If you have ever looked at a leaf and wondered how it is able to collect water or gazed at the stars and wondered how they stay in place, you have experienced biomimicry. Biomimicry is the process of imitating nature in order to solve problems. This can be done through observing natural phenomena and then applying what is learned to human-made designs and inventions. In this blog post, we’ll explore some examples of biomimicry that can be found in nature!
What is Biomimicry?
The word “biomimicry” is derived from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate. Biomimicry is the process of imitating nature in order to solve problems. This can be done through observing natural phenomena and then applying what is learned to human-made designs and inventions.
Biomimicry has been used for centuries, but the term was first coined in the 1960s by Janine Benyus. Biomimicry is a way of looking at the world and seeing the solutions that are already out there. When designing something, we can look to nature for inspiration. For example, when engineers were trying to come up with a better way to collect water from leaves, they looked to the pitcher plant.
The pitcher plant is able to collect water by using its surface area to create a vacuum. This vacuum pulls water up into the plant’s body. The engineers were able to replicate this design in order to create a better water collector!
Where Can You Find Biomimicry in Nature?
Biomimicry can be found in all aspects of nature, from the way leaves collect water to the way stars stay in place. There are also some biomimicry animals you can find outside. Some of the most common examples of biomimicry in nature include:
- The way leaves collect water:The pitcher plant is able to collect water by using its surface area to create a vacuum. This vacuum pulls water up into the plant’s body. Engineers were able to replicate this design in order to create a better water collector!
- The way flowers are pollinated:Flowers are pollinated by bees and other insects who are attracted to their colors and scents. The flowers use these colors and scents to guide the insects towards them.
- The way coral reefs are able to maintain their structure: Coral reefs use calcium carbonate skeletons in order to remain stable. Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound that forms when carbon dioxide dissolves into water and combines with other minerals such as magnesium or sodium chloride (table salt).
- The way stars stay in place:Stars are held together by gravity, which is a force that acts on all objects with mass. Gravity pulls stars towards each other and keeps them from spinning out of control. The larger the star, the more gravity it has!
- The way birds fly:Birds use their wings to push against air molecules in order to stay airborne. They also flap their wings up and down at different speeds in order to move forward or backward while flying.
- The way ants work together:Ants live in colonies that are made up of thousands of individual insects working together as a team. Ants communicate with one another using chemicals called pheromones which they release into the air when they’re feeling stressed out by something like danger or a food shortage.
What Modern Technologies are Inspired by Biomimicry?
Interestingly, there are various technological inventions inspired by plants and animals. We can also look to the way birds fly for inspiration when designing new aircraft or drones. Another common example of biomimicry is using gecko feet to create adhesives that can stick to various surfaces. This technology is currently being used in medical adhesive bandages, and it’s also being explored for use in space!
Here are the different technologies inspired by biomimicry:
- Velcro: Velcro was invented by Swiss engineer George de Mestral in the 1940s. He was inspired by the way burrs (a type of seed) attached themselves to his clothes and dog’s fur. De Mestral studied how the burrs worked and then created a fabric that mimicked their design.
- The Wright Brothers’ airplane: The airplane, as we know it, also has its origins traced from nature. Wilbur and Orville Wright were inspired by the way birds flew when they created their first successful airplane.
- The Lotus Effect: The lotus plant is a water-loving plant that grows in ponds, lakes, and rivers. Its leaves are coated with wax crystals that give it a waterproof surface so water droplets can’t get into them even if they’re submerged in water. German chemist Wilhelm Barthlott was inspired by the lotus plant when he invented a self-cleaning paint that repels dirt, dust, and oil just like the lotus leaf does!
- Gecko Feet: Geckos are able to climb up walls using tiny hairs on their feet which stick to almost any surface. NASA was inspired by the gecko’s ability to climb walls when he invented a new type of adhesive that could be used in space!
- Water bottle filters: The water bottle filter is another example of biomimicry. It was inspired by the way plants use carbon dioxide to make oxygen.
- Teflon: Teflon was created by DuPont chemist Roy Plunkett in 1938. He was inspired by the way Teflon is produced by nature. The slippery coating that’s found on Teflon is actually a type of wax that’s produced by some insects to keep themselves from getting wet!
- Camera: The camera is one of the most common examples of biomimicry as it is an excellent replica of the human eye. It has a lens that focuses light onto film or an electronic sensor, just like our eyes do!
- Solar panels: Solar panels are another example of biomimicry as they mimic the way leaves use sunlight to make food for plants through photosynthesis. A solar panel works by capturing sunlight and turning it into electricity with photovoltaic cells.
Biomimicry is the process of copying or imitating natural designs and processes in order to solve human problems. It can be seen in various aspects of our lives, from the way birds fly to how ants work together as a team. There are also various modern technologies that have been inspired by biomimicry, such as Velcro and Teflon. As we continue to face ever-growing environmental challenges, it’s important that we look to nature for inspiration on how to create sustainable solutions.