Biomimicry – Engineering Inspired by Nature

“Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing nature. It introduces a new era based not on what we can extract from natural wealth, but what we can learn from it”

As the quote from the above video says, Biomimicry is a developing scientific field of study that is focused on developing technologies inspired from natural objects/beings (plants, animals, etc). Nature has taken 3.5 billion years to create beings that exist today, through its process of evolution. Engineers and scientists acknowledge this and seek to create/optimize systems and processes, by mimicking or imitating the natural ones closely.

Biomimicry/Bionics is nothing new. Wright Brothers closely observed the flight principles of pigeons to design their first aircraft. Even today, scientists have redesigned the wings of airplanes watching how different birds fly at different speeds/elevations. The wings of the airplanes change automatically based on environmental conditions in order to make the airplane fly more efficiently!

There are display technologies today that mimic the effect created by butterfly wings shimmering. They take the ambient light that strike the surface and modulate it before sending it back, creating a vivid reflection-based front-lit display that doesn’t affect the eyes even when we view from it for a long time. It is also more energy-efficient, unlike the popular back-lit displays that we are used to, today.

As shown in the first video, large solar panels fold into small satellites and expand from it (once they are in space) using a technique similar to the folding of large flowers within small buds. Someone designed solar panels to be mounted similar to the pattern followed by tree leaves/branches, to achieve increased power-conversion efficiencies. After all, leaves/branches are arranged in a way that helps them get maximum sun-light exposure.

Here, you can find a few more visual examples showing how biomimicry has been imbibed into  technological innovations in order to create better systems or solve existing engineering problems. From now on, if you are an Engineer and your passion is in ornithology, people may not look at you strangely. You may even be in high-demand!

Nature has the answer to almost every question/every problem we face. Instead of observing/learning from nature, we humans are adamant about over-exploiting its resources, creating a scarcity for everyone. Sustainable living, is not only a better way to live, but it’s also a philosophy. A philosophy that believes, less is more.

Destination Infinity

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19 Replies to “Biomimicry – Engineering Inspired by Nature”

    1. One thing about human beings is, We think we are the most intelligent beings in the universe! We refuse to take the vastness of the universe and its creator into consideration. This attitude will only lead to more ignorance and the inflated ego’s will help degrade our quality of living.

      Everyone involved in over-exploiting science/natural-resources will pay a heavy price, later on.

      Destination Infinity

  1. One of the best example is the Eastgate Center in Harare, Zimbabwe. This shopping center was built in 1996 using principles discovered in termite mounds in desert.

  2. Your last para is so true. I have read about biomimicry sometime back. apart from technology we use the response systems in life research as well. The trick is to understand and appreciate the nuances of nature. solutions are all out there, we only need to find them.

    1. It is sad to note that we are fighting and exploiting nature these days (through equipments provided by science) instead of accepting its superiority and learning from nature. It’s good to see a scientific discipline that appreciates the wonder that nature is.

      Destination Infinity

    1. Sustainable living, in my opinion, should be the most important quest of human beings and it should be aided by science where appropriate. At least, that will be my path.

      Destination Infinity

  3. Great explanation Rajesh!

    We learn a lot from nature and there couldn’t be a best teacher like it… but as much important we give to technology, based on number of natural exists, the nature lacks due care.

    1. Yes, we don’t only not care for nature but we are also hell-bent on destroying in the name of development. This attitude should change.

      Destination Infinity

    1. Well, there is even more… Hopefully, scientists and naturalists will work together to unravel mysteries of nature.

      Destination Infinity

  4. As you have clearly said, we have so much to gain from nature.

    We as human beings take nature as granted, often walking past its beauty without batting an eyelid. Thanks to research and ongoing development, we come to realise that we need nature and what it has to offer, often more than what we think.

    1. Right. Often, observing simple things around us can surprise us! Even common creatures like a spider/ant may do so many innovative things and we might just not notice them! I am sure we can learn something by observing nature more closely…

      Destination Infinity

  5. fantastic .. but isn’t it that we’ve been doing this since ages just to name it biomimicry today? lets say if i may be wrong but what’s the use of this bionics even because today or tomorrow man will start using bionics only to exploit natural resources ..like he did after developing technology just to make use of it in exploiting mother earth…!

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