The first speaker from California was Jay Harman, a noted biomimic. He noted that it’s “more profitable to copy nature than to destroy it.” From nature’s point of view, there is no energy shortage, so we should copy nature’s design for energy and conservation.
Spirals are a common phenomenon in nature. They signify divinity, creativity, and genius. Consider DNA, the most complex structure, is a spiral. Nature’s most desirable path of energy is a spiral (think hurricanes, tornadoes, galaxies, whirlpools, etc). There are no straight lines in nature either … consider the human digestive system, about 30 feet in length, not a single straight line, and arguably one of the most efficient systems out there.
During the industrial revolution, if you wanted to go faster, you didn’t redesign the shape, you just shoveled in more coal. Now, we’re seeing the side effects of that line of thinking.
Jay Harman is the founder of PAX Scientific, an innovative company, which gets its designs from nature. They have created an A/C fan blade that is 40 times more efficient than conventional blades. Their water purifier is small and simple, and can be used in city systems, lakes, polluted water, and to prevent mosquito breeding grounds. Because bacteria forms in stagnant water, their purification technology spins in the water to create a whirlpool – a spiral – to circulate the water and keep it from standing still. City water systems could use this simple tool, and forget the chemicals and energy wasted to treat water… use nature’s design instead.
That wasn’t the end of his presentation, but his ideas are truly inspiring, and if we consider new ways to look at energy use and product design, we can solve many of our energy problems, and save a lot of money.
Aside: Check out New Urban Green Living for a great summary of the conference.