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Companies Turn to Mother Nature for Design Inspirations

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

Originally aired on June 24, 2008.

Tom Fudge: Even if you've never heard of biomimicry, you no doubt have heard of Velcro. Velcro was inspired by nature. A Swiss chemist copied the way cockleburs clung to his dog's furry coat, and voila... Velco. That's biomimicry, copying nature to create products and services that are useful to humans.

Today, scientists and engineers are exploring how to create everything from desert water collecting devices to fly-sized rescue robots - all inspired by nature's exquisite designs. The vision of biomimicry goes beyond just building useful stuff. It also seeks to learn how nature manages to use the environment in a sustainable manner. In fact, biomimicry inspires a kind of ecological utopia. As one writer puts it, if we copy nature correctly we create a world that runs on sunlight, uses only the energy it needs. A world in which form follows function and everything is recycled.

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