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Biomimicry [Kindle Edition]

Janine M. Benyus
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This profound and accessible book details how science is studying nature’s best ideas to solve our toughest 21st-century problems.

If chaos theory transformed our view of the universe, biomimicry is transforming our life on Earth. Biomimicry is innovation inspired by nature – taking advantage of evolution’s 3.8 billion years of R&D since the first bacteria. Biomimics study nature’s best ideas: photosynthesis, brain power, and shells – and adapt them for human use. They are revolutionising how we invent, compute, heal ourselves, harness energy, repair the environment, and feed the world.

Science writer and lecturer Janine Benyus names and explains this phenomenon. She takes us into the lab and out in the field with cutting-edge researchers as they stir vats of proteins to unleash their computing power; analyse how electrons zipping around a leaf cell convert sunlight into fuel in trillionths of a second; discover miracle drugs by watching what chimps eat when they’re sick; study the hardy prairie as a model for low-maintenance agriculture; and more.

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Innovations, whether in farming, composite science, or computing, are a product of human creativity. Science writer Benyus (Beastly Behaviors, LJ 9/1/92) uses these subjects and others to demonstrate how nature's solutions to situations have been the creative jumping-off points for individuals seeking solutions, developing, or simply revitalizing processes or products. The first seven chapters are a prelude to the final chapter, which tackles industrial ecology. Here, Benyus proposes "ten lessons" that an ecologically astute company, culture, or economy could practice to promote a healthier existence for us all. There is no grandstanding, just readable language and a simple awe at human creativity and the uses to which it can be put. For popular science collections.?Michael D. Cramer, North Carolina Dept. of Environmental Health and Natural Resources Lib., Raleigh
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Forget the notion that technology improves upon nature. Benyus introduces us to pioneering engineers making technological breakthroughs by uncovering and copying nature's hidden marvels. These engineers are devising solar fuel cells as efficient as plants, fibers as tough as abalone shell, and computers as sophisticated as the brain. For Benyus, though, a technology that mirrors nature does more than enlarge human powers and gratify human ambitions. Such a technology teaches us how to live in harmony with nature, rather than how to dominate it. Unless we learn this urgent lesson, Benyus warns, our highly unnatural and exploitative technologies will soon render the earth unfit for life. Sobering yet hopeful, this book will bring help bridge the dangerous chasm between technophiles and environmentalists. Bryce Christensen

Product Details

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
136 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning from the Genius of Nature October 17, 2003
By J.W.K
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Before even reviewing the book, it seems as though I must explain its raison de'etre; for some negative reviews disclaim the very import of looking to nature as a model for life. For starters, nature runs on sunlight and creates no waste. To me, this alone is reason enough to mimic nature, since our profligate energy use has caused a global eco-crisis. Not only does the combustion of fossil fuels pollute the air breathe (leading to some 3 million deaths from air pollution annually according to the WHO), but it also floods the atmosphere with CO2, leading culprit in the greenhouse effect. Moreover, being that the supply of crude oil is finite, the very foundation of our economy will one day run dry. Nature, on the other hand, runs on the unlimited bounty of sunlight. Unlimited clean energy is just one example of the genius of nature which author Benyus points out in this book.
Nature does many other wonderful things we would do well to learn from. Arctic fish and frogs freeze solid and then spring to life, having protected their organs from ice damage. Black bears hibernate all winter without poisoning themselves on their urea, while their polar cousins stay active with a coat of transparent hollow hairs covering their skins like the panes of a greenhouse. Chameleons and cuttlefish hide without moving, changing the pattern of their skin to instantly blend with their surroundings. Bees, turtles, and birds navigate without maps, while whales and penguins dive without scuba gear. How do they do it? How do dragonflies outmaneuver our best helicopters? How do hummingbirds cross the Gulf of Mexico on less than one tenth of an ounce of fuel? How do ants carry the equivalent of hundreds of pounds in a dead heat through the jungle? How do muscles attach to rock in a wet environment?
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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Set cynicism aside, and hope can arise.... September 17, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Let me begin by saying I have a BS in chemical engineering and an MSPH in environmental engineering, so I am not some sort of uneducated, naive, "new-age" dreamer, who has no concept of what is practical and what is not. Morover, I have now worked for over 16 years at various industrial facilities (chemical, textile, and other manufacturing) as a process engineer and an environmental consultant. I've seen what's out there in the industrial landscape.

