November 2010

Monthly Archive

Tongue Defeats Gravity: Cats

Posted by on 30 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: biomimicry

Some people are inspired by nature when visiting a tide pool, sitting on a sand dune, or hiking in an ancient forest. But Roman Stocker didn’t have to travel far—he watched his cat drink water. Stocker and his colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that a cat just barely touches its curled-back tongue to the water, then draws it toward the mouth, pulling a column of water with it. It’s a delicate, well-timed feat, exploiting inertia to beat gravity. Surprisingly, it’s not the raspy front of the tongue but the back of it that the water adheres to. By watching videos of other species of cats like tigers and lions, the researchers concluded that this water-lapping technique is found in all cats. Potential applications could be to improve our ability to clean up oil or chemical spills or for soft robotics such as those used in hospitals or labs.
Photo by tanakawho; License: CC-by-nd

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Biomimicry Group Launches Eight-Month Biomimicry Program

Posted by on 29 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: biomimicry

MISSOULA, Mont., Nov. 29 /CSRwire/ – The Biomimicry Group today announced the launch of the new eight-month intensive Biomimicry Specialty Program.

A highly integrated, cross-disciplinary approach that blends self-paced, incremental training in a dynamic, cross-cultural environment, the Biomimicry Specialty Program offers online and field sessions around the world for designers, engineers, educators, biologists, entrepreneurs, chemists, architects, and more. Every aspect of the program works to empower individuals and organizations through training, networks, tools, and vision, with the mission to transform the way participants view and operate in the world.

Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a design discipline that seeks sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems society is facing like energy, food production, climate control, and transportation.

“The Biomimicry Group educational programs provide the most exciting and important opportunities for manifesting our vision of a world empowered by nature’s genius. It helps build the world I want my, your, and all children to inherit,” said Dr. Dayna Baumeister, Biomimicry Guild co-founder and Biomimicry Specialty Program instructor.

Biomimicry Specialty Program
The intensive program will run from March 2, 2011, to November 6, 2011, and will be delivered through a combination of in-person and distance online learning experiences. Participants will spend three, five-day in-person sessions together in three unique ecosystems within their region exploring biomimicry, learning about the local ecology, and developing a regional biomimicry network. Professionally trained and experienced biomimicry instructors will facilitate these in-person sessions and serve as a resource through the online coursework.

Additionally, students will participate remotely in a 30-week online biomimicry course divided into five-week units. Led by Dr. Baumeister, the online course includes lectures, reading assignments, case studies, guest lecturers, individual exercises and occasional group exercises.

The program is designed for working professionals and as such is not a full-time program. It is anticipated that the participants will need to commit three to six hours per week to the 30-week online program, plus the 15 days for the in-person sessions.

Participants graduate as “Regional Biomimicry Specialists” and are empowered to incorporate biomimicry into their current or planned professions, and serve as alliance members to their local biomimicry network.

Interested participants can download an application and submit it by December 17, 2010. Notification of acceptance into the program will be sent by January 12, 2011.

Biomimicry and Design Spring Workshops in Costa Rica
Also open for registration, the Biomimicry & Design Workshop held in the tropics of Costa Rica offers students and professionals from all disciplines and backgrounds a unique experiential learning opportunity to initiate their engagement in the biomimicry training. Due to increasing demand, this spring the group is offering two sessions: March 13 to March 20, 2011, and March 24 to March 31, 2011.

Added Baumeister, “Participants come to the workshops with a curiosity about biomimicry and walk away with an experience that combines their desire to innovate sustainably while demonstrating gratitude for the natural genius that surrounds us.”

The deadline for registration is February 11, 2011. Interested can register online for the workshop.

History of Biomimicry Education
Beginning in 1998, Janine Benyus and Dayna Baumeister, the world’s two most premiere thought leaders in biomimicry and leading educators, partnered to empower individuals to develop a practice of biomimicry beyond the research labs. Initially starting with half-day, full-day, and two-day workshops, the pair offered the first longer workshop in Montana in 2003. Since then, hundreds of designers, engineers, educators, biologists, entrepreneurs, chemists and architects from around the world have graduated from these weeklong workshops creating an incredible network of practitioners. Yet, Benyus notes, as they engage in biomimicry their curiosity and desire to learn more and go deeper has kept them asking for more.

In response, in 2008, The Biomimicry Institute, a sister organization to The Biomimicry Group, began a master’s level, two-year non-residential program in biomimicry, graduating 15 students in April 2010. The next cohort of the Biomimicry Professional Certification Program will embark in January of 2011.

About The Biomimicry Group
The Biomimicry Group and its sister organizations The Biomimicry Institute and The Biomimicry Guild promote the study and imitation of nature’s remarkably efficient designs, bringing together scientists, engineers, architects and innovators who can use those models to create sustainable technologies. Its mission is to nurture and grow a global community of people who are learning from, emulating, and conserving life’s genius to create a healthier, more sustainable planet.

