"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Friday, February 6, 2009


One of the greatest sources of creative inspiration comes from nature. Whilst it is true that the human brain is naturally inclined towards survival, the ultimate act of creative genius is our adaptation to the dictates of nature.

This phenomenon applies not just to humans; it is equally applicable to plants and animals, insects and bacteria. The adaptation has resulted in the most advantageous forms having been taken. When in a state of creative mental blockage, look to nature and receive due inspiration.

Here are some examples of how nature helped humanity with some inventions:

• By observing a shipworm tunneling through timber, Sir Marc Brunel solved the problem of underwater construction of tunnels.

• Leonardo da Vinci was prolific in observing nature. Studying natural life in minute detail, he then transformed his observations into a deluge of inventions, real and virtual.

• The human eye provided the inspiration for the modern automatic focus and exposure cameras.

• The military got the idea of camouflage from creatures in the wild who used this scheme as an act of concealment from predators.

• The rattlesnake’s fangs deserve the honour of having inspired the hypodermic needle.

• A fish’s swimbladder inspired the design of the submarine’s usage of underwater ballast.

• A jackrabbit’s ears equate directly with the workings of evaporative air conditioners.

• Ultrasonic waves are used in modern radar in a similar way to bats, though the technique of the latter is far superior.

• The squid’s use of propulsion through water led to the design of the jet airplane’s passage through air.

This list is extensive and keeps on growing. The more we harmonise with nature, the closer we are able to lead natural lives. Items such as the dialysis machine, the electronic computer, and the wings of an aircraft, are all beholden to the kidney, the human brain, and a bird’s wings respectively. They are mechanical replicas of natural phenomena.

The science of borrowing from nature and adapting it to our requirements is called bionics. The dictionary definition of this term is “a science concerned with the application of data about the functioning of biological systems to the solution of engineering problems.”

We ARE inherently bionically creative!

The Koshima Monkeys

Research conducted on a colony of macaque monkeys on the Japanese island of Koshima in the 1950s provides a fascinating insight.

For the experiment, some sweet potatoes were randomly strewn in the sand.

Sensing a delicacy on offer, the monkeys sampled the potatoes; the taste was great but the sand grated. However, one young monkey lit up with the notion of washing her potatoes in the seawater lapping on the beach. Ummm! Much better. She scampered off and taught this trick to her mother and several of her playmates.

It wasn’t long before other young monkeys in the troop followed suit. They too started washing their potatoes prior to eating them. The older monkeys resisted this fad for some time.

However, after several years, novelty and common sense overrode resistance. The day of total transformation arrived finally when the last resisting monkey gave in, scampering off to wash his potato! Now every monkey in the troop had acquired a taste for washed potatoes.

Lessons to be Learned

1. It can sometimes take years for total transformation to occur.

2. Transformation for its own sake is of no use ~ the benefits must be real and tangible.

3. For transformation to occur successfully, the desired behaviour must be consistently modelled by management.

4. For mass acceptance of the transformation process, top management must lead the way; their acceptance and adoption of relevant procedures is vital.

[Excerpted from the 2nd subscription issue of 'Catalysing Creativity' in The Braindancer Series of bookazines, by Dilip Mukerjea. All images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

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