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Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  1,357 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
This profound and accessible book details how science is studying nature’s best ideas to solve our toughest 21st-century problems.

If chaos theory transformed our view of the universe, biomimicry is transforming our life on Earth. Biomimicry is innovation inspired by nature – taking advantage of evolution’s 3.8 billion years of R&D since the first bacteria. Biomimics st
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 17th 2002 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published May 21st 1997)
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I want to like this book, and I agree with her underlying theses. I enjoy reading all the gee-whiz almost-there projects that are going to supplant petroleum-based agriculture, energy, and the like, any day now. But no matter how many stories she tells about projects that *could* be better than what we use now, she never seems to touch on the fundamental problem that we, as a species, use all the food and energy we produce, so anything that is going to replace that needs to have the same product ...more
Jul 30, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it
The first chapter of this 1997 book should be mandatory curriculum in... something - whatever discipline you can lock this philosophical framework for technical applications of environmental science. It is engineering, biology, and philosophy wrapped up into one.

Her premise isn't the standard concept of "biomimicry": that nature learns from its own mistakes and evolves, and that mimicry is one way species learn.

She instead posits that over billions of years, nature has developed vastly superio
Jun 16, 2010 Taryn rated it really liked it
I was introduced to the work of Janine Benyus by a student of mine about a year and a half ago, and have been meaning to read this book, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, ever since. This summer, I decided it was going to be a priority for my summer reading list, and it is the first one that I get to cross off.
The first thing I have to say about this book is that the concepts behind it are fabulous... if you want to learn more about Janine Benyus and what she does, check out her
3.5 stars (Goodreads doesn't allow half ratings...I guess they expect reviewers to be more decisive). This book was informative but, unfortunately, was not overly so on the topic of biomimicry. Benyus could have done a better job of bridging the gap between nature and technology.

In one section of the book, she discussed how we may use materials sparingly and quoted Brad Allenby: "Imagine how things would change if the only physical objects you bought were those you wanted to own for sentimental
T.M. Mullin
The concept of biomimicry and the author are featured prominently in Prince Charles’ TV documentary project “Harmony”. The book Biomimicry was written in 1997 and the science is a little stale, but the idea is still very interesting. Biomimicry is largely happening in the subtleties of biology, so be prepared for a heavy dose of biochemistry. For me, Benyus’ evangelical writing style is poetic but out-of-context for such a scientific topic. I appreciate natural beauty and an elegant design solut ...more
Oct 07, 2011 Anna-karin rated it liked it
Quite an in-depth description of observing and studying nature more closely to solve human problems. Really fascinating thinking and exciting to realize that there are more and more scientists who are starting to use this sort of technique. However, I tire fairly easily of the patronizing tone of the "environmentally enlightened" and do not enjoy when authors shrug off religious ideas as if they were relics. Granted, I am overly sensitive in both of these categories, and these attitudes, though ...more
Jun 23, 2015 Lizzy rated it liked it
Reminded me of Cradle to Cradle, but also felt a bit dated. Loved reading about the physical structure of Abalone shells, and the way animals ate to heal themselves. The computer technologies went a bit over my head. Great concepts, but much of what she preaches feels like old news by now.
Jan 16, 2009 Ali rated it it was amazing
Ordered chaos. Scientific beauty. A inspiration for mankind. This is a must read if you are a designer, artist or lover of science.
May 25, 2008 Julie is currently reading it
I am trying to finish this book. It is really interesting but also very scientific, which was never my strongest subject!!
Jan 13, 2014 Angela rated it really liked it
Shelves: hard-sciences
I've had a huge rapprochement with bio and nature lately, and this book really hit the spot. The basic premise is that we should be looking towards nature to solve all of our most pressing problems: agriculture, energy, medicine, and even business/econ. You know, cuz of ev'lution and all. (Which is just mind-blowing in and of itself; can we take a moment to marvel at natural selection?) You don't realize until halfway through that the book was written in the 1990s - kind of amazing, given that i ...more
Mar 16, 2015 Nola rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Biomimicry has an interesting idea and the author did a lot of research, but it would be better without nearly as much detail about how proposed processes work. The author traveled and talked with many key people. Descriptions of the people working in this field are the kind of thing that usually bring a subject to life, but this time there are too many and too many technical details of things, including ones in the experimental stages that may or may not work out.
The section of the book on foo
I think this is the edition I read. It's hard to say, because I'm pretty sure the edition I got hold of was a hardback.

This book should probably be read as a companion book to Water: A Natural history.

I have to say I found the biochemical elements not only turgid but not particularly informative. The basic concepts, however, are fascinating.

What's really needed is a history of how the idea of annual monoculture agriculture became accepted in the FIRST place. It's not a traditional land-use patt
Oct 10, 2009 Kelly rated it liked it
This book talked about how we can approach design and invention by modeling things after biological systems. The idea is that nature does things the smartest and most efficient way possible. While reading this book, it made me think how not really nature, but God instead has designed our world to be so perfect and amazing... better than we can design ourselves - although we try, and completely fail. The first third of this book covered agriculture and our abhorrent misuse of it. This was probabl ...more
Jun 22, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at where biomimicry stood 20 years ago (published 1997). A core and deeply valuable concept from the book's final chapter:

For a long time we thought we were better than the living world, and now some of us tend to think that we are worse, that everything we touch turns to soot. But neither perspective is healthy. We have to remember how it feels to have equal standing in the world, to be "between the mountain and the ant ... part and parcel of creation: as the Iroquois traditi
Mar 01, 2013 Linda rated it really liked it
Our copy of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, by Janine M. Benyus was purchased at an onsite bookstall during the Central Coast Bioneers Conference in October 2012. I was hooked from the first sentence, “It’s not ordinary for a bare-chested man wearing jaguar teeth and owl feathers to grace the pages of The New Yorker, but these are not ordinary times”.

The Bottom Line

Janine Benyus is a biologist, innovation consultant, and author. Since the release of Biomimicry, Ms. Benyus co-founded t
Jan 29, 2009 Kelly rated it really liked it
"When we stare this deeply into nature's eyes... it bursts our bubble. We realize that all our inventions have already appeared in nature in a more elegant form and at a lot less cost to the planet."

Nature runs on sunlight.
Nature uses only the energy it needs.
fits form to function.
recycles everything
rewards cooperation
banks on diversity
demands local expertise
curbs excess from within
taps the power of limits

"In his marvelous Letters to the Earth, Mark Twain says that claiming we are superior to t
The book is pure fun and just amazing. I wish that I had read it and its kind way earlier. It provides exemplar efforts that study nature to understand how nature seamlessly accomplishes that tasks that humans falter to accomplish. Instead of stopping at "what was achieved", the author dives into why and how of the natural phenomenon.

While the entire book is interesting, chapters 2 (agriculture and farming), 3 (energy), 4 (materials and structures), 5 (healing and medicine), and 6 (computing, ye
William Burcher
Mar 13, 2016 William Burcher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: green
I picked this one up today and read it again. There are some books that come around, not very often, that should not be judged by standard literary or traditional academic criteria. I think this is one of them. These books belong on pillars, themselves standing upright in Elysian Fields. They might not fully be appreciated in their time, but a century or two down the road they'll provide testament to our progeny that we weren't all complete idiots.

Look to nature. Ok. Look to elements of nature's
Aug 12, 2011 Ivan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wonder, whether principles, described in there have gained mainstay popularity in material science engineering circles... The book describes extremely well the ways and means to transform our current (since 1999 some things got better, some worse) unsustainable society to something living as a part of biosphere, without falling in the ecoterrorism or caveman activism, so widespread in more "advanced" circles.

In fact I was surprised, that even in USA the biotechnology and biomimicry in engineer
Nov 24, 2014 Wiebke rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 11, 2008 Pat rated it really liked it
Shelves: sustainability
This is an inspiring book. Sometimes difficult, but definitely worth the work. the book describes the work of several scientists working on creating ecology supporting technologies that mimic the miraculous in nature.

I especially liked the descriptions of polyculture versus monoculture. The prairie, for example takes care of itself. Its many varieties of plants each have their jobs and thrive on various climate conditions. If their is a drought certain species will thrive that season; in a drou
Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership
One of Cambridge Sustainability's Top 50 Books for Sustainability, as voted for by our alumni network of over 3,000 senior leaders from around the world. To find out more, click here.

