It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


The Future Is Coming 3: Bionics & Optimizing Nature

page: 1

log in


posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 02:08 PM
Bionics is defined as: the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology. This approach is motivated by the fact that biological organisms and their organs have been well optimized over billions of years by evolution.

When looking at Bionics and redesigning our civilization there are four key areas to look at.

Bionics in Business & Architecture

"Using nature and the ingenious way it works can create new markets.''- Achim Steiner

Meeting of Minds pdf

The latest research by Phil Richardson at the Centre for Biomimetics at the University of Bath has shown that Biomimetic models can be used to create analogies in business. The analogies can be applied to provide inspiration as a precursor to innovation….Biology has long been an inspiration for business with examples that can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, the early Chinese dynasties and famously to Leonardo DaVinci in more recently times. Known in today’s leading edge research community as biomimetics, the latest applications of lessons from nature are being used by engineers and architects in building design and product development.

“As all kinds of sensors become smaller, cheaper, and more networked, there is a great opportunity for architecture to come to life and respond to information about environmental conditions that are normally invisible” -David Benjamin.

Kinetic Glass -Youtube
Kinetic Glass can alert workers or residents to dangerous conditions. Under development by the creative think tank The Living, this new product takes a cue from animal respiratory systems. The glass is made with a slit silicone surface that allows air to pass through, and it has tiny sensors that can detect the levels of certain gases. In the presence of, say, excess carbon dioxide, the material opens and closes its “gills” to exchange the air. The gills’ movement also acts as a visual warning to building occupants.

Pipe scaling is simply the deposition of calcium carbonate onto pipes and causes millions of dollars of damage each year. Attempts at removing it release disagreeable chemicals to waterways around the globe. The abalone is a shellfish that is able to create a ceramic shell in an aqueous solution at room temp. This ceramic material is twice as strong as the ceramics we use in our most advanced fighter jet engines. Aside from the obvious benefits of being able to make ceramics at room temperature, this creatures secretes a protein which stops it shell from growing, once it reaches the right size. If we could coat our pipes which this protein, it would inhibit the calcification of our pipes, saving hundreds of millions of dollars and numerous environmental benefits!

Eastgate Center - Wiki
Green Building in Zimbwabe that mimics a termite nest

Air conditioning is expensive and uses a lot of energy, and some scientists believe it is unhealthy too. So some architects are abandoning air conditioning and designing office blocks that stay cool using termite-inspired ventilation systems. They claim that their buildings will save energy and be healthier, more pleasant to work in!

Turbines inspired by Whales
WhalePower Corp., a Toronto-based company that has developed tubercle technology that it says can be used to boost reliability and efficiency in a “staggering amount of machines,” including wind turbines, fans, compressors and HVAC systems.

A Building that mimics a Tree

William McDonough entitled “Hero of the Planet” in 1999 by the Time magazine created this building.

What would you call a skyscraper that works like a tree, makes oxygen, distills water, produces energy, and changes with the seasons?

BioPower Systems Pty. Ltd., a new company using biomimetic designs to generate power from the ocean. They have two main designs--the BioWAVE, which imitates kelp fronds, and the BioSTREAM, which imitates shark or tuna tails.
Both designs are meant to oscillate back and forth in ocean currents rather than rotating like a turbine, and they use a proprietary drivetrain to convert that low-speed high-torque oscillation into high-speed low-torque rotation of a permanent magnet motor.
Turbines in Action - youtube

Discover Article - Sustainable Arch, learn from nature

Would nature do it?

12 ideas from Nature - TED

Using Natural and recyclable materials - Very Good PDF!

Artificial Trees - Interview
The company is using biomimicry to create artificial trees equipped with nanoleaves - a combination of Nano photovoltaic, Nanothermovoltaic and Nanopiezo generators that convert light, heat and wind energy into electricity.

Super Absorber Cement - youtube
The SuperAbsorber highway barrier, for instance, reduces local airborne pollution through a process known as photocatalyzation. According to Italcementi, an Italian maker of photo catalytic cement, the airborne pollution of a large city could be cut in half if pollution-reducing cement were to cover just 15 percent of urban surfaces.

Intelligent Materials - Tech immitates nature - Youtube

posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 02:09 PM
Bionics in Medicine –

In medicine, Bionics means the replacement or enhancement of organs or other body parts by mechanical versions. Bionic implants differ from mere prostheses by mimicking the original function very closely, or even surpassing it.
While the technologies that make bionic implants possible are still in a very early stage, a few bionic items already exist, the best known being the cochlear implant, a device for deaf people.

