With biomimicry, it’s worthwhile to swim with the sharks

Jay Harman's book

Jay Harman's book "The Shark's Paintbrush" skillfully lays out how biomimicry will positively affect the world.

Jay Harman believes that cutting edge technology actually began at the beginning of time.

That, not coincidentally, also marked the onset of biomimicry, or the science of employing nature to advance sustainable technology. Harman’s first book, “The Shark’s Paintbrush,” explores in scientific detail— yet with a deft everyman’s writing touch — ways that manufacturing processes and designs can learn lessons from nature.

It’s a neat concept that Harman, who’s nothing if not enthusiastic about his ideas, presents well. The book is published by Ashland-based White Cloud Press.

We pinned down Harman for an email interview earlier this week. Here’s what he had to say.

Sustainable Business Oregon: What led you to biomimicry?

Jay Harman: I fell in love with skin-diving and fishing when I was 10 years old. When I saw the efficiency and power of how fish swim, compared to my clumsy efforts, I was captivated and knew that I would learn from nature the rest of my life. I later became a field officer with the Western Australian Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and spent thousands of hours observing flow in water and air and how animals and plants interacted with that flow. That led me to design much more efficient fluid handling devices including boat hulls, fans, pumps, mixers, and turbines. Those initial products have now resulted in a series of biomimicry companies – though the word biomimicry hadn’t even been coined when I started.

SBO: You have a section titled “The Business of Biomimicry.” Can you talk about ways businesses can tap into the field? What sort of resultant markets do you anticipate arising from the realm?

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