Bullet train and kingfisher; the penguin and the owl

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Man has always been inspired by nature to create his inventions. Did you know that the bullet train nozzle, the shinkansen, did you take inspiration from nature? In this article we will understand a little of why the bullet train has a beak and what led it to have this.

Japan's first bullet trains reached an average speed of 200km / h. Japanese researchers always tried to improve the speed of the bullet train, however, they faced a big problem. The sound emitted by the bullet train was very strong, when leaving a tunnel, there was a sonic explosion and a vibration that reached up to 400 meters away. The sound was waking up people who lived nearby. And disturbing wildlife.

Bullet train and kingfisher; the penguin and the owl

The solution to this problem was found by Eiji Nakatsu, engineer and bird watcher. Watching the kingfisher feeding, he realized that the bird was able to dive at high speed without splashing much water. He wondered how the kingfisher adapts so quickly to the transition from low air resistance to high water resistance. Your name in English KingFisher can literally be translated as king fisherman.

Kingfisher's beak

The train had its projection and conception around 1989 and 1995. The objective was to allow passengers to travel from Osaka to Hakata in about 2 and a half hours, this required an average speed of 350 km / h. The problem was noise, vibration and pressure waves.

The shape of the kingfisher's head allows it to slide through the air and dive into the water to catch the fish. It is the most efficient animal when it comes to transition from low pressure to high pressure. Like this, Eiji Nakatsu remodeled the nose of the bullet train imitating the kingfisher and eliminating noise.

Kingfisher

Thanks to the kingfisher, the air pressure produced by the train has been reduced by 30%, it travels more quietly, 10% faster and uses 15% less electricity. So, when the shinkansen goes through a tunnel, it doesn't produce a big bang.

Other nature inspirations for the bullet train

The kingfisher is not the only animal that inspired pieces of the bullet train. The pantograph, a piece that connects the train to the power source, also used to make noise. Japanese researchers used the owl's concave face and its serrated wings to remodel the pantograph and absorb this noise.

Another animal that influenced the modeling of the pantograph was the Penguin. It has a shape that allows you to move easily through the water to catch fish. The pantograph's support axis was remodeled like a Penguin's body to decrease wind resistance and thus decrease aerodynamic noise.

Bullet train

Thanks to these inspirations from nature, Japan's bullet train generation has grown faster and quieter. Thus, more than 64 million people can walk safely and peacefully, in one of the best designed and safest inventions in the world. The Japanese trust their projects so much that the bullet train doesn't even have a seat belt. Rail transport produces the least amount of greenhouse gases, in addition to being faster and safer. Thanks to shinkansen, more than 2,000 traffic deaths are avoided in Japan.

Not only the bullet train, but several other human inventions were inspired by nature. What lesson can we learn from this? I personally find it difficult that something like this came about by chance.

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