Sunday, July 13, 2008

“Never mistake a clear view for a short distance”

Bucky Fuller was always quick to point out that his goal was not to imitate Nature but to understand her operating principles. Biomimicry is described as the science that analyzes Nature's ideas and adapts them for human use -- innovation inspired by Nature.

Many people misunderstood Bucky when he referred to Nature as employing the ultimate technologies. They missed the point. He was not referring to trees and prairie grass as technology per se, but rather the exquisite inventory of interreelated and always non-contradictory principles she employed in maintaining regenerative ecosysyem integrity with minimal expendigture of energy/resources.

In that regard Nature may be regarded as the consumate comprehensivist. (GW)

Nature Gave Him a Blueprint, but Not Overnight Success

By John Markoff
New York Times
June 8, 2008

What if someone invented a better mousetrap and the world yawned?

Until now, that has been the fate of Jay Harman, an Australian naturalist who believes that he’s found a way to use fundamental properties of physics and biology to improve the design of everything from simple fans and pumps to hydroelectric dams and aircraft.

Almost every piece of machinery in the physical world has efficiency limits related to the flow of liquids and gases: pumps consume energy to move liquids; the amount of fuel used by airplanes and cars is based on their aerodynamic efficiency; and fans and wind turbines both consume and generate energy based on the efficiency of the shape of their rotating blades.

As a young boy, Mr. Harman saw that objects in nature seemed to abhor traveling in a straight line. Fluids and gases flow in languid spirals, and although he was not trained as a scientist, it struck him as obvious that there was a profound lesson in that motion.

Ultimately, he turned the source of his childhood fascination into something he believed would be practical. He surmised that he could exploit his observations about fluids to change the shape of propellers, fans and virtually anything that needs to move in a fluid or gas environment.

After informally studying vortexes for several decades, he went to his bathtub and, with a bit of cleverness, was able to create a cast from the vortex generated by water flowing down the drain. Then he used the cast to help redesign the rotating parts, or impellers, used in pumps and other devices to move fluids. Since then he has applied his approach more broadly to redesign all kinds of devices that move fluids and gases.

Two examples of intriguing possibilities show the range of his ambitions. If the vortexes created by the wing tips of jets could be reduced or eliminated, it would be possible to space commercial aircraft more closely together, greatly improving the efficiency of airplanes and airports. Mr. Harman believes he has a technological approach that does just that.

In an entirely different arena, Mr. Harman’s impeller can be used in combination with a solar-powered motor to create a ripple effect on the surface of a pool of stagnant water, changing the balance of nitrogen and oxygen in the pool. This makes it possible to interrupt the development of mosquito larvae, potentially reducing the threat of malaria and encephalitis.

Mr. Harman is a practitioner of biomimicry, a growing movement of the industrial-design field. Eleven years ago, he established Pax Scientific to commercialize his ideas, thinking that it would take only a couple of years to convince companies that they could increase efficiency, lower noise or create entirely new categories of products by following his approach.

It has been a longer and more circuitous path than he first imagined. Despite glowing publicity and a remarkably photogenic technology, Pax Scientific has not been an overnight success.

“When I started I thought that this would take 6 to 12 months,” Mr. Harman said. What he found instead were companies that had little interest in redesigning their products, even in the face of the promise of double-digit increases in efficiency.

His radical ideas have so far found a cautious reception in the aircraft, air- conditioning, boating, pump and wind turbine industries.

Mr. Harman’s experience is not unusual. Rather than beating a path to the door of mousetrap designers, the world seems to actively avoid them.

Indeed, one of his advisers, Paul Saffo, an independent Silicon Valley technology forecaster, often repeats this simple dictum: “Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.”

Even in fields such as the computer industry, which celebrates innovation, systemic change can be glacial.

“They’re looking for change in the mode they understand,” Mr. Harman said. New chips are an easy sell. The idea of reinventing the computer case from the ground up is a harder one.

Consider that Douglas Engelbart invented the mouse in 1964. It was obvious to many people that it was a better way to control a computer, yet it took two decades even to begin reaching a mass audience. Or consider the hyperlink, invented independently by Mr. Engelbart and the computing evangelist Ted Nelson in the mid-1960s. It took roughly three decades to reach the public in the form of the World Wide Web.

This summer will mark the 40th anniversary of the day when Alan Kay, the father of the modern personal computer, had his “aha” moment. Seeing a plasma display engineered for the Plato educational computing project, he realized that a portable computer with a flat panel display was possible. Yet computers that came close to matching his original “Dynabook” idea — which included a wireless connection to a global digital library — weren’t widely available for another three decades.

