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January 17, 2013 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Scientists don’t usually make the best writers. But Jay Harman isn’t just a scientist; he’s a CEO, naturalist, entrepreneur and an award-winning inventor. In his first attempt at writing something other than a patent, Harman’s new book, The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation, delves into the promise, intrigue and amusement of invention.
Sharkskin and swimsuits, burrs and Velcro, termite dens and office buildings — all of these are examples of biomimicry, the mimicking of life or nature using science, in action. Harman’s work focuses in on the global economy and how Mother Nature is inspiring inventors and scientists from around the world. To be fair, she has had a 4.5-billion-year head start.
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Release Date: Available now
Using his own corporate experiences and a sturdy knowledge of the field, Harman presents models for how industries can create environmentally friendly solutions to some of the world’s trickiest problems.
Harman’s examples deployed throughout the text are what make the book stand out. Samplings include how cockroaches enable the development of prosthetic limbs or how energy-efficient turbines were based on whale fins. The combinations are simply mind-boggling and seem more fiction than fact — but Harman backs up his examples with plenty of details.
Readers will see another side to nature and grapple with concepts that seem overwhelmingly complex yet conceivable. Harman’s knack for storytelling and ability to simplify these complex processes speak to his gift for gab.
Few books successfully combine the wonders of nature with sound business sense, but Harman manages to do exactly that here.
Simply put, The Shark’s Paintbrush is a reverent tribute to the Mother Nature and a call for more copycat inventors equally enthusiastic and perplexed by the world around them.