Comments Off on 6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry
Da Vinci was definitely on to something when he observed birds and copied their forms to create his own wings for flight. Although biomimicry wasn’t ultimately successful in helping Da Vinci achieve flight , it has a solid track record for getting engineers, thinkers, and inventors to approach problems in design and technology by returning to nature and its processes. Here are six examples of how observing and imitating nature lead to designs that can improve issues in the modern world. Wind turbine with hummingbird wings Wind turbines typically incorporate a pinwheel shape, but a breakthrough design from Tyer Wind has cleverly tapped into the gravity-defying hovering abilities of hummingbirds . While it may look like these feather-light birds are furiously flapping their wings in a linear fashion, they actually use a figure eight configuration. The design for this new turbine uses wings instead of traditional rotating blades to turn energy from wind into green electricity through 3-D Aouinian Kinematics . Cactus water collector After observing certain cacti ’s ability to collect and store water particles from fog, students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago were inspired to create Dewpoint , a design with real-world applications beyond the desert. By recreating a cactus’s prong-like spines and attaching them to a panel that can absorb, collect, and efficiently save water, the team is beginning to explore water security possibilities for a world that is increasingly facing drought, desertification, and disappearing water sources. Stable and durable bridge Anyone who has ever watched a little leaf on a tree take hit after hit from wind or pelting rain (or perhaps a child with a stick) and still persist knows that surprising hidden strength can be found in many of Mother Nature’s designs. Wanda Lewis has been studying that idea for 25 years, looking specifically at how examining the ways that fragile elements in nature respond to external forces and stress can benefit the structure of a modern, man-made bridge . Lewis developed a mathematical model for bridge design that would take into consideration modern stressors such as traffic and extreme weather conditions. Lewis’s “form-finding” would enable the creation of bridges that are safer, more durable, and long-lasting by using a previously elusive optimal arch. Related: Biomimicry keeps hope alive despite the new regime Light-sensitive robot caterpillar What may look like a tiny piece of wavy plastic (or perhaps a miniaturized piece of bacon) is actually a robot that can carry loads up to 10 times larger than itself . With caterpillars as inspiration, physics researchers in Poland created this 15 millimeter long critter which is crafted from light-sensitive Liquid Crystalline Elastomers. Mimicking the wave-like motions of a moving caterpillar, this soft robot can also go up a slope or squeeze into a small space. Watch this little robot move in a surprisingly meditative video. Artificial leaf Artificial photosynthesis has been around for over a century, but Caltech’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis has found a way to mimic the natural process and safely, effectively, and affordably produce and store energy using the sun . The group’s artificial leaf consists of two electrodes (one that generates hydrogen gas, the other that generates oxygen gas), as well as a plastic membrane that keeps the collected gases separate. The Caltech crew is working on scaling up the design, but their innovation shows promise for creating a system that uses only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce hydrogen fuels that can be utilized as needed. Avian-inspired train It’s a bird…it’s a train…it’s kind of both: a bullet train whose design was partially inspired by features of an owl and a kingfisher . Engineer, general manager of the tech development department for Japan’s bullet trains , and avid bird-watcher Eiji Nakatsu wanted to make his trains both faster and quieter . He first employed his observations about the noise-dampening feather parts of an owl to reduce the sound effects of the trains as they whizzed through neighborhoods and tunnels. Later, he observed that the streamlined shape of the kingfisher’s bill could be used in a new train design to further reduce noise (including a persistent sonic boom effect) and decrease necessary fuel amounts, all while reducing travel time.
Comments Off on The Biomimicry Manual: What can the honeybee teach a designer?
