Biomimetics, Micro-design, Arctium minus et al Hook and Velcro – A PhD and a Virtual Textbook on Biological Attachment Mechanisms and their Mimicking

Home » 2016 » March

Monthly Archives: March 2016

E-mail to the BANES Nhs

This is a bit of non-fiction that I have been thinking – it relates to a forthcoming hearing I am having to have my Community Treatment Order revoked.   A Community Treatment Order means that one must have supervised medication while in the community.  For the safety of oneself and for the safety of others.

You may not know this (I have mentioned it elsewhere) I was once compared to the Georgia Tech shooter of North Carolina, at Sandy Hook.  So I AM Dangerous.   I have since had a formal apology from the hospital for this, but that doesn’t mean that the pscyh does not continue the charade.

I don’t know if you find this interesting… might say, it’s how the other half lives.  So I will request the situation as I think it through, for interest sake.

Because of this weighty comparison by a psychiatrist with a hard-on, I spent the last two months of my father’s life on a secure ward, suffering Control and Restraint Procedures so they could stick a needle or “depot” in my ass.  A week after I was released, I flew home to South Africa and a week later I was burning him.

I was an academic at the time mind you.  I was busy with my PhD on Bath campus.  Then I left the University came back to the town where I was and still am residing and started a dirty protest at the University’s treatment of me and my case of Trauma Induced Psychosis, due to an unprovoked assault by 6 younger male students at the commencement of my PhD and an ongoing campaign of Hate, including having my bedsit (which are always for singles) ransacked, my South African passport stolen on another occasion, my car burnt out, my file store on campus interfered with….and the onset of voice hearing for the very first time.

I went to the psychiatrist on campus about it first – verdict – depression.

If I am dangerous then how come I treat Bath City as a no-go area for me at night everynight for the last six years?  I spend so much time alone at home in introspective consideration, how is it that I am dangerous and how is it that I cannot monitor my own medication?  Or not?  Why can’t I have mildly addictive but cheap temazipam?  Why do I have to be experimented upon by these National  Institute of Clinical Excellence drugs that never leave your system?

Why do I have to put up with a diagnosis of schizophrenia when a blood test will show it is not so?

If I do not have it in the family, why is it that my own testimony is ignored?

This is the British Mental Health System for you.  I have no next of kin so I cannot be released into someone’s care.  So I get the full brunt of it.

New Scientist

This is interesting – note the image!!

Money for Nothing

I’ll tell you a little secret.  I had to bare my soul to the publishers to get them to waive fees on publication which, Springer-Open has done on three occassions for me now and their criticisms have helped me focus greatly.  I owe Prof Liu, the editor, a great debt of thanks for the sympathetic ear she leant me.

The University of Bath has made zip contribution to my work since 2005.  I am the epitome of the penniless academic researcher/writer/mentally disabled unemployed engineer/biomimeticist.

You know a lot of us, right?

Round-up – a Visual PhD

I think it’s time for a round-up – and I have been thinking and you know – I’ll bet this is the First, yes First time a PhD in Engineering has been executed in front of witnesses like this.  From no papers at all. to 2 published to a third pending as of last weekend in two years, nowhere to most published Biomimeticist in the UK this year (2015-6)  (maybe) That’s not so bad, is it?


When I first started blogging my blog was a mess for months before I paid any attention to the software.  That was about October 2014.


Since then I have had over six thousand visits, everyone stepping into a part of the process, that I have faithfully recorded, warts and all, here on my Blog.  I want you to understand that I was at Bath University, number 1 for mechanical engineering research in the UK.  Quite demanding you might say….


But I thank you all now, especially you Chris, for you time and hand-holding on this journey which wouldn’t have progressed as smoothly without the aid of the blog which has become an e-textbook, and without you, my guests.


I’m disabled, and my “fuck you!” Bath University, “you don’t fuck with a man like he is a student” has got me excluded from the campus and all buildings including the library and this had a direct deleterious effect on my progress.  I’m a  protestor too of some lengthy experience.

I was assaulted in 2002 at the commencemnt of my PhD and that combined with a host of other stressors like the death of my Dad, being put in a Mental Hospital for unrelenting protesting, excaping from the secure wing at least 9 times, bankruptcy, assault again… being burnt out,passport being stolen from my bedsit as well as cash…all PLUS extensive protestiing including the Make Poverty History March, Stop-the-War II and others…PTSD was the result so I am Mentally Disabled.  Nyaaaah!


Now they are saying that my work is too “old” to qualilfy as a PhD in spite of its publication in a Quality Journal (Springer-Open).  If you find the time and the inclination, e-mail a fat raspberry at the Vice Chancellor Glynnis Breakwell at


Her office won’t even acknowledge recipt of an e-mail from me.  Nor will it answer anything but FOI letters which really please them no-end.





Bruce (Bioman)



Madness Conference Appearance

Yes folks!!   Just what you have all been waiting for!!

A special appearance by ME at this year’s “Madness 9” or as I prefer, Madness, Nein! Conference at Oxford University – my submission to the Inter-disciplinary event on Mental Health and Madness has been accepted!!