With that said this is simply the BEST non-fiction book I have ever read. It is chock full of fascinating "earth-friendly" ideas that are simply crying out to be implemented. It is written in a very "personal" tone, which I believe amplifies the book's message. In fact, don't let this tone make you think the book's technical depth is lacking. On the contrary, this book delves into some very complex concepts, but does so in a manner that a non-technical person can follow.

For those areas where I have specific knowledge (such as elements within industry who actually WANT to comply with all environmental requirements and WANT be "GREEN"), the author is on target and displays an excellent grasp of what's going on. Thus, for those ideas and concepts in the book that were new to me, I have no reason to beleive that the same does not hold true.

As long as you are able to set asise the cynicism that seems to have risen to such high levels nowadays, this book will make you THINK about better ways of doing things. Just two simple examples include: (1) Designing a perennial "community" for agriculture mimicking the natural plant community that otherwise would be there, rather than planting a non-diverse, single species, requiring annual reseeding, fertilization, insecticides, herbicides, etc.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Where can we find the best solutions to the many technical, environmental, social and economic problems that beset us?
In this wonderful book Benyus shows us that nature can teach us valuable lessons. "In the 3.8 billion years since the first bacteria, life has learned to fly, circumnavigate the globe, live in the depths of the ocean and atop the highest peaks, craft miracle materials, light up the night, lassoo the sun's energy, and build a self-reflective things have done everything we want to do, without guzzling fossil fuel, polluting the planet, or mortgaging their future. What better models could there be?"
By adopting a little humility and treating nature as a model, a measure, and a mentor, she argues, we can catch up on the lessons nature has had millions of years to learn. Benyus writes like an angel, her prose conjuring vivid images as she takes us with her on a journey to explore what Biomimics are doing in material science, medicine, computing, energy, agriculture, and business. Her journalistic style does not shrink from the intricacies of photosynthesis and relishes the wonders of mussel tethering techniques, but always keeps the wider picture in view.
I found myself wanting to push the fast-forward button - to the time when prarie-style agriculture is widely adopted; materials are made at room-temperature in life-friendly conditions with no toxicity; and our economy is modelled on a rainforest, not a ragweed. Readers of this book could be those who will help get us there faster. Enjoy!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars good price.
Fast shipping, good price.
Published 3 months ago by Philip Behrend
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this one
Very interesting! Tons of information. Highly recommend. Nature is so cool.
Published 3 months ago by Jan Hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work and extremely well written
Brilliant work and extremely well written. You don't often find such great writers in more academic subjects, but Janine Benyus is a gem!
Published 3 months ago by Alexandra Sokol
4.0 out of 5 stars All the books I've bought, are written very successful ...
All the books I've bought, are written very successful.
Published 4 months ago by S.SATIR
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book condition and a must read for everyone
Excellent book condition and a must read for everyone! Mostly to us students who need the basics for the new sustainable world
Published 4 months ago by Michelle
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are at all interested in zoology or sustainable ...
If you are at all interested in zoology or sustainable living, this book is for you. Organisms have been perfected over the last billion years or so, The book explores their... Read more
Published 5 months ago by circa24
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book!
Published 5 months ago by Gerald G Novak
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic book. Definitely not dated even though written some ...
Epic book. Definitely not dated even though written some time ago. Benyus writes in a way that is both accessible language with learning new concepts/vocabulary as well.
Published 7 months ago by LauraBora
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book
Beautifully researched and interesting
Published 7 months ago by Michael murrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential.
This book continues to inspire and astound me. Anyone who is a student of the earth and its systems will find something to challenge their established patterns of thinking. Read more
Published 9 months ago by A
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