Monday, 3 August 2015
Another Great Bio-Inspired Invention: “Nature’s Super Sunscreen”
We humans are creative. However, when we look at – or learn about – the ingenious solutions around us, we have to admit that Someone much wiser than us thought of it first.
A recent paper published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces presents a new super sunscreen that is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. It is an entirely natural product that makes use of mycosporines and mycosporine-like amino acids mixed with a chemical called chitosan that is obtained from the shells of shrimp and other crustaceans.
Reporting on the innovation, New Scientist attempted to introduce an evolutionary spin on the story:
“Some species of algae, bacteria and fish that spend a lot of time in the sun have evolved sun shields that absorb the DNA-damaging UV rays in sunlight. These chemicals, known as Mycosporine-like amino acids, have now been turned into a material that can be applied like a sunscreen to skin, as well as objects such as outdoor furniture that are at risk of UV damage.”
The Darwinian storytelling is entirely superfluous, as animals can’t decide what they evolve or don’t evolve, and Darwin’s watchmaker is supposed to be blind.
But the paper is yet another reminder of the wonderful design seen in the animal kingdom. The sunscreen is by far more effective than any others.
Biomimicry or copying design seen in nature has become a lucrative field of engineering. (Read more here, here, here and here.)
Design, one might suggest, implies a Designer.
Slezak, Michael. Mix fish secretions with shrimp shells to make super sunscreen. New Scientist (31 July).