The Madeleine Brand Show for March 21, 2012

How studying sharks led to high-tech inventions

Children and parents are dwarfed by a wh


Children and parents are dwarfed by a whale shark as it passes by inside a tank March 6, 2012 at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. Sharks have inspired new technologies, and new commercial interest may impact the marine animal.

With their powerful jaws and jagged teeth, sharks seem perfectly designed to kill. But new research has found that there is a lot more to sharks than meets the eye.

By studying their physiology, scientists are developing ways to make faster ships, better batteries and even improved moisturizers. The process of studying nature for new ideas in engineering is called "biomimicry."

Juliet Eilperin, who has written about shark-inspired technology for Slate, joins the show to discuss the latest developments in the field and the possible commercial impact on shark populations.


Juliet Eilperin is author of the book "Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks." Read an excerpt from "Demon Fish."

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