Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Monday, August 15, 2011

Trend?: Ideas from Nature

Is it possible that the number of people looking to nature for ideas about how to solve problems or to conduct our lives is growing?

Here, for example, Janine Benyus describes some ways that technologies derived from natural systems are being used. She also outlines plans to gather information that can be used to apply more of these discoveries.

In fact there is a steady interplay between observations of nature and attempts to use mathematical models to provide explanations. Some of us might think that our intestines are randomly coiled in our bellies. But not so! Recently investigators at Harvard University have shown what's behind the predictably loopy gut.

In this talk Michael Pawlyn is very upbeat about the many ways that we can solve today's engineering problems by mimicking nature's general strategies.

There is also an entire category of computer algorithms inspired (albeit sometimes loosely or obscurely) by nature. Clues to their origins are in names like 'simulated annealing' and 'genetic programming.' See the free book on this topic Clever Algorithms for treatments of lots of them.