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Bulletproof Feathers: How Science Uses Nature's Secrets to Design Cutting-Edge Technology [Hardcover]

by Robert Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

May 30, 2010 0226014703 978-0226014708

Fabrics that are not only stain resistant but actually clean themselves. Airplane wings that change shape in midair to take advantage of shifts in wind currents. Hypodermic needles that use tiny serrations to render injections virtually pain free.

Though they may sound like the stuff of science fiction, in fact such inventions represent only the most recent iterations of natural mechanisms that are billions of years old—the focus of the rapidly growing field of biomimetics. Based on the realization that natural selection has for countless eons been conducting trial-and-error experiments with the laws of physics, chemistry, material science, and engineering, biomimetics takes nature as its laboratory, looking to the most successful developments and strategies of an array of plants and animals as a source of technological innovation and ideas. Thus the lotus flower, with its waxy, water-resistant surface, gives us stainproofing; the feathers of raptors become transformable airplane wings; and the nerve-deadening serrations on a mosquito’s proboscis are adapted to hypodermics.

With Bulletproof Feathers, Robert Allen brings together some of the greatest minds in the field of biomimetics to provide a fascinating—at times even jaw-dropping—overview of cutting-edge research in the field. In chapters packed with illustrations, Steven Vogel explains how architects and building engineers are drawing lessons from prairie dogs, termites, and even sand dollars in order to heat and cool buildings more efficiently; Julian Vincent goes to the very building blocks of nature, revealing how different structures and arrangements of molecules have inspired the development of some fascinating new materials, such as waterproof clothing based on shark skin; Tomonari Akamatsu shows how sonar technology has been greatly improved through detailed research into dolphin communication; Yoseph Bar-Cohen delves into the ways that robotics engineers have learned to solve design problems through reference to human musculature; Jeannette Yen explores how marine creatures have inspired a new generation of underwater robots; and Robert Allen shows us how cooperative behavior between birds, fish, and insects has inspired technological innovations in fields ranging from Web hosting to underwater exploration.

A readable, yet authoritative introduction to a field that is at the forefront of design and technology—and poised to become even more important in the coming decades as population pressures and climate change make the need for efficient technological solutions more acute—Bulletproof Feathers offers adventurous readers a tantalizing peek into the future, by way of our evolutionary past.


Frequently Bought Together

Bulletproof Feathers: How Science Uses Nature's Secrets to Design Cutting-Edge Technology + Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
Price for both: $35.08

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  • Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature $10.89


Editorial Reviews

Review

“Scouring the sciences to find ways new technologies learn from nature, editor Robert Allen has put together one of the more fun and fascinating science books we’ve seen, especially if you like reading about robots and ‘strange liquids.’ And who doesn’t?”--Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago

(Time Out Chicago)

"Collectively, the six image-stuffed chapters (each written by a top researcher in the field) offer nonspecialists an intriguing sampler of bioinspiration. The rich collection of photographs in Bulletproof Feathers highlights state-of-the-art biometric research. Browsing through it, readers will encounter natural mechanisms that have stimulated researchers looking for new ideas. That may be as good a way as any to find your own inspirations and scientific connections."

(Science)

About the Author

Robert Allen is professor of biodynamics and control at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, University of Southampton, and the founding editor of the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics: Learning from Nature.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (May 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226014703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226014708
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 8.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to a relatively new field. January 16, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is a brief but insightful layman's guide to the newly synthesizing field of biomimicry. Very impressive introduction to the field
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