Be Inspired by Nature - How Biomimicry is an Amazing Natural Process by@deh

Be Inspired by Nature - How Biomimicry is an Amazing Natural Process

Biomimicry is the emulation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. For maintaining temperature, for example, animals like camels can use their fur, while others, like the elephant, use vasodilation in different areas of the body (not only their ears) for this purpose. For example, a camel's fur has three main mechanisms for protecting their bodies from the heat: reducing heat transfer by radiation (light fur color reflects light energy), conduction (the air trapped in the fur acts as an insulation layer), and convection (camel's hair impedes air movement)
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Denise Hippler HackerNoon profile picture

Denise Hippler

Interested in what connects us.

Photo by Alessio Cesario from Pexels: brown camel


HackerNoon Reporter: Please state the link to the article you are reviewing:

I will review some articles about biomimicry from asknature.org under the topic "Protect from Temperature," which is about how some life forms control their temperature.


As Wikipedia summarizes, "Biomimetics or biomimicry is the emulation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems."

What is your opinion regarding this piece?

There are fascinating biological strategies in use on Earth! The way life forms evolved to survive and thrive is amazing and inspiring.


We should not only be amazed by these teachings, but also protect the environment to keep the biodiversity and be curious about applying the strategies that make sense.

What are some of the varying perspectives on this subject that you're aware of? [Example: if some people are pro, why are they pro? If some people are against, why are they against?]

In general, there's a lot of excitement around it. But it could be more. We are trying to figure out complex problems (like how to save energy when heating/cooling and many others), and many ideas are already around.


That's not to say it is easy. Solutions involving biomimicry are often challenging! We need to have interdisciplinary knowledge to really grasp how they function and also how to replicate them. But it is worth it as it might be much more sustainable than some of the strategies we have been following.

What are some of the nuances people frequently miss when discussing this subject matter?

I guess we miss that we could find recipes in nature more often than we actually do. This can have a positive impact since things evolved in a way that maintains a balance, and we, with our inventions, have been creating a lot of imbalance.


Often, we have several options - many strategies for one function. For maintaining temperature, for example, animals like camels can use their fur, while others, like the elephant, use vasodilation in different areas of the body (not only their ears) for this purpose. And these are just two of many possibilities.


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Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels: close-up-photo of an elephant’s skin


There can be different strategies used at once to maximize an effect.


For example, a camel's fur has three main mechanisms for protecting their bodies from the heat: reducing heat transfer by radiation (light fur color reflects light energy), conduction (the air trapped in the fur acts as an insulation layer), and convection (camel's hair impedes air movement)!

And this is super effective! For example, as stated in How a Camel's Fur Coat Keeps it Cool:


"Between the outer surface of their fur and their skin, temperatures can vary by as much as 54 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius)––the difference between a summer day and a snow day."

What is your favorite quote or paragraph from this article? Why?

The articles are fascinating, but I'd like to enter a quote I saw on the website I was reading them on:


"When we ask nature, first we quiet our human cleverness. Then we ask, and then we listen. The answer is the echo that bounces off of the land herself. With the solution in hand, we always end the circle by saying thank you." ––Janine Benyus


I like that it is a poetic summary of how we need to learn from nature - and that we first need to be humble.


Many of these biomimicry strategies are really technical to understand, but there's also something magical and poetic to it.

Was there a part of the article that you didn't necessarily think about before, what was it?

There were many; after all, these strategies are complex, and a lot of studies are required to identify and understand them.


For example, to keep warm, the polar bear relies on a high-calorie diet and warm fur. That is quite intuitive, and one could be satisfied with this explanation. But it isn't just any hair on the fur coat. There are two types of hair, guard hair, and under-hair.


This isn't something special in itself, as other animals with fur pelts have these two types of hair too. However, the polar bear's guard hair has special properties:


a light-scattering translucent cylinder surrounding a chambered core. This sophisticated structure not only absorbs heat from the environment but also prevents the heat that radiates from the bear's body from easily escaping into the air around it.


Check out the full explanation about how fur absorbs infrared radiation to prevent heat loss.


Otters also have these two types of hair, but their guard hair doesn't work like the polar bear's. However, their fur is specialized to trap heat and keep water out.


Another impressive biological strategy is how the gall fly larvae survive freezing. Even more mind-blowing is that this could be used to make it easier to "improve how we freeze human biological material." You can read all about it in the article How flies survive freezing.

Is there anything else about this you'd like us to know? [Trends, future, concerns, hopes… etc.]

I focused on temperature regulating strategies, but obviously, there are many, many more.


Make sure to use the search function on asknature.com for examples of biological strategies and innovations in the fields you are interested in. Who knows, you might find inspiration for an amazing idea!


As it happens when reading interesting articles, one thing leads to the next, and I landed at a TED talk from the same Janine from the quote above. I'll leave it here as a colorful, hopeful, and well-formulated motivation for us to look at nature for blueprints: Biomimicry in action | Janine Benyus

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