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October 24th, 2006
Chris Phoenix: Machines are becoming useful for more and more things. Some of those things are inspired by what we see other organisms doing, but the design usually turns out rather different. We see birds; we make airplanes; the airplanes have neither feathers, muscles, nor feet.
Biology uses molecular machines to make more molecular machines, as well as structures at all scales up to whales and dinosaurs. The first inspiration is to make a machine that will perform the same function. But what biological functionality can be discarded, if all we want is a machine that does a narrow task?
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