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Nature's Elegant Solutions
June 5, 2009 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Imagine nature's most elegant ideas organized by design and engineering function, so you can enter "filter salt from water" and see how mangroves, penguins, and shorebirds desalinate without fossil fuels. That's the idea behind AskNature, the online inspiration source for the biomimicry community. The featured pages are a good starting point. Cross-pollinating biology with design.

Biomimicry is the science and art of emulating Nature's best biological ideas to solve human problems. Non-toxic adhesives inspired by geckos, energy efficient buildings inspired by termite mounds, and resistance-free antibiotics inspired by red seaweed are examples of biomimicry happening today.
posted by netbros (13 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

After clicking on the links, I am relieved to find that this post doesn't involve furries in any way.

Living organisms are the most complex chemical production factories we know of, and there's a lot we can learn about efficiency from nature.
posted by demiurge at 3:27 PM on June 5, 2009


Unfortunately, nothing worthwhile from "get rich quick".
posted by notyou at 3:40 PM on June 5, 2009

"Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous." Leonardo Da Vinci.

I know there's a better quote about how anything can be solved by finding the answers in nature, but darn it, I can't remember who said/wrote it!

This is excellent. Thanks for posting it, netbros.
posted by snsranch at 3:47 PM on June 5, 2009

Utterly fascinating and a promising resource for getting inspired and ideas. Thanks, netbros.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:54 PM on June 5, 2009


Unfortunately, nothing worthwhile from "get rich quick".

Also missing:

"how to pull off a coup d'etat"
"juggle several mistresses without getting caught"
"make up with your mother after forgetting to call on Mother's Day"

So none of the problem's I'd really like to see addressed.

It would be cool to make a ask.metafilter and an AskNature mashup.
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 4:57 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Needs more chemistry. "Has a salt gland" is not an answer to "how do loons filter salt from water". Comparisons across species would be very insightful for teaching the commalities between biological solutions (e.g. overcoming a salt gradient requires energy in the form of ATP).
posted by benzenedream at 5:24 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nice. Needs more graphics.
And it's a little too slanted towards conservation/environmental issues rather than just coolness for coolness' sake.
posted by signal at 5:39 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Imagine nature's most elegant ideas

There is no "nature" and it has no ideas.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:52 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Imagine nature's most elegant ideas

There is no "nature" and it has no ideas.

How about:

"Try stuff a bazillion times and keep the ones that work."
posted by porpoise at 8:15 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

That's not very elegant.
posted by ryanrs at 9:27 PM on June 5, 2009

There is nature, and it works on a 'take the easy way out' basis.
posted by kldickson at 8:20 AM on June 6, 2009

For many years I've loved the Asian proverb and spiritual metaphor about the lotus arising pure, unsullied from its contaminating environment. Now it makes scientific sense.

Thanks for yet another wonderful post netbros.
posted by nickyskye at 9:21 AM on June 6, 2009

Actually, ryanrs, I think that it is the apex of elegance. I am curious what you would think would be elegant, instead of bazillions of trials and errors?
posted by wires at 9:56 AM on June 6, 2009

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