In 2004, A fully functional artificial hearts was developed. Significant further progress is expected to take place with the advent of nanotechnologies. A well known example of a proposed nanodevice is a Respirocyte, an artificial red cell, designed (though not built yet) by Robert Freitas." target="_blank" class="postlink" rel="nofollow">A good PDF - Bionics in medicine

ear implant - youtube
Bionic Limbs - youtube
bionic Limb - Youtube
Bionic Finger - youtube
Exoskeleton - youtube
Darpa - bionic hand - youtube
Bionic eye - Youtube

Living Skin Brochure
A LIVINGSKIN aesthetic restoration is a complete service - a high-definition silicone prosthesis that is created to resemble human skin by mimicking the three dermal layers of natural human skin. To ensure proper color matching and fit, every prosthetic device is custom crafted for each individual.

Shark Skin Stop Bacteria - PopSci Article

Patented by Sharklet Technologies, a Florida-based biotech company, the film, which is covered with microscopic diamond-shaped bumps, is the first “surface topography” proven to keep the bugs at bay. In tests in a California hospital, for three weeks the plastic sheeting’s surface prevented dangerous microorganisms, such as E. coli and Staphylococcus A, from establishing colonies large enough to infect humans.

Caddisfly Silk Inspires Scotch Tape Solution for Surgeries

Bionics Politics Bioregional democracy, is when political borders conform to natural eco-regions rather than human cultures or the outcomes of prior conflicts.

Advocates in the anti-globalization movement argue that the mating-like processes of standardization, financing and marketing, are already examples of runaway evolution - rendering a system that, appeals to the consumer but which is inefficient at uses of energy and raw materials. Biomimicry, they argue, is an effective strategy to restore basic efficiency.

Critics of these approaches often argue that ecological selection itself is a poor model of minimizing manufacturing complexity or conflict, and that the free market relies on conscious cooperation, agreement, and standards as much as on efficiency - more analogous to sexual selection. Charles Darwin himself contended that both were balanced in natural selection - although his contemporaries often avoided frank talk about sex, or any suggestion that free market success was based on persuasion not value.

A road map for natural capitalism

Bionics - Other Commercialized Uses

Biomimicry is a creative solutions technique that uses biological prototypes to get ideas for engineering solutions. This approach is motivated by the fact that biological organisms and their organs have been well optimized over billions of years by evolution.

What insects can offer
Intelligent Materials
Biodegradable plastics - Corn
Goats and Spider Silk
How the abalone will help electronics

Some examples of biomimetics in action: From wiki
• Velcro resulted in 1948 from a Swiss engineer, George de Mestral, noticing how the hooks of the plant burrs stuck in the fur of his dog.
• The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a research and development organization for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and NASA are studying the navigational systems and locomotive strategies of insects to design the next generation of autonomous robots and vehicles.
• Using a wind tunnel, researchers have found that the flipper of the humpback whale is a more efficient wing design than the current model used by the aeronautics industry on airplanes. Engineers are working to apply the aerodynamic findings to future airplane and automotive design. Similarly, engineers at Airbus, a European airplane-manfacturing firm, have used the rough skin of the shark as inspiration in developing a striated foil coating for the wings of aircraft, a design which has resulted in six percent less friction and improved fuel efficiency.

posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 02:10 PM

• A research team at Bell Labs has found that tropical deep-sea sponge, Euplectella or Venus's Flower Basket, builds remarkably strong structures from extremely fragile materials, according to a press release from Lucent Technologies. This discovery led to unique insights in the production of commercial fiber optic strands. The same team also looked to the visual systems of brittlestars -- sea creatures related to starfish and sea urchins -- for inspiration to improve lens design.

• "Gecko tape" is a product under development that has been inspired by the lizard's ability to climb up walls and walk along ceilings. The tape exploits "van der Waals forces" -- weak intermolecular attractive forces -- by mimicing the tiny hair-like structures, called setae, that cover geckos' feet.

• Scientists at the University of Leeds in Great Britain are studying the jet-based defense mechanism of the bombardier beetle to see if the insect can help them learn how to re-ignite a gas-turbine aircraft engine in mid-flight. The bombardier beetle is capable of spraying would-be predators with a high-pressure stream of boiling liquid.

