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Biomimicry (changes)

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Contents

Idea

Wikipedia defines it as:

Biomimicry or biomimetics is the examination of Nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems. The term biomimicry and biomimetics come from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate. Similar terms include bionics.

Over the last 3.6 billion years,[3] nature has gone through a process of trial and error to refine the living organisms, processes, and materials on planet Earth. The emerging field of biomimetics has given rise to new technologies created from biologically inspired engineering at both the macro scale and nanoscale levels. Biomimetics is not a new idea. Humans have been looking at nature for answers to both complex and simple problems throughout our existence. Nature has solved many of today’s engineering problems such as hydrophobicity, wind resistance, self-assembly, and harnessing solar energy through the evolutionary mechanics of selective advantages.

Details

The first chapter of the book edited by Yoseph Bar-Cohen summarizes what biomimicry is used for and also the history of the subject matter and presents current research areas and challenges. Soo the book covers areas that are inspired from nature; synthetic life (which the book does not cover). Further the book also covers artificial life with genetic programming and evolutionary programming. One example from artificial intelligence is swarm intelligence as an example of self-organization.

Domains that uses nature as model for structures and tools include; constructing structure from cells, like self-assembly from micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS) for guided assembly both in two- and three dimensions.

Some examples of bio-inspired mechanisms are diggin as the gopher and the sand crab. The catepillar (inch worm) and millipede have been used for motors for breaking, pumping and controlled adhesion. YThe biological pumping used is peristaltic pumping and the adhesion is similar to the gecko’s dry adhesion or wet adhesion like the beetle.

Clocks is another example and one prime example is the cikadas 17 year cycle, but there are many other examples in the book Biomimicry.‘s

Structures like the honeycomb has been used for air planes parts. Human fishing nets inspired by the spider’s web. For camoofrlage, armor attack nature has also given many structures.

The understanding of materials in biology have been advancing as well. Spider’s web is stronger than Kevlar (tm) which is used in bullet proof products and air planes construction. It is also three times stronger than steel which is 400 MPa, which must make the engineers green of envy as the spider can make the web at natural production conditions and the steel needs a tremendous amount of energy to heat and melt iron in several steps. But there has been progress in making polymers using electro spinning to produce nano-fiber.

Multiple material organisms are also being studied like the honeybee, swallows and fireflies. Some more examples are impact sensitive paint for impact indicators, controlled stiffness like the sea cucumber. Research has also been conducted on areas where nature has unique superior qualities like the pearl and abalone shells.

Biomimetic processes to make vitamins and antibiotics are things we know about, but now research is conducted in areas like navigational systems, diffusion processes and neural networks.

The area bio-sensors like miniature sensors in biomimetic robots, collision avoidance using whiskers, emulating bat’s acoustic sensors, acoustic and elastic sensors from elephants and whales. Fire monitoring as the jewel beetle (Melanophilia), which can detect fires from 80 km using infrared (IR) body sensors. There is also research to develop smell and taste sensors, like artificial nose and tongues.

In the area of robotics there is further examples of emulating nature, like artificial muscles, air and water mobility, social behaviour they have studied social insects like insects and birds for discrete optimization like the ant colony activites and pigeon seed picking which is known as particle swarm optimization.

Some biomimicry research organizations focus on the effects of global warming, like this Irish research Institute.

Some career examples

Professor Sergio Altamonte has been trying to remake the Architecture curricula towards sustainability and biomimicry during the last five years. He proposed a curricular change at the Oxford Conference in 2008.

References