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BIO project 1 - Erika Blair 4 February 2012 BELS 311...

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Erika Blair 4 February 2012 BELS 311 Schoonmaker The Natural Beauty of Design The basic process for engineering design, from conception to construction, is almost always the same. First, one identifies a problem. Second, one drafts a solution. The solution is then built, tested, and repeatedly refined, sometimes infinitely, in search for the best possible and most efficient design solution. This process hasn’t been invented by an engineer, but has existed for as long as life has. As life evolves, it follows this process. Nature tests traits, decides the most efficient designs, and ensures that they are passed down to the next generation, the next “solution.” Natural selection itself is that infinite process of refinement of the best solution for life. It follows then that engineers look to nature not only for how to process their designs, but also for the designs themselves. Nature has always held the most captivating and elegant forms of technology, and attempts to duplicate it has resulted in an entire field of science and engineering, called biomimetics. Biomimetics is best defined as the examination of nature to inspire new technologies. Take for example, the tropical boxfish. This bright yellow puffer-like fish, found in protected coral reefs, is unique in the fact that it has a squared body that is three- fourths surrounded by rigid bony growth (see Figure 1). While this sounds unwieldy, especially underwater, the boxfish “in both terms of both body design and swimming performance, are among the most sophisticated examples known of naturally evolved
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vertebrate underwater vehicles” [1].
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