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robertogreco : biomimicry   35

The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps. - YouTube
"Japan’s Shinkansen doesn’t look like your typical train. With its long and pointed nose, it can reach top speeds up to 150–200 miles per hour.

It didn’t always look like this. Earlier models were rounder and louder, often suffering from the phenomenon of "tunnel boom," where deafening compressed air would rush out of a tunnel after a train rushed in. But a moment of inspiration from engineer and birdwatcher Eiji Nakatsu led the system to be redesigned based on the aerodynamics of three species of birds.

Nakatsu’s case is a fascinating example of biomimicry, the design movement pioneered by biologist and writer Janine Benyus. She's a co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit encouraging creators to discover how big challenges in design, engineering, and sustainability have often already been solved through 3.8 billion years of evolution on earth. We just have to go out and find them."
biomimicry  design  classideas  janinebenyus  biology  nature  trains  shinkansen  japan  birds  sustainability  biomimetics  form  process  plants  animals  2017  circulareconomy  ecosystems  systemsthinking  upcycling  cities  urban  urbanism 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The Self-Medicating Animal - The New York Times
"What can we learn from chimps and sheep and maybe even insects that practice medicine on themselves?"



"Animals of all kinds, from ants and butterflies to sheep and monkeys, use medicine. Certain caterpillars will, when infected by parasitic flies, eat poisonous plants, killing or arresting the growth of the larvae within them. Some ants incorporate resin from spruce trees in their nests to fend off pathogenic microbes, employing the same antibacterial compounds, called terpenes, that we use when we mop the floor with the original Pine-Sol. Parrots and many other animals consume clay to treat an upset stomach; clay binds to toxins, flushing them out of the body. “I believe every species alive today is self-medicating in one way or another,” Huffman told me recently. “It’s just a fact of life.”

Capuchin monkeys use poisonous millipedes and citrus as insect repellent. With howler monkeys, self-medication may veer into social engineering. Ken Glander, an emeritus scientist at Duke, thinks that female howlers sometimes seek out foods that change the acidity of their reproductive organs after mating. By changing the pH balance, he told me, these females may promote the success of male over female sperm, resulting in more male offspring. Should one of those males rise in a troop and sire many children, his mother’s genes are also spread with them.

Is what seems to be self-medication simply another instinctual behavior, like the urge to procreate or eat when hungry? Or is it a skill that animals acquire through experience? Most scientists I spoke to pointed out, almost bashfully, that natural selection could produce self-medicating behaviors without the humanlike learning and sharing of expertise that we associate with medical treatment. Animals that happen to eat medicinal plants at the right time might survive more successfully than those that don’t, causing that behavior to spread.

Smaller-brained animals, like caterpillars and ants, are probably self-medicating as a matter of instinct. Even monkeys, with their larger brains, seem to use insect repellents automatically: some drool, writhe and fall into what looks like a trance whenever they encounter a millipede. And yet sheep, which are often considered dimwitted compared to primates, seemingly learn from experience what medicinal plants to draw on and when. There appears to be no hard line in our imagined hierarchy of the animal kingdom, below which self-medication is instinctive and above which medicinal behavior derives from learning.

Chimps and other great apes differ, of course, from many other animals. They have culture that we recognize as such — and Huffman considers medical knowledge part of that cultural inheritance. Young chimps closely watch what their mothers eat, and he suspects that this is how they learn what plants to make them better. Chimps in other troops chew different plants than Chausiku did, suggesting that their medicinal knowledge is specific to their environs, not hard-wired. But not everyone thinks the science is settled.

Moreover, it’s still unclear how an infant watching its mother learns to associate bitter-tasting plants with physical relief, given that the mother, not the infant, is the one experiencing it and that the effect may not be felt until a day or more after dosing. “That’s the puzzle,” the well-known primatologist and author Frans de Waal told me. And how do they discover medicinal plants to begin with, particularly given their usual bitter taste? “It doesn’t sound logical to me,” he said, “but it must have happened, because we see animals flock to certain resources when they’re sick.”"



