When scientists look for research, we investigate literature and ask knowledgeable questions to look for our next steps. I submit that sometimes, we look too far ahead of us for solutions to our problems, when in fact, the natural world has already found the answer.
This concept is not my own; rather, it is the concept of biomimicry that has surfaced as a completely acceptable method of attaining solutions to our problems.
With this concept, we push science to look at what nature has created, and to apply to same concepts into our own technologies in order to make simpler, more efficient choices. After all, nature has been around far longer than humanity (and the infrastructure that came with it). It simply makes sense that we look into what the environment has created and see what knowledge is transferable.
A perfect example of this comes from sharks. Shark skin is made of dentasols, which are incredibly efficient at keeping the sharks outer coating clean. Because of this fascinating technology, a pilot study has been conducted to apply this technology and make it into an adhesive sticker, which can then be used in hospitals to keep surfaces clean. The study proved to be remarkably effective.
Other examples include:
- Toxin-free dyes, which comes from the idea of nano-scale structures of butterflies. This reduces using toxic metals and requires less energy to make.
- The namib desert beetle gets water in the desert by collecting condensation from fog on its back, then lowering is head to make the water drip into its mouth. This idea has been applied to water collection (without having to drill extensively underground)
- The adhesive nature of blue mussels has been researched to create glues for hardwood products.
We can’t deny that the ‘inventfulness’ of nature is rather compelling, but there are more aspects to consider. Does biomimicry give a reason to put more funding into research? And does this give more reason to explore and use resources from other countries?
Biomimicry may certainly be an answer to problems, but it may provide complications in its implementation. Combating the issues of exploration and sustainability on this concept is something that will need to be discussed. We can’t view biomimicry as a steadfast solution; it provides us with innovative thinking, but only if we use it in tandem with the notion of preservation.
Want more info? See Janine Benyus’ TED Talk on natures designs.