Buy Nothing Day

Posted by on 23 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: Less Stuff


Here in the USofA the buzz is all about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Here is an alternative way to participate:

Last year, everybody was talking about NothingTM, the zero-carbon must have that we all had to have. But then the fashion tide left the beach of fad and NothingTM became boring and so version one point oh. So just in time for Buy Nothing Day 2010, we turned to international product designer Naughton O. Nada – design genius, creative tidal wave, conceptual Krakatowa – to face the seemingly impossible task of creating a new, improved, NothingTM


Biomimicry Featured in Harmony Documentary – Showing on NBC

Posted by on 16 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: biomimicry, climate change, video


Janine was invited to meet with Prince Charles some years ago – and clearly her message resonated. This Friday, Nov 19 NBC  will be showing “Harmony”, a documentary inspired by Prince Charles and featuring Janine talking about how biomimicry:

Inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales, HARMONY captures on film in a way we’ve never seen before, an authentic leader on critical global issues. For the better part of three decades, The Prince of Wales has worked side by side with a surprising and dynamic array of environmental activists, business leaders, artists, architects and government leaders. They are working to transform the world, address the global environmental crisis and find ways toward a more sustainable, spiritual and harmonious relationship with the planet.  From organic farms, to the rainforests of British Columbia, to rare footage of HRH interviewing Al Gore about climate change in 1988 – Harmony introduces viewers to a new and inspiring perspective on how the world can meet the challenges of climate change globally, locally and personally.

Self Repair Manifesto

Posted by on 11 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: maintain-it


In most cases, the “greenest” product you can buy is…NO product. But all-too-often we are thwarted in our attempts to continue a product because repairs end up costing more than replacement. invites us to sign up to their Self Repair Manifesto:


One of the comments makes the case in just a few words:

Design for reuse.
Design for refurbishment.
Design for disassembly.
Design for upgrade.
Design for repair.

Lets vote with our $ and buy products that meet these design goals.

For more on this, check out

Biomimicry: Economic Driver for San Diego

Posted by on 11 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: biomimicry


Last year, San Diego Zoo hosted a full day biomimicry seminar. Momentum continues to build:

Conservation-based study by Fermanian Business and Economic Institute to be shared at San Diego Zoo event

A conservation-based field may be the next economic trend for San Diego, according to an impact report to be released next week. The report, commissioned by the San Diego Zoo from the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute (FBEI) at Point Loma Nazarene University, works to quantify the burgeoning field of biomimicry and its effect on San Diego.

Details of the report will be announced by Dr. Lynn Reaser, chief economist of FBEI and principal author of the report, at an event at the San Diego Zoo on November 18.

Biomimicry is the discipline  of studying nature’s best ideas and then applying these designs and processes to solve human problems. Notable examples of biomimicry-inspired products include Velcro, wind turbines inspired from whale flippers, bullet trains based upon a kingfisher’s beak, and many others. Companies that are currently working in this field include QUALCOMM, Proctor and Gamble, and PAX Scientific, as well as entrepreneurial startups.

“The completed report organizes many existing efforts in this field by significant companies across the globe, then develops in greater detail the potential economic and investment implications on the global, U.S., and regional economies, and finally articulates a compelling case for making the San Diego region a global biomimicry hub,”  said Randy M. Ataide, executive director of the FBEI.

“Biomimicry could represent a revolutionary change in our economy by transforming many of the ways we think about designing, producing, transporting and distributing goods and services.”

The San Diego Zoo’s effort to build biomimicry as a new approach to solving technical and economic challenges arises from its mission to conserve endangered species.  “The key to biomimicry is the value we place on natural systems and species,” said Paula Brock, chief financial officer for the San Diego Zoo.  “Biomimicry offers an opportunity to bring successful economics together with conservation.  We hope this study will inspire new companies and entrepreneurs to focus upon the development of this field.”

A key finding of the report is that biomimicry holds the potential to attract sizable capital inflows, driven by the prospects of rapid growth and high rates of return, and that venture capital potential could flow into the field at a pace at least equal to that of biotech, estimated to be about $4.5 billion in the U.S. in 2010. Modeling done by the FBEI projects that a San Diego biomimicry hub could add $325 million to SanDiego’s gross regional product and $162 million in total personal income on an annual basis, with an initial 2,100 new jobs created for San Diego.

The study also analyzed the multi-year efforts of the San Diego Zoo, administered by San Diego Zoo Global, in encouraging the viability of biomimicry and concluded that this work and investment in the field has successfully positioned the region to now lead in the formation of a global biomimicry hub composed of critical regional stakeholders including for-profit and non-profit firms, government agencies, private and public universities, scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs. The study determined that “The Zoo is currently the only facilities-based provider of biomimicry services in the world” and also that “The Zoo plans to build the first biomimicry research and education network to drive major biomimicry research and commercial applications.”

Attendees at the upcoming event will receive a copy of the entire report, and registration is required to attend the event. To RSVP for the November 18, 2010, event at the San Diego Zoo, visit call 619-231-1515, extension 5477. For further information or a copy of the report, contact Helen Cheng at or 619-552-3927 or Cathy Gallagher at the FBEI at CathyGallagher@pointloma.eduor 619-849-2564.

Point Loma Nazarene University is a selective liberal arts university located in San Diego, California, and sits on a 90-acre campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In addition to more than 50 undergraduate areas of study, PLNU offers graduate program regional centers in Bakersfield, Arcadia, Mission Valley (San Diego) and the Inland Empire. Founded in 1902, PLNU serves more than 3,500 students.

The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park (historically referred to as the Wild Animal Park), which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.