AskNature is a database of biological information organized by the Biomimicry Taxonomy—a list of challenges that organisms face. By learning how organisms meet those challenges, we can learn how to solve our own design challenges.
Example: How can we capture wind energy more efficiently than by using large turbines only in areas with strong, steady winds?
There are various ways to use AskNature to find potential solutions to this, or any, design challenge:
- Explore. Visit a few strategy pages to get a feel for the site. A strategy is how an organism meets a particular functional challenge, and may inspire creative ideas for a related human design challenge. Here are a few examples of strategies that might address the wind turbine challenge:
a. Wingtip feathers increase aerodynamic efficiency: flying birds
b. Flippers provide lift, reduce drag: humpback whale
[Note: Tubercle Technology blades already mimic this strategy.]
c. Energy boost from vortices: bull trout
- Explore similar strategies. When you find an interesting strategy, or one that meets a particular functional challenge, you can easily find related strategies by clicking on the Taxonomy in the upper right-hand column of the page. Click on any level and a box will open showing other strategies in the same level of the Biomimicry Taxonomy.
- Browse. The Browse tab will take you to a 3-column panel. Think of this as a Table of Contents to the site. From this page, you can browse through a particular category on the site: Forum Discussions, People, Groups, Products, and Strategies.
- Search. Type in a keyword, challenge, name, etc. Think of different ways to pose your question in terms of what you want to accomplish (rather than in terms of what you want to make).
- Example: Instead of asking, "How would Nature design an efficient wind turbine blade?", ask "How would Nature reduce drag?" or "How does Nature move through air?" and type the relevant keywords into the search box.
- If you start typing a word or phrase into the search box, the search box will show you related terms based on previous searches by other users. For example, typing in "drag" will show you: dragonfly, drag reduction, drag, and dragon flies.
- AskNature is not static—it changes as users add keywords, reconnect search terms to new results, etc. So you may get different results over time, even when using the same search terms you used a week, a month, or a year ago.
- You can focus your search in two ways. Type in your search term, then click on the down arrow to the right. Select one of the types of information you're interested in, such as Strategies, Products, etc. Then click on the magnifying glass. Alternatively, you can focus your search once you see the search results by clicking on the dropdown menu at the top.
- Scroll down for other Search hints.
Watch This Video to Learn Our Search and Browse Tricks:
Rules for how the search on AskNature works: