Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Discovery of Design by Donald DeYoung & Derrik Hobbs

book cover

Discovery of Design
by Donald DeYoung & Derrik Hobbs

Trade Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Master Books
First Released: 2009

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Back Cover Description:
From the frontiers of scientific discovery, researchers are now taking design elements from the natural world and creating extraordinary breakthroughs that benefit our health, our quality of life, our ability to communicate, and even help us work more efficiently.

An exciting look at cutting-edge scientific advances, Discovery of Design highlights incredible examples that include:

How things like batteries, human organ repair, microlenses, automotive engineering, paint, and even credit card security all have links to natural designs

Innovations like solar panels in space unfurled using technology gleaned from beech tree leaves, and optic research rooted in the photonic properties of opal gemstones

Current and future research from the fields of stealth technology, communications, cosmetics, nanotechnology, surveillance, and more!

Take a fantastic journey into the intersection of science and God's blueprints for life - discovering answers to some of the most intricate challenges we face. Experience this powerful apologetics message in a multi-purpose resource as a personal enrichment tool or as an educational supplement.

Discovery of Design explored more than 79 examples of biomimicry--where humans have based technological designs off of mechanisms found in microorganisms, insects, flying animals (mainly birds), water animals (fish, whales, etc.), land animals (including a dinosaur), humans, plants, and even non-living things.

Some of the descriptions were more detailed than others. Some were potential or future applications while most where examples of already-in-use technology. The information was written at a level that a teenager could understand, and there was a glossary in the back for the few scientific terms.

Each entry focused on an interesting ability found in nature and then explained how humans have (or are trying to) create something based on that design to solve a problem or increase the efficiency of a current design. Black-and-white pictures illustrated the text. The book referenced where this information came from for further study (articles, books, or internet search words). There were also three "study" questions per entry that were related to the information in the entry but would require a search elsewhere for the answers. Or you can just look in the back of the book for the answers.

There is an intelligent design theme to this book with the Biblical God as the Designer, but that's not the main focus or purpose of the book.

Overall, I'd recommend this very interesting book to people who like engineering design, design in nature, and/or biomimicry.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from pages 48-49
Termite Mound => Ventilation

Termite mounds across the plains of southern Africa reach heights of 10 feet (3 m) or more. Engineers have long been impressed with the self-cooling system built into the mounds by Macrotermes michaelseni termites. Their food supply is a "farmed" fungus that must be kept at exactly 87F (30C). However, the outside temperature varies widely between 35 and 104F (2-40C). To compensate, the termites open or close a series of internal heating and cooling vents. These vents connect numerous tunnels that maintain temperature along with ideal moisture and oxygen levels. The network of tunnels somewhat resembles our internal circulatory system of veins and arteries. When rain occurs, clay on the surface of the termite mound swells and provides waterproof protection. During dry periods, the clay contracts and ventilation cracks appear.

Architects are making use of the principles of termite mound ventilation. One result is the Eastgate Building in the capital city of Zimbabwe, Harare. This 18-story shopping complex has no mechanical air conditioning or heating, yet remains comfortable. The interior ventilation system of ductwork is based on the structure of termite mounds. Outside breezes pull fresh air throughout the building. As a result, the Eastgate structure uses just 10 percent of the energy of a conventional building.

Internet search words: air conditioning, Eastgate Building, termite

Questions for further study:
1. How many termites may live in a single African mound?
2. Describe how the termite mound heating and cooling vents operate.
3. What is the average temperature of Zimbabwe's capital city, Harare?

A: pg. 196

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