Does the shape of an airplane remind you of a bird? This is an example of biomimicry (BYE-oh-mim-ah-kree), which is the science of using designs found in nature to inspire new products or solutions. Solutions perfected in nature can often be adapted to improve the lives of people.

 bird and Japanese high speed bullet train

One example of biomimicry is Japan’s improvement to its high-speed train system. Japan’s trains travel at high speeds and pass through tunnels. When the high-speed trains exited a tunnel, a dangerously loud sonic boom would be created by the compressed air pushed through the tunnel. In search of a more aerodynamic design for the trains, engineers studied a bird called the kingfisher. Kingfishers dive into the ocean with almost no splash, making them quiet and efficient hunters. Newly designed Japanese trains are now modeled after the beak of the kingfisher, with a long tapered nose, allowing air to easily pass over the train. This sleek new design, inspired by nature, prevents the sonic boom from occurring.

Can you think of any other examples of biomimicry?

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