Did you know that Nike has adapted the qualities of goat hoof traction to their running shoe designs? Or that the invention of Velcro was inspired by the way burrs cling to animal fur? Welcome to the world of biomimicry!
This relatively new design discipline is a thrilling development in the times we live in, where ‘sustainable development’ and ‘go green’ are the buzzwords on everyone’s lips. Simply put, biomimicry means ‘imitating life’. It is concerned with studying and imitating nature’s best designs and processes to solve human problems, taking nature to be the model, measure, and mentor.
For example, when Japan faced a major problem with their bullet trains, they looked towards nature for salvation. Their bullet train’s original shape created a very disturbing sound, much like a sonic boom, when it entered and exited a tunnel. Eventually, the problem was solved when one of the engineers found inspiration while attending a bird-watching meet. He realized that the Kingfisher bird, like the train, moves from one medium (air) to another (water) - albeit, much more effectively. So, they remodelled the train to take on the shape of the kingfisher with additional attachments on the roof designed to imitate owl wings for silencing the train. Not only was their problem solved but the train is now 10 percent faster and uses 15 percent less electricity!
Fascinating, isn’t it?
In another interesting example, engineers at Mercedes created a model car based on the shape of the ‘Boxfish’- a tropical fish that lives in the coral reef - which they discovered had very little drag. After they tested the car they found that it had very low wind resistance. The model is called the Bionic Mercedes, a diesel powered concept car that goes 70 miles to the gallon, has 20 percent lower fuel consumption, and up to 80 percent lower nitrogen oxide emissions than the average car.
Of course, humans have always studied nature to solve problems. A case in point being the study of birds to enable human flight that eventually led to the invention of the aeroplane. But, there are many more inventions like these just waiting to happen, if only we look more closely at Mother Nature.
‘Doing it nature’s way’ could perhaps be the new anthem of our age; transferring ideas from biology to technology. As Janine Benyus, the President of the Biomimicry Institute and the leading innovations consultant in the field of Biomimicry says, “Anything that we design has to ultimately pass muster in the biological realm.” This is only logical. After all, Mother Earth is our provider, not the other way round. So, it makes sense that while inhabiting our home planet we should live in tandem with its ways and processes.
We must realize that we have come to a crossroad in our evolution wherein we have little choice left. With increasing imbalances in nature such as global warming, it is high time we adopt practices that are harmonious with nature. Closer home, we are set to become pioneers in this field. Lavasa City, touted as Free India’s first Hill City, located near Pune, will be adopting biomimicry as they construct their second town - Mugaon. Mugaon will be the world’s first region to channelize the concepts of biomimicry in design and architecture.
Without a doubt, through this experiment, India will definitely be setting a precedent for many future towns and cities across the world.
To quote the Atharva Veda, “Prayer has been made to mother earth that She blesses us with the knowledge required to exploit the treasures of the nature but without disturbing the environmental balance.”
With the development of sciences like biomimicry, this prayer might soon be answered.
Editor's note: Most articles submitted to Chillibreeze go through a selection process. Only 30 percent of submitted articles are accepted for publication on the Chillibreeze.com featured article list. All accepted articles are edited and proofread for glaring errors of punctuation and grammar. Sentence structure is changed in certain cases and sometimes, entire sections are rewritten. If you notice any errors that have slipped through the cracks, do let us know! (Email us at info at chillibreeze dot com).
Chillibreeze's disclaimer: This is a contributed article and was published on Chillibreeze in June, 2010. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views of Chillibreeze as a company. Chillibreeze has a strict anti-plagiarism policy. Please contact us to report any copyright issues related to this article. The relevance of the facts and figures cited (if any) could change after a period of time.
Out of 5 “chilies”, our editorial team gave this article...
—About our writer:
Rupangi Sharma is a content writer. She has written a poetry book titled “A Loving Embrace”. The book was released by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi, Mrs. Sheila Dikshit, at New Delhi in December 2007 and subsequently launched in Mumbai at Crossword Bookstores. Currently, she is converting chapters of the subject Environmental Science, into plays, for the 1st and 2nd standard students of Ramniranjan Podar School, Mumbai.
>> Read more articles written by Chillibreeze writers: