Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Shark's Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation

The Shark's Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature is Inspiring Innovation

5.0 1
by Jay Harman

See All Formats & Editions

Why does the bumblebee have better aerodynamics than a 747? What structural design is shared by a tornado and a blood vessel?

Since the Industrial Revolution, manufacturers have built things by a process known as “heat, beat, and treat.” They use enormous amounts of energy to heat raw material, shape it with heavy machinery, and maintain its design,


Why does the bumblebee have better aerodynamics than a 747? What structural design is shared by a tornado and a blood vessel?

Since the Industrial Revolution, manufacturers have built things by a process known as “heat, beat, and treat.” They use enormous amounts of energy to heat raw material, shape it with heavy machinery, and maintain its design, strength, and durability with toxic chemicals. Now, in a world of depleted natural resources, entrepreneurs and scientists are turning to nature to inspire future products that are more energy- and cost-efficient. Biomimicry, the science of employing nature to advance sustainable technology, is arguably one of the hottest new business concepts. At the center of this growing movement has been award-winning inventor and biomimetic entrepreneur Jay Harman.

In The Shark's Paintbrush, Harman introduces us to pioneering engineers in a wide array of businesses who are uncovering and copying nature’s hidden marvels. He shows business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs how we can reconcile creating more powerful, lucrative technologies with maximizing sustainability. He injects a whole new vocabulary and way of thinking into the business sphere that speaks to both small start-ups and corporate giants.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The world’s most elegant engineer is without a doubt Mother Nature. She’s efficient, creative, and has time on her hands to put her innovations to the test, and Harman thinks we can learn a lot from watching her work. His company, PAX Scientific Inc., focuses on sustainable design solutions based on mimicking biological adaptations. Sounds far out, but the practice has been around for a while. Archimedes’ screw, a type of water pump that is still used today, is an early example of taking a concept from nature—in this case the spiral—and putting it to practical use. The eponymous paintbrush is equally fascinating. German scientists developed a special paint that, when applied to the hull of a ship in such a way as to mimic the water-repellent design of sharkskin, reduces drag by 5%. This can result in savings of 2000 tons of fuel per ship, per year. Looking elsewhere, scientists are learning about anticoagulants from leeches, acoustics from dolphins, antibiotics from Komodo dragons, shock absorbers from woodpeckers, and computer networks from slime molds. Harman points out that many of these developments would not only save money, but also prove an enormous boon to the survival of Mother Nature. His vision of a biomimetic “new global economy” is timely, crucial, and thrillingly eye-opening. Photos & illus. Agent: Danny Baror, Baror International. (June)
From the Publisher

"Imagine Indiana Jones, Huckleberry Finn, and Erasmus Darwin rolled into one person, and you will have some sense of what it is like to roam and see the world through Jay Harman's biomimetic eyes. The Shark's Paintbrush is a memo of kindness from the living world in a time of crisis and doubt: life in all its intricacy offers untold possibilities for the transformation of civilization."
- Paul Hawken, author, Blessed Unrest

“Jay Harman is the quintessential biomimic, a principled inventor who sees solutions everywhere he looks in the natural world. And he looks deeply, with the soul of a student. He moves with grace from a world of waving sea kelp to the world of sustainable design, bringing nature’s wisdom into the board rooms of global companies, to the design tables of the engineers and designers who make our world. This is more than a business book, more than a memoir, more than a new way to solve global challenges. It’s a book about a new way to think.”
–Janine Benyus, author of Biomimicry and founder of Biomimicry 3.8

The Shark’s Paintbrush reveals how nature is inspiring design to be more efficient, effective, resilient, and beautiful. In Nature’s 3.8 billion years of design experience, the roughly 99% of designs that didn’t work got recalled by the Manufacturer. The 1% that survived can teach profound lessons about how things should be made, how they work, and how they fit. Jay Harman’s immersion in and curiosity about the natural world have made him one of the best biomimetic designers. The Shark’s Paintbrush is a masterly field guide for all designers and entrepreneurs who aspire to help the world of the made work like, and live harmoniously with, the world of the born.
–Amory B. Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute

“At this point in our global ecological crisis, the survival of humanity will require a fundamental shift in our attitude toward nature: from finding out how we can dominate and manipulate nature to how we can learn from her. In this brilliant and hopeful book, Jay Harman shows us how far the new field of Biomimicry has already progressed toward this goal. The Shark’s Paintbrush makes for fascinating and joyful reading — much needed in these dark times.”
–Fritjof Capra, author of The Science of Leonardo and The Tao of Physics

“It blows my mind how the same patterns repeat themselves in flowers, growth in animals, and in shell spirals. When engineers mimic designs from nature, more efficient designs for windmills and fuel efficient vehicles are the result. Many of the breakthroughs are counter intuitive. Jay Harman has told the promise of Biomimicry in a compelling way. The Shark’s Paintbrush is essential reading for people interested in design and engineering.”
–Temple Grandin, author Thinking in Pictures

Kirkus Reviews
Green entrepreneur Harman offers a trendy pitch for innovative green capitalism. The author is the founder and CEO of PAX Scientific, a green corporation that specializes in engineering designs for "more-energy-efficient industrial equipment…based on nature's fluid flow geometries." He suggests that corporations should increasingly look to nature for inspiration, as has the modern pharmaceutical industry--e.g., synthesizing the active ingredients found in quinine and penicillin. An early such example of biomimicry, writes Harman, was Archimedes' screw. Even something as mundane as barbed wire has a natural model in the use of "fencing woven from naturally occurring briars," and the invention of "the hoop-and-loop structure" of Velcro was inspired by George de Mestral's annoyance at being attacked by burrs while hiking. At Cornell University, the long blades of wind turbines have been replaced by panels made from foam blocks that vibrate, creating a "vibro-wind" similar to tree leaves shaken by the wind. At the University of Maryland, they have created a "a mini, single-bladed, helicopter" based on the "single-winged samara seed." The author also discusses the advances made by his own company and makes the unsubstantiated claim that PAX fans are 50 percent more energy efficient than those of competitors. Would-be entrepreneurs will appreciate Harman's account of the difficulties he has experienced trying to find seed capital and to market his inventions, as well as his game plan for issuing common stock in order to attract "source money from angel investors." The author is not shy about self-promotion: "Now I find myself credited with being among the first scientists to make biomimicry a cornerstone of modern future engineering." A useful update on recent developments in biomimicry and an intriguing case for innovative green technology that goes beyond sustainability.

Product Details

White Cloud Press
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Jay Harman is a scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur dedicated to creating breakthrough technologies through biomimicry that will radically reduce energy consumption worldwide. He continues to conduct field research leading to new biomimetic products. Harman is CEO of PAX Scientific based in San Rafael, CA.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Shark's Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature Is Inspiring Innovation 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ACSandy More than 1 year ago
Jay Harmon has a unique eye for how nature applies her own efficiency to the physical world.  His years as an outdoors-man in Australia combined with his own penetrating curiosity are the gifts he possesses to produce this well written, easy to read book on the marvels of nature and how she adapts to challenges.  A great book for youngsters who may someday apply their learning to help  preserve our world and humanity.