"It’s worth considering the ways that animals, precisely because of their more limited intellects, might be more doggedly scientific than we are. After all, while animals seem to attend closely to cause and effect, learning from experience, people sometimes indulge a penchant for spinning out grand theories from scant (or no) evidence and then acting on them. Bloodletting, for example, persisted for hundreds of years in Europe even though it almost certainly weakened and killed the sick. It was based on the ancient humoral theory of disease: Illness arose when the body’s “humors,” or essential fluids, were out of harmony, an imbalance corrected by draining blood, among other acts. Other ineffectual and even dangerous treatments include smoking to treat asthma and sexual intercourse with virgins as a cure for syphilis.

Animals no doubt blunder in their attempts to self-medicate. But humans seem to be unique in their capacity for clinging to beliefs and theories about the world, even when facing evidence that refutes them. Consider those religious sects that refuse modern medicine altogether, favoring prayer instead, and whose believers sometimes die as a result. Chausiku and her kind would probably never err in this way, simply because the medicine that chimps practice derives from what they’ve learned through trial and error, not from untested explanations for how the world works.

Historically, some currents within evidence-based medicine — treatment rigorously based on what has been shown to work — can be regarded as tacit recognition of this human shortcoming. Even modern doctors, with their years of training and conditioning, can find it hard not to venture beyond the evidence or get carried away in extrapolations. In a way, the evidence-based mantra is partly an exhortation to be more animal-like. Don’t rely too heavily on theories, assumptions or grand cosmological narratives. Instead, be empirical and focus on what’s right in front of you"
multispecies  animals  nature  wildlife  biomimicry  moisesvelasquez-manoff  2017  medicine  insects  sheep  chimpanzees  instinct  self-medication  michaelhuffman  biomimetics 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Plastic-Eating Caterpillars Could Help Bring an End to Pollution
"Scientists have discovered that wax worms can eat and biodegrade polyethylene, the rugged, common plastic used to make the shopping bags that are currently glutting landfill sites. The discovery was serendipitous. In an attempt to remove the pesky parasites from her honeycombs, an amateur beekeeper placed the worms into shopping bags, only to find that they’d begun to eat their way out.

Fortunately, that amateur beekeeper is a professional scientist: Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria (IBBTEC) in Spain.

Bertocchini teamed up with colleagues Christopher Howe and Paolo Bombelli from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge to conduct a timed experiment based on her observations. The researchers exposed a plastic shopping bag from a supermarket in the U.K. to approximately 100 wax worms. After 40 minutes, holes began to appear in the bag, and after 12 hours, the scientists observed a 92mg reduction in plastic mass.

Though unexpected, this isn’t entirely surprising, as the composition of the bags isn’t that different from the worms’ natural food source, beeswax. “Wax is a polymer, a sort of ‘natural plastic,’ and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene,” said Bertocchini in a University of Cambridge news release.


IN BRIEF

Researchers have discovered that wax worms eat through polyethylene plastic, biodegrading it. If the scientists can determine how the process works, they may be able to devise an industrial-scale solution for plastic waste management.
CATERPILLAR VS. PLASTIC

Scientists have discovered that wax worms can eat and biodegrade polyethylene, the rugged, common plastic used to make the shopping bags that are currently glutting landfill sites. The discovery was serendipitous. In an attempt to remove the pesky parasites from her honeycombs, an amateur beekeeper placed the worms into shopping bags, only to find that they’d begun to eat their way out.

Fortunately, that amateur beekeeper is a professional scientist: Federica Bertocchini of the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria (IBBTEC) in Spain.

