- The military is developing sophisticated fabric using biomimicry—the process of using the natural world as a guide to develop new technology. Read some highlights from our collection of biomimicry resources to help brainstorm other ideas inspired by nature:
- Engineering Inspirations from Nature (skip to step four for information on biomimicry): Engineers have developed a wide array of tools and technologies inspired by the natural world, from a robotic arm as flexible as an elephant’s trunk to bullet trains whose shape resembles an aerodynamic bird’s beak.
- Everlasting Light: The bioluminescent properties of squid (or, really, the bacteria that live in squid) have inspired researchers to pursue the idea of naturally illuminated trees. “[I]n the future, rather than erecting streetlights, people might be able to plant glowing trees,” one researcher says.
- Working with Nature to Slow Global Warming: Inspired by coral reefs, flue gases from a natural gas plant are mixed with seawater to make “green” cement that doesn’t contribute to global warming.
- Smart Shirts: Engineers have developed fabrics that can react to changes in temperature and light, similar to ectothermic (“cold-blooded”) or bioluminescent organisms can control their body temperature and appearance.
- Read our short encyclopedic entry on camouflage, then review the Telegraph article. Which camouflage tactic are military engineers hoping to use to hide soldiers from night-vision equipment?
- Background matching, the most familiar camouflage tactic. Using background matching, a species conceals itself by resembling its surroundings in coloration, form, or movement. The squid studied by engineers in the article can change the color and even the texture of their skin to blend into the background.
- Look through our kid-friendly gallery of camouflage techniques. Could military engineers be inspired by any of these examples to better camouflage soldiers?
And thanks to the brainiacs at UC Irvine for doing such awesome research! Go anteaters!