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Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,144 ratings  ·  162 reviews
Repackaged with a new afterword, this "valuable and entertaining" (New York Times Book Review) book explores how scientists are adapting nature's best ideas to solve tough 21st century problems.

Biomimicry is rapidly transforming life on earth. Biomimics study nature's most successful ideas over the past 3.5 million years, and adapt them for human use. The results are revol
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 17th 2002 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published May 21st 1997)
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Louise As a mechanical engineer myself, I found it interesting but not especially useful in terms of how to incorporate biomimicry into designs, since there …moreAs a mechanical engineer myself, I found it interesting but not especially useful in terms of how to incorporate biomimicry into designs, since there aren't many examples or case studies. It's heavy on the biology in the middle chapters. If you're specifically interested in the engineering side, you might want to check out Biomimicry in Architecture by Michael Pawlin - each chapter explains a particular concept (e.g., structure, materials, heat management, water treatment, etc) and follows it up with examples. It's also well illustrated throughout.(less)
Amber No, it is not illustrated nor are there any photo pages.

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Mario the lone bookwolf
I adore nature and science should do the same to get behind all those secrets and abilities shaped by evolution.

The sheer speed of technological progress, that leads to the unleashing of faster and faster scientific insights, has already confirmed and refuted some of the ideas of this already over 20-year-old book, but the future will show if the new results won´t have to be reconsidered again. And again. And...

It is simply logical long-time, less economic, thinking to focus on the use of up to
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 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
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
Apr 10, 2009 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
Vinay Ayilavarapu
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, environment
Biomimicry is a frustratingly good book, the reason for that is lack of depth. J.M Benyus writes exuberantly about how to create a sustainable future but doesn't give enough details about implementation challenges. The chapter on "How we will feed ourselves in the future?" was the one that has realistically achievable ideas but the rest of them are mostly theoretical. As an Engineer, it was hard to swallow the biomimicry pill presented here. Looking for sources is only half the story and enginee ...more
Nov 16, 2021 rated it it was ok
I first read this book in the beginning of my undergrad in env science and biology. It felt overly fluffly and anecdotal at the time but the writing was soothing enough for finishing. However, as I continued thru school there were times I'd recall this book and think that the author was too opinionated.

Picking the book up again 4 years later and I hate it. The main topic of the book is essentially that we ~must return to nature ~ (Benyus' closing argument) and against our current technologies.
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was a revelation for me. It's quite extraordinary to see so many disciplines and ways of thinking brought together in the name of learning from nature in order to design, produce, and manufacture in a sustainable way. There are too many brilliant models in the book of your people are doing things right. From Wes Jackson's Land Institute that's rethinking - and re-doing - how grasses are grown in a way that rejuvenates the soil to scientists trying to simulate photosynthesis as a way to ...more
Aug 08, 2021 rated it liked it
3,5 starts, the last chapter was great!
Austin Burnett
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an eye opener for those who may not be aware of progress has been made inspired by nature. There were several technologies and practices mentioned that I didn't know took inspiration from nature or simply just didn't know they existed.

While I really enjoyed this book, I thought a few chapters may have required more than just some university courses on chemistry/biology/etc. I ended up skimming a bit in hopes of just gaining the larger idea. I think some of the intensive details coul
Jun 18, 2011 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
Rafa Lobomar
May 11, 2021 rated it it was ok
I would've liked to give this book a higher grade.

The author makes a good approach on how areas such as materials science, energy production and storage, computing or health, are turning their gaze towards biomimicry to solve problems in a sustainable way.

However, there are sections that did not seem scientifically integral to me. For instance, in the first chapter of food and agriculture she does not consider the inability of "organic" systems to meet the high demand and pressure of an increas
Jun 17, 2015 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.
Nov 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment
A fantastic book about the possibilities available for biomimicry. Inspiring and informative. Everyone should read this, its a great general study on the field.
May 25, 2008 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 15, 2009 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.
Rachel Bayles
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The future of science and engineering for the layman.
Nathan Albright
Dec 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: challenge2017
I want to make it plain at the outset that I did not like this book.  Reading this book was a frustrating experience for many reasons.  For one, the tone of the author read like someone who was proselytizing for a false religion, namely the heathen worship of the earth mother, which did not bode well for my enjoyment of the book as a whole.  Added to this was the inability of the author to recognize fundamental truths about design and creation that were staring her in the face and that were pain ...more
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Before I read this book, the only thing I knew of Biomimicry was from a short film on YouTube that piqued my interest.