Bertocchini teamed up with colleagues Christopher Howe and Paolo Bombelli from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge to conduct a timed experiment based on her observations. The researchers exposed a plastic shopping bag from a supermarket in the U.K. to approximately 100 wax worms. After 40 minutes, holes began to appear in the bag, and after 12 hours, the scientists observed a 92mg reduction in plastic mass.

Though unexpected, this isn’t entirely surprising, as the composition of the bags isn’t that different from the worms’ natural food source, beeswax. “Wax is a polymer, a sort of ‘natural plastic,’ and has a chemical structure not dissimilar to polyethylene,” said Bertocchini in a University of Cambridge news release.

Plastic-Eating Caterpillars Could Help Bring an End to Pollution

The researchers proved that the chemical bonds in the plastic were breaking via spectroscopic analysis. They observed un-bonded “monomer” molecules, the result of the worms biodegrading the polyethylene into ethylene glycol. This was more than a chewing action because smearing mashed-up worms onto bags had the same effect.

“If a single enzyme is responsible for this chemical process, its reproduction on a large scale using biotechnological methods should be achievable,” according to Bombelli."
biomimicry  biomimetics  animals  insect  anture  plastic  2017  pollution 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Alive | About
"IMAGINE A WORLD WHERE BIOLOGICAL FABRICATION REPLACES TRADITIONAL MANUFACTURE, PLANTS THAT GROW PRODUCTS, AND BACTERIA GENETICALLY RE-PROGRAMMED TO ‘BIOFACTURE’ NEW MATERIALS, ARTEFACTS, ENERGY OR MEDICINE.

This world is happening right now. Today, designers and artists have begun to either embrace or rebel against this bioengineered world and as a result, new design directions are beginning to emerge. The exhibition En Vie – Alive, presents a new design landscape, where fragments of a possible programmable ‘synthetic’ future are confronted with ‘natural’ alternative design perspectives. The quest for a different kind of ecological design models underpins the selection of projects, which range from potential sustainable solutions, to poetic interpretations and extreme provocations.

Created and imagined by leading designers, architects and artists, the work showcased here is decidedly different. These designers create and unravel a future hybrid world, where our everyday products and manufacturing tools will be ‘alive‘.

They operate within a sliding scale of a ‘natural nature’ and a new ‘programmable nature’ in the quest for innovative ecological models. In this exhibition I have created a hierarchy of possible relationships with nature, and designers are grouped around 5 themes.

1/ The Plagiarists: (Nature as a model)

Here we present designers and architects who look to nature for inspiring role models and new engineering solutions. They work with biomimicry principles, imitating processes or behaviour found in the natural world, but working with man-made and digital technologies.

2/ The New Artisans: (Nature as a co-worker)

These designers and architects collaborate with nature. They work with bees, fungi, bacteria, algae or plants and develop new techniques to grow and craft consumer goods. Here, design relates more to gardening and farming than to manufacturing.

3/ The Bio-Hackers: (Reprogrammed, ‘synthetic’ nature)

These designers and artists work in collaboration with synthetic biologists or respond to cutting-edge scientific research in the field of extreme bioengineering. They imagine what the products and interfaces of the future could become with the use of engineered living organisms. Their ideas illustrate a possible future world.

4/ The New Alchemists: (Hybridised nature)

Here, designers, architects and artists propose to explore the merging of biology, chemistry, robotics and nanotechnology to create new hybrid organisms. They combine living (biological) with non-living (electronic and chemical) technology.

5/ The Agents Provocateurs: (Conceptualised and imagined nature.)

This final group of artists and designers explores a provocative far future. Their work encourages a debate around ethical issues related to living technology and high-tech sustainability.

I sincerely hope that this exhibition will inspire generations to come and help establish a map of creative thinkers who dare to imagine new relationships with nature and the living. This project highlights the search for new design frontiers in the quest for new ecological models pertinent for the year 2050 and beyond.

