A team of scientists at Tel Aviv University‘s School of Physics and Astronomy have discovered that a type of hornet is absorbing sunlight and turning it into useful energy. It’s the first animal that has ever been discovered to possess that ability, and the theory is we might be able to harness our own version of the process for alternative energy! How cool!
The Oriental hornet absorbs energy from the sun and turns it into electric power in the brown and yellow parts of its body (mainly, the hornet’s body shell or exoskeleton). In addition, its body also has a heat pump system (like those found in air conditioners) that is able to keep the hornet’s body cooler than its surroundings, which helps out when the insect is foraging around in the sun all day.
“The interesting thing here is that a living biological creature does a thing like that,” says physicist Professor David Bergman. “The hornet may have discovered things we do not yet know.”
Things that researchers hope may be applied for human use. Currently they are trying to mimic the bio-mechanisms that make the solar processing in the hornet possible, but they haven’t had much luck… Still, eventual developments could lead to new forms of solar energy collection, and that is a truly exciting discovery!