What can biology offer to engineering, technology and design fields and their respective careerists? Solutions, by motivating visionaries to emulate natural processes, which are billions of years in the making.
The movement of inventors and creative designers known as the “Biomimicry Revolution” takes advice from the “genius” of our planet’s ecosystems and organisms in order to transform our society’s technological capability and revolutionize our energy use. In an age where finding an equilibrium in the midst of rapid climate change is dominating national conversations and even the President’s address to the Union, the field of biomimicry is a relatively new arena for environmental activists, but the results of some of its earliest projects are stunning scientists and industrialists for the lengths biomimicrists are promising to take us.
Janine Benyus has been the leading voice for the field since she introduced the movement to wider acclaim in her book “Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.” She is also the co-founder of the Biomimicry Guild, which consults with inventors and promotes projects that “look at nature as billions of years’ worth of research and development.”
In her studies, she has profiled several companies that have utilized the “blueprints” of nature’s tools to solve complex problems, from making nanotechnology safer by imitating sulfur-reducing bacteria in order to secure loose nanoparticles to improving the structure and strength of cars, roads and even bulletproof vests with something as simple, but incredibly tough, as the silk web of spiders.
One company, Regen, investigates how bees and ants most effectively communicate with each other to find food and maximize their own energy output or “energy grid.” Regen transposes this “swarm technology” to such commonplace products as home appliances, creating an algorithm that is designed to, through conversation, find a peak power point for and regulate energy consumption between everyday technologies. A Cornell study is designing a “synthetic tree,” which can transport water the same way that trees do, from the ground up and through their roots, but without pumps.
Benyus and her fellow biomimicrists have complied and created a web-based search engine called AskNature.org, a website that reveals the many answers that nature has for society, from how nature prevents turbulence to how it regulates temperature, which can be the basis for innovative strategies in the design technology.
Point Loma Nazarene University has predicted that the industry stemming from biomimicry has the potential to constitute 300 million of the U.S.’s GDP and create 1.6 million jobs by the year 2025. For more information on the biomimicry revolution, visit biomimicry.net.