Carole Collet, Exhibition Curator and catalogue editor, Reader in Textile Futures, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts, March 2013."
design  art  biology  science  syntheticnature  nature  collaboration  biomimicry  carolecollet  hybrids  future  biohacking  fabrication  materials  biomimetics 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Kenya Hara’s Humidifier – otto
"When water droplets fall on lotus leaves, they bead up into balls. Dubbed the “lotus effect,” this phenomenon occurs because the infinitesimal hairs coating the surface of the leaves repel water. Super hydrophobic coating is the technology by which the lotus effect is scientifically engineered and was developed for use in special paints and coatings for self-cleaning and snow-repelling surfaces.

…Kenya Hara employs this technology in a natural humidifier with no electro-mechanical parts. Daring to use paper as his base material, Hara applied a coating of hydrophobic aerosol…Imbued with a surface microstructure similar to that of a lotus leaf, the paper causes most of the water placed on it to turn immediately into round drops. With the transformation of a fixed amount of water into many small balls, the increased surface area accelerates the evaporation of the water and makes apparent the humidifying effect. Because the water need not be heated, the humidifier requires zero energy."
2008  zeroenergy  hydrophobicaerosol  plants  lotuseffect  glvo  beauty  via:tealtan  biomimicry  biomimetics  humidifiers  kenyahara  design  sustainability  efficiency 
april 2012 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Bioluminescent Billboards
"Scientists at UC San Diego have made a bioluminescent bacterial billboard. They call it a "living neon sign composed of millions of bacterial cells that periodically fluoresce in unison like blinking light bulbs." Making it all work "involved attaching a fluorescent protein to the biological clocks of the bacteria, synchronizing the clocks of the thousands of bacteria within a colony, then synchronizing thousands of the blinking bacterial colonies to glow on and off in unison."

These are referred to as biopixels.

So could this vision of a bioluminescent metropolis be far off? UC San Diego suggests that their "flashing bacterial signs are not only a visual display of how researchers in the new field of synthetic biology can engineer living cells like machines, but will likely lead to some real-life applications." Surely it would not take much work—even if only as a media stunt—to make a full-scale functioning prototype of a bioluminescent streetlight?…"
biotechnology  biotech  technology  science  2011  displays  biomimicry  biomimetics  biology  bacteria  biopixels  bioluminescence  bldgblog 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Education for Well-being » The Crying Engineer
"So one day I came upon this guy Paul, this engineer, this very reserved guy and he was crying. He was looking at a mangrove plant crying, standing there, the tears coming down his eyes. And I said, “What’s going on?” And he said, “Why have I never learned in all of my education about mangroves? Why don’t I know or have ever considered that these guys are a solar-powered desalination plant? They have their roots in salt water and are living on freshwater.” He said, “We use 900 pounds per square inch to force water against a membrane to get salt out of it and we wonder why it clogs. And this is silent, solar powered, desalination.”

He said, “Tell me how it works.”

Engineers are trying to make tools for living–technology. Nature has technologies too, only engineers never learn about nature’s technologies. They learn how to domesticate nature, learn sort of how to use nature when we need it but they don’t learn how to learn from nature."
janinebenyus  biomimicry  design  engineering  engineers  learning  nature  janejacobs  conservation  mangroves  biomimetics  taxonomy  biology  animals  plants 
september 2010 by robertogreco
B.A.S.A.A.P. – Blog – BERG [Be As Smart As A Puppy]
"Imagine a household of hunchbots.

Each of them working across a little domain within your home. Each building up tiny caches of emotional intelligence about you, cross-referencing them with machine learning across big data from the internet. They would make small choices autonomously around you, for you, with you – and do it well. Surprisingly well. Endearingly well.

