Topic editor: Steven G. Gilbert
Lead author: Steven G. Gilbert

Overview


Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is an ancient concept recently returning to scientific thought that examines nature's models, systems, processes, and elements and emulates them or takes inspiration from them to solve human problems sustainably. Scientific and engineering literature often uses the term biomimetics for the process of understanding and applying biological principles to human designs. This includes biomaterials, biomechanics, biological systems composed of individuals of one species (e.g., schools, herds, and swarms), or multispecies ensembles.

Biomimicry is an approach that sees nature as model, measure, and mentor (Biomimicry Institute Web site, 2009):
• Nature as model: Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature's models and then emulates these forms, process, systems, and strategies to solve human problems - sustainably. ...
• Nature as measure: Biomimicry uses an ecological standard to judge the sustainability of our innovations. After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned what works and what lasts. ...
• Nature as mentor: Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing nature. It introduces an era based not on what we can extract from the natural world, but what we can learn from it.

Biomimicry recognizes the fact that living things have solved almost all the design challenges that humans face, often in a multitude of ways. A biomimic is keenly interested in the question "How would Nature do it?" and is especially curious about how life does the most amazing thing of all: continuously creates the conditions for more life.


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