Learning from nature’s creativity
If you don’t have a proper solution for a problem, it sometimes helps to look to others who have. When it comes to more efficient technology – copying from nature has proven a surprisingly rewarding strategy.
The most prominent example is the “lotus effect” that helps to keep windows clean, for example. But in fact, there a many others: Joins us on a trip into the world of nature’s creativity, which is a direct result of the huge diversity of life out there.
The boxfish (Ostracion cubicus) for example acted as a model for car company Mercedes and has – despite its clumsy appearance – better aerodynamic properties than a “Porsche” sports car.
Not convinced? Consider this example: Ants have inspired, both, British telecoms company BT to improve their network as well traffic psychologists and mathematicians who study ant trail dynamics to make human traffic guidance more efficient and avoid traffic jams.
See the little hooks of this bur? Can you guess which invention it inspired? Here’s a hint: you might have it in your wardrobe or at least somewhere in your house. Yes, it’s velcro. The material was designed based on the plant’s structure (where it helped the seeds to attach to animals in order to spread)
Ever attempted to build a sand castle during your beach holidays? Chances are that, even if you thought it looks impressive – it is not nearly as well designed as termite nests which feature a very clever cooling system, that prevents the nest from overheating. Architects have taken this as a model for the Eastgate Center – a shopping and office complex in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare.
Let’s move on to technology: to colorful butterfly-wings, for example. They have been the template for the displays of consumer electronics devices including CD- or mp3-players. The wings have very good reflection properties for bright colors.
Not quite wings – but close enough: the wavelike edge of a humpback-whale’s fins has been imitated by engineers for the construction of wind turbines.
Any more ideas of how nature has inspired human inventions? Discuss with us in the comments below!
DateJanuary 4, 2014