1. How does nature support community? A special message from Janine Benyus – AskNature Nuggets


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    Visit biomimicry.net/give and thank you. AskNature Nuggets | Episode 25

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    • 2013-2014 Biomimicry Student Design Challenge


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      BiomimicryDesignChallenge.com Transportation connects us all. Whether it’s simply getting from home to work or using products shipped over distances near and far, in every region of the world transportation impacts our daily lives. At first glance, transportation may simply appear to be about the movement of people and goods. But looking deeper, it’s also closely linked to equality, access to healthy food and good schools, and wildlife impacts, for example. As the mobility demands of people and freight have grown, so too has the need for products, systems, and services that will make the transportation sector more life-friendly, for both people and the planet. Can biomimicry help us address the deeper needs around transportation? Let’s find out!

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      • How do sloths handle tension?


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        How does nature handle tension? If you sleep 10+ hours a day while suspended in a tree, you're going to be dealing with a lot of tension. No, we're not talking emotional turmoil but structural tension. Most organisms would buckle under the pressure of hanging for an entire lifetime, but not the sloth. Let's learn from nature's most fascinating creature that does very little to earn that title: the sloth. AskNature Nuggets | Episode 23 --------------------------- Transcript: At first glance sloths seem lazy, slow and do nothing but sleep. But there’s more to them than meets the eye. In a display of mutualism, their dirty fur hosts an ecosystem of algae and other organisms who, in return, help camouflage the sloth in its lush, green surroundings. They also participate in a closed loop system by spending one day each week climbing to the base of their tree to defecate, thereby fertilizing their own food source. And while sloths are incredibly slow on land, they are well adapted to quickly in a tree. This is because their curved spine copes well with tension rather than compression. This is a design we already use in suspension bridges like Portland’s St. Johns Bridge. How else could architects and engineers find inspiration in the sloth’s uncanny ability to just… hang out?

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        • How do penguins reduce drag in water? – AskNature Nuggets


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          Penguins can launch themselves out of the icy sea in a hurry: no jet-pack required. Let Biomimicry 3.8's Gretchen explain how. AskNature Nuggets | Episode 22 Thank you to Shutterstock.com for donating the following images: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-35294986/stock-photo-emperor-penguins-aptenodytes-forsteri-jumping-out-of-the-water-onto-the-ice-in-the-weddell-sea.html http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-111375188/stock-photo-emperor-penguin-jumping-out-of-water-antarctic.html http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-143616370/stock-photo-jumping-gentoo-penguins-on-iceberg.html http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-145817054/stock-photo-jumping-gentoo-penguin-on-iceberg.html --------------------------- Transcript: Everybody knows, penguins can’t fly. Their flipper-like wings -- optimized for life at sea -- are better suited to underwater acrobatics than aerial maneuvers. But nonetheless, the penguin has an impressive strategy for getting “big air” when it needs to leap to shore to evade a hungry leopard seal. The maximum swimming speed for a penguin is usually between four and nine feet per second. But in short bursts the penguin can double or even triple that speed in order to launch itself up onto the ice. Emperor penguins manipulate the air-trapping properties of their dense coat of feathers and selectively squeeze the air out as they swim. Tiny bubbles emerge and form a lubricating coating on the feathers’ surface. This cuts drag and enables the penguins to reach speeds that would otherwise be impossible. This “air lubrication” effect is known to marine engineers and is being used to increase the speed and reduce the energy costs of large ships. What else do you think we can learn from the penguin’s strategy?

