Pharyngula

Go, squid, go!

i-857425f260338a316e9941ae432cba38-squidjet.jpg

We can learn from nature:

Inspired by the sleek and efficient propulsion of squid, jellyfish and other cephalopods, a University of Colorado at Boulder researcher has designed a new generation of compact vortex generators that could make it easier for scientists to maneuver and dock underwater vehicles at low speeds and with greater precision.

In addition, the technology — seemingly inspired by the plots of two classic sci-fi films — may soon allow doctors to guide tiny capsules with jet thrusters through the human digestive tract, enabling them to diagnose disease and dispense medications.

(The two films, by the way, are Fantastic Voyage and Inner Space; I think only the former classifies as an SF classic.)

While the details are awfully thin, there are more pictures and movies online. Hint—don’t waste your time with the mpgs, they only show the titles; you’ll have to watch the ugly wmv files.

Comments

  1. #1 Milo Johnson
    December 12, 2006

    Yep, “Inner Space” was a crappy rip-off of Asimov’s “Fantastic Voyage” which is relegated to late-night showings on TBS.

  2. #2 Steve LaBonne
    December 12, 2006

    “Squid, jellyfish and other cephalopods”? How’s you let that one go by without comment?

  3. #3 PZ Myers
    December 12, 2006

    Eh. Engineers.

    (Now I’m going to be shot, aren’t I?)

  4. #4 Blake Stacey
    December 12, 2006

    It’s not really Asimov’s Fantastic Voyage. He wrote the novel based on the screenplay, but because he could write faster than Hollywood could film, the book came out first. To my knowledge, it is the only novelization to be still in print forty years after the movie was released.

  5. #5 CCP
    December 12, 2006

    oh, man…when those antibodies start swarming on Raquel Welch…hoo.
    Formative.

  6. #6 Jonathan Badger
    December 12, 2006

    I think baby boomers like PZ fail to understand the affection that Gen X types have for the cheesy SF films of our childhood and teenage years. Granted, after seeing “Fantastic Voyage” I can see how “Inner Space” is a rip-off of it, but they seem about equal in enjoyment value.

  7. #7 Rey Fox
    December 12, 2006

    Blake:

    What about 2001?

  8. #8 TheBrummell
    December 12, 2006

    …of squid, jellyfish and other cephalopods…

    It counts as a double-negative, so eliminating itself. Jellyfish have neither heads (cephalo-) or feet (-pods), so the word “jellyfish” can safely be ignored in the sentence.

    OK, I have a question about squid propulsion: do they pull water into the mantle cavity through the same opening that they expell the water out through? Or do they have a flow-through system? This question was probably answered in one of the undergrad Invertebrate Zoology courses I took years ago, but I forgot most of my cephalopod anatomy.

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    December 12, 2006

    Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick worked together on 2001: A Space Odyssey. IIRC, Clarke wrote several drafts of the novel during the film’s production, sometimes revising material after seeing the rushes and rough cuts of the movie.

  10. #10 pough
    December 12, 2006

    Is that a drawing of a cephalopod backing into the vortex created by piano keys being attached to six guitar tuning pegs? Fascinating! What will they think of next?

  11. #11 Martin Wagner
    December 12, 2006

    I don’t know why you’d like Fantastic Voyage, PZ. It’s pretty anti-atheist. (Spoiler warning.) The atheist character played by Donald Pleasance is castigated for believing in evolution, and at the climax, he turns out to be the bad guy/saboteur.

  12. #12 CCP
    December 12, 2006

    Raquel Welch in a zippered jumpsuit getting swarmed by giant antibodies and you paid attention to the bald guy?

  13. #13 Blake Stacey
    December 12, 2006

    I’m with CCP on this one.

  14. #14 chaos_engineer
    December 12, 2006

    I don’t see how the picture relates to the story. Why is the poor squid being run through a roller press? 🙁

  15. Granted, after seeing “Fantastic Voyage” I can see how “Inner Space” is a rip-off of it, but they seem about equal in enjoyment value.

    “Fantastic Voyage”, on the other hand, had absolutely no songs by Rod Stewart in the entire flick.

  16. #16 Crudely Wrott
    December 12, 2006

    The octopus shows the way to move. Have more than one gait. Take advantage of local terrain. Stretch. Oh, and bend. Bending beats the hell out of breaking.

  17. #17 Ichthyic
    December 12, 2006

    OK, I have a question about squid propulsion: do they pull water into the mantle cavity through the same opening that they expell the water out through?

    no, they pull water in from the area around the edge of the mantle, and expell it from the siphon.

    http://encarta.msn.com/media_461553803/Generalized_Anatomy_of_a_Squid.html

  18. #18 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 12, 2006

    I don’t know why they bothered to save the guy they traveled in though. Developing antibodies against Raquel Welch must be considered an unacceptable complication for any medical procedure.

    Do they use Helmholtz resonators to produce pulsation with a minimum of mowing parts? At any rate, microactuators are exciting technology to watch.

  19. #19 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 12, 2006

    I don’t know why they bothered to save the guy they traveled in though. Developing antibodies against Raquel Welch must be considered an unacceptable complication for any medical procedure.

    Do they use Helmholtz resonators to produce pulsation with a minimum of mowing parts? At any rate, microactuators are exciting technology to watch.

  20. #20 Rey Fox
    December 13, 2006

    Still, it should count as a novelization of the movie, and one that is still in print…38 years after the movie was released.

  21. #21 Keith Douglas
    December 15, 2006

    Asimov also wrote a sequel, Fantastic Voyage II, where he explains in an introduction or something the bit about the screenplay of its predecessor

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