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Written by: Jane Li
Written on: March 21st, 2017
Tags: biomedical engineering, health & medicine, lifestyle, material science, mechanical engineering, water, physics
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About the Author
Jane is an animal-loving sophomore studying Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation in the Iovine and Young Academy at USC.
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Volume XVIII Issue I > From Shark Skin to Speed
The first appearance of the term “biomimicry” occurred in 1982, decades after the development of Velcro, and was not widespread until after scientist and author Janine Benyus used it in her book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature [2]. The book’s publication led to the growth in popularity of biomimicry, and more and more scientists, designers, and engineers began looking towards the natural world for inspiration. For example, in the 1990s, Eiji Nakatsu, an avid bird-water and engineer, observed the silent and clean-cut act of a kingfisher catching prey, and decided to implement that level of precision into his work, leading him to design a more energy efficient, noise reducing, and fast form of transportation: the Japanese Shinkansen Bullet Train [3]. Similarly, in 2005, Mercedes Benz released a new model named Bionic, shown in Fig. 2, a car designed after the boxfish, sculpted to be aerodynamic and extremely efficient for a car of its size [3]. Comparable to the efficiency of the kingfisher and the aerodynamics of the boxfish, the speed of sharks – generated by their skin – continues to inspire many recent innovations.
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Figure 2: Mercedes Benz Bionic (Modified from [15][16]).