Slime may seem gross, but it’s also incredibly practical. Used by a variety of animals for many different reasons, including hunting, protection, and locomotion, slime is also inspiring scientists and helping people.
Bioinspiration is an approach to research that looks to the natural world for new solutions to human problems. The idea is not to use nature directly, but to study it and then reproduce its solutions for our own purposes. Harvesting slime from animals would be a messy and inefficient process. But once we know how an animal makes its mucus and what ingredients are involved, scientists can tweak it to make it more human-friendly. And sometimes they come up with new materials that are even better than the real thing.
See how slime is inspiring new surgical glues, fibers of the future, and sunscreen in my latest article for kids in Ask magazine: Inspired By Slime.