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Creative constraints

Natural inspiration 10

Creative people often find inspiration in nature. We call this bionics.

Natural design

Kyle Vey and Shireen Nadir look to nature to inspire their art. This photo of a threatening storm, for example:

Threatening storm

was the inspiration for a unique garment:

Threatening storm

You can see more examples at Bored Panda, or at their shop, The Blue Brick Dyeworks. (No affiliation.)

Robot spiders

Australian peacock spiderIn a different way, nature inspired the shape of a millimetre-sized robot, which may one day perform surgeries inside your body.

Researchers from Harvard's Wyss Institute have built a robot spider inspired by the Australian peacock spider to demonstrate a new method that can create soft material at the macroscale. The process can manufacture the soft robot from a single elastic material such that it mimics the body shape and dexterous movements of the colourful spider.

The soft material will make these robots fit for working in environments—such as the human body—where rigid robots cannot be used.

Organs on ice

Antifreeze inspired by nature could keep organs fresh for longer.

Organs intended for transplants can be chilled for only a few hours before irreparable harm is done.

Scientists at the University of Warwick in the UK are taking inspiration from nature by exploring proteins in some species of Arctic fish, wood frogs, and other organisms that prevent blood from freezing. These proteins allow the organisms to flourish in extreme cold.

Most natural antifreeze molecules have a patchwork of regions that either attract or repel water. The researchers speculate that this process prevents ice crystal from forming by throwing water molecules into push-pull chaos that prevent them from clumping into ice. Using this process, they have synthesised spiral-shaped molecules that are mostly water-repellent, but have iron atoms at their centers that make them hydrophilic (water-loving). The resulting compounds are surprisingly potent at stopping ice crystals from forming.

However, more work is needed before these these compounds can be applied to human organs.


Nadir-Santana, Shireen. (n.d.) We Apply Nature’s Design Solutions To Create Unique Clothing. Bored Panda. Retrieved 29 April 2019 from https://www.boredpanda.com/two-artists-work-together-to-create-wearable-art-inspired-by-the-natural-world

Dermentzi, Mara. (2018, August 10). This tiny robotic spider might one day perform surgeries inside your body. Mashable.com. Retrieved 29 April from https://mashable.com/video/tiny-robot-spider-surgery-inside-body/

Sheikh, Knvul. (2017, November 1). Nature-Inspired Antifreeze Molecules Could Keep Organs Fresh Longer. Scientific American. Retrieved 29 April 2019 from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nature-inspired-antifreeze-molecules-could-keep-organs-fresh-longer/.

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