After having finished this it, I feel overwhelmed by the new vision which compliments my sight.

Don't get me wrong, this book was hard to read. While I am not scientifically illiterate, I certaily don't have an in depth understanding of Biology, Chemistry or Physics. This books explains all aspects of science, from Biology to Chemistry and a little bit of Physics too. Quite ofte
Rachel Post
This book is a bit challenging to review. It was initially published in 1997, with two paperback editions published around 2002 and 2012. The audiobook wasn't released until 2020. Biomimicry would benefit strongly from a revised edition. The concept is hugely important and has so many applications for modern business development. But large chunks of this book are heavily invested in now out of date scientific research.

Chapters 3-6 are interesting, but the concept presentation is hampered by both
Makarand Datar
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
The process of grasping the contents of this book only begins after you finish reading the book. This book is collection of information on various aspects of research that fits the lens of bio-mimicry (building systems and technologies in the image of how nature does it). Dont be discouraged if you feel overwhelmed by information and you have an urge to look up, on the internet, names of people, research, molecule, plant names, insects, enzymes and so on. I dealt with this by taking notes and pl ...more
Oren Mizrahi
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
tl;dr: a mixed bag; some incredibly fascinating chapters, some fluff chapters, outdated research, anecdotal

i first heard about this book at the annual advanced research projects agency energy conference, where it was mentioned during a talk on “bio-inspired design.” this was perhaps one of the best talks i have been to and i was eager to learn more, especially from sources that originally inspired the speakers.

the book is structured around the question of how we can learn from nature and benyus
Oct 19, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: biology
Not bad. For TV, it'd be an educational & entertaining series of episodes. The content is revelatory and the author continually introduces new discoveries & potential, promising applications. But the overall feel resembles a carnival ride. Readers can ooh & ahh at the materials & fabric sector, guffaw at the adhesives, and cry out in terror through the tortuous trail of agriculture. Benyus writes well, and lives well (out in Montana country), and has diligently composed an informative book on th ...more
Rachel Rogers
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow. Developing a nature center program for 4thgraders on this topic and found this book. I was unaware that Benyus coined the term Biomimicry (which the computer still doesn't recognize 22 years later). Fascinating essays on the avenues scientists of all stripes are taking to copy nature's approach to problems. Some got extraordinarily detailed on protein structures and thus FAR over my head but the approach and possible ramifications of this research was fascinating. The section that caught my ...more
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading this book was depressing.
When you hear this optimistic soon-utopia-to-be tone of 1996, when it was written, you can't help but look at what's happening now and see that nothing much has changed. Now we are just 20 years closer to environmental catastrophe.
Yes, we have Spotify and electric rental cars, but they didn't change big thing, unfortunately.

Some parts of it I found really interesting, some not enough developped or a little bit too far fetched, only full of descriptions of new d
Dec 22, 2020 rated it liked it
I found the beginning and the end very interesting, but the middle was quite tedious and had to slog my way through it. I was hoping for something more high-level, like examples of what could be, or had been, achieved through biomimicry. The middle chapters, especially the ones on energy and materials, were heavy-going because they spent a lot of time describing the specifics of biological processes such as photosynthesis and enzymes/proteins. I don’t have a biology background, which would have ...more
Stephen Lyon
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
The main message of this book is that, through the gauntlet of evolution and natural selection, life has found efficient and effective ways to provide for themselves from the earth around us; so why can't humans learn from nature instead of trying to reinvent the wheel? It explores a lot of techniques to achieve this, through interviews with experts who are passionate about their areas, and while it is a little dated for the current year, much of the book still stands. While at times it may seem ...more
Jayendren Subramoney
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent book! The text re-orientates a person thinking from the typical western Baconesque scientific thinking to something more respectful of nature. The author positions nature as a teacher that has solved some difficult challenges over millennia with few external inputs and even less unused output. The idea that modern science and scientists are realising the closed loop systems nature has evolved provide excellent solutions to our most pressing modern day challenges; everything from powerf ...more
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it
At first, I didnt care for the writing style, though the content was fascinating. I struggled with the attempt of poetic science prose. However, it really grew on me. Janine does have an amazing talent to explain complex chemical and neural reactions so that a non-science person gets it. (Its me, I'm a non-science person...or so I thought).

Stepping away from this book I have a deeper respect and admiration for the environment not just for its beauty, but for the lifetime of lessons I didnt see
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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

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