Mother Nature is a huge classroom that offers many lessons for those who take the time to reflect and discover. Learn about the many things widely used today that were inspired by the way things work in the natural world Human beings have been deriving benefits from nature to fulfil their needs in a number of ways which serve as a source of inspiration, motivation, recreation, education, research, food and much more. In other words, nature is a huge classroom where human beings have learnt a lot of things with the passage of time through contemplation, discoveries and inventions.

Scientists and inventors study characteristics of things in nature and comes up amazing technologies and products invented as a result of studying nature.

products invented as a result of this.

Following are some of the discoveries and innovations that human beings have made thanks to nature, in one way or the other.

Flight

Inventors studied the flight of birds with a desire to fly like them up in the sky and travel long distances over oceans, mountains, plains and deserts.

In Great Britain, Stringfellow had built a small unmanned glider in 1848. Later on, it was the gliding flight of albatross, a sea bird, which inspired the inventors in 1856 to design a glider. Latter on in 1903, the Wright Brothers were propelled to design the first-ever powered airplane, Kitty Hawk. Today, with advanced technologies, we see aircrafts of all kinds up in the sky flying and appearing like birds.

Submarine

Studying the whales, scientists came up with an idea to invent the submarine, so as to sail under the vast oceans. The design of the submarines is based on the shape of whales. And like whales, submarines also their sonar system to trace food and avoid hurdles. This ability of measuring distances of targets has also been built in submarine to manoeuvre movements under water.

Whales can stay for long period of time in water and submarines also have this ability.

Velcro

Among the things that people have been inspired by nature to invent is the Velcro. Its inspiration came from the hooked barbs of the thistle.

In 1948, George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, observed the burrs of burdock stuck to his dress and dog. He studied its interlocking system and copied it to design the Velcro, that uses a hook-and-loop style of binding for fastening. It comprises two strips of fabric, one covered in thousands of tiny hooks and the other with thousands of tiny loops, the materials grip together firmly while still allowing easy release. It is now widely used in many things and is also called as a zipperless zipper.

Bullet train

Scientists studied birds and invented bullet trains which have beak-like front fashioned like that of the kingfisher. They observed that the beaked front in birds help them minimise air pressure when they fly or plunge into water, just like the kingfisher.

Taking up this idea, inventors designed modern trains with a beak-like pointed design of the front to reduce air pressure and noise during travelling. This approach has also been used for the airplanes that fly at higher altitudes.

Sonar

Bats and dolphins use echolocation and their sonar system, respectively, for navigation and finding food. Bats have the ability to fly at night without light and they do so with the help of echolocation. Using this phenomenon, scientists have developed robots that work by using sensors to allow them to move without hitting anything. This also led to the invention of technologies and detectors that help in finding objects on walkways and paths, especially for blind people in the form of ‘Ultracane’ which begins to vibrate when it gets closer to any object.

The sinking of Titanic also prompted the need to research into and development this technology to detect objects underwater. Today the sonar system is used in many undertakings such as under water surveys and pipeline inspections to detect damage or blockage, etc.

Flipper

Ducks swim in water with the help of webbed feet. Studying the ducks’ webbed feet, inventors were able to come up with the idea of flippers and fins. So order to dive in the sea, divers use flippers to push themselves to move forward. These flippers serve as oars used in boats for movements. Flippers and oars help divers and boat riders to change their direction in water which improves efficiency with less oxygen consumption.

Architecture

Termites build earthen mounds which are well-ventilated, having a lot of slits and holes for aeration purposes. Besides high external temperature, the mounds have moderate temperature inside.

Taking this idea, people have constructed building, such as the Eastgate Centre in Zimbabwe, where air convection with interface of storing and radiating heat provide an air conditioning system requiring only ten per cent of energy usage. This building has no heating system but regulates temperature just as the termite mounds do.

Cat eye

Many of you would have observed that there are certain animals, such as the cat, which seem to reflect light in the night. It is a feature common in nocturnal carnivore animals such as cats, dogs, lions, jackals, etc. It is because they have special pigments in their eyes, called tapetum lucidum, which reflect light at night and improve night vision.

By studying this special feature of these animals, scientists developed devices called cat eyes, which have the ability of reflecting light at night time when light falls upon them. This helps people drive safely as it serves as a guide showing them where the road is.

Law of Gravitational Force

It was Sir Issac Newton, a mathematician, who deduced the Law of Gravitational Force. It is well-known that he was once sitting under an apple tree when an apple fell down from the tree, compelling him to wonder how it came down to earth and did not go upward.

This resulted in Newton formulating that it is the gravitational force of earth that attracts all objects to itself. It was formulated in Newton’s work Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica or The Principia, first published in July 1687.

Published in Dawn, Young World, November 19th, 2016

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