In its juvenile state, Issus coleoptratus, a kind of planthopper like the grasshopper, uses its built-in, interlocking gears to synchronize the movement of its paired hind legs.
Synchronization is critical, because the planthopper leaps up to 300 times its length in a burst of motion exacting approximately 200 Gs of force on itself. If both legs don’t thrust with equal force, the planthopper could end up who knows where.
But it’s hardly fair to pit Mother Nature against human inventors. She uses a problem-solving process called Natural Selection, a technique only she has the inexhaustible patience and virtually infinite time to practice.
While we humans naturally evolve ourselves and the way we live by going with the flow of evolution, we can only apply fits and starts of Natural Selection during the limited time we breathe. Nevertheless doing so has delivered, as it does for the planthopper, our most far-reaching leaps of invention.
Peter Lloyd is co-creator with Stephen Grossman of Animal Crackers, the breakthrough problem-solving tool designed to crack your toughest problems.
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