Readings 16, 17, and 18
Reading #16: Biomimicry: â€œHow Will We Make Things?â€? by Janine Benyus
1. Mimic. Thatâ€™s the whole point of biomimicry: to mimic natureâ€™s genius character, to imitate a quality down to the littlest detail because nature knows best. The reading gives the example of the adhesive that a mollusk uses to stick to objects under water. This adhesive is greater than any that man has been able to create. It uses fewer steps (to actually become an adhesive) and is more successful. It can even work under water! For this reason, biomimics are studying in great detail the molluskâ€™s adhesive to try to mimic it in their work.
2.Process. I thought it was really interesting how Janine Benyus explained how biomimics are not so interested in trying to imitate certain products of nature, but rather the process through which nature makes these products. â€œWhat we really want to do is imitate the manufacturing process, that is, how organisms manage to growâ€? (100). This makes sense though, because imitating the process is much more significant, a much greater feat, than just imitating natures products. If you can imitate the process, than you will know for sure that your product will turn out to be the same. This is the most difficult challenge: imitating the process.
1. Why do you think we did not use biomimicry in earlier designs/architecture? Or is there evidence that we did?
2. Give an example of another process in nature (not given in the reading or the lecture) that could be used in architecture/design.
Reading #17: Natures Numbers: â€œThe Natural Orderâ€? by Ian Stewart
1. Patterns. There are patterns all over in nature. They govern our universe. They are found in living and non-living things, such as seashells, flowers, and sand dunes. The two types include fractals and chaos. (Fractals are geometric repetition, and chaos is the â€œapparent randomness whose origins are entirely deterministicâ€? (3).) There are numeric patterns, geometric patterns, patterns of form, patterns of movement, etc. All patterns can be observed mathematically and can help to give â€œa deeper vision of the universe in which we live, and of our own place in itâ€? (11).
2. Mathematics. Patterns are an extremely intriguing part of our universe, but they are â€œnot just there to be admired, they are vital clues to the rules that govern natural processesâ€? (1) They require mathematics to study them in their complexities and to figure out the WHY and HOW; the answer to why they are formed and how they are formed; the reasons behind it all. Mathematics is used to â€œorganize and systemize our ideas about patternsâ€?, to come up with the rules that direct the patterns (1).
1. How can understanding these patterns give us a greater understanding of our world? How can this understanding help ultimately us in designing new buildings in architecture?
2. How can we continue to further our understanding of natures many patterns? Will there ever come to be a point where we have discovered all of them?
Reading #18: The World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics: â€œMathematics and Creativityâ€? by Alfred Adler
1. Skepticism. I was really surprised to hear that skepticism is a major part of mathematics. However, the reading really convinced me that this is true. Because many things that seem to be true at first instinct end up ultimately false, mathematicians have learned to not believe anything unless it has been proven over and over again to be true. â€œThe mathematician learns early to accept no fact, to believe no statement, however apparently reasonable or obvious or trivial, until it has been proved, rigorously and totally, by a series of steps proceeding from universally accepted first principlesâ€? (439). They have learned to become skeptics because it is the only way that they can do their work accurately without allowing the occurrence of a major mistake. The reading gave many examples of occurrences where something that seems obviously true has in the end been proven false, and therefore emphasizing the importance of statements and â€˜factsâ€™ to be tested repeatedly before believed to be true.
2. Exploration. â€œThe essential feature of mathematical creativity is the exploration, under the pressure of powerful implosive forces, of difficult problems for whose validity and importance the explorer is eventually held accountable by realityâ€? (445). Exploration is one of the most important factors of mathematical creativity. It is vital that mathematicians explore all their options and look for the most difficult problems and solve them, rather than going for the easiest ones. These difficult problems have a more valuable solution. The more mathematicians explore and the more work they put into their exploration, the greater their results will be.
1. How can mathematics be creative? Give examples.
2. Alfred Adler gives many stereotypical examples of what mathematicians can and cannot do when it comes to certain jobs/disciplines. Is this right of him to categorize all mathematicians into these stereotypes? Do you believe his assumptions are accurate?