How old is biomimetics?

First things first…I have to admit writing a blog every week on a new interesting subject…not a joke! Either I am not prolific or there is nothing interesting happening around…later obviously not true…but I am in love with this concept of expressing my thoughts and connecting with people around the world through common thread we share called science.

I have observed that whenever people talk about biomimetics, they refer it as a discipline in its infancy stage. I strongly disapprove that as biomechanics branch of biomimetics is around for centuries now.  I think the nature inspired materials is just the newest branch of this field.  It has gained momentum with the advent of scanning electron microscopy, better production processes, advances in nanotechnology and the increased interdisciplinary aspect of current research. Currently, we are reading this book by Peter Forbes ‘The Gecko’s Foot: Bio- Inspiration: Engineering New Materials from Nature’ in my class. (Check out this book on Amazon…must read! http://www.amazon.com/Geckos-Foot-Inspiration-Engineering-Materials/dp/0393337979) It is a nice book which talks about the materials inspired from nature. In each chapter Peter Forbes narrates new material based on nature’s phenomenon (for example: lotus leaf’s super hydrophobicity, gecko’s ability to walk on the walls and roofs), how it was discovered, used in engineering application and how it has evolved since then.

While reading this book, I realized that Peter Forbes always quotes text from ancient English, Indian and Chinese literature. I know, in India knowledge was transferred from one generation to other generations in the form of sutras. A sutra literally means an equation. Students used to memorize these sutras and pass on to new generations therefore these sutras were composed in the form of rhymes and were concise.  Most of the times these quotes were metaphorical. It makes me think whether our ancestor knew about all these nature’s secrets? Or are we looking at these quotes from a new perspective? Our ancestors were close to the nature than us. Will it be worthwhile to go back to this rich heritage?

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