Christian Long

Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in Action

In TED Talks on April 11, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Reflection by MARY M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Janine Benyus:  Biomimicry in Action

“What if, every time I started to invent something, I asked,’How would nature solve this?'” But another question is, “What’s worth soving?”

Biomimicry is a new and powerful way of innovation in which scientist and experts look at the world around us and see what can be made better. What we need to realize is that we can take ideas from nature and learn from the organisms around us.

“We are part of a brilliant planet, and we are surrounded by genius.”

Some look around at the world we live in today at all of the buildings and inventions we have come up with already, but what some people don’t realise is that we are not the first to come up with similar concepts. We are not the first to build, we are not the first to heat or cool a stucture, and we are not the first to build homes to protect our young. People are beginning to see that the creatures and organisms that have been doing things so easily for the last few billions of years, are doing the things we need to do. We just have to figure out how to ‘mimic’ what they do, and apply it to our own lives. With biomimicry, scientists are finding ways to make things more energy effecient, with the ability to work faster than before. Scientists are learning from the organisms around us to make bacteria unable to adhere to surfaces, and to collect ten times the amount of water than a fog-catching net.

When you see the words carbon dioxide, you think poison, but a cement manufacturing company has learned that we can ust it to make a new type of concrete. With this, we are using up half a ton of the deadly gas, rather than emitting a ton of it. Scientists are working on how to make our world nano, how to make car frames smaller and light weight, yet even more strong, and working out how to use a tree as a pump to bring water up from the ground.

One last thing is the question on how to make our cities as ‘native’ as the systems they replace, how to make our cities more ecologically friendly. Scientists have been watching to see how organisms use energy. It takes so much for them to gain so little, yet they make that little amount of energy last for so long.

None of these are actually using the organisms, but rather ideas that the organisms have given just by living how they do in the natural world. In another TED talk, Janine Benyus:  Nature’s Designs, Janine talks more about how we can learn from the world around us.

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  1. […] how engineers can use them, with a touch of comedy. While most biologists’ answers to unlocking the secrets of nature’s engineering would be biomimicry (which Mary M. wrote a blog post already), Full believes that all that biomimicry is not […]

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