They would be as smart as puppies. …

That might be part of the near-future: being surrounded by things that are helping us, that we struggle to build a model of how they are doing it in our minds. That we can’t directly map to our own behaviour. A demon-haunted world. This is not so far from most people’s experience of computers (and we’re back to Byron and Nass) but we’re talking about things that change their behaviour based on their environment and their interactions with us, and that have a certain mobility and agency in our world."
berg  berglondon  mattjones  hunch  priorityinbox  gmail  biomimicry  design  future  intelligence  uncannyvalley  adamgreenfield  everyware  ubicomp  internetofthings  data  ai  machinelearning  spimes  basaap  biomimetics  iot 
september 2010 by robertogreco
Nervous System
"Nervous System creates experimental jewelry, combining nontraditional materials like silicone rubber and stainless steel with rapid prototyping methods. We find inspiration in complex patterns generated by computation and nature."
accessories  handmade  rapidprototyping  processing  patterns  design  computation  generative  fabrication  math  wearable  shopping  nervoussystem  glvo  complexity  nature  biomimicry  coding  biomimetics  jewelry  wearables 
september 2010 by robertogreco
The Work of Tara Donovan: Observatory: Design Observer
"On October 10, 2008 the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, opened an exhibition spanning a decade of work by Tara Donovan — sculptor and 2008 recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” grant. This is an abridged version of an interview between Lawrence Weschler and Tara Donavan that appears in the monograph, Tara Donovan."
art  architecture  nature  sculpture  biomimicry  artists  taradonovan  glvo  biomimetics 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Constructal Theory: Introduction to the Inverse of Biomimicry : TreeHugger
"A new theory, and possibly a new law of physics, Constructal theory can be understood as the inverse of biomimicry. Instead of looking to nature or biology to guide design, constructal theory starts from the understanding of the simple constructal law and extrapolates out a series of structures or designs for that situation. Amazingly, this new law of physics has been shown to describe the evolution of architecture found in nature. Let that sink in. A theory from the field of thermodynamics describes why a leaf looks like a leaf…why a river looks like a river…and much more."
constructaltheory  biomimicry  biomimetics  environment  science  design  biology  patterns  constructal 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Biomimicry Guild - Innovation Consultancy for Bio-Inspired Design
"Since 1998, the Guild has been helping companies and communities find, vet, understand and emulate life's time-tested strategies.
biology  biomimicry  technology  architecture  ecology  environment  sustainability  pollution  earth  innovation  design  green  biomimetics 
october 2008 by robertogreco
biomimicry – finding design inspiration in nature
"the discipline of biomimicry takes its name from the greek words ‘bios’, meaning life and ‘mimesis’, meaning to imitate.
biomimicry  biomimetics  design  designboom  science  technology  biology 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Biomimetics - Photo Gallery - National Geographic Magazine
"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"
biomimicry  biomimetics  photography  science  technology  design  inspiration  evolution  biology  nature 
september 2008 by robertogreco
collision detection: The Humboldt squid beak: Diamond-sharp mystery of the briny deep
"There are many weird things about the giant Humboldt squid, but here’s one of the strangest: Its beak. The squid’s beak is one of the hardest organic substances in existence — such that the sharp point can slice through a fish or whale like a Ginsu knife. Yet the beak is attached to squid flesh that itself is the texture of jello. How precisely does a gelatinous animal safely wield such a razor-sharp weapon? Why doesn’t it just sort of, y’know, rip off? It’s as if you tried to carve a roast with a knife that doesn’t have a handle: It would cut into your fingers as much as the roast."
squid  edg  materials  biomimicry  animals  nature  biomimetics 
september 2008 by robertogreco
'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution - MIT News Office
"Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today's announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.
via:preoccupations  photosynthesis  science  energy  power  storage  solar  solarpower  sustainability  innovation  green  mit  economics  environment  future  technology  plants  cleanenergy  biomimicry  fuelcell  electricity  biomimetics 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Archinect : Features : Archinect Reviews: Design and the Elastic Mind
