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世界上速度最快的生物

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2019-06-19

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世界上速度最快的生物
Scientists have a plan to study the fastest creature in the world — and hope to use what they learn from its behavior to build tiny robots.

科学家计划研究世界上速度最快的生物——并希望将从它们的行动中所学到的知识运用到制造微型机器人当中。

The creature isn't a cheetah or a falcon; instead, it's a single-celled organism called Spirostomum ambiguum, commonly found in bodies of water. Cheetahs can sprintat speeds of more than 60 mph (96.5 km/h), and falcons may dive at well over 250 mph (400 km/h). But S. ambiguum can move even faster, shortening its body by 60 percent into a football shape within "a few milliseconds," according to a press release.

这种生物既不是猎豹也不是猎鹰,而是一种名叫Spirostomum ambiguum的单细胞微生物,通常能在水体中找到它们。猎豹的冲刺时速可以超过96.5公里/小时,而猎鹰的俯冲时速可以超过400公里/小时。但是根据一篇新闻稿,S. ambiguum的移动速度甚至更快,能在“短短几毫秒”的时间内能将身体缩短60%变成一个球形。

But researchers have no idea how the single-celled organism can move this fast without the muscle cells of larger creatures. And scientists have no clue how, regardless of how the contraction works, the little critter moves like this without wrecking all of its internal structures.

但是研究者不清楚这些没有大型生物肌肉细胞的单细胞微生物是如何做到这么快速的移动的。就算不管它们身体的收缩是怎么个原理,这些小家伙如此快速的移动还不会破坏内部结构就让科学家毫无头绪了。

Saad Bhamla, a researcher at Georgia Tech, received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study and model S. ambiguum's contraction motion at the subcellular level. He hopes to come to understand the motion well enough, he said, to break it down into ideas that could be used for robots.

乔治亚理工大学的研究者Saad Bhamla得到了美国国家科学基金会的基金,用于研究和模拟S.ambiguum在亚细胞级别上的收缩运动。他希望能足够了解这种运动,然后分解成概念再运用到机器人当中。

"As engineers, we like to look at how nature has handled important challenges," Bhamla said in the release. "We are always thinking about how to make these tiny things that we see zipping around in nature. If we can understand how they work, maybe the information can cross over to fill the gap for small robots that can move fast with little energy use."

“作为一个工程师,我们想看看大自然是怎样对付重大的挑战的,”Bhamla在新闻稿中表示,“我们一直在思考是什么让我们看到的这些小东西在自然环境里移动迅速的。如果我们能理解了其中的原理,或许这些知识可以用来填补使用少量的能量就能快速移动微型机器人的空白。”

When you curl into a ball like the S. ambiguum, or sprint like a cheetah, or dive like a falcon (the latter is not recommended, except possibly into very deep swimming pools), you activate actin and myosin proteins in your muscle cells that contract to generate motion, the statement said.

声明中说道,当你像S.ambiguum一样蜷缩成一个球,或者像猎豹一样冲刺,或是像猎鹰一样俯冲(最后一个不建议模仿,除非俯冲进一个很深的游泳池里),你会激活肌肉细胞中的肌动蛋白和肌球蛋白。

But tiny creatures like S. ambiguum don't rely on proteins of that sort, Bhamla said. (S. ambiguum exists on a sort of fuzzy boundary between animals and non-animals. Older texts often considered single-celled "protozoans" like this, which have animal-like characteristics, to be part of the animal kingdom. But more recently biologists have tended to separate them into their own kingdom of life, known as Protista.)

但像是S.ambiguum这样的微型生物并不依赖于蛋白质这样的,Bhamla说。(S.ambiguum存在于动物和非动物之间一个有些模糊的界线上。较老一些的教科书通常认为像它这样的是单细胞“原生动物”,有着类似于动物的特点,是动物王国的一份子。但是最近的生物学家更倾向于将这类生物单独划分出来归类为原生生物。)

"If they had only the actin and myosin proteins that make up our muscles, they couldn't generate enough force to actually move that fast,” Bhamla added. "The smaller they are, the faster they [accelerate] — up to 200 meters per second squared [650 feet per second squared]. That's really off the charts."

“如果它们只有构成我们肌肉的肌动蛋白和肌球蛋白的蛋白质的话,是无法产生足够的动力供它们快速的移动的,”Bhamla补充说道,“它们的体型越小,加速度就越快——能够达到每平方秒200米。这真的是快到爆表。”

Instead, the creatures use alternative, complex molecules to achieve both motion and tasks like moving their internal structures around.

作为替代,这种生物使用交替的、复杂的分子来实现运动和完成移动它们内部结构的任务。

Bhamla hopes, he said in the release, that the molecules at work in this motion might lead to meaningful technological jumps, which in turn could lead to improvements on existing nanorobot technology.

Bhamla在新闻稿中表示,他希望在这种运动中运转的分子可以带来意义深远的技术飞跃,转而改进现有的纳米机器人技术。


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