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Design by Nature

  1. May 17, 2008 #1
    ‘The genius of man may make various inventions, encompassing with various instruments one and the same end; but it will never discover a more beautiful, a more economical, or a more direct one than nature’s, since in her inventions nothing is wanting and nothing is superfluous’ - Leonardo da Vinci (translated by Richter, 1952).

    The goal of Biomimetics (also referred to as “bionics”) is to make use of exactly this fact. Nature has a 2 billion year evolutionary head start on us and where better to turn for inspiration?

    Current biomimetics research depends entirely on inter-disciplinary cooperation and I am of the understanding that, due to the diversity of the field and the exceptionally large range of design possibilities, things will probably remain like this for the foreseeable future. Since I’m an undergraduate BSc Physics student, I sincerely hope that this is indeed the case and it’s partly the reason for starting this thread.

    My aim here is to have a thread where ideas, concepts and “discoveries” can be shared and discussed but mostly, I am hoping to get input from people who are involved in biomimetic research/design (if there are any here) as well as opinions from physicists, engineers, biologists and chemists about the relevancy of their fields (which will include all the sub-disciplines) and where applications of their particular expertise will be most useful in biomimetic design and engineering.

    Last but not least, the heading for this thread was taken from a http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2008/04/biomimetics/tom-mueller-text that I'd recommend as an easy introduction to this absolutely fascinating discipline.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 20, 2008 #2
    Article dated June 14 2006 from "Scientific American".

    And for those of you who can speak the language of biomedical science, the results were published here in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

    Pretty nifty hey? :smile:
  4. May 20, 2008 #3


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    You may enjoy Vogel's Cat's Paws and Catapults where these ideas are discussed. He explores the differences between human technology and Nature's technology; one example is that we tend to design for stiffness (e.g., nobody wants to walk across floors that bow noticeably even if there is no change they will fail), while Nature's devices seem optimized for strength.
  5. May 20, 2008 #4
    Thanks Mapes. Will try and get hold of it.
  6. May 20, 2008 #5


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    Cool idea for a thread, phyzmatix. I look forward to reading some of the posts. Thanks for the pointers to the articles as well.
  7. May 20, 2008 #6
    Thank you very much, kind sir! :biggrin:

    Will post more articles as I find them and I'm still hoping to rope in some people who are "in the know" to comment over here. As a first year undergraduate, I don't even understand much of the science behind it yet, nevermind being able to discuss it...
  8. May 22, 2008 #7
    In construction, there's a growing interest in nature inspired design. The structural system of Beijing's 'Water Cube' ( to be used on Olympics for swimming events)was inspired by the formation of soap bubble. Also in Beijing, the 'Bird's Nest' was inspired by, well, a bird's nest. There's also a footbridge in Singapore whose geometry was inspired by the DNA's double helix.
  9. May 22, 2008 #8
    You wouldn't happen to have any links available? To articles or pics, whichever's easiest please.
  10. May 22, 2008 #9


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    Just cut the words from parts of his post and paste them into google. I did that for the DNA bridge, and got this hit:

    http://www.arup.com/_assets/_download/90EE5559-19BB-316E-405B2F8ED0F87022.pdf [Broken]

    Pretty slow server, but once it downloads, you get some pretty pictures.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  11. May 23, 2008 #10
    unfortunately, there's some restriction in my posting privileges so I can't give you the links. For the the mean time google for the Beijing National Aquatic Center or famously known as 'Water Cube' and Beijing national Stadium otherwise known as "Bird's Nest".
  12. May 23, 2008 #11
    Of course sorry, I should've noticed. Will google as you said.

    You're right, very, very good photo's there.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  13. May 23, 2008 #12
    Google produced and after clicking on the first two links that looked promising, this is what I got:

    http://www.arup.com/eastasia/newsitem.cfm?pageid=11112 [Broken]

    http://www.arup.com/eastasia/project.cfm?pageid=1250 [Broken]

    An interesting note on the "Water Cube", as faux mentions, it's inspired by the formation of soap bubbles which is:


    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  14. Jul 8, 2008 #13
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