What exactly is biomimicry ? I think of it as a way of unlocking a whole world of super-powers for humanity. It is literally the next stage of human evolution. Leonardo DaVinci himself said, “Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all masters, are laboring in vain.” Maybe we’ve been studying the wrong master, trying to make a living on this planet in ways that will ultimately deplete us all. That’s certainly the case with humans and honeybees . Yes, humans love honey, and the busy hum of bees in the garden is a sound that gives us peace on a warm day. But we have much more to learn from them. Find out the lessons they have to teach in today’s entry of The Biomimicry Manual ! Great designers know that people feel good when they are surrounded by plants and other living things. Gardens are good for the soul. That’s ‘biophilia.’ Nature makes us happy. We love using ‘organic’ raw materials, like honey and beeswax, because they are useful and renewable, pleasing and non-toxic. They won’t sit in a landfill for the next thousand years like yesterday’s plastic. The Earth will recycle them. That’s ‘bio-utilization,’ using nature because it’s just good stuff. Our herds of goats and sheep, the crop varieties we’ve grown and selected for millennia because they taste the way we want, and even the family dog are ‘bio-assistants.’ They help us make and do the things we need. Honeybees, for instance, are not ‘wild animals,’ but domestic helpers. We have shaped their evolution to suit ourselves. Biomimicry is a little different. It only “uses” life’s ideas. It’s when you have a problem, and you ask, “how other living creatures solving it?” Instead of harvesting that creature or its by-products, you copy the idea itself and make it anew, make it human. Every plant and animal , fungus, and bacteria has a whole genome worth of time-tested, sustainable ideas to inspire us. That’s a lot of superpowers. Myself, I like bioinspiration of all kinds. John Todd ‘s ‘ Living Machines ‘, for instance, do a little of everything: biophilia, bio-utilization, bio-assistance, and biomimicry. He uses a pleasing array of living plants and bacteria (both domestic and wild) to imitate the way a natural wetland ecosystems works, filtering and treating sewage in the process. Believe it or not, a bee has to eat eight pounds of honey to make a single pound of wax to safely store her honey and larvae in. It’s an expensive proposition, and it has to be done efficiently. The ancient Greeks understood that modular hexagonal honeycomb makes the most storage possible with the least amount of material. Architects and designers are tapping this for all sorts of applications. Panelite , in New York, offers hexagonal ClearShade insulating glass. It passively regulates heat, while still letting in lots of light. The Sinosteel skyscraper in Tianjin, China uses honeycomb windows the same way. Our honeybee has other brilliant design ideas as well. For instance, her 300 degree field of vision literally gives her eyes in the back of her head. Nissan Motors is working on a laser range finder inspired by these curved, compound eyes, which will detect and avert potential collisions. German researchers are designing a honeybee-inspired wide-angle lens for aerial drones, while other researchers are using their navigation tricks to optimize GPS and tracking systems. We know that it’s physically impossible for bumblebees to fly. And yet they do, with incredible efficiency and maneuverability. So what are we missing? We aren’t completely sure, but one thing they have is the ability to zip and unzip their two-part wings for flight and landing. What if our airplanes could do that? Wouldn’t that save space on aircraft carriers and in busy airports? And when we say something is “the bees’ knees,” it’s even better than we thought. Insect joints contain ‘resilin,’ a springy protein. Turns out to be the most efficient elastic known, dramatically better than natural or synthetic rubber. With it, bees can flap their wings a thousand times a minute, and fleas can jump one hundred times their body length. An Australian government research group has mimicked this “near-perfect” rubber, creating 98% bounce back. That’s practically a perpetual-motion machine! These examples are taken from Jay Harman’s new book, The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and how Nature is Inspiring Innovation . There are so many good ideas in nature, it boggles the mind, And that’s just the bees! There is literally an infinite world of time-tested, sustainable ideas to learn from. And if we get “buzz-y” studying them, we can unlock a whole new set of super-powers to take us into the future. + The Biomimicry Manual An evolutionary biologist, writer, sustainability expert, and passionate biomimicry professional in the Biomimicry 3.8 BPro certification program , Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker blogs at BioInspired Ink and serves as Content Developer for the California Association of Museums ‘ Green Museums Initiative. She is working on a book about organizational transformation inspired by nature.
