Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Amy from San Antonio, TX. Amy Wonders, “What is biomimicry? ” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Amy!
If you had a time machine, what time would you like to go back and visit? Would you turn back the dial to witness a special moment in history, such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence or a famous battle in the Civil War?
Perhaps you'd rather go back in time to hear The Beatles play a live concert? Or would you rather witness a natural disaster, such as a volcano erupting? When you let your mind wander, there are probably all sorts of things you would love to go back in time to see.
What if you went all the way back in time to when the first humans showed up on Earth? Can you imagine what Earth must have been like without bustling cities or towns of people? It must have been very different than it is today with an overwhelming population of over seven billion.
There are many scientists in the world today who are working on solutions to the many problems that seven billion people create for our planet. You've probably heard phrases such as "climate change" and words such as "sustainability" mentioned in the news.
The exponential growth of the human population has put a serious strain on Earth. While Earth is indeed a big place, there are only so many natural resources it can hold or replenish. Humans are using those resources at a rapid pace. There is only so much food and fuel to go around. We're also polluting the environments in which we live.
How will we fix these problems? While many scientists search for solutions based upon current technology, others scientists have become inspired by some unlikely characters, such as termites, humpback whales, and birds.
These pioneering scientists are interested in biomimicry, a new field dedicated to looking for innovative solutions to human problems by examining and imitating the models, systems, and processes found in nature. The term "biomimicry" comes from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate.
The basic idea is elegant and simple. We are surrounded by nature. It is full of plants and creatures that have adapted, survived, and even thrived for thousands of years. Why not examine those success stories and apply their principles to solving human problems today?
The term "biomimicry" has been used since at least 1982. It was popularized by scientist Janine Benyus in her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. However, for many years, scientists have been inspired by nature to solve problems.
For example, Leonardo da Vinci studied the anatomy and actions of birds when creating his first sketches of the human "flying machines" he hoped to invent one day. Likewise, the Wright Brothers took inspiration from pigeons when they created and flew the first airplane.
What does the future of biomimicry hold? How about artificial ligaments made from spider silk? Or solar cells made like leaves? Could future fabrics imitate shark skin? How about buildings that stay a constant temperature because they're designed like termite mounds? These are just a few of the thousands of ideas being worked on by modern scientists looking to biomimicry for sustainable, energy-efficient solutions to human problems.