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          • How do platypi sense? – AskNature Nuggets


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            We learned a bit about how nature senses from the star-nosed mole (https://vimeo.com/46782541) but now we turn our attention to the equally fascinating platypus. Let's learn how this venomous, egg-laying, dull-billed mammal forages for food using only its highly sensitive bill. AskNature Nuggets | Episode 21 --------------------------- Transcript: How does nature….Sense? Australia is home to some straaaange creatures, but none as perplexing as the platypus. When Europeans first heard of this duck-billed, egg laying, venomous, beaver-tailed mammal they assumed it could only be an elaborate hoax. Sensitive receptors on the platypus’ bill allow it to detect the direction and proximity of weak electric fields that are created by muscular contractions of the small aquatic animals that the platypus feeds on. When it dives the platypus actually closes it’s eyes, ears, and nostrils and uses only its sensitive bill to hone in on its meal. So maybe we can learn a thing or two from the platypus about how we might improve navigation and motion detection systems.

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            • How do pangolins protect themselves? – AskNature Nuggets


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              Pangolins don’t have teeth and they can’t move very quickly, so they rely on their scales to protect themselves against predators and the biting ants that are their food source. When threatened, this unusual mammal will curl up into a ball with its overlapping scales acting like armor. The scales are sharp, which provide an extra defense, and once curled, it’s nearly impossible to force the pangolin to unwind. AskNature Nuggets | Episode 20 ---------------- Transcript: Have you ever heard of a pangolin? No, I’m not mispronouncing penguin! I’m talking about the mammal that looks like a scaly anteater. The most striking characteristic of the pangolin is its scales, which grow throughout its life just like human hair, and overlap like the scales of this pinecone. Pangolins don’t have teeth and they can’t move very quickly, so they rely on their scales to protect themselves against predators and the biting ants that are their food source. When threatened, this unusual mammal will curl up into a ball with its overlapping scales acting like armor. The scales are sharp, which provide an extra defense, and once curled, it’s nearly impossible to force the pangolin to unwind. The pangolin’s scales are a perfect example of flexibility and durability combined, which are highly desirable traits in human-made designs, such as in packaging or roofing. In fact, the pangolin has already inspired one company to create a backpack with retractable layers that mimics the mammal’s scales. Can you think of a product or design that the pangolin can inspire? NOTE: Thanks to Noah Nipperus of Tempe, Arizona for suggesting we do a Nugget on the pangolin. If you’d like to suggest an organism, please post your ideas on our facebook page: facebook.com/biomimicry38institute

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              • How do paper wasps upcycle? – AskNature Nuggets


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                If you check under the eaves of your home or garage, you might notice that paper wasps have been busy building nests. Through wind, rain, and snow, those nests provide a sturdy and waterproof home for wasp colonies. But how are they made at from what materials? Sherry Ritter, one of our favorite biologists at the design table, explains. AskNature Nuggets | Episode 19 ---------------- Transcript: This is a paper wasp’s nest. I find these fascinating not only because they’re beautiful but because they’re actually just made out of cellulose (or chewed up wood) and saliva. Now the wasp uses a saliva that has a lot of protein in it and that protein mixed with the cellulose creates a water insoluble but also waterproof covering. Now, it’s interesting that in rainy environments, they actually use more protein in their saliva in order to make it more waterproof. And because protein is pretty expensive from a wasp’s standpoint because they have to go get more insects to get more protein, they’re only going to use it if they really need it. So if this is in a dry environment or protected from overhead, they’re not going to use as much protein. So I’m wondering if we can use this idea to make non-toxic, waterproof paper or other biodegradable materials. (Holds up honeycomb) And in case you wondered, this is what the inside of the nest looks like… but that’s another story.

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                • How do woodpeckers absorb shock? – AskNature Nuggets


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                  In this episode, zoologist and football fanatic Douglas Koester discusses what we can learn from the woodpecker, both on and off the field. Filmed on location at the Washington-Grizzly Stadium at the University of Montana. AskNature Nuggets | Episode 18

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                  • How do closed-loop ecosystems recycle waste? – AskNature Nuggets


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                    In this episode, we sit back, relax, and explore the world of biomimicry beers. Can a brewery mimic a closed-loop ecosystem? Yes, and let's look to Montana's own Wildwood Brewery to see how it can be done. AskNature Nuggets | Episode 17

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