Scott Hodge

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Design Ideas From Nature

May 23, 2007
6 Comments

This morning, on my way to the airport, I listened to an intriguing podcast from the 2005 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference by a woman named Janine Benyus.  Janine is science writer and a lecturer on environmental issues. 

The focus of her 18 minute talk was, "12 sustainable design ideas from nature."  In her talk, Benyus gave some amazing examples of biomimicry (the way humans mimic nature in the products we build and the systems we implement.

Here are a few snippets from her talk:

  • The fins of a whale have tubercles on them which have been mimicked on the edge of an airplane resulting in a 32% increase in efficiency.
  • There is a sea sponge that has a natural fiber optic at its base that actually works better than ours and are so flexible that they can be tied into a knot.
  • People are mimicking the energy harvesting device inside of purple bacterium.
  • There’s a company making a product that goes on the outside of a building that when that building facade paint dries, it mimics the bumps in a self cleaning leaf and rain water cleans the building. 
  • There is a beetle that pulls water out of fog and a pill bug that pulls water out of air. 
  • There is a muscle in the ocean that is connected to a rock by threads that begin to dissolve after two years.  What could this mean for package degradation?  Packaging that is good until you don’t need it anymore and then dissolves on cue. 

Interesting stuff…  And it’s amazing what we can learn by just observing and watching nature do its thing and by integrating the expertise of scientists to influence everything from design to technology. 

I loved Benyus’ quote at the end of her talk:

"These organisms have figured out a way to do the amazing things they do while taking care of the place that is going to take care of their offspring." 

Watch Benyus’ talk here.


6 Responses to “Design Ideas From Nature”

  1. Just listened to this yesterday. A great talk. I’ll have to watch the video. She certainly had to much to take in, in just one listen.

  2. Johnny Laird says:

    Isn’t it amazing that somehow this all came together COMPLETELY BY ACCIDENT??….yeah, right! ;-)
    Peace & Blessings
    Thanks for the great posts, Scott! :-)

  3. Eric Bryant says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing these insights!

  4. I’m watching this right now. It’s amazing how much stuff is explained in nature. It’s amazing that God left his imprint everywhere, how powerful!
    I think it’s also powerful how God has sort of left things for us to find if we’ll just look. I thoguht it was interesting about the engineers that after she explained some things to them spent more time paying attention to their environment. I’ll definitely play closer attention to things when I’m on the beach next week!

  5. allen says:

    wow… amazing world

  6. Joni Ruhs says:

    I wonder if God giggled(if I may assume God to be a giggler)when he designed these things just waiting for us to notice. Kind of like divine inside jokes.

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