The poet/biomimeticist from Bath is launching!!

Paper 3 Conclusion


For your perusal folks – this is shit hot!

1  Conclusion

As part 3 of this series of three papers this culminates from the consideration of the results of research into five species of long shaft hook including the A. minus species, various microscopy techniques including confocal microscopy and the design of a bio-inspired model for hooked structures of the order of 200 microns span, and two further attachment mechanisms of similar size, of insect chitin.

There are limitations to what can be achieved by the pull of technology.  Excited at first by the discovery of the cubic voxel result of part 2 [2], it was soon dampened by the result that it was impossible to work with the voxels in C++.  It is hoped that this will yield further work until a proper procedure is established for the study of these attachment mechanisms at their natural scale and order of size in various materials.

The 3-dimensional model produced in Solidworks 2004 is suitable for application to fields of long-shafted hooks at a micron-size and its qualities have to be assessed in a testing/manufacturing circumstance.  It is expected that these attachments will be probabilistic and frictional in behavior.  The rate of change will vary from hook to hook as the size/shape changes and this can only effectively be measured using the new way of manufacturing the hooks through electro-deposition such that they are of the size but of a different material, thereby mimicking the scaling effects and the biological principal that guides their behaviours governing the size:volume, strength:weight, friction coefficient (m):size and other relations.  It must be remembered that the scaling effects associated with a burdock hook may not be related directly to Young’s modulus.  More important could be the shape and surface area versus frictional coefficient.  Similarly, this could apply to forces like surface tension, hygroscopic forces and others.

There are other problems to overcome before manufacturing these hooks en masse but it does point to a method of effectively producing magnetic hooks that have been used to conduct electricity commercially as well as heat.  Attachment methods are important as well as the way they all come out, which can be distorted from all shape and needs to be considered too.  Destructive testing is the only way of assessing this.

This form of data collection and transfer is regarded as another form of mathematics, of abstract and applied character. It makes the statement that all members of the set of hooks can be made under the conditions of the microscopy settings given in paper 2 of the set [2] therefore a part of the experimentation is already complete.  All that is left is manufacture and testing.  Only samples that are completely translucent are used so the intensity of the light is high and able to be differentiated from the background light.

This problem never would have been encountered had the topic been fasteners in general since a straight attachment mechanism would have been sufficiently simple to analyze and model but not manufacture either. It is the Mechanical Properties that are sought and the only way of achieving this is to make them from a new material that does not get a lot of attention these days, copper, but through the act of forced self-assembly by applied voltage, it may be possible to arrive at an alternative manufacturing technique or deposition pattern as well as alternative materials such as silicates or gold.


Paper 3 Background



I see no reason why I shouldn’t let YOU, the reader, peer review my new version!!  It’s looking great!!




It is a strange to think that one can find a Biomimetic principle on demand.  This study, however, has found at least one in the consideration of its objective, to take all known studies of hooks and to compare them and others in order to define a new hook that is advantageous to design for a purpose that precludes all known uses so far, i.e. that is intended for a use that has not so far been defined.  However it is such that it can be assumed that all the new designs are going to be on the purpose/possibility frontier, namely in this case, micro design and the design of micron-ranged size-structures that do not altogether behave in a “normal” way under use.  Such as the tarsal hooks of an insect and their manner of sticking or adhering to a surface. It  is somewhat of a mystery yet but which can be considered and mimicked to find its own properties that reflect their sizes (the hooks).

It is through the design of these autonomous structures and their variants that microdesign such as those parts used by computer-aided medical devices are possible.  But it is a mystery yet in the scientific literature, how these marvels are designed such that it can be studied.  There are new ways of doing things that need chronicling so that their progress can be chartered and modified according to new discovery.

The title of the thesis proposal was “The Functional Ecology and Mechanical Properties of Hooks in Nature”.  This tells us that each hook must be studied as a part of a system, hence the mechanical properties will only be revealed once the hook has been brought into interaction with a substrate of some properties of its own. Attention is now drawn to the publication of a paper that is significant to this study, namely [1] that is recently published where in it is described how a process of electro-chemical deposition is used to draw the bead of the new substance, namely copper, to draw in the “cubic pixels” or voxels, that then make up the shape required or drawn, or in this case, scanned on a confocal microscope as executed in paper 2 of this research. [2]  This enables the process to continue, of evaluating the progress such that it can be concluded how to best design a hook made of copper at the size of 100 micron span say, manufacturing it in a macro fashion and predicting its behaviour in an absolute fashion.

Being considered here is a necessarily obscure manner of approaching the issue, to predict who or what will be the manner of making these structures and how the design will process the data of the new part such that it will behave in a fashion that will be predictable or not depending on the way it is fashioned or the material itself and its issues with solidarity and maintaining shape.  How to draw a free-body diagram of such a structure, for instance, would be quite specific and yet very different from predicted Newtonian behaviour.  There is a way to get all of the parts of the design into one sphere and that is to generate a curve that shows their behaviours under different variants, according to different criteria.  It is not going to be easy to explain the use of Dimensionless Groups to produce performance curves but these make the use of criteria that may come into the design such as Brownian motion or molarity of particles in self-assembly or electro-chemistry.  Each will affect the solution of the entropy of the system but will also preclude the discovery of any new criteria unless they are included in the symmetry of the equation that makes all the forces equal at any one state or stage.  Otherwise we will have movement and this is what we are trying to arrest with a probabilistic fastener.  In short, all forces must be balanced.

