Research- Exoskeletons

Eoin and Ryan really liked the idea of the outer part of our world acting as the armour of the inner elements- which, as explained, would be mainly energy and nervous system parts.

Ryan suggested our world was like the exoskeleton of the whole planet- Eoin mentioned that this was something that related to the gladiators of our world. Eoin found in his research that gladiators would wear animal skins as part of their armour- like the hide skins of lizards and crocodiles. The higher rank, the more exquisite and rare the skins used.

We wanted to apply this to our own messed up dominion- with the exoskeleton being more intense and intricate on the rich side, compared to that of the poor. We wanted to have a look into what actually these exoskeletons were and how they protected the animals/insect in question.

So, what actually are exoskeletons? These are external anatomical features that support and protect an animals body. All arthropods (insects, spiders and crustaceans) and some invertebrate animals (such as molluscs) contain these body parts. (Tyley, 2012).

These exoskeletons are made up of Chitin- another name from my Biomedical science past. This polysaccharide created from repeated sugar molecules in a chain. It works with proteins like resilin, which is soft and elastic in quality. The property of the exoskeleton itself depends on the variable amounts of different proteins interacting with each other. For example, the exoskeleton can be rigid and hard like a beetle’s shell or bendy and easy to move, like a crab’s leg. (Encyclopedia.com, 2016).

Exoskeletons not only protect the animal but also prevent desiccation, or dehydration. This comes in handy with our own work as its purpose it to be self sufficient.

The exoskeleton itself is non living and so cannot grow to accommodate the growth of the animal itself- the process of moulting therefore occurs. When the animal grows too large, the outer case is removed as it sheds, the lower one being replaced by the newer one of the animals body.

A sped up moulting video- from 4 hours to 2 minutes. (YouTube, 2016).

I find this biological process quite hypnotic. You can see the vulnerable look to the freshly shed spider, its new exoskeleton looking much softer and redder. I thought this would be excellent implemented into our own world. With growth of the population or even reduction- could it shed an outer shell?

In recent years, this principle has been applied in the human body through the use of robotic exoskeletons. The company Ekso Robotics have design full body robotic suits, originally designed to help soldiers carry heavy loads. However, these are now used for rehabilitation and treatment of lost limbs. The robotics work in the way that as the person shifts in weight, it creates a response in the mechanical limb, triggering it to take a step.

This technique in process. (YouTube, 2016).

I thought this use of mechanics to allow progress and strength building was rather impressive. Could it be used somehow to move our world forward? Could the bionic exoskeleton be used to show the progress in the world- as if to suggest Rome was far mroe advanced in its technological outputs than they originally suggested to the world around them.

 

References

Encyclopedia.com. (2016). chitin Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about chitin. [online] Available at: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/chitin.aspx [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].

Tyley, J. (2012). Animals with exoskeletons explained | How It Works Magazine. [online] Howitworksdaily.com. Available at: http://www.howitworksdaily.com/animals-with-exoskeletons-explained/ [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].

YouTube. (2016). Spider Tarantula shedding skin. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vRdudlgxSU [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].

YouTube. (2016). Paralyzed subject Training in Ekso during spinal cord stimulation. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPej2l6dVbw [Accessed 25 Mar. 2016].

 

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