From the Biomimicry Guild:
What Nature Can Teach Us:
Life has been performing design experiments on Earth’s R&D lab for 3.8 billion years. What’s flourishing on the planet today are the best ideas—those that perform well in context, while economizing on energy and materials. Whatever your company’s design challenge, the odds are high that one or more of the world’s 30 million creatures has not only faced the same challenge, but has evolved effective strategies to solve it.
From Biomimicry, by Janine Benyus:
Biomimicry [is] innovation inspired by nature. In a society accustomed to dominating or “improving” nature, this respectful imitation is a radically new approach, a revolution really. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, the Biomimicry Revolution introduces an era based not on what we can extract from nature, but on what we can learn from her. …
“Doing it nature’s way” has the potential to change the way we grow food, make materials, harness energy, heal ourselves, store information, and conduct business.
In a biomemitic world, we would manufacture the way plants and animals do, using sun and simple compounds to produce totally biodegradable fibers, ceramics, plastics, and chemicals. Our farms, modeled on prairies, would be self-fertilizing and pest-resistant. To find new drugs or crops, we would consult animals and insects that have used plants for millions of years to keep themselves healthy and nourished. Even computing would take its cue from nature, with software that “evolves” solutions, and hardware that uses the lock-and-key paradigm to compute by touch.
In each case, nature would provide the models: solar cells copies from leaves, steely fibers woven spider-style, shatterproof ceramics drawn from mother-of-pearl, cancer cures compliments of chimpanzees, perennial grains inspired by tallgrass, computers that signal like cells, and a closed-loop economy that takes its lessons from redwoods, coral reefs, and oak-hickory forests.The biomimics are discovering what works in the natural world, and more important, what lasts. After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival. The more our world looks and functions like this natural world, the more likely we are to be accepted on this home that is ours, but not ours alone.”
See Janine Benyus: 12 sustainable design ideas from nature at TED: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/18
Examples of Biomimicry from the Biomimicry Institute
Here is an outstanding KQED Quest program on bio-inspired design featuring Robert Full, Professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley. These 11 minutes feature his wall climbing gecko-bot and provide a solid introduction to the concepts that are being used to revolutionize our approach to flight.
- Biomimicry: emulating nature’s genius (greenconduct.com)
- Albatross’s Effortless Flight Decoded – May Influence Future Planes (news.nationalgeographic.com)
- Biomimicry: Science inspired by nature could feed the hungry, reduce impact of technology (mnn.com)
- What is Biomimicry? (biomimicron.wordpress.com)