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review 2020-02-19 06:40
Adapt by Amina Khan
Adapt: How Humans Are Tapping into Nature's Secrets to Design and Build a Better Future - Amina Khan

TITLE:  Adapt: How Humans Are Tapping into Nature's Secrets to Design and Build a Better Future


TITLE:  Amina Khan


FORMAT:  Hardcover


ISBN-13:  9781250060402



"Amina Khan believes that nature does it best. In Adapt, she presents fascinating examples of how nature effortlessly solves the problems that humans attempt to solve with decades worth of the latest and greatest technologies, time, and money. Humans are animals too, and animals are incredibly good at doing more with less.

If a fly’s eye can see without hundreds of fancy lenses, and termite mounds can stay cool in the desert without air conditioning, it stands to reason that nature can teach us a thing or two about sustainable technology and innovation. In Khan’s accessible voice, these complex concepts are made simple. There is so much we humans can learn from nature’s billions of years of productive and efficient evolutionary experience. This field is growing rapidly and everyone from architects to biologists to nano-technicians to engineers are paying attention. Results from the simplest tasks, creating velcro to mimic the sticking power of a burr, to the more complex like maximizing wind power by arranging farms to imitate schools of fish can make a difference and inspire future technological breakthroughs.

Adapt shares the weird and wonderful ways that nature has been working smarter and not harder, and how we can too to make billion dollar cross-industrial advances in the very near future.




An interesting, but brief, popular overview of some new and/or improved technologies that resulted (or are in development) from studying nature (usually animals).  Topics include material science, mechanics of movement, architecture of systems, and sustainability.  Any scientific or engineering concepts that crop up are nicely and simply explained.  An easy and informative read, though I have come across some of the examples covered in other books.  Some diagrams/photographs/illustrations would really be useful in books like this.

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review 2019-12-19 16:45
How to Walk on Water and Climb Up Walls by David Hu
How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls: Animal Movement and the Robots of the Future - David Baldacci

TITLE:  How to Walk on Water and Climb Up Walls: Animal Movement and the Robots of the Future


AUTHOR:  David Hu




FORMAT:  Hardcover


ISBN-13:  9780691169866



"Insects walk on water, snakes slither, and fish swim. Animals move with astounding grace, speed, and versatility: how do they do it, and what can we learn from them? In How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls, David Hu takes readers on an accessible, wondrous journey into the world of animal motion. From basement labs at MIT to the rain forests of Panama, Hu shows how animals have adapted and evolved to traverse their environments, taking advantage of physical laws with results that are startling and ingenious. In turn, the latest discoveries about animal mechanics are inspiring scientists to invent robots and devices that move with similar elegance and efficiency.

Hu follows scientists as they investigate a multitude of animal movements, from the undulations of sandfish and the way that dogs shake off water in fractions of a second to the seemingly crash-resistant characteristics of insect flight. Not limiting his exploration to individual organisms, Hu describes the ways animals enact swarm intelligence, such as when army ants cooperate and link their bodies to create bridges that span ravines. He also looks at what scientists learn from nature's unexpected feats--such as snakes that fly, mosquitoes that survive rainstorms, and dead fish that swim upstream. As researchers better understand such issues as energy, flexibility, and water repellency in animal movement, they are applying this knowledge to the development of cutting-edge technology.

Integrating biology, engineering, physics, and robotics, How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls demystifies the remarkable mechanics behind animal locomotion.




This is an accessible (not too technical) and interesting survey of the study of animal movement influences robot design and construction, and the uses of these studies and robots.  However, after a few chapters the format of animal studied and then robot constructed gets a bit tedious and repetitive (especially if the reader has come across these studies/topics before).  The title is also misleading as there is no "climbing up walls" involved in this book.



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