Miracles of Nature
A BBC Series with Richard Hammond (of Top Gear fame)
I found the first episode of this BBC series on a Singapore Airlines flight. It’s very interesting because the theme of the program is scientists looking to nature for inspiration. It’s a three part documentary series hosted by Richard Hammond and originally aired at the end of 2012.
I was very interested to see this because it reminded me of what I’d said in the post – Original Knowledge – where does it come from?. It seems fairly clear that we can only acquire original knowledge by observing nature. Nature is our teacher and we owe almost everything to nature.
In the first episode of this documentary, one of the stories that I liked the most was about the giraffe. Because it has such a long neck, the blood pressure at its heart has to be very high to get the blood up to its brain. But then, when it dips its head down to drink water, all that blood should rush to its head and increase the pressure so much that it should die. Doctors operate on a giraffe and find that the blood vessels have extra layers that automatically contract when the giraffe dips its head. This stops the blood pressure rising so much. Then scientists use this idea to build a special suit for jet fighter pilots that basically squeeze the pilots (like a tube of toothpaste) when they are in high G-force turns, thus keeping the blood in their brains and stopping them from passing out.
Another story looks at how a woodpecker can absorb the incredible forces created when it pecks at hard tree trunks. Scientists use what they learn to build better crash helmets.
Miracles of Nature is an interesting documentary series and I’d recommend watching it if you get the chance.