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Reading Discussions 16-18

---16 Biomimicry
by Janine M. Benyus

Key Words:
1. Nature
2. Process

Biomimicry is a science that studies nature and uses the findings as a basis for design. By definition, it is "nature as model," "nature as measure," and "nature as mentor." Nature is innately beautiful and full of pattern. It knows what works and what doesn't work. We can use this knowledge from our nature in our design. One important way to use the knowledge of nature is by learning from the processes found in the natural world. For example, Benyus talks about self- assembly (starting on 104). It is interesting to look at how a crystal pearl grows on its own. We can use this kind of research to inform our own designs.

Discussion Questions:
1. Does it matter if we recognize the use of biomimicry or not? If it is unconsciously used in design, is it just as resourceful? Or is there something about knowing that it is being used and knowing the process that makes biomimicry so effective?
2. Benyus talks about the four "tricks of the trade" in manufacturing materials (96). Can you think of any more? What is this missing? Where are there holes?

---17 Nature's Numbers
by Ian Stewart

Key Words:
1. Pattern
2. Shape

Patterns can be seen in all nature. Really, patterns are found everywhere. Stewart explains the simplest patterns that can be seen in humans having two legs or moving at a constant walking pace. Patterns can especially be seen within numbers. I thought it was interesting that Stewart noted that "exceptions to patterns are special," hence, the superstition with four leaf clovers and such (4). Shape is also important in that all nature is made of shapes. In reality, shapes are built of tiny dots, but it is not as useful to think of shapes in this way because it looses meaning. Mathematical shapes are more useful in describing and understanding patterns.

Discussion Questions:
1. What do mathematical patterns have to do with design? How does this relate to biomimicry?
2. If chaos patterns are so complex and not understandable for everyday people, how do they work? How can we understand them to incorporate it into our design?

---18 Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics
by Alfred Adler

Key Words:
1. Mathematician
2. Skepticism

In Adler's words, "a mathematician is great or he is nothing." He basically says that either a mathematician will be known for some big discovery or their existence as a mathematician will mean nothing. He goes on to say that a mathematician will either be great when they are young or not at all. This is because math is constantly changing and younger people are more apt to understand and more willing to change to accommodate. Mathematicians must be open to falsify things- "mathematics is a field in which much that appears obviously true is in fact false" (438).

Discussion Questions:
1. Adler holds very strong opinions and stereotypes about mathematics and mathematicians. Do you agree/ disagree? Have you seen exceptions? Where?
2. Adler discusses mathematics as language. Do you agree? Should it be taught as a language?