• DaimlerChrysler is developing a new high fuel efficiency concept vehicle based on the body shape of a boxfish, a common cube-shaped fish found in tropical marine habitats. The bionic car will offer 20 percent lower fuel consumption and up to 80 percent lower nitrogen oxide emissions according to a release from DaimlerChrysler.
Some potential areas for exploration:

• Spiders spin silk that is stronger than synthetic substances developed by man but require only insects as inputs.

• Diatoms, microscopic phytoplankton responsible for a quarter of all the photosynthesis on Earth, make glass using silicon dissolved in seawater.

• Abalone, a type of shellfish, produces a crack-resistant shell twice as tough as ceramic from calcium found in seawater using a process known as bio-mineralization.

• Trees "turn sunlight, water, and air into cellulose, a suger stiffer and stronger than nylon, and bind it into wood, a natural composite with a higher bending strength and stiffness than concrete or steel," as noted by Paul Hawken, Amory and L. Hunter Lovins in Natural Capitalism.

• Countless plants generate compounds that fight off infection from fungi, insects, and other pests.

• Cat's eye reflectors were invented by Percy Shaw in 1935 after studying the mechanism of cat eyes. He had found that cats had a system of reflecting cells, known as tapetum lucidum, which was capable of reflecting the tiniest bit of light.

• Leonardo da Vinci's flying machines and ships are early examples of drawing from nature in engineering.

• Resilin is a replacement for rubber that has been created by studying the material also found in anthropods.

• Julian Vincent drew from the study of pinecones when he developed in 2004 "smart" clothing that adapts to changing temperatures. "I wanted a nonliving system which would respond to changes in moisture by changing shape", he said. "There are several such systems in plants, but most are very small — the pinecone is the largest and therefore the easiest to work on". Pinecones respond to higher humidity by opening their scales (to disperse their seeds). The "smart" fabric does the same thing, opening up when the wearer is warm and sweating, and shutting tight when cold.

• "Morphing aircraft wings" that change shape according to the speed and duration of flight were designed in 2004 by biomimetic scientists from Penn State University. The morphing wings were inspired by different bird species that have differently shaped wings according to the speed at which they fly. In order to change the shape and underlying structure of the aircraft wings, the researchers needed to make the overlying skin also be able to change, which their design does by covering the wings with fish-inspired scales that could slide over each other. In some respects this is a refinement of the swing-wing design.

• Some paints and roof tiles have been engineered to be self-cleaning by copying the mechanism from the Nelumbo lotus.[2]

• Nanostructures and physical mechanisms that produce the shining color of butterfly wings were reproduced in silico by Greg Parker, professor of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton and research student Luca Plattner in the field of photonics, which is electronics using photons as the information carrier instead of electrons.

• Cholesteric liquid crystals (CLCs) are the thin-film material often used to fabricate fish tank thermometers or mood rings, that change color with temperature changes. They change color because their molecules are arranged in a helical or chiral arrangement and with temperature the pitch of that helical structure changes, reflecting different wavelengths of light. Chiral Photonics, Inc. has abstracted the self-assembled structure of the organic CLCs to produce analogous optical devices using tiny lengths of inorganic, twisted glass fiber.

• The wing structure of the blue morpho butterfly was studied and the way it reflects light was mimicked to create an RFID tag that can be read through water and on metal[3].

• Neuromorphic chips, silicon retinae or cochleae, has wiring that is modelled after real neural networks. S.a.: connectivity.

• Synthetic or "robotic" vegetation, which aids in conservation and restoration,[4] are machines designed to mimic many of the functions of living vegetation.

• Medical adhesives involving glue and tiny nano-hairs are being developed based on the physical structures found in the feet of geckos.

And here Are some more pictures related to all of this!


Bullet train and Mercedes Bionic

Skyscraper - cactus

the geckos feet

Explaining a Bio-Scraper

[edit on 4/3/2010 by VonDoomen]

posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 02:16 PM
Note to mods: I posted this in the wrong forum. Ive moved this to science forum. Can you delete this thread? thanks!

posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 02:30 PM
S & F for effort! This took lots of sources i can see.
the application of biology to technology is a very good place to look for ideas IMO.

[edit on 3-4-2010 by togetherwestand]

posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 08:39 AM
You obviously spent a greta deal of time putting this together, S&F for that.

The favorite is the cactus building it actually looks workable!

Great a ount of detail, a lot to read. Thanks!

posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 12:10 PM
Thank you for the S&F! And im glad you found my Thread useful. Just trying to show people some of the cool technology that is out there and might have a big impact on our future!

posted on Apr, 9 2010 @ 11:55 AM
Great post!

