What is Biomimicry? Human Nature & Mother Nature. Part 1 Of 4

Natasha, 5 Aug 16
Akaroa attractions - What is Biomimicry? Human Nature & Mother Nature. Part 1 Of 4

Ever wondered how nature has inspired the way we as humans design, create and live? Being avid ocean wildlife and conservation supporters we are fascinated on a daily basis by the environment we work in and the marine mammals and wildlife that we work with. Has the behaviour or structure of our seas and / or its inhabitants played a part in modern technology? We asked leading British Biomimic William Lawson to deliver us a series of blogs around the subject so that we can share a sneak peek into this wonderful world of science with you........... For a lot of people, Biomimicry is still a completely new concept. The reason being, it was only formalised in the 90's by one visionary (who we will come to later). Prior to this it was wrapped up in isolated cases of 'nature-inspired innovation', such as Velcro inspired by sticky plant seeds. It has appeared sporadically in magazines and online over the last decade but hasn't gained a huge amount of momentum in the public sphere as most of its achievements were confined to academic institutions or hidden in the lab still being tested... But all this is gradually changing! The way I like to describe my role as a biomimic (a person that uses biomimicry) is as 'Mother Nature's middle man'! That might sound a little contrived, so let me explain: Biomimics look to nature for inspiration or more specifically: for lessons and solutions. The lesson is how other species successfully adapt to each daily challenge they face, and the solution comes in finding a way to mimic these adaptations to solve human challenges. So actually what biomimicry is, is in the name; bios means life and mimicry is to copy or imitate, in this case, life! As we often refer to 'human nature' and 'Mother Nature' as 2 separate, unrelatable concepts, some people may think that finding solutions to human challenges from nature is unrealistic. However, using a biomimicry approach, we see that this gap is constructed by a misunderstanding and underestimation, by us, of the species we live alongside (which I will explain later). As biomimics, we hope to act as the middleman between the two concepts to create an environment when it is impossible to tell where 'human nature' begins and 'Mother Nature' ends. And so, this is why I see biomimics as 'Mother Nature's middle man'! For example; a biomimic might study exactly how a leaf creates energy using photosynthesis, then use that knowledge to revolutionize solar panels, or how a jewel beetle produces it's brilliant colour and use that blueprint to eliminate the need for chemicals in paint or how a mangrove tree turns salt water into fresh water using no electricity, so we might do the same. Over this series of blogs I'd like to show you that biomimicry is something anybody can do, I'd like to inspire you to want to do it, and also show you that it's a tool and a way of thinking to complement but not replace, other problem solving techniques.

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