Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bio-mimicry in child-friendly portions!!

If you like the biomimicry stories here, also do visit where I contributed these......

Japanese Trains look up to kingfisher for the perfect nose

Are you aware of Shikansen? These are the super-fast trains in Japan. They are the bullet trains and they are the ones which have helped Japan earn the label of being amongst the world’s most technologically advanced nations. But did you know these trains, when traveling through tunnels, produced very loud claps that proved to be a great nuisance even to people not staying close to their route? It was indeed a challenge to reduce the high noise level!

It was then that biomimicry came to the rescue! Bio means life and mimicry means copying. Designers turned towards nature to look for a solution. The kingfisher’s beak inspired them to design a 15-metre nosecone on the front car of the bullet train. Just as a kingfisher dives seamlessly into the water, the modified bullet train became much quieter and smoother too in its journey following this modification!

Interesting, right? Now it is your turn to look towards nature and come up with your own biomimicry inventions! I will eagerly wait for your posts at!

Termites inspire architect to say “No” to fan and air conditioner!

Heard about an office complex WITH a shopping mall but WITHOUT any fan or air blower or air conditioner? Want to visit it? Then head to Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe. The building, covering half a city block, gets cooled when outside air is hotter than it and warmed when it is colder outside, because of its multiple vents through which outside air flows in. Can you believe that its architect Michael Pearce designed it after termite mounds?! The sturdy mound the termites build has a chimney-like structure at its top and tunnel-like holes in the wet mud at the bottom. Dry, hot air flows in and picks up water vapour from the wet mud at bottom, and cools down too as it passes on its heat to the mud. Also warm air rises up through the “chimney” and goes out, thus leaving a cooler mound even with high temperatures outside. The creatures continuously open up new tunnels and block others to maintain a consistent temperature and humidity inside, to keep the fungus, its food, alive.

Thanks to termites and architect Pearce, the energy consumption has come down drastically for this building, with its ventilation system having cost 10% of a standard air-conditioned building!

Have you heard of Biomimicry (bio=life and mimicry=copying) where nature turns teacher and inspires humans to copy it for coming up with unique designs? Well, Eastgate Centre is just an instance of it!

Even Michael Phelps would adore sharks!

Does a shark inspire you to swim your fastest? Do you dream of even trying to copy it? Well, you don't have a body shaped like a shark's, and you can never have powerful muscles like it has. But wait, don't despair! Let me share an example of biomimicry (bio-life, mimicry-copying) that will boost you up and that even Michael Phelps, the famous swimmer, will vouch for! Speedo LZR Racer Suit is a special swimsuit that has been copied from shark's skin. A shark has tiny, teeth-like structures on its skin, their shape and positioning varying across its body. These 'teeth' being in between skin and water, help the shark to face the least resistance from the water it is flowing in. This is a secret behind sharks being such fast swimmers that has been unearthed by Speedo. Now are you inspired to look at Nature and inform me at about how some biomimicry idea is just germinating in you?

A lovely coloured birthday dress without any dyes in it!

Can you think of a colourful dress for wearing it on your birthday made from only fibres without any dyes? The blue morpho butterfly has inspired a Japanese company to think along those lines. This butterfly has multiple layers of proteins on its scales so that when light strikes it, it does it in a way that its wings emit only blue colour, without the wings having any blue pigment in them! With varying thickness and structure of the fibre, this company’s innovation, Morphotex, creates colour, without having anything to do with dyes or pigments.


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