Comments Off on Self-assembling shelters that could revolutionize emergency housing
Emergency shelter design is becoming increasingly important due to the various refugee situations occurring around the world. Although some designs have already been awarded for their crucial role in providing emergency housing, other forward-thinking designers such as Haresh Lalvani are actively working to create a biomimicry-based system where shelter structures would be able to assemble themselves. As cofounder of the Pratt Institute Center for Experimental Structures , Lalvani is employing a “wildly interdisciplinary range of tools” to create a type of generative geometry that would be able to assemble and repair, grow, and evolve all on its own. The designer is using concepts found in biology, mathematics, computer science and art to create systems where matter would start encoding information, a similar process to that of stem cells and genes in the human body. Lalvani explains that these biological systems are “the only place where software and hardware are the same thing.” Related: ASU’s new Biomimicry Center offers first-ever master’s degree in biomimicry https://youtu.be/fh-fMUo0Kjk Using biomimicry as inspiration, Lalvani is testing the potential of giving physical objects the power to assemble through a similar system of genomic instructions encoded into the raw material. His prototypes stem from a concrete and humanitarian approach that could potentially create, for example, rapidly deployable disaster housing . Creating an “inherently ephemeral building type”, however, is no easy task, and one that requires a futuristic level of technology. Working with metal fabricator, Milgo/Bufkin, Lalvani has managed to convert 2D sheets of perforated metals into rigid 3D structures using a computer controlled laser cutter that perforates “variable openings” into the sheets. Using a force such as gravity for instance, the spaces can be pulled apart or stretched, therefore creating another, more flexible form that is completely distinct from the original material. This type of installation could be a potential game changer for shelter design considering some of Lalvani’s installations take less than one minute to bend into shape. Additionally exciting is the fact that the raw material is just one thin sheet of metal, and can be easily transported and requires no tools for assembly, making it especially useful for emergency situations. + Haresh Lalvani + Pratt Institute Center for Experimental Structures Via Archdaily Images via Haresh Lalvani
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Self-assembling shelters that could revolutionize emergency housing
Comments Off on Geologists find seventh continent hiding in plain sight
There’s another continent on Earth , and it’s been lurking in plain view for a long time. Geologists have traditionally identified six continents, combining Asia and Europe into Eurasia, but a new study reveals New Zealand and New Caledonia are actually part of a seventh geologic continent called Zealandia. In the Geological Society of America ‘s journal GSA Today , 11 scientists from institutions in New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Australia revealed the find. They claim New Caledonia and New Zealand aren’t just an island chain as was once thought, but are part of one 1.89 million square mile piece of continental crust that comprises Zealandia. Once part of the supercontinent Gondwana, now just around five percent of Zealandia is above the ocean’s surface. Related: Scientists find evidence of lost continent beneath Mauritius To discern a continent, geologists consider four criteria: first, elevation above the ocean floor; second, if igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks can found; third, if the land is comprised of a thicker piece of crust compared against the ocean floor; and fourth, if there clearly defined limits around an area bigger than a continental fragment or microcontinent. Geologists have known for decades New Zealand and New Caledonia fit criteria one through three, but in their new study, the 11 scientists drew on satellite gravity data to help recognize Zealandia as a continent around the size of greater India. If you think you’ve heard the word ‘Zealandia’ before, it’s because geophysicist Bruce Luyendyk, who wasn’t part of the new study, coined the name back in 1995, to refer to the two islands and other submerged pieces of crust that once broke off Gondwana. Luyendyk said he wasn’t trying to describe a new continent then, but he thinks the scientists’ find will be accepted. He told Business Insider, “These people here are A-list earth scientists. I think they have put together a solid collection of evidence that’s really thorough. I don’t see that there’s going to be a lot of pushback, except maybe around the edges.” Luyendyk said there are clear economic implications to the study. United Nations agreements often describe continental shelves as boundaries that help determine resource extraction, and according to Business Insider New Zealand might have tens of billions of dollars of minerals and fossil fuels near its shores. Via Business Insider Images via Wikimedia Commons and N. Mortimer, et al./GSA Today
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Geologists find seventh continent hiding in plain sight
January 23, 2017 by
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Comments Off on Revolutionary flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbirds to produce clean energy
