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Biomimicry

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Biomimicry is an ancient practice returning as a modern form of scientific inquiry that examines the design features of organisms (models, systems, processes, and elements) and emulates them in practical applications to solve human problems.

The exquisite architecture of the lifeforms on Earth has served as inspiration for countless inventions. Important technologies, such as Velcro or the airplane owe their inceptions to those who first observed these qualities in God’s handiwork and then sought to reproduce the abilities.

Also known as bionics, biomimetics, bio-inspiration, biognosis, or bionical creativity engineering, the word comes from the Greek term bion meaning 'unit of life' and mimesis, which means to imitate. Humans attempt to mimic the properties possessed by other forms of life by creating artificial imitations for various technological applications.

Contents

Examples

Lobster eye

Main Article: Lobster eye

The lobster’s eye has the ability to intensify a low input image that is captured from a broad field of view using the technique of reflective superpositioning. Developing a system similar to that possessed by the lobster has intrigued engineers since the mechanism was first made known.[1]

In a 2006 press release, UK researchers at the University of Leicester announced that they were developing an X-ray telescope that draws from the design features of the Lobster eye. The “Lobster All-Sky X-ray Monitor”, which was originally proposed by Roger Angel of the University of Arizona in 1977, replicates the eye’s ability to focus images from all around without turning. Dr. Nigel Bannister (University of Leicester) stated that: "The great advantage of the Lobster design is an almost unlimited field of view". It is believed the devise may either be used aboard the International Space Station or perhaps mounted on a free-flying satellite platform.[2]

LEXID (“lobster eye x-ray imaging device”)

More recently, the Physical Optics Corporation in Torrance, CA, operating under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate has implemented the design of the lobster’s eye to create an imaging device. Known as LEXID (“lobster eye x-ray imaging device”), the new handheld imaging system can view through walls of various thicknesses and materials, and identify contents. The tremendous potential of the device has sparked interest from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Transportation Security Administration, which are responsible for scrutinizing what is coming into the country.[3]

LEXID works by emitting low-level X-rays, which are then focused into a collector by the lobster eye optics. An interpretation of the returning X-rays is then produced on a small liquid crystal display, which is currently clear enough to reveal weapons or the presence of humans behind concrete walls. Although still in the developmental and testing phase, the prototype produced with just under 1 million dollars of Homeland Security money is expected to be ready for on the job DHS testing in the near future. In addition to DHS intended applications, the inventors also envision virtually unlimited number of alternate uses for the device in fields ranging from construction to archaeology.[4] Who would think that research revealing the incredible design of the lobster eye might someday safeguard nations or lead to other potential discoveries of historical significance?

Others

  • Georges de Mestral invented velcro after observing the way burrs cling to a dog's fur with hooked barbs.[1]
  • The Wright brothers observed the flight of birds to inspire their airplane designs.
  • The hard calcium carbonate shell of mullusks is copied for bullet-proof armor.[2]
  • Nanotechnology for developing better solar-cell and fuel-cell technology copied from human body mechanisms.[3]
  • Engineering the wings of airplanes to "morph" for efficiency in varying flight speeds, based on the design of fish scales.[4]
  • The natural antifreeze produced in teleost fish of the polar regions is imitated for food preservation.[5]
  • The design of cockroaches is studied as a role model for robot design.[6]
  • The flexibility of octopus arms is studied for inspiration on new robotics designs.[7]
  • NASA engineers took clues from "the ultimate designer -- nature" for space craft technology.[8]
  • Using dragonflies and houseflies as models, bioengineers Berkeley, created a series of artificial compound eyes.[9]
  • Bee behavior can be studied to polish and perfect the science of decision-making.[10]
  • Sea-sponges are studied in an effort to produce light yet sturdy materials.[11]
  • The flight of bees provides examples of greater flight lift, control and pitch.[12]
  • The built-in navigation capabilities of ants were studied to produce similar designs for robot navigation.[13]
  • Scientists study the ability of bugs to cling to the ceiling, in an effort to create similar robotic abilities.[14]
  • The design of gecko feet inspired scientists to create microfibers capable of sticking to smooth surfaces.[15] [16]
  • The design of crustacean eyes was incorporated into a European observatory telescope design.[17]
  • Eyes of various animals are inspiring for other technologies.[18]
  • Spider webbing is a biological marvel that scientists strive to imitate for producing stronger ropes or cables.[19] [20] [21]
  • Self-cleaning plastics based on the design of plants. [22]

Evidence of design

Main Article: Intelligent design

Evolution is, by nature, an incredibly wasteful process. According to evolution, millions of "prototype" organisms (creatures that attempt to adapt to an environment but cannot) are eliminated in the great struggle to survive. However, for such a wasteful and destructive mechanism, evolution seems to produce designs so enviously extraordinary that they are beyond the scope of mankind's ability to create. When looking to solve scientific challenges, scientists frequently look to nature for inspiration. Biomimicry is the term to describe the entire wing of science devoted to examining and copying nature's (God's) design.

Instead of recognizing the rather obvious implication, that a masterful intellect is responsible for the engineering wonders possessed by the organisms on Earth, the materialistic worldview causes many to blindly accept that undirected natural processes have given these amazing creatures the “appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”[5] But the practice of biomimicry speaks louder than such philosophically derived logical fallacies. Engineers attempt to copy biological structures and processes because their designs are superior to those that have been devised by the human mind. While LEXID and other devices based on the lobster eye are indeed ingenious technological innovations, they are but crude copies of the real thing. Designs offer clear testimony of the existence and creativity of the one who created them, and the biological realm contains countless novelties that scientists struggle to comprehend and in many cases remain a mystery. Although we may never fully understand certain aspects of the creation, the qualities of the creator are revealed through what is made, thereby leaving those who would deny His existence without any justification for their assertions.(Romans 1:20 )

References

  1. New Design Innovatons from Biomimetics: Lobster Recruited in the War on Terrorism by Chris Ashcraft, Creation 32(3):21-23, July 2010.
  2. University Of Leicester. Lobster Telescope Has An Eye For X-Rays ScienceDaily April 5, 2006.
  3. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Eye of the Lobster. S&T Spotlight, Volume 1, Issue 7. November 2007.
  4. Lobster Serves as Model for New X-Ray Device USA Today, December 20, 2007.
  5. Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York, 1996, p.1

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