[3] describes the discovery of a shape/size-scaling effect while completing a study of long-shafted cellulose hooks started by Gorb [4].  The A. minus hook was found to be exceptionally strong, an affect answered by calculation as being an illustration of the hook’s propensity to be strong through either composition or shape and therefore span and fibre content.  This is of little importance since we are simply warned that there are these effects present in Nature.

There is however a consequence of our study which is that we have a selection of six long-shafted hooks of cellulose from which to choose and the most frequent and strongest, namely A. minus .was chosen, as per George de Mestral and his Velcro. It is then that we undertook to scan the hook under the confocal microscope together with two other samples noted for their frequent occurrence in British wildlife, namely the tarsi of the British common wasp and grasshopper  (Apis mellifera and Omocestus viridulus).  This led to the conclusion that we had the route to three evolutionary pathways plotted on our confocal microscope and preserved for further analysis or manipulation in the form of .tiff files. [2] Each is a permanent reusable fastener and yet each does equip its owner without the need for a sample to identify it and make it from i.e. they are without a pattern, possessing only a genetic code for growth and form.

Functional Ecology

When considering the system of the hook-shaped structure, going back to the Cambrian Era, one is struck by the fact that there is no apparent control system.  Natural Laws prevail.  The first hooks shapes appearing on the fossil record were of primitive cellulose and chitin.

When studying a biological specimen the prescribed ethos is to study it’s interaction within its system since it is the system that is of interest to a biologist and to a designer.  The entire system needs to be considered, of a frictional fastener such as the probabilistic (i.e. non-random) fastener which the hooks A.minus form, and how the fastener shall be designed is based upon the performance of these hooks and their substrates. In the case of the growth and formation of hook-shapes in Nature, their biochemistry will be of equal importance and must have been fundamental to the very first organisms that appeared with shapes of biomaterial.

It is possible to break up a system into discrete segments or sections and this enables the identification of bio-design indicators such as scaling effects that predict the alignment of microfibrils for instance or the percentage volume required of a matrix cavity in a gel.

A free-body diagram is such an example and is selected and constructed along subjective lines for the purposes of force analysis.  A free body diagram can enclose an entire system or can be used to analyse part thereof.

Botanical hook structures and bio-design indicators for a reusable, silent, probabilistic attachment mechanism

What we need to consider is that we have passed step one, the choice of a cellulose representative of a single hook fastener-type, exposed on the end of a shaft where behavior is more isolated from the base or surface from which it originates.  This led us to a discussion above.  There is then the choice of three, which has been presented [ ].  Now it must be established which of the three is most suitable for pre-production analysis and study and a cellulose single-hook has been chosen.  This is because

  1. It is a non-assembly.
  2. It is long and therefore accessible to the head of a 3-D printer for its overhang if necessary.

For this work there are special qualities that may be included in the design which may or may not increase the quality of the attachment such as the inclusion of setae-like protrusions from the shaft or hook itself.  These might ease adhesion.

So it is a conclusion of the previous research that we must produce a sample hook in .stl data file format that can be used as a basis or datum structure and that can morph into variations according to need and application.  It is then understood that all the variations will be available to research, as would be those of the other two samples which have yet to be deciphered onto Solidworks but it may not be deemed necessary in the light of [1] where direct control of the data transfer is allowed and thus the treatment of the structures under testing will be available in copper only which is a very conducive, malleable substance. From a point of view of application, what needs be considered is the requirements of application of the attachment and what bio-principle we can derive from this structural mimicry and that includes the obvious – a tactile manner of carrying a load up a direct incline of 90 degrees.  It also includes the obvious use of copper’s varying impedance under stress which is used in strain gauges and can now be used in the biomedical sensor field.

It is with this in mind that all thought of concluding with a 3-D representation of all three when they are quite readily available through the microscope’s own image-ware is not economical.  Instead, a single sample is included that is to scale and leads to the following development of the design for the purposes of manufacture and testing.  It is noted here that all the sundry tests have been carried out through the Solidworks software itself such as FEA but we do not know the true directions from which forces are applied when considering analysis of the hook.  A point load seems inappropriate as does a limited forcing being applied through the length of the shaft in sheer.  It should be under pressure throughout, not as it seems here, as the cross-stresses are prevalent throughout the real-life loading of the hook.

The point of using Solidworks, in spite of its problems with an analogous material is that it converses with a rapid prototyping device and produces a file in .stl format,  not it’s FEA capabilities which are vastly insufficient.



Welll, folks, it’s that time of year come round again, and along with the news that the Chinese Robotics Conference has been cancelled is the news that, having come nowhere last year…


I have re-entered the Buckies this year, this time with two,no three published papers to support my science and my proposal.


Wish me luck!