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Engineering inspired by Nature

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For many years, Humankind and Nature seemed to be at odds with each other. Around the globe, environmental groups interested in the wellbeing of the planet made their voices known, desperately trying to convince the world to be more respectful towards our planet and the life that exists here. Fortunately, many people now understand the dangers of pollution and carbon emissions. Over the last decade, the world has shifted its focus to solar power, and almost none of us would argue against the planting of a tree.

Geocell Technology

Nature has been taken for granted in the past, but it’s now more important than ever that we need to turn to Nature to see what it can teach us, because, as you’ll soon see, if we allow ourselves to be willing to learn, Nature very quickly becomes an eager and useful teacher!

1) Geocell Technology Inspired by Honeycombs

While many of us would hate to be stung by a bee, we shouldn’t dismiss these fascinating little insects — they have a lot to teach us. The company, PRS Geo-Technologies has known this for many years. At the very heart of their technology is a cellular confinement system called Neoloy Geocell. This geocell technology was inspired by the honeycomb shape found in beehives. Made from a Nano-Polymeric alloy (NPA), the Geocells’ shape allows for incredibly effective load distribution, acting as a flexible beam which lets it handle heavy stress. For this reason, Geocells have a variety of uses, including the reinforcement of roads and ground stabilization. They’re also cheaper to produce, better for the environment, incredibly strong, and reliable. It turns out that some of the most effective engineers have been under our noses this whole time, buzzing through the garden!

2) Shock Absorption Technology Inspired by Woodpeckers

A Woodpecker darts its beak against a tree at speeds as fast as 22 beats per second — that’s fast. For a long time, given how much force is used when pecking, we weren’t sure exactly how they could peck like this without incurring some sort of brain damage. Research done at the University of California, Berkeley, revealed that woodpeckers have four structures in their head and neck which effectively absorb the impact. Mimicking this design has led to massively beneficial advancements in shock absorption technology.

3) Ventilation Systems Inspired by Termites

Air conditioners are great for one simple reason, they allow us to manipulate the temperature of a room, regardless of what the weather is like outside. Unfortunately, air conditioners are also big, noisy, and expensive. Engineers around the world have turned to Nature in search of an alternative. African termites use a clever design for their mounds, in which warm air is vented out of the structure through tunnels. This type of air conditioning is a consistent cooling system which has been mimicked by human engineers and continues to grow in popularity. Using a fraction of the energy, buildings designed to regulate temperature passively seem likely to be the future of air conditioning.

4) Painless Needles Inspired by Mosquitoes

Generally speaking, most people are not a fan of mosquitoes. In fact, most of us wouldn’t be too upset if they all just magically disappeared one day. But having said that, even mosquitoes have a lot to offer us if we’re willing to look. Have you ever noticed how painful it is when a mosquito “bites” you? Probably not. In fact, you hardly even notice it until the spot where you were poked begins to itch. A Mosquito has something called a proboscis, which is what the mosquito uses to pierce your skin and drink your blood. Mimicking this, engineers in Japan have created a needle which makes injections far less painful. There is still much more research to be done, but don’t be surprised if injections eventually become as painless as a mosquito bite. It’s worth noting that even the aspects of nature that many of us don’t like can still teach us a lot.

So perhaps the real source for advancement isn’t to be found in textbooks or labs, but rather in the garden. Nature has been perfecting itself for a very long time, and it would be downright silly of us to ignore it. As we progress and become more advanced, we might just find ourselves playing a game of catch up to the little scientists and engineers of Nature. Hopefully we can stay humble and appreciate what they have to teach us!

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