The curved tip feathers of an Eagle, the spiral of a conch shell, and the geometry of a rose. It sounds much more like the stuff of poetry rather than the basis for hi-tech engineering.
But with the advent of Biomimicry, a new field in engineering and product design, the study of nature's intricate geometries is becoming increasingly crucial in our quest to maximize the efficiency of everything from airplanes to refrigerator fans.
At the Sustainable Energy Expo I caught up with Peter Fiske of PAX Scientific
, a company that uses biomimicry to create product components that use far less energy to operate simply because of their finely tuned shapes.
He has a great explanation for this... In the natural world energy = food. So the conservation of energy is just as important (if not more so) to the animal kingdom as it is to our modern civilization.
Over countless millennia, nature evolved forms that could do more with less. Finches and dolphins were never restricted by the confines of cartesian geometries and linear assembly lines.
Several things are now making it possible for us humans to break free from overly simplified forms and into the world of biomimetic design.
First, we have great precedent forms to study. And where previously it would have been next to impossible to manufacture these forms in a factory, the heavy duty computing power required to pull off computational fluid dynamics and realtime computer-rendering are now readily available.
Janine Benyus is the pioneer (bioneer) of Biomimicry
and she sits on the board of PAX Scientific. Based on the number of new biomimicry-based companies being launched (she is currently working on a top secret biomimetic solar company with Paul Hawken) it looks as if we may be witnessing the beginning of a revolution in science and engineering -- one that dispenses with the straight lines and dumb circles of the previous cartesian revolution and instead embraces the crazy, curvy world of Mother Nature.