without a doubt, it’s the most powerful and efficient computing algorithm ever conceived – rather to have computed itself into existence. I don’t forget that it’s an axiomatic phenomenon, but humankind has struggled to recreate the same degree of complexity and energy efficiency with the same resources. However, humankind doesn’t fail to be inspired, either – like with a strange type of joint neurobiologists have found in grasshoppers and locusts. Looking like a hinge joint, it automatically applies passive forces succeeding active ones. These help weaker muscles in the insects’ hind legs counteract the stronger ones, facilitating a longer jump without being as metabolically costly as a bigger muscle – something only evolution has accomplished. The inspiration? Simpler prosthetics for humans. My piece for The Hindu on this.