Abstract

Giorgio Scarpa (1938–2012) was an Italian designer, artist and teacher who worked in bionics, topology and rotational geometry. This article describes Scarpa’s bionic model of “Aristotle’s lantern”—the mouth of the sea urchin. The technical literature on Echinoidea lacks a detailed study of its remarkable mouth mechanism. Scarpa’s model is the only known analysis and physical analogue of the mechanism. It is a striking example of geometrical analysis and craftsmanship, bridging science and art. Built in the early 1970s and described in 1985 in Modelli di Bionica, his model has inspired designs for a biopsy harvester and for a mini-rover to collect soil samples on Mars.

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