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jerryking : biomimicry   2

Powerful Thoughts From Paul Graham — Ross Hudgens
21. Empathy is probably the single most important difference between a good hacker and a great one. Some hackers are quite smart, but practically solipsists when it comes to empathy. It’s hard for such people to design great software, because they can’t see things from the user’s point of view.

25. In a field like physics, if we disagree with past generations it’s because we’re right and they’re wrong. But this becomes rapidly less true as you move away from the certainty of the hard sciences. By the time you get to social questions, many changes are just fashion.

34. Whatever the reason, there seems a clear correlation between intelligence and willingness to consider shocking ideas. This isn’t just because smart people actively work to find holes in conventional thinking. Conventions also have less hold over them to start with. You can see that in the way they dress.

43. E.B. White was amused to learn from a farmer friend that many electrified fences don’t have any current running through them. The cows apparently learn to stay away from them, and after that you don’t need the current. | If you’re a hacker who has thought of one day starting a startup, there are probably two things keeping you from doing it. One is that you don’t know anything about business. The other is that you’re afraid of competition. Neither of these fences have any current in them.

50. But since for most of the world’s history the main route to wealth was to steal it, we tend to be suspicious of rich people.

59. “A lot of the (people applying to be graduate students at MIT) seem smart,” he said. “What I can’t tell is whether they have any kind of taste.” Taste. You don’t hear that word much now. And yet we still need the underlying concept, whatever we call it. What my friend meant was that he wanted students who were not just good technicians, but who could use their technical knowledge to design beautiful things.

64. Good design resembles nature. It’s not so much that resembling nature is intrinsically good as that nature has had a long time to work on the problem. So it’s a good sign when your answer resembles nature’s.

70. You’re most likely to get good design if the intended users include the designer himself. When you design something for a group that doesn’t include you, it tends to be for people you consider less sophisticated than you, not more sophisticated. And looking down on the user, however benevolently, always seems to corrupt the designer. [Good design therefore requires personal risk? having skin in the game?]

76. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” – C.S. Lewis
biomimicry  business  inspiration  productivity  quotes  start_ups  Paul_Graham  Y_Combinator  via:hotchkiss  empathy  design  UX  hackers  personal_risk  PhDs  aesthetics  dangerous_ideas  smart_people  the_single_most_important 
november 2014 by jerryking
Inspired, Naturally
13 Aug 2011 | Financial Times pg. 1. | by Paul Miles.

In a truly sustainable world, we would build our homes using only recyclable materials, renewable energy and without any waste. It seems impossible – and yet that is how the rest of nature operates.

Animals and plants build structures of incredible complexity without the energy-hungry high temperatures, pressures and toxic chemicals with which we process raw materials in this fossil fuel age, and without generating useless waste. Our buildings, on the other hand, are responsible for more than 40% of carbon emissions in the EU. Globally, the construction industry is responsible for 30-40 % of solid waste, says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

It is no wonder that architects and designers are looking to the rest of nature for inspiration. They always have: Leonardo da Vinci sketched designs for a flying machine with bird-like wings; the Wright brothers studied a vulture’s drag and lift. In the 21st century, scientific advances such as molecular genetics and nanotechnology have made drawing inspiration from nature a more precise science. Biomimicry, as it’s known in the US (or biomimetics in the UK) is, “the conscious emulation of life’s genius: innovation inspired by nature”.......If we could mimic that on a larger scale, imagine the difference it would make to our building industry. We could produce our own organic “steel” at an ambient temperature, formed from nothing more than everyday atoms such as carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. The need to mine, transport raw materials, burn coal and produce toxic wastes would all virtually disappear. What’s more, the whole process would be solar-powered....The $170bn cement industry, a big emitter of carbon dioxide, is having a biomimicry-related makeover. Calera, the American company, is using waste carbon dioxide from flue gas to produce a type of cement in a process similar to coral growth. In a move that shows that the US government recognises the potential of Calera to turn cement manufacture from a process that emits millions of tons of carbon dioxide into one that sequesters it from power stations, the company was awarded $19.5m by the US Department of Energy last year.

That is a Utopian scenario but there are other areas where progress is being made. These include digital fabrication technologies such as 3D printing that can “grow” structures that breathe and work like living systems...biomimicry is heralded as one of the growth areas for this century. It is a genuinely multi-disciplinary field where, for instance, a research team comprising entomologists, engineers and materials scientists is not uncommon.......Buildings with an appearance of biological forms are not new. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes, similar to plankton in their geometry, are resource-efficient in their construction....Biomimetic architecture is certainly not as simple as creating buildings that reflect nature’s aesthetics.

A building cited as an example of biomimicry is a conventional-looking 1990s shopping centre and office block, the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe.....“Buildings that adapt to changing conditions is the way we have to develop if we are to mimic truly the low energy ways in which biology works,” says architect Michael Pawlyn, whose book on the subject, Biomimicry in Architecture,
3-D  agriculture  biomimicry  books  cement  construction  cross-disciplinary  Department_of_Energy  inspiration  Leonardo_da_Vinci  nature  sustainability 
august 2011 by jerryking

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