"One of the greatest pleasures of...is watching people outside those discourses discover these things for the first time. The show is complete sensory overload...the civilians were literally freaking out because they had no idea any of this existed"
designandtheelasticmind  archinect  moma  design  reviews  future  biomimicry  architecture  paolaantonelli  art  exhibitions  biomimetics 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Seed: Design and the Elastic Mind: In the emerging dialogue between design and science, scale and pace play fundamental roles. By MoMA curator Paola Antonelli.
"Much of this is being done by bona fide designers, but scientists and artists have also turned to design to give method to their productive tinkering, what John Seely Brown has called "thinkering." They all belong to a new culture in which experimentation is guided by engagement in the world and by open, constructive collaboration with colleagues and other specialists." ... "...importance of "critical design," or "design for debate," which he defines as a way of using design as a medium to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions, and givens about the role products play in everyday life"
paolaantonelli  seed  design  science  moma  gamechanging  designandtheelasticmind  nanotechnology  biomimicry  topography  brain  art  debate  eames  architecture  society  dialogue  interdisciplinary  crosspollination  johnseelybrown  dialog  biomimetics 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Biomimetics - National Geographic Magazine
"What has fins like a whale, skin like a lizard, and eyes like a moth? The future of engineering."
biomimicry  biomimetics  biology  design  engineering  genetics  science  animals  life  nature 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Whale blades
"Turns out those little bumps on the edge of the whale's flippers, called tubercles, aren't just to make whales look purty; they "channel water flow across the flipper," resulting in 32% less drag than the smoother flippers found on other whales."
whales  biomimicry  nature  animals  biomimetics 
march 2008 by robertogreco
New Approach to Solar and Wind Power - Grow
"Combining the best of green tech and ecology, GROW draws inspiration from ivy growing on the side of a building - resulting in a hybrid energy delivery device of flexible, ivy-like fluttering solar leaves that provide power via both sun and wind."
architecture  biomimicry  energy  solar  sustainability  green  via:cityofsound  biomimetics 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Flexible robotic fin does away with drag - tech - 29 February 2008 - New Scientist Tech
"A robotic fin that mimics the energy-efficient manoeuvres of an agile fish's pectoral fins has been developed by US researchers. Working out how to use multiple versions in conjunction could allow robot submarines to hover and turn on a dime as natural s
robots  propulsion  fish  biology  biomimicry  robotics  biomimetics 
march 2008 by robertogreco
all manner of distractions » 6 minutes: Biomimetic Butterflies
"To make the butterflies, we starting tossing about different ideas for generative wing design. First up was Voronoi, which I discussed in the previous post. The Voronoi was decided upon because the vein structure of butterflies resembles Voronoi cells. T
algorithms  art  biomimicry  glvo  butterflies  math  nature  process  visualization  science  biology  design  programming  processing  biomimetics 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Innovation | Don’t invent, evolve | Economist.com
"The inventor’s trial-and-error approach can be automated by software that mimics natural selection" "Evolutionary design, as it is known, allows a computer to run through tens of millions of variations on an invention until it hits on the best solution
biomimicry  evolution  design  innovation  invention  biomimetics 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Design by Gecko, Plus Glue by Mussel, Yields a Powerful Adhesive - New York Times
"Cross a gecko with a mussel and what comes out is a new type of adhesive tape that can repeatedly stick and restick, even underwater."
biomimicry  biology  animals  design  geckos  mussels  adhesives  technology  biomimetics 
july 2007 by robertogreco
russell davies: we love technology - part one
"I understood this most when he said that when we claim to build technology that's inspired by biology we're fooling ourselves, because we tend to be inspired by biological objects not broader biological systems."
usmanhaque  systems  design  biomimicry  technology  welovetechnology  glvo  architecture  biomimetics 
july 2007 by robertogreco
Inside Design Life
"Tiny toy monsters, robot dogs and lobsters, military avatars and The Incredibles all make an appearance at Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006."
biomimicry  life  design  biology  art  technology  interaction  social  events  make  culture  biomimetics 
december 2006 by robertogreco

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