Penn State engineers have devised a circuit inspired by the way barn owls can so precisely determine where a sound is coming from and track their prey in the dark. Eventually, this fine example of biomimicry could lead to more accurate electronic navigation devices. Essentially, the owl's brain calculates the difference between when a sound arrives at the left ear compared to the right ear and uses that information to locate the source of the sound. After that is when things get interesting. From Penn State:
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The speed of sound is faster than the owl's nerves can function so after the owl brain converts the sound to an electrical pulse, the pulse is slowed down. Then the brain's circuitry uses a lattice of nerves of different lengths with inputs from two ends, to determine which length is where the two signals coincide or arrive at the same time. This provides the direction.
Saptarshi Das and his team have created an electronic circuit that can slow down the input signals and determine the coincidence point, mimicking the working of the barn owl brain...
The team created a series of split-gate molybdenum sulfide transistors to mimic the coincidence nerve network in the owl's brain. Split-gate transistors only produce output when both sides of the gate match, so only the gate tuned to a specific length will register the sound. The biomimetic circuitry also uses a time-delay mechanism to slow down the signal...
"Millions of years of evolution in the animal kingdom have ensured that only the most efficient materials and structures have survived," said Sarbashis Das.
Video evidence of owl-like extraterrestrials found in an attic:
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This remarkable demonstration of a pigeon, a falcon, and an owl flying past six extremely sensitive high-end microphones shows just how quiet owls are when they fly. Read the rest
“Luna and Lily have grown from helpless little chicks to near adult barn owls and now they're beginning to learn how to fly.” Read the rest
I live near San Francisco, where there seems to be a thing going on for Superb Owls. I like owls. Here are a few. Many were gifts, some I have collected. The one pictured above is by artist Gus Harper.
This is a pitcher. My friends, who know about Superb Owls, tell me there are no such thing as pitchers in the San Francisco Superb Owl, but here is proof of a Superb Owl pitcher.
My Mom gave me these Superb Owl salt and pepper grinders.
Two for one. And an impossible bottle, from Jaimie D. Grant.
I found the decanter and pitchers on eBay or in thrift shops. My parents gave me the adorable mug. I've got more owls, but I'm coming up short of 50. Add yours in the comments! Read the rest
I've always loved sharing artist Gus Harper's work. Regardless if it is time-lapse videos of Gus working, photos our readers have told me ARE safe for work, or just news about a forthcoming show. This time I get to share something special! Gus painted the owl above for me, to fix my living room and get me out of a funk.
Commissioning a piece of art from Gus was a lot of fun! I was reluctant to give him any direction beyond showing him some photos of the wall in question and my living room, but thankfully Gus knew what he was doing. We talked about prior pieces of his that I particularly enjoy and focused on his paintings of Lions. I'm not the only one who loved that series, and one piece was featured in the recent biopic on N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton, decorating Dr. Dre's office.
A lion, however is not the animal for that wall. Gus promptly noted that my shelves, and most every flat surface, were filled with owls that I have collected over the years. Serendipitously, Gus had just painted his first owl, ever, a week or so before, just for fun and was itching to work on a larger piece. Sketches flew back and forth, I changed the color of the wall the painting would sit on, and got a new rug. When Gus' painting showed up, I knew my living room was right... for the time being.
Gus has been up to a lot more than just decorating Hollywood movies, and my home. Read the rest
It's a few years old, actually, but this video of a cute baby owl "dancing" to a fuzzy owl-shaped comforting toy that sings “Monster Mash” is well deserving of a viral revival. Read the rest
Aeroacoustics expert Nigel Peake of Cambridge University leads a group of engineers mimicking owl wing feathers to reduce noise on wind turbines. Read the rest