A natural historian who coined the term “biomimicry” is speaking tonight at the University of Iowa. Janine Benyus has written six “life sciences” books on the subject of how nature and animals are able to adapt to a changing environment and survive millennia. Benyus, who lives in Montana, says people can learn a lot from watching the world around us — and she hopes to inspire U-of-I students to do just that. Animals are well adapted and some have been around three-point-eight billion years, so they’ve had a long time to come up with solutions to the same sorts of problems humans are trying to solve. She believes the better people understand the genius of the natural world, the more they will want to protect it. Benyus says biomimicry comes from the words “bio,” meaning life, and “mimesis,” meaning to imitate. She says it’s the science that seeks sustainable solutions by mimicking nature’s designs and processes. Benyus says biomimicry a way of innovating and looking to nature for inspiration, going to organisms and asking for advice, looking at their designs and strategies and trying to emulate that to solve human problems. She gives examples like looking at how a leaf harnesses solar energy to create a new type of solar cell, or, how a spider weaves a web without any toxins, high heats or high pressures and trying to create a rope or fiber like the spider. Benyus says biomimics learn to grow food like a prairie, compute like a cell, find cures like a chimp and run a business like a redwood forest. Her free talk is at 8 tonight at the U-of-I’s MacBride Hall Auditorium. For more information, surf to www.biomimicry.net.
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