The only thing that was weird was those artificial trees, I like regular trees but I am sure we are not going to destroy all real trees, that would be silly.

posted on Apr, 15 2010 @ 10:25 PM
reply to post by wonderinghows

Yes it would be silly to destroy all the trees and highly unlikely. It is however and ascetic approach that would be cool to see done!
Thanks for the encouragement! if anyone has anyone questions let me know!

posted on Apr, 16 2010 @ 04:07 PM
Great thread and wonderful images. I love the big structure stuff. Many thnaks for spending the time on this.

posted on May, 1 2010 @ 06:19 PM
I've finally found your thread again! I scanned it at first and wanted to investigate it more fully, but never subscribed. A belated S&F and thank you for posting this.

Nanoleaves are a good example of technology in use, from which we could transform all hydro towers into, simply by applying the tech to the exterior. Instead of a network of stable towers to transport energy, they could each be generating [b]and amplifying their own power.

Roads and highways could utilize gravity panels which depress only millimetres, then rebound via springs or hydrolics (etc), and each vehicle passing over would generate a minute amount of electricity.

Cars, trucks, and all vehicles could be fueled for free via deep cell batteries, and implemented at battery exchanges or by charge at solar stations.

I was just reading the thread about the free energy engine, which worked with the concept of electromagnatism. It's probably nothing we could not have had already, but the earlier plans from over fifty years ago were squashed by big industry and essentially, fossil fuel depandancy, for profit.

For profit. I hate those two words together, and yet they define our modern age. No one could aspire to power without money, so everything is "for profit". There is better currency in time, in patience, charity and other virtue, than there ever will be in self-serving profit. Profit is a dictator, and so many let it dictate them, and so many many people in power do dictate the love and need for money, such that we are truly controlled and dis-empowered.

I would rather wake up to a society full of cottage industry, where craftsmanship, quality and individuality raised our competative metersticks. Until people get over mathematical and manipulative ways to control their neighbours to their greatest advantage, and realize that life is better without money, we will never see the days of people building each others houses, or caring enough to build a humane society that rejects citizen and media control.

There is absolutely no reason why this shouldn't happen except for bad rule.

As for bionics and implants - no thanks ! God made us as we are, and in His image. Do it to yourself if you must, but don't force it on others.

[edit on 1-5-2010 by Northwarden]

posted on Dec, 23 2010 @ 11:06 PM
reply to post by VonDoomen

Wow, just ran across this one, fantastic thread Doomen, love the info! I ran across this by doing a search for a thread I am about to create on solar tech mimicking nature from this article: Here
I never thought of the word "bionics" to mean anything beyond artificial limbs or body parts. I did not consider it's more expansive meaning that carries over into energy production or transportation(other than Steve Austin
It is hard to top millions of years of evolution when it comes to practical and efficient mechanisms. Mimicking nature always sounds like a good place to start for ideas.
China has a photosynthesizing car that mimics the way leaves get energy from sunlight.

The technical details haven't been articulated, but according to a Xinhua article, YeZ designer Ma Zhengkun says that the roof "absorbs solar energy and transforms it into electricity while spinning rotors on the four wheels generate power from the wind." CNET Asia blogger Juniper Foo reports that the two-seater would have a "metal-organic framework," which would work to absorb CO2 and water, turning them into electricity that would get stored in a lithium-ion battery.

Then there was a MIT project that seemed revolutionary and yet....fell through the cracks

In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.

Until now, solar power has been a daytime-only energy source, because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient. With today's announcement, MIT researchers have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

This kind of stuff is one of the few sources of hope and inspiration for me these days. I believe this type of technology can/will be one of the greatest salvations for humanity AND the planet.


ETA: I think that solar forest in your post looks much better for a traditional parking lot

edit on 23-12-2010 by speculativeoptimist because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 27 2012 @ 07:36 PM

The Namib Desert of southern Africa is a brutal a place to live, even for a beetle. To survive, the Namib beetle farms moisture, using its back to condense the water and then storing the water to drink later. It's a remarkable adaptation to the arid conditions, and a team of recent MIT graduates are hoping to tap into the Namib beetle's secret in order to bring water to the estimated three billion people — otherwise known as about half the human race — who live in regions with insufficient water resources. The company, NBD Nano, are attempting to create a water bottle that is coated in an alternating mix of water-attracting and water-repelling, or hydrophilic and hydrophobic, materials. This combination should trap in moisture and force it to condense inside the bottle.

new topics

top topics


log in