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Monday, August 8, 2011

Biomimicry, written by Dora Lee and illustrated by Margot Thompson. Kids Can Press, 2011. $19.95

"More and more, people are realizing how much we can learn from nature. Maybe what works in nature will work for us, too. These ideas lie at the heart of biomimicry - "bios" means life and "mimicry" means imitating.
Biomimicry is a way of thinking that encourages scientists, inventors and ordinary people to study nature and use its solutions to solve our problems."

When scientists look at the world around them, they see it differently than I do. I am only speaking for myself, and I have an abiding admiration for those scientific minds that see so much more than I can ever hope to see.

With that in mind, I want to tell you about this quite astounding book that had me reading from it from cover to cover. I thought I would skim its pages, get a feel for the information included, take a close at the artwork accompanying the text; then give you a summary that might inspire your interest in its content.

Biomimicry was a new word to me; that is no longer the case. I just didn't realize that I knew a little something about it. The author assures us that nature has inspired many of 'our' best ideas. From birds we learned about flight, a precursor to the development of flying machines. From bats we learned about bouncing sound waves to determine location, thus leading scientists to sonar. There are so many examples of our mimicking nature in the search for new and easier ways to live our lives.

There seems no end to the reasons that we look to nature:

"Why are lotus flowers always spotlessly clean? Tiny hydrophobic (water-repelling) bumps cover the leaves and petals. Water sits on top of the waxy bumps instead of filling in the nooks and crannies between them. So do particles of dirt. When it rains, water drops roll off the leaves and flowers, picking up the dirt as they go. Recently, scientists have mimicked this "lotus effect" by spiking paint with microscopic water-repellent bumps that let the dirt roll off walls with the rain."

Did you know that?  Makes you stop and think, doesn't it? It makes me thankful for the scientific minds that see such things and realize we can use that knowledge to make improvements in our world. Dora Lee has filled my head with a wide-ranging package of information. Not only does she mention what has been done in the past and present, she offers insight into future innovations based on what we have learned from nature:

"The future of ultrafast photonic computers (computers that run on light instead of electricity) may rest on the back of a Brazilian beetle. The scales on the beetle's shell are made of crystals arranged in such a way that only certain wavelengths of light, and not others, can penetrate them. This makes the beetle appear iridescent green from all angles. Computer scientists think that a similar arrangement of crystals could be used to channel light in photonic computers."  HUH!

Get out there and get this book, and prepare yourself to be astounded by the research and the detailed, realistic acrylic on canvas artwork that Margot Thompson has created to so clearly help us understand the connections, one to the other. Truly enlightening!

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