An astonishing discovery by scientists in Japan could lead to massive breakthroughs in the world of science, and perhaps change the future of flight.
A major new discovery has been reported in Japan by scientists who were studying the humble ladybug, and it could have big ramifications for industries from aeronautics to umbrellas. Researchers used CT scanners and high speed cameras to figure out a baffling mystery: how a ladybug folds its wings back into its body in such a compact and space efficient way.
The scientists even replaced the bug’s red and black wing cases with an artificial one that was totally transparent so they could see how the bug folded up the wings frame by frame, and now they think they’ve figured it out by mapping each fold and movement. Those findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The high speed cameras enabled them to see each move of the bug, and the CT scans helped them to create a pattern of the folds in a way that almost resembled origami.
“Japanese scientists have figured out how ladybugs fold their wings by transplanting a transparent artificial wing onto the insect and observing its underlying folding mechanism,” the University of Tokyo statement reads. “The study’s findings, which help explain how the wings can maintain their strength and rigidity during flight, while becoming elastic for compact folding and storage on the ground, provide hints for the innovative design of a wide range of deployable structures, from satellite antennas to microscopic medical instruments to articles for daily use like umbrellas and fans.
“Ladybugs are highly mobile insects that can switch between walking and flying with ease and speed because they can quickly deploy and collapse their wings. Their wings consist of the hardened elytra, the forewings with the familiar spots, and the soft-membrane hindwings used for flight, which are covered and protected by the elytra.”