Bio-inspiration (also known as biomimetics) is the new engineering: nature's own nanotechnology. Instead of – in its crudest terms – welding large pieces of hard 'dry' right-angled metal together, scientists, architects and engineers are taking a leaf from nature's book by building intricate structures with surprising new properties, using the kind of 'wet' self-assembly techniques nature has perfected over millions of years of evolution.
The quest to match the amazing adhesion of the gecko's foot is just one of many examples of this new ‘smart’ science. In Peter Forbes' engaging book we also discover how George de Mestral's brush with the spiny fruits of the cocklebur inspired him to invent the hook-and-loop fastener usually known by its trade name Velcro; how unfolding leaves, insect wings and space solar panels share similar Origami folding patterns; how the self-cleaning leaves of the Sacred Lotus plant have spawned a new industry of self-cleaning surfaces; and how the photonic crystal, perhaps the most important innovation since the transistor, was actually invented by the humble sea creature Aphrodita aeons ago.
The new 'smart' science of Bio-inspiration is going to produce a plethora of products over the next decades that will transform our lives, and force us to look at the world in a completely new way. It is science we will be reading about in our papers very soon; it is the science of tomorrow’s world.
Peter Forbes initially trained as a chemist and worked in pharmaceutical and popular natural history publishing, whilst writing poems, and articles for magazines such as New Scientist and World Medicine. A stint as Southern Arts Writer-in-Residence (1984-6) led to the editorship of the Poetry Society's Poetry Review, Britain's premier poetry magazine, where he nurtured very many young poets in the early stages of their career, including Glyn Maxwell, Sophie Hannah, Gwyneth Lewis and Don Paterson.He has written numerous articles and reviews, many specializing in the relation between the arts...
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