There is a sad truth about this world, specifically about the intelligent species that dominates the Earth. This truth sits in the fact that humans, who have only been inhabitants of the Earth for a microscopic amount of time, have managed to completely destroy a major portion of the planet’s environment. Planet Earth has been in existence for about 4 billion years, with 3 billion+ of those years without human interaction. A mistake that humanity made throughout its minuscule existence so far, is that humans began taking from nature at grand scales. Today, the environment and our lives pay the price. However, what if humans learned to live symbiotically with Mother Nature, and instead of just taking from her, we learn from her? There is a way to do this, and that method is called Biomimicry.
According to The Biomimicry Institute, the most basic definition of biomimicry is, “an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.”
With this study, scientists and innovators/entrepreneurs alike have teamed up in using nature’s blueprints to solve design challenges. Listed below, to give you a more concrete idea of what this scientific approach can do, are some inventions that have been created through the use of biomimicry.
Mercedes-Benz Bionic Car
In their efforts to create a zippy but extremely energy efficient car, Mercedes-Benz engineers looked at the shape of the boxfish. This shape allows the car to travel with very minimal wind resistance, while creating enough room inside for up to four passengers. Plus, when I mentioned it being zippy, I wasn’t kidding. This vehicle can hit speeds of 62 miles per hour in 8.2 seconds. Combine those perks with getting 70 miles per gallon and you have a pretty marketable, and eco-friendly car.
Normal high speed trains were so loud coming out of their tunnels that Japanese researchers were forced to do something about the Earth-shattering sound. Thus, the Shinkansen Bullet Train was designed. According to bloomberg.com, “a bird-watching engineer at the Japanese rail company JR-West, in the 1990s took inspiration from the kingfisher, a fish-eating fowl that creates barely a ripple when it darts into water in search of a meal.”
Have you ever thought about creating an adhesive that was so strong it could lift, mount, or stick together hundreds of pounds without leaving residue behind? Wouldn’t you also want this adhesive to be reusable? Those were the exact thoughts researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst were pondering. Thus, they studied the way geckos were able to scale smooth surfaces even upside-down, without leaving any residue behind. Through their use of biomimicry, the researchers concluded that a gecko had millions of microscopic hairs in all directions on their feet. These hairs allowed them to stick almost like suction cups. These reptiles also possess hard cartilage in their feet that acted as backbone to the hairs. Using these properties, the scientists at MassAmherst developed a fabric called Geckskin that was able to replicate the gecko’s properties. One index card-sized strip is capable of lifting 700 pounds!
These three examples are only a small group out of the hundreds of examples of biomimicry inventions and innovation. As this study continues to grow in popularity, we can look forward to further creations beneficial to both humanity and Mother Nature, who handed us the blueprints in the first place.