Kathie's Question of the day: How important is it to look to nature for innovation?

My editor passed along an interesting article to me this morning. 

 

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created an artificial leaf that uses solar cells to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, while creating energy in the process. Daniel Nocera, who lead the research, says the leaf shows promise for providing inexpensive energy to the poor in developing countries. 

 

This just made me think about all the innovations that have been naturally inspired. Velcro was designed by Swiss Engineer George de Mestral in 1940 after he observed how the hooks of the plant burrs stuck in his pants and dog's fur. 
The structure of a tree inspired the structure of cathedrals and other buildings. And suckers on an octopus's tentacles have inspired suction cups.

 

How important do you think it is to look to nature for innovation? Are we looking enough?

 

Kathie Zipp is Associate Editor of Solarpower Engineering and Windpower Engineering

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Comment by Kathie Zipp on April 4, 2011 at 6:11am
Nice point Simon! I like it!
Comment by Simon Farnell on April 2, 2011 at 2:27pm
I think it's very important and we can't stop looking for new innovations like this. But think about ths, wha is tere that we've invented that nature (in principle at least) hasn't already.
Comment by Kathie Zipp on March 29, 2011 at 1:14pm
That sounds really interesting Aaron! Thanks for sharing. I agree, I think there's a lot to be learned from observing nature. I just finished a book on Leonardo Davinci and was amazed at the ideas he came up with just from spending hours watching how the natural world works.
Comment by Aaron Pavone on March 29, 2011 at 12:55pm
I believe it is very important. Nature in itself is an engineering feat and is always adaptive. I am currently working on my capstone project which is continuing off bio inspired research at Georgia Tech, mimicking a snake's rectilinear movement and scale movement for purposes of traversing steep surfaces.

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