Product design by Mother Nature - June 1, 2007

Product design by Mother Nature - June 1, 2007 - Product...

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10/22/2007 09:19 AM Product design by Mother Nature - June 1, 2007 Page 1 of 5 http://money.cnn.com/magazines/business2/business2_archive/2007/06/01/100050991/index.htm Entire Site GOOD SHAPE: Pax Scientific's ultraefficient impellers took inspiration from the calla lily. SEA CHANGE: Harman's observations of shells and other spiral forms led to his discovering the 'streamlining principle.' Outside the U.S. and Canada, click here . Name Address City State/Pr Zip/Po E-mail Continue Privacy Policy The Internet home of: Subscribe to Fortune | Free Trial SYMBOL LOOK-UP HOME NEWS MARKETS MY PORTFOLIO TECHNOLOGY JOBS PERSONAL FINANCE LUXURY REAL ESTATE SMALL BUSINESS RANKINGS Product design, nature's way A new breed of inventor is turning Mother Earth's marvels into remarkable real- world products. Business 2.0 reports. By Ethan Watters , Business 2.0 Magazine June 12 2007: 2:04 PM EDT (Business 2.0 Magazine) -- For all their skill and technological prowess, human engineers still can't match Mother Nature's best designs. Take, for example, the toe pads of ordinary house geckos. Thanks to millions of bristly microfilaments that line the bottoms of their feet, the versatile lizards can scamper up walls and across ceilings on any surface, wet or dry. The intermolecular forces between pad and surface are so strong that geckos can hang comfortably from one toe. The pads also have impressive quick-release capabilities and leave no sticky residue. Can you imagine tire treads, duct tape, or building materials that could do the same? An increasingly influential group of researchers and entrepreneurs can -- and they're busy working on the designs. Pioneering a relatively new field called biomimicry, they're taking a close look at nature's marvels and reverse-engineering them into real-world products. How, they ask, do lotus leaves repel water and stay so clean? How can the ventilation systems in termite mounds be used to cool city buildings? Could the glue that mussels use to adhere to rocky surfaces be adapted to heal broken bones? 11 coolest products on the planet Answering such questions could bring great wealth to a new generation of inventors. But it could also do much more. Biomimics, as the practitioners in this field call themselves, see nature's example as the key to combating environmental destruction. Natural designs, honed through millions of years of evolution, tend to be surprisingly efficient. Products built along those lines could replace the detritus of the first industrial age with cleaner, more elegant, and much more sustainable substitutes. "Biomimicry has become a methodology for finding answers to engineering or design questions," says Janine Benyus, who wrote one of the first books on the subject and now consults with companies looking to profit from biomimics. "You take an engineering problem like how to lubricate or adhere to something, and you find examples of how nature has solved that problem. If you look carefully, you can always find technologies shaped by
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Product design by Mother Nature - June 1, 2007 - Product...

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