Bees as Mems A Summary

Bees control and manipulate fluids within their bodies using complexly interconnected systems of pumps, valves, manifolds, tubes, connectors, reservoirs and transducers. Bees are best at interfacing; much better than we are! Bees have wonderful edges. Biological systems masterfully coordinate fluid mechanics near and across complicated interfaces to adjust minute volumes of fluid in parallel within different compartments while at the same time, but only when necessary, blending them while also permitting volumes of fluids to adjust within several body compartments simultaneously. A bee's fluids contain micro-structural elements, and these elements interact via colloidal, hydrodynamic, and Brownian forces. If one's body is as small as a bee's, one desiccates in the sun and over-hydrates in the rain, all the while adjusting water balance while performing the daily chemistries of living. All are major obstacles. Bees also function well within the physiological extremes of temperature and pressure. Devices on the other hand, that employ moving fluids at microscopic dimensions, range from endoscopes to labs on chips. Devices transport minute quantities of liquids or gas through networks of microchannels. Controlling micro-flows in our devices includes: pumping, electro-osmotic flows, electro-wetting and thermo-capillary pumping. For small devices to employ such technologies requires that we not only micro-machine their interior channels but employ high temperatures or kilovolts to drive flows. We must understand a device's microphysics and all its contained flows. Bees do better than we do without all this knowing. Can we learn our micro-physics from them? Once learned, can we expand chip technology to include this type of biology?

'Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not, as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend the things which are there' (Richard Feynman).

Chapter three

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