Biomimicry and Chasing Nature

Examples of how one might use nature as a model, mentor, or measure for designs and life:

  1. One example of using nature as a model is modeling solar panels after the leaves on a tree to make them lighter and more efficient.
  2. An example of using nature as a measure of a design is to compare the aerodynamics of planes to that of birds.
  3. An example of using nature as a mentor for a design is modeling the nose a bullet train after the beak of a kingfisher bird to increase the efficiency with which the train moves through the air of a tunnel.

One of Life’s Principles that resonates greatly with me is the concept of adaptability to changing conditions. As much as we may wish it not be so, life is constantly and consistently evolving, and an unwillingness or inability to adapt to these conditions may as well be a death sentence. I have found that one of the most important life skills that one can have is the ability to quickly adapt to overcome obstacles. Whether it be a new challenging course, a lifestyle change, or something as simple as making plans with friends. Adaptability is key. Some of the most effective students I know are those who are able to “wing it”, and wing it well. These are students who can blend into the frontier of their ability seamlessly. This is shown in the natural word as well. In the term “survival of the fittest,” the fittest are usually those who are able to adapt to new environmental changes the quickest, rather than just simply being the best at a certain quality like speed or strength. I find that it is a great exercise both of the mind and the body to always try to keep yourself at the edge of the comfort zone in life. I believe this because living life in this space is where you can sharpen your ability to adapt to new and unexpected circumstances, or simply put, to get better at winging it. While it may seem unrelated, the quote from the legendary boxer Mike Tyson sums up the importance of adaptability to hardship and the unexpected: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

The concept of cradle to cradle design is extremely relevant to the Project Plastikan Team as we are dealing with plastics, which are notorious for being unfriendly to the environment. Part of the philosophy of cradle to cradle design is to create a design with an endgame in mind, rather than simply designing to solve a short term problem. There is no changing the properties of plastics; we are forced to work with the inherent permanence of plastic products. It would be foolish to spend the little time our project has on trying to create a plastic that will biodegrade. Instead, we should focus on what ways the permanence of plastics can be a benefit and how to keep control on the reins of the properties that can prove harmful. One important benefit of plastics is that they can be easily cleaned and reused where other materials will degrade much faster. One idea to take advantage of the integrity of plastics is to create planters that will hold for a very long time, and can be reused over and over again. These planters ideally would be used to bring gardens to places that may be infeasible otherwise, such as dense metropolises such as metro Manila, Philippines. The ability of the plastics to resist degradation would be ideal for planters that should be used and reused. An additional part of cradle to cradle design that can be incorporated into a plastic planter is by looking far into the future of the possible product. Since it is inevitable that the plastic itself will outlive the shape of a planter, it is extremely important to take recycling and repurposing into account in any plastic design. Ways to accomplish may include inherent instructions on the product on how to recycle or to make the product easily stripped and ready to melted into recyclable materials.


Three things I learned from my friends:

  1. Ask questions. Every time I spend time with one of my very close friends from home, he always ends up asking the same question: “What is that?” This may seem like a trivial question at first, but it can be extremely potent in the long run. “That” may be some object that he doesn’t understand, or a new song he hasn’t heard before, or a new concept all together. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that he is always learning about new things and ideas, and he is one of the most intelligent people I know. He taught me to not be afraid of asking questions at the expense of sounding dumb or uncultured, because asking questions make him smarter and more adaptable anyway. Recently I’ve adopted his technique of asking “what is that?” to myself or others, and it is unbelievable what ideas and avenues of thought can come of a three word question.
  2. Execution. Another one of my very close friends is one of the most consistent people I know. He is the poster child for putting your mind to something, be it an idea or project, and seeing it through all the way to the end, and never giving up or slacking off until the idea has been exhausted. To him, ideas aren’t a seed you plant in the soil and wait to let sprout. To him, ideas are the winds that fill your sails as you propel yourself forward. They’re fuel. And most importantly, he makes sure to see each and every idea to the end of its life, be it failure or success.
  3. Consistency. Another one of my friends is the type that is perfectly happy with doing the same activity over and over, such as playing sports and going to the gym. He is extremely predictable in what he does, yet there is something to be said for his consistency. Adaptability is extremely important, but the other side of the coin, consistency, has very rewarding results as well. There is a special type of experience that comes from devoting yourself to mastering something, whether it be a skill, sport, or otherwise.

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