April 1, 2008 4:15 PM   Subscribe

Biomimetics: Design by Nature. "Burs on a dog's coat led to the invention of Velcro. That's an example of biomimetics—the young science of adapting designs from nature to solve modern problems. Now it may be coming of age."
posted by homunculus (10 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Cool stuff. See also biomimicry and Janine Benyus.
posted by salvia at 4:52 PM on April 1, 2008

posted by Smedleyman at 4:56 PM on April 1, 2008

Now it may be coming of age.

For about the fourth time in the last 15 years. Biomimetics is awesome, but they need to get over velcro already and get something new out of the lab now.
posted by DU at 6:13 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

On a related note, there's an awesome TED lecture about using geckos and roaches to design a robotic foot.
posted by JDHarper at 6:36 PM on April 1, 2008

Also, this kind of stuff underscores the need to keep as many different species of plant and animal as possible alive. Every extinction means the loss of a unique set of solutions to a lot of different physical and chemical challenges, the loss of a mystery box full of potential treasure for researchers and engineers, the loss of potential cures for diseases and potential inspiration for machines.
posted by JDHarper at 6:41 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not exactly copying something that natural selection already came up with, but using the same mechanisms that nature does, there are some wicked antennas that have been designed.

and the gecko van der Waals thing is way cool
posted by porpoise at 7:37 PM on April 1, 2008

I read this article today, after finally opening up my NG. Microscopic velcro looks weirdly bacterial.
posted by riane at 8:36 PM on April 1, 2008

15 years is but a flash of lightning ... to say that it has come of age is completely appropriate (after all, English-speakers in certain parts of the world used to refer to coming of age as being at age 21 ...).

Biomimetics is coming along faster than "natural" evolution ...
posted by aldus_manutius at 6:21 AM on April 2, 2008

I liked this, thanks.

The name might be new, but I'd certainly say that biomimetics has been around much longer than 15 years. Think of those old-timey videos of failed flying machines, with their flapping, bird-like wings. It's obviously much more crude than current research, but it makes sense: If you want to fly like a bird, build something that flaps like a bird. Too bad it didn't work... Sometimes it's good to mimic nature, and sometimes we can find better solutions on our own.
posted by vytae at 10:35 AM on April 2, 2008

I just received an email today announcing a lecture and workshop called "Biomimicry for a Sustainable Built Environment." If anyone's interested, the registration link is here.

The Biomimicry Guild is being featured, and the event is being hosted by AIA Seattle and the AIA Committee on the Environment.

I won't be going because it's on the wrong coast from me.
posted by Crankatator at 4:18 PM on April 2, 2008

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