Biomimetics, or biomimicry as it is often called, is the scientific approach to mimicking nature for useful, human purposes. Per the Biomimicry Institute, the official academic guild concentrated on the concept, “biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.” So, without redundancy in explanations, let’s move on to take a look at some real-life examples of biomimetics at work.
Early Flying Machines
Long before the Wright Brothers and their creation of the first working aircraft, mankind dreamed of achieving flight in all types of ways. Many of these approaches, in fact, were based on premises in biomimicry. Specifically, birds were the primary model in most cases as they demonstrated the sought ability.
Ultimately, the Wright Brothers’ model, as well as aircraft to follow, would not take on so many bird-like characteristics. Aside from having wings, these working models did not feature the quite common, earlier envisioned works of feathers, joints, and flapping wings. Regardless, biomimicry was key in this human dream all along the way.
Air Recycling and Filtration
Today’s modern-most efforts to achieve the ultimate air purification and recycling systems are modeled after a staple of mother nature: plants. The ability of plants to essentially take in harmful gases while releasing clean oxygen as a result is the ultimate goal of many scientists and engineers today. To replicate this miraculous ability of the natural world in synthetic form would be one of the biggest breakthroughs of our lifetimes. A successful end product is still yet to come, however.
Structural Materials and Fabrics
There is one, tiny insect that science has become quite envious toward in recent times. The spider and its ability to create extremely durable web materials much stronger than steel have drawn all types of scientific attention and a desire to duplicate. Much of the successful biomimicry of the spider web is still in the experimental phase today, but fabrics and building materials are already a few examples of products actively being modeled, closer and closer, after this small wonder of the animal kingdom.
Researchers in Japan have recently debuted an amazingly painless, new form of needle. From where did the researchers model their groundbreaking new medical device? The answer is the Culicidae, also known as the mosquito. By analyzing the mosquito’s blood-sucking apparatus, the researchers found several moving parts working together as one at a very minute level. By replicating this apparatus as closely as possible, they were successfully able to reproduce a sort of new, pain-free nano-needle.
A somewhat more whimsical story of biomimicry comes to us courtesy of famed inventor George De Mestral. After taking his dog on a walk through a particular wooded area, De Mestral found his trousers adorned with fresh burrs from some type of plant. These burrs gripped the fabric of his pants very well as they were composed of many, small, hooked, quill-like arms. Noticing the genius behind this, De Mestral sought out to harness a man-made version. Velcro was the fabulous end result.
Biomimicry is mankind’s imitation of the brilliance of mother nature. In fact, this may be one of the oldest approaches to problem solving found in the indexes of human history. These five examples of biomimetics, or biomimicry, are just a few of the many to be found that provide some great illustration of just that.