How Nature Influenced Everyday Products

How Nature Influenced Everyday Products

Our everyday lives are full of objects; items that have been created for the sole purpose of making our lives easier. From a safety pin to bullet trains, these tools have infinitely simplified tasks, but how?

The simple answer— design. We’ve compiled the story behind the design for some of these things.

  • Bullet Trains and a Kingfisher’s Beak

The Japanese bullet train is a well-known technological wonder. It can reach speeds of up to 320 km/h; and they move as silently as an owl in the night. When Japanese engineers initially developed this train, they encountered the problem not of speed, but of sound. The sheer speeds that the bullet train traveled at resulted in it producing a boom of sound, loud enough to shake buildings. To combat this problem, scientists looked to nature- more specifically, the kingfisher; a bird which slices through the surface of water to catch fishes with little to no splash or sound. Engineers replicated the design of the kingfisher’s beak on the engine of the train and the problem was solved. The new train consumed lesser energy and was faster.


  • Velcro and Burdock Burr

Burdock, a plant scientifically known as arctium minus, is infamous for its bur— a bur is any seed or fruit with hooks or teeth. The hooks help the plant propagate it’s seed by sticking to the fur of animals. The ability of these burrs to stick to practically anything with its tiny hooks inspired engineer George de Mestra to come up with the idea of Velcro - a form of hook and loop: one made of micro hooks and one made of “fur”. The micro hooks attach themselves to the fur and stick until ripped apart. Velcro has since become indispensable, and is found everywhere from shoes to electronics.


  • Makeup and Mother Nature

Makeup has been around since time immemorial. Evidence of makeup has been found in practically all ancient civilizations; from Egypt to India. Ancient Egyptians were the first recorded to have worn makeup - using the dye from berries to redden their cheeks, the ash from burnt coal to darken their eyes, dark (and dangerous) lead to line their eyes, even using urine to lighten freckles. From the organically-bound cosmetics of ancient ages to the infinite array of makeup available today, the industry has come a long way, but it all started with nature.


  • Water and Desert Beetles
The stenocara beetle looks like any other miniature insect you might find in the sweltering hot deserts of Africa; but it has evolved to develop a fascinating body structure. A certain organ in it’s back allows it to convert the tiny fraction of water present in the air from vapour to liquid; it’s curved back letting the droplets of water flow right to its mouth. Scientists now seek to use the evolution of this beetle to develop new ways of harvesting water out of thin air.
Which of these replications of nature did you find most fascinating? Tell us in the comments!

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