A new flapping wind turbine from Tunisia marks a revolutionary breakthrough in the field of mechanics. Until recently, scientists have been limited in their ability to apply new understandings of animal and human motion to machines, according to Tyer Wind . In the wind energy sector, this limitation has resulted in fairly simple and relatively inefficient turbines. Using 3D Aouinian kinematics that he pioneered, Anis Aouini is disrupting that space with a unique wind turbine modeled on articulations of the only bird capable of sustained hovering– the hummingbird . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r4qnfLns_s Tyer Wind has replicated the mechanism that allows hummingbirds to fly in one place with their flapping wind turbine that moves in a figure 8 configuration. It has two vertical axis wings made from carbon fiber, each 5.25 feet long, that convert kinetic wind energy into emissions-free electricity. Combined, the two wings sweep an area of nearly 12 square feet, with a pre-industrial rated power output of 1kW. Hassine Labaied, partner and co-founder of Tyer Wind, told Inhabitat this is the first time a mechanical device has successfully mimicked the hummingbird’s motion, and that the video above illustrates a pilot machine currently being tested in Tunisia . The group says their initial tests for power efficiency, aerodynamic behavior, and material resistance are encouraging, and they will release the resulting data after a sufficient period of time. (Those interested in more technical details are encouraged to take a look at this PDF .) 3D Aouinian kinematics have applications in other technologies as well, according to Tyer Wind, including external combustion engines, internal combustion engines, pumps, and marine propulsion–among others. The biomimicry revolution may not be televised, but it is definitely underway. + Tyer Wind
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Revolutionary flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbirds to produce clean energy
Comments Off on How to keep hope alive under Donald Trump? Biomimicry
What a year! Such exultant highs and crushing lows. Here we stand, on the brink of a sixth wave of extinction , staring down the barrel of a 10 billion-human population explosion, as the summers get hotter and the winters weirder . Someone ought to do something! we think––but it seems that systems protecting and supporting us are breaking down, right when we can least afford it. How do we keep hope alive? How do we find the strength to keep working for a better future? For me, hope isn’t hard to find. It stems from the fact that every creature encountered on the trail is a survivor, whose ancestors passed down the strategies that serve them today. Living things have always faced shifting climates , dwindling resources, deceptive predators, parasites and competitors. After nearly four billion years of life, natural selection has sculpted tens of millions of winning solutions. Learning from these solutions, or applying biomimicry to our daily life, seeds hope for the future.
January 19, 2017 by
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Comments Off on Weird but wonderful Wind House brings whimsy to Koreas Jeju Island
A peculiar home has popped up on Korea’s idyllic Jeju island , and it’s unlike any we’ve seen before. Moon Hoon , a Seoul-based architect who’s never afraid to think outside of the box, recently completed the Wind House, a low-lying structure topped with a large-scale golden sculptural object that bears similarities to a duck head or hairdryer. Despite its alien appearance, the golden protrusion’s shape takes inspiration from the wind-swept landscape, while its golden color alludes to the island’s fall and winter foliage. Moon Hoon, the same architect behind a Star Wars House and the candy-inspired Lollipop House , was commissioned by an eye doctor with a love of contemporary art and a taste for the eccentric. The client tasked Hoon to design three small houses with the requirements that they be unique and functional. The resulting Wind House comprises a volcanic stone wall that runs the perimeter of the site, two low-lying houses that sit at right angles to one another, and a third house in the middle topped with a inhabitable and sculptural space that Hoon describes as “blossom[ing] like a golden flower.” The boxy gray-colored homes draw inspiration from traditional Jeju architecture and provide a sharp contrast to the glistening gold crown. Accessible via a spiral staircase , the duck head-shaped space includes a living room, kitchen, and bedroom. Unlike the other interior spaces, which are painted a demure white and kept relatively minimalist, the interior of the “hovering flower” is painted a vibrant shade of red complemented with black furniture and a zebra print floor. A slit window offers views towards Hallasan, the volcano located at the center of the island. Related: The Force is Strong With This Sandcrawler-Inspired Star Wars House in South Korea “The sharp difference and contrast between the horizontal houses and hovering houses grounded secularly by high volcanic rock walls bring about a kind of contrasting harmony like that of flowers blossoming among the green leaves,” says the architect. Moon Hoon and Tomeny Kisilewicz also produced an unusual five-minute science fiction film that stars the Wind House as the hero that saves the residents of Jeju from the erupting Hallasan. + Moon Hoon Via ArchDaily Images © NamGoong sun
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Weird but wonderful Wind House brings whimsy to Koreas Jeju Island
Comments Off on 10 amazing uses for biomimicry in business
We can learn a lesson or two from Mother Nature.
