Learning from nature to unlock 3.8 billion years of evolutionary wisdom

30 Apr 2023

Lianhe Zaobao, 30 April 2023, 向大自然生态取经 开启38亿年的进化智慧

The wisdom accumulated by the survival of animals and plants in nature for hundreds of millions of years may be used as a reference for human beings to solve the problem of global warming. Bionics opens a window for inventors, scientists, architects and designers to draw inspiration from nature, apply the mysteries of the survival of all things in various environments and find answers to climate change.
bioSEA, a local company engaged in ecological and bionic design consulting, explores how humans can learn from nature to overcome the various difficult diseases of global warming.
Funded by the Singapore Design Council's "Good Design Research" initiative, bioSEA launched the reference book "Biomimicry for Tropical Building Skins — A Design Toolkit to Manage Thermal Comfort Using Nature's Genius", explaining how to draw knowledge from biological structures to deal with and solve the thermal comfort of tropical buildings.
Anuj Jain (38), co-founder of bioSEA and co-editor of the book, said: "The concrete forest we live in makes it easy for us to accumulate heat, and the whole city is getting warmer. In the next few decades, there will be an increase of two degrees Celsius, so we need to use passive cooling to reduce the temperature, reduce carbon and save energy. Nature can provide us with inspiration to solve complex problems. We hope that this book is like a seed, planted in the construction industry which will allow us to learn to observe nature and draw inspiration from it to solve problems."
It is not new for inventors, scientists and designers to get inspiration for new inventions and designs from nature and creatures. The familiar Velcro was designed by Swiss engineer George de Mestral when he found burdock burrs on his clothes when he went hunting in the 1950s. Medical scientists have also observed that the structure of the large gecko's feet allows them to stick to the wall and crawl, and have been inspired to design a new method of suturing wounds without needles and thread. The engineer observed the kingfisher's beak to design a maglev bullet train, which successfully increased the speed of the train and reduced the sonic boom effect when the train was running at high speed.
Anuj said that a team from the Dynamic Assemblies Lab under the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) had installed a "weaving pattern mobile gazebo" (Knit Patterned Flow Pavilion) that was inspired by starfish larvae in 2020.
"Starfish larvae change the direction of their hairs to control the vortex of water flow, allowing them to swim in the water. The team used the structure of starfish larvae to make a pavilion, and simulated nature’s intermittent wind speed, and found that such constant wind flow adjustment is more comfortable and refreshing than blowing artificial wind at a constant speed," he added.