Nature in its very genesis holds answers to a lot of the conundrums facing humanity and our daily lives and fields of study mimic these natural phenomena to a large extent. Inventors, engineers, artists and even lay people have always been looking to nature for inspiration right from prehistoric times. Be it hunting, shelter or survival – our ancestors learnt these essential skills to a large extent by observing animals and trying best to replicate the tools Mother Nature had innately endowed to these species. Man learnt to keep warm by wearing the skin of a wooly animal; he developed sharp weapons that could resemble the claws of predatory animals. While it might not be incorrect to say that all the answers to the problems facing mankind are already available in prosaic things, it takes an analytical and observant mind to imitate these models.
In fact, the art of studying a biological entity is a niche field of study within itself known as biomimetics. Some of these inventions have become so intrinsic to our lives, that we fail to be fascinated with them. The Velcro for instance, has evolved from the barb like elements in burrs that cause it to attach itself to things that come in contact with it. The hypodermic needle has been modeled on rattlesnake fangs. Other technologies are most awe inspiring, the sheer genius of the idea leaving us spell bound. Scientists and doctors were faced with a unique dilemma – treating cancer cells and at the same time minimizing harmful side effects of existing treatments. By noticing the structures and functioning of viruses, they are now much closer to achieving this end and developing nanoparticles that can seek out the egregious cells and treating them while leaving the healthy cells unaffected.
These germane ideas are not restricted to the field of science alone, but are actuating stalwarts in each arena of life. Architects have been able to design a cost effective way of building energy efficient buildings that have their origins in the self-cooling designs of termite colonies.
Nature has not failed to cast its spell on the artist and common people either. The practice of mimicking natural sounds and especially animal calls has provided important sustenance to certain tribes. Sophisticated and melodious instruments have been developed from natural elements. The JalTarang is one of the most prominent and ancient instruments belonging to the wave-category of instruments, which produces pleasing natural sounds and is used in healing and relaxation. Beethoven’s sixth symphony was primarily influenced by sounds he heard during his walks in the countryside. Robert Frost, the celebrated poet also drew several similes from nature.
To recount from an earlier mentioned qualification, it takes a keenly perceptive mind to read these patters and phenomena and extrapolating them into workable solutions. To most of us nature has become a blind spot and we fail to appreciate or learn from its wondrous elements. In this regard, I would concur with the author that it takes passion and persistence to turn the mundane into the extraordinary. It must also be clarified that not all ideas have their genesis in natural occurrences and some are painstakingly developed through other procedures and practises.
To sum up then, it takes a cutter to know the real worth of the diamond. Similarly it takes a superior mind to be conversant with the incredible wealth of knowledge that has evolved in nature over millions of years and replicating these to impact our lives in incredible ways.