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11:27pm, 11th July, 2016

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6 min

In this era of development, the greatest exam we must pass is that of sustainability. How can we achieve it? By copying from nature itself.

Sustainability is the term of this century. What with depleting natural resources and the degrading effects of man made systems and processes, finding sustainable solutions to our recurring obstacles and problems has become the need of the day. Not only solutions but new designs and concepts are being planned in a manner that can sustain themselves for a longer period of time. One of the best examples of sustainability is Biomimicry. Or I should say… the best sustainability comes from Biomimicry.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Biomimicry –

If you haven’t yet seen the TED talk by Jenine Benyus you must not miss it! According to her: Biomimicry is “a new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems” 

I think biomimicry cannot be defined better than this but I don’t believe this is a new science. Humankind has been mimicking nature ever since we invented the wheel. The whole idea of developing biomimicry as a new science is based on the popularly accepted belief – ‘Why reinvent the wheel?’. Nature has already created flawless solutions to all the problems faced by us today over hundreds and thousands of centuries. Then why don’t we look for those solutions in nature rather than investing our time and energy in finding a solution ourselves.
Human inventions that use biomimicry:

Vaccination
Vaccination against a disease is a way of triggering a natural process of our body to fight a disease even before the disease enters our body. So whenever a disease carrying germ enters a human body the body creates antigens that fight the germ and kill it. But some diseases are so powerful that our body will fail to fight it unless it is well prepared before it is hit! So the very natural process of creation of antibodies/ antigens is triggered by implanting a minute quantity of a weaker version of the same disease-causing germ inside the body. Here is nature/human body is being made to mimick its own behaviour by artificially triggering it.

public-domain-image

Image source: public-domain-image

Velcro
The design of the now widely used Velcro fabric has been inspired by the Burr that sticks to animal hair. The hook like structure at the ends of the burr needles has been replicated in the velcro so that it hold a thick fabric on the other side together.

Burr-Tree-chair

Image source: zoffany.com

SONAR
Echolocation is basically sending out sound waves and listening to its echos from different objects to identify their location as well as to navigate among them. Bats use this technique to find food in complete darkness of the night. They also use this as a navigation system as they fly in the darkness.
This very concept has been used in SONAR – Sound Navigation and Ranging where echos produced by sound waves are used for the navigation of submarines under water as well as for communication with other objects as well as detection of other vessels on or under the surface of water.
The same concept is used in Radars to detect approaching objects.

Fred Bavendam-Getty Images

Image source: Fred Bavendam/Getty Images

Speedo’s LZR Racer Swimsuit
If not all of the above you would definitely have heard of Michael Phelps’s swimsuit in 2008 Beijing Olympics that was inspired by sandpaper-like shark skin that offers minimum resistance to water and avoids formation of turbulant swirls thus enhancing the speed of the swimmer in water. It was later banned in competitive swimming.

textalk.se

Image source: textalk.se

Biomimicry is a rapidly developing science and many more newer and more complex natural phenomenon have been used in various areas for better sustainability. For more on Biomimicry and sustainability keep tuned in for my next post.

Feature image source: wallpaperhd.pk

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