Location update - Biomimicry Institute

Untamed Science went to Missoula, Montana, to visit the Biomimicry Institute.

This institute works with a great approach to finding solutions for a sustainable future. Basically the message is, find ways to solve your needs by getting help from the most experienced teacher there is – Nature.

Does this sound weird? Well, let’s give a few examples.

If we live in a hot climate we need to figure out a way to cool our houses and likewise if we live somewhere cold, we would need to heat up our houses, right? Climate controlling air-conditions are really good for this, if it wasn’t for the amount of energy used to run them and other personal and environmental costs involved.
The question was asked, “There has to be some animals that have to deal with the problem of climate control in nature?”
The observation was termite mounds in hot African savannahs.

Scientists dug into how these small architects and construction workers dealt with the heat and found that the termites were building their mounds in a way that kept the inside temperature much less than the outside temperature just by regulating the air going through the mound (not many termites have access to regular air conditioners you know…)

The principle was used to buildings and showed to work both in hot environment (cooling the houses down) and in colder areas (keeping the houses much warmer than the outside). Who would have though termites were holding on such an incredible solution to a problem concerning so many people? All we had to do was ask… or at least open our eyes to new ways of thinking

Another example is the propeller rotor. For example the giant wind turbines that make use of the wind energy that is then converted to energy we can use. We try to build the propellers as efficient as possible to harvest as much energy as possible.

So, do you think this process could have anything to do with whales? Well, as a matter of fact yes.
Scientists observed Humpback whales and asked themselves if the humps on their fins could serve a purpose. Research discovered that the humps actually helped the whales to glide more efficiently through the water and a conclusion that maybe the same idea could be applied to propeller rotors to be more efficient. And, it worked.

And there are hundreds of examples like this already developed, where observations in nature have led to products that we use everyday. Insulation materials, adhesive compounds, ventilation systems, building material and construction strategies, surfaces that don’t absorb water etc.
Not to mention all the undiscovered examples.


Just another great reason to Never Stop Exploring Your World!




Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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