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10 amazing uses for biomimicry in business
Comments Off on Boeing and HRL win Guinness World Record for world’s lightest metal
Boeing and HRL Laboratories created a metal microlattice that has been awarded the Guinness World Record for the world’s lightest metal . The entire structure of the microlattice is 99.99 percent air, making it 100 times lighter than styrofoam. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the new metal is not its light weight, but the fact that it was created to emulate human cell structure. It’s far from a bionic metal, but it illustrates that developing technology to mimic nature can help us achieve great things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6N_4jGJADY While the weight of a material is often associated with its strength, that isn’t always the case. For many applications, the use of a lighter material can lend a number of benefits in terms of durability and flexibility, all important considerations where all sorts of structures are concerned. Like human bones, which are porous, the microlattice is incredibly strong despite being mostly air. Its spindly structure is capable of absorbing and distributing force to reduce damage. The team placed the metal microlattice atop the delicate head of a dandelion (already gone to seed) to demonstrate its ultra light weight. Related: Scientists develop world’s lightest metal, 100x times lighter than styrofoam Boeing’s new metal microlattice is made from nickel phosphorus and is approximately 100 times lighter than styrofoam. While the aerospace company is certainly looking forward to potential applications in commercial airplane wings, the lightweight yet durable microlattice could have other uses in vehicle engines, military protective gear, and possible even in the medical world. Because of the way the microlattice’s structure mimics porous human cells, it could someday be used to develop an artificial lung. The microlattice is the product of several years of research and development, and initially introduced in 2011 . The Guinness World Record was just awarded last year , after a long application and review process. Via ArchDaily Images via Boeing
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Boeing and HRL win Guinness World Record for world’s lightest metal
November 10, 2016 by
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Comments Off on Rainforest Retreat is a nature lovers escape with minimal building impact
Hidden away in the British Columbia rainforest, the 825-square-foot cabin enjoys privacy and its many windows offer carefully framed views of the landscape. The building is handsomely clad in locally milled Douglas Fir and Red Cedar, which lend the cabin a sense of warmth, while helping it blend into the surroundings. The use of timber is repeated in the interior, where it is complemented by large white surfaces for a clean and contemporary appearance. Shade from the trees and cross-breezes naturally cool the building. Related: Modern timber-framed cabin is hidden high among the tree canopy of a Swedish island “The client’s wishes for simplicity, gentle exterior appearance, a small footprint, and abundant natural light set the stage for an open sculptural form,” writes Agathom. “Great effort was taken to minimize the building’s impact on the site, resulting in a long, slim structure. Slightly twisting two main blocks of the plan, and overlapping those shapes, made a building modest in area ever expansive and full of unexpected depth.” Custom lighting enhances forest views in the dark and a periscope light was installed to guide the client when outdoors. The Rainforest Retreat was this year’s Architizer A+ Awards winner in the Popular Choice category for Private House XS. + Agathom Via Dezeen Images via Agathom
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Rainforest Retreat is a nature lovers escape with minimal building impact