Thursday, April 29, 2010 Amazing site with a million answers

I just learned of the most amazing site and I hope to pass the message along to someone who could use the information. It is called and it is intended to get engineers and designers and people in business to consider how nature accomplishes the tasks we are still struggling to accomplish - like using nano technology, like staying dry or like purifying water. I have cut one page and pasted it here so you can get a sense of what they are doing

Biomimicry Taxonomy: Biology Organized by ChallengeWhat is The Biomimicry Taxonomy?

Information organized on AskNature uses a classification system—the Biomimicry Taxonomy—to organize how organisms meet different challenges. Strategies are potential solutions to those challenges. For example, the challenge and Biomimicry Taxonomy of an insect’s strategy might be as follows:

Insect’s challenge:Protect itself from animals that want to eat it.

Strategy Anti-reflective eyes to avoid detection in moonlight via nanoscale protrusions on the eyes' surfaces. View strategy page >

Biomimicry Taxonomy GROUP: Maintain health

SUB-GROUP: Protect from biotic factors
FUNCTION: Protect from animals
STRATEGY: Nanoscale protrusions
Getting to know the Biomimicry Taxonomy

Browse the Biomimicry Taxonomy on AskNature >
Download a one-page visual of the entire Biomimicry Taxonomy (PDF 776kB) >
Browse strategies organized with the Biomimicry Taxonomy >
How do I use it?
Understanding the Biomimicry Taxonomy provides a novel way for designers and biologists to collaborate and approach the next design challenge in a life-conducive way. The key to using the taxonomy is forming the question. Instead of asking how to make less toxic pigments, the designer can "ask" a Morpho butterfly how it modifies its color. Instead of using high pressure and temperatures to manufacture tough, lightweight building materials, an engineer can "ask" a toucan how it manages impact with its strong and light beak.

Here’s an example of how you could use the Biomimicry Taxonomy to solve your next design challenge:

ChalLENGE: You are designing a building in an area of low rainfall. You want your building to collect rainwater and store it for future use.

1. Find the verb: Move away from any predetermined ideas of what you want to design, and think more about what you want your design to do. Try to pull out single functional words in the form of verbs. The questions you might pose through the Search or Browse options might be:

How would Nature…

Capture rainwater?

Store water?

Or_. Try a different angle. Some organisms live in areas that don't experience any rain, yet they still get all of the water they need. So other questions to pose might be:

How would Nature…

Capture water?

Capture fog?

Absorb water?
Manage humidity?
Move water?
3. Turn the question around. Instead of asking how Nature stores water, you might think about how Nature protects against excess water or keeps water out:

How would Nature…
Remove water?
Stay dry?

4. Become inspired. Take some time to explore AskNature and see what inspires you. If you need more help, see our site tutorial on how to navigate the site using the Search and Browse tools.

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