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The Shark's Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation Hardcover – July 23, 2013
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"Imagine Indiana Jones, Huckleberry Finn, and Erasmus Darwin rolled into one person, and you will have some sense of what it is like to roam and see the world through Jay Harman's biomimetic eyes. The Shark's Paintbrush is a memo of kindness from the living world in a time of crisis and doubt: life in all its intricacy offers untold possibilities for the transformation of civilization."
- Paul Hawken, author, Blessed Unrest
Jay Harman is the quintessential biomimic, a principled inventor who sees solutions everywhere he looks in the natural world. And he looks deeply, with the soul of a student. He moves with grace from a world of waving sea kelp to the world of sustainable design, bringing nature’s wisdom into the board rooms of global companies, to the design tables of the engineers and designers who make our world. This is more than a business book, more than a memoir, more than a new way to solve global challenges. It’s a book about a new way to think.”
Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry and founder of Biomimicry 3.8
The Shark’s Paintbrush reveals how nature is inspiring design to be more efficient, effective, resilient, and beautiful. In Nature’s 3.8 billion years of design experience, the roughly 99% of designs that didn’t work got recalled by the Manufacturer. The 1% that survived can teach profound lessons about how things should be made, how they work, and how they fit. Jay Harman’s immersion in and curiosity about the natural world have made him one of the best biomimetic designers. The Shark’s Paintbrush is a masterly field guide for all designers and entrepreneurs who aspire to help the world of the made work like, and live harmoniously with, the world of the born.
Amory B. Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
At this point in our global ecological crisis, the survival of humanity will require a fundamental shift in our attitude toward nature: from finding out how we can dominate and manipulate nature to how we can learn from her. In this brilliant and hopeful book, Jay Harman shows us how far the new field of Biomimicry has already progressed toward this goal. The Shark’s Paintbrush makes for fascinating and joyful reading much needed in these dark times.”
Fritjof Capra, author of The Science of Leonardo and The Tao of Physics
It blows my mind how the same patterns repeat themselves in flowers, growth in animals, and in shell spirals. When engineers mimic designs from nature, more efficient designs for windmills and fuel efficient vehicles are the result. Many of the breakthroughs are counter intuitive. Jay Harman has told the promise of Biomimicry in a compelling way. The Shark’s Paintbrush is essential reading for people interested in design and engineering.”
Temple Grandin, author Thinking in Pictures
From the Inside Flap
friendlier to the environment. Biomimicry, the science of employing nature to advance sustainable technology, is arguably one of the hottest new business concepts attracting a spectrum of markets.
In his debut book, The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation,
Jay Harman introduces us to pioneering scientists and engineers working in a wide array of businesses who are making technological breakthroughs by uncovering and copying nature’s hidden marvels.
Harman shows business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs alike how we can rectify the oft-competing desires of creating more powerful, lucrative technologies while preserving the planet and maximizing
sustainability. He injects a whole new vocabulary and way of thinking into the business sphere that speaks to both small start-ups and corporate giants.
Among the many fascinating topics Harman explores:
What the human heart and dust devils have in common, and how this parallel structure can lead to better technologies in medicine
How studying seaweed can lead to resistance-free antibiotics
How the noxious-smelling durian fruit can offer ideas for helping humans live on Mars
How the blowfly maggot could lead to breakthroughs in materials science, helping to lower production costs and manufacture higher-efficiency substances
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Top Customer Reviews
The book kicks off with a pretty comprehensive tour of what can be achieved from a biomimetic approach to problem solving, drawing on both 'classic' examples of biomimicry as well as sharing cutting edge examples that were completely new, to me at least. The section on fluid dynamics, and how nano and micro vortices can create quite surprising efficiencies in fluid and air flow was particularly fascinating, and started to finally hint at why a bumble can fly, when I believe classic calculations suggest that it is an aerodynamic impossibility. Sometimes evolution is so efficient that it designs executions that far outstrip even our most sophisticated models.
The next part of the book focuses more on the challenges facing entrepreneurs and biomimicists wanting to translate their ideas and prototypes to market. While not applicable to me personally, I found this a fascinating ‘walk a mile in my shoes’ exercise. The later chapters explore how the study of nature can help us to understand systems and processes, and how natures inherent efficiency can act as a model for sustainable innovation. Its hard to overstate how important a concept that is.
All in all an informative, engaging and inspiring book that nicely melds an extremely important and useful topic with the experiences of an interesting individual
This book is about the business opportunities in transfering inventions from the natural world to the manufacturing world. The majority of the book details brilliant inventions based on things evolved by nature. But hanging over every cool invention is the failure to implement it in a profitable way with wide distribution.
When you read about these inventions you will want to buy them, you'll wish they existed because of the good they could do the planet in terms of energy savings, efficiency, and simplicity. Then you'll get really fed up of hearing how venture capitalists and greedy conventional industrialists scuppered these brilliant inventions and inspiring young companies. Getting a paradigm shift past the guardians of the status quo is clearly super difficult. Just because you have a superior product doesn't mean you win market share. From a quiet, low energy, super efficient bathroom extractor fan to an organic shaped watercraft these products sound so wonderful.
Sadly this is not the first time a brilliant inventor has suffered at the hands of investors, his scientific peers, and the world of manufacturing: Viktor Schauberger went through all this at the beginning of the twentieth century as detailed in the book Hidden Nature: The Startling Insights of Viktor Schauberger by Bartholomew and Bellamy.
So I recommend The Sharks Paintbrush as a fascinating read.