by Dora Lee
I picked up this book at the library just because the cover and title caught my eye. It's a book about human inventions that were inspired by things present in the natural world. Some of them I already knew about, even if when the book was written they weren't actually made yet, just being researched. There are robotic hands now, that move realistically. Tiny machines that mimic the flight mechanism of insects. I knew about the observation of cockleburs that inspired the invention of velcro, and I'd heard of nanobots that can carry information into the body the way viruses invade. But I didn't know before that wind tubines have bumps on the leading edge of the blades, like a humpback whale does on its fins to avoid stalling in the water during sharp turns. I didn't know of this building in Zimbabwe which has an air-conditioning system inspired by termite mounds (this interesting article refutes some of the science behind it), or that bullet trains were quieted by modelling their noses after a kingfisher's beak- so very streamlined they enter the water with hardly any splash. I'd never heard of a device that collects energy from the motion of ocean waves, even though it was conceptualized before 2008!
That's just a small sampling of the material in this book. There's a lot to spark curiosity and admiration. I didn't mind that the examples were brief- after all, it is a kid's book. I did wish that they were identified more clearly, or had a listing in the back of where the sources came from. However all the things I wanted to know more about, I found easily enough with a brief search online.
Rating: 3/5 40 pages, 2011