Biomimicry is about human society, espeially business and technology, learning from nature. After 3.8 billion years, nature knows what works and what lasts here on Earth. Mimicking these designs and strategies, or 'recipes', could change the way we grow food, harvest solar energy, run our businesses, even the way we
Ali  M.
Mar 31, 2011 Ali M. rated it it was ok
This general idea that this book attempts to cover, taking inspiration from biology to solve human problems, is quite fascinating and holds much promise. Unfortunately this book did not, and presented the subject terribly. She (a) completely misunderstood (b) deliberately presented wrong or (c) really badly explained most the science invovled. I had to cringe at times in the photosynthesis and 'quantum consciousness' parts. She also at times seemed to imply that we should simply go back on 5,000 ...more
Dec 05, 2011 Connor rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Something I need to quickly get off my chest about this book... Hubris. This particular word appeared a remarkable number of times in Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. I suppose that's appropriate given the subject matter, but I found myself dreading the very mention of it. Probably just me though.

In any case, this book (which reads like a collection of several essays) is a fascinating introduction to the untapped potential of naturally inspired thinking. I recommend it to anyone based
Deborah Anderson
Jan 13, 2014 Deborah Anderson rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, and I struggled through to just less than half way before giving up on it. I found the book to be quite dated (not surprising as it's dated 1997), and I was frequently jolted by things like comparisons of internet speeds - the author was still talking in terms of 28kps internet for one. I thought a lot of the language was quite high-blown and I would have preferred more actual factual data and pictures than stories about interesting people and projects. It woul ...more
Jul 30, 2009 Adrian rated it really liked it
As a book that I'm sure is meant to appeal to the widest possible audience without sacrificing content, I think it performs admirably. She nimbly navigates a gray area between many disciplines and, in so doing, demonstrates the importance of cross-pollination when drawing conclusions from academic research. I noticed other reviewers have said it's too dense, but I'm glad she included all the data. I was actually surprised to realize partway through the book that I was holding a valuable piece of ...more
Nov 28, 2009 Sherry rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this and was amazed to see she wrote it in 1997...unfortunately 12 years later I'm not sure we have done a very good job following her elegant and very grounded in science and biology plea to truly learn from nature rather than taking from her. I especially enjoyed her chapters on healing ourselves and how we store what we learn. I also loved her call to be more like the redwood than a ragweed and although I found myself skipping over some of the scientific information, I found ...more
The Capital Institute
Benyus explains the phenomenon of ‘biomimicry,’ which is “innovation inspired by nature,” or a study of evolution and the changes it has produced in nature, such as photosynthesis, and applying these discoveries to human use. By mimicking natural processes, there are unlimited opportunities for creating new, efficient and more environmentally sound human processes, such as harnessing energy or farming.
Reviewers agree that Benyus’ field-work, detailed in the book, and her explanations of the fiel
Dec 08, 2010 MI2 rated it liked it
goodreads has an incredible API and yet there is very little WordPress support for goodreads. Which is shocking since WP is the dominant platform where this integration would most likely thrive. There is one or two WP plugins that have ceased to be supported and both do not deal with public GROUPS only individual shelves...

We have an education site and would like to be able to simply SHOW the books listed in the group bookshelf, very similar to your output here (in the group bookshelf page) on o
Sep 07, 2013 Darren rated it liked it
The topic of this book is fascinating and it's certainly one we all should be aware of.

But the book did not meet my expectations. I actually found it quite a boring read where Jane seemed to just go off on a tagent with her stories. It was poorly explained and call me a kid, but it badly could have done with more photos and illustrations for reference. For such a exiciting field of research which comes across in her TED and other videos, I did not get the same feeling from this book.

Would love
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Janine M. Benyus is an American natural sciences writer, innovation consultant, and author.

Benyus graduated summa cum laude from Rutgers University with degrees in natural resource management and english literature/writing. Benyus teaches interpretive writing, lectures at the University of Montana, and works towards restoring and protecting wild lands. She serves on a number of land use committees
More about Janine M. Benyus...

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