THE slow uptake on his ideas about streamlining fluid flow hasn’t deterred Mr. Harman, who pronounces himself an incurable optimist.

“There is a basic psychology of the human species which is resistant to change,” he said, “but it’s not in my DNA to give up.”

And things appear to be turning his way.

With the help of the entrepreneur and environmentalist Paul Hawken, he has established a subsidiary, PaxIT, that is designing quieter and more energy-efficient fans for the computer industry. It is one of a series of five spin-off businesses that Mr. Harman has created to pursue different industries. The Pax design will begin to show up in consumer products within the next year, Mr. Harman said.

In March, the venture capitalist Vinod Khosla made a significant investment in Pax Streamline, founded to pursue a new generation of wind turbines and air-conditioning systems.

In another hopeful sign, a world that long ignored energy efficiency is suddenly thinking of nothing else.

“We tried for years to promote energy conservation, and we couldn’t find one who was interested,” he said. “Now the world has done a U-turn.”


Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 10.14
burberry handbags, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet online, replica watches, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, uggs outlet, longchamp outlet, longchamp outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet online, michael kors outlet, uggs on sale, michael kors outlet online, oakley sunglasses wholesale, christian louboutin outlet, longchamp outlet, ugg boots, gucci handbags, uggs outlet, christian louboutin shoes, tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet online, prada handbags, tiffany and co, replica watches, louis vuitton outlet, burberry outlet, ray ban sunglasses, chanel handbags, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton outlet, nike air max, nike air max, oakley sunglasses, ugg boots, nike outlet, jordan shoes, oakley sunglasses, prada outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton, christian louboutin, tiffany jewelry, oakley sunglasses, christian louboutin uk, michael kors outlet store, ray ban sunglasses, polo outlet

11:35 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

nike free run, coach outlet, burberry pas cher, new balance, polo lacoste, ray ban uk, louboutin pas cher, timberland pas cher, vans pas cher, coach outlet store online, converse pas cher, north face uk, north face, michael kors, jordan pas cher, hogan outlet, true religion jeans, nike blazer pas cher, nike air force, nike air max uk, sac vanessa bruno, air max, nike roshe, coach purses, oakley pas cher, nike tn, true religion outlet, ray ban pas cher, abercrombie and fitch uk, hollister pas cher, sac longchamp pas cher, ralph lauren uk, michael kors pas cher, longchamp pas cher, nike roshe run uk, lululemon canada, nike free uk, michael kors outlet, coach outlet, true religion outlet, guess pas cher, nike air max uk, mulberry uk, nike air max, polo ralph lauren, kate spade, true religion outlet, sac hermes, hollister uk, michael kors

11:36 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

p90x workout, ralph lauren, vans outlet, mont blanc pens, herve leger, soccer jerseys, hermes belt, north face outlet, babyliss, celine handbags, timberland boots, iphone 6 cases, nike air max, gucci, instyler, mac cosmetics, bottega veneta, mcm handbags, baseball bats, abercrombie and fitch, hollister, chi flat iron, louboutin, asics running shoes, wedding dresses, longchamp uk, vans, ghd hair, nike trainers uk, beats by dre, nfl jerseys, giuseppe zanotti outlet, lululemon, converse outlet, converse, nike air max, oakley, new balance shoes, ray ban, hollister, hollister clothing, nike roshe run, insanity workout, ferragamo shoes, valentino shoes, nike huaraches, north face outlet, reebok outlet, soccer shoes, jimmy choo outlet, nike free, kate spade outlet

11:38 PM  
Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

canada goose, thomas sabo, canada goose jackets, canada goose, louis vuitton, swarovski crystal, montre pas cher, louis vuitton, toms shoes, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, marc jacobs, wedding dresses, lancel, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, hollister, pandora jewelry, michael kors outlet, canada goose, canada goose outlet, louis vuitton, supra shoes, doudoune moncler, pandora charms, moncler outlet, juicy couture outlet, moncler, moncler, canada goose uk, moncler outlet, louis vuitton, replica watches, links of london, doke gabbana, canada goose outlet, ugg pas cher, michael kors handbags, louis vuitton, moncler, michael kors outlet online, swarovski, barbour uk, juicy couture outlet, pandora uk, ugg, karen millen uk, ugg uk, pandora jewelry, coach outlet, moncler, moncler uk, canada goose outlet, barbour
ninest123 10.14

11:39 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home