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Biomimicry at TED
Alex Steffen, 23 Feb 05

"Architects, designers, engineers, the people who make our world, have started asking to have biologists sitting at the table," says Janine Benyus at TED in her talk on biomimicry. "Learning about the natural world is one thing, learning from the natural world is another."

Refers to evolutionary design and the virtual modeling of ecosystems, asks How does life make things? How does life make "things" disappear into systems? Much of her talk is similar to the one she gave at Poptech, focusing on biomimetic avenues of innovation:

*Self assembly: water-based chemistry, designs which grow themselves; computers without carcinogens (from self-assembling silicates). Objects which fold themselves like proteins, self assembly from two dimensions to three. New ceramics

*Chemistry in Water: moving from inorganic solvents to water-based chemistry, such as the work of the Coates Lab and Cornell, making biodegreabable plastics out of CO2 -- neobiological industry in general

*Quenching thirst, like the Namibian desert beetle


*Timed degradation

*Solar Transformations: molecular-sized solar cells.

*The Power of Shape: the nautilus' logarithmic spiral is influencing the design of turbine and fan blades, which can be made 50% more efficient; design for disassembly (with, for instance, Van der Wahls forces); color without pigments (peacock feathers) and cleansing without detergents (Lotus leaf paint)

*Materials as systems.

*Natural Selection as an Innovation Engine: evolutionary design and genetic algorithms.

*Material Upcycling

*Ecosystems that Grow Food and Fertility: Prairie Farms and Living Machines

*Energy Saving Movement and Transport

*Resilience and Healing: learning from organisms which live without water to design vacines which can be stored without refrigeration

*Sensing and Responding

There are scads of examples of these things... as Janine puts it, "life creates conditions condusive to life."

Which brings me back to the idea of ecological footprints. Why measure our negative impacts, solely? Why not aim to leave "ecological handprints?" Why not aim for a civilization which leaves biodiversity and ecosystems better than they were?

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"Ecological Handprints"

Yes, yes, yes. Great idea, focus on the positive. Be more good not less bad.

Anyone working on this?

Posted by: Chris Jackson on 24 Feb 05



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