The Latest



Jay Harman has been named one of the 2015 AAAS-Lemelson Invention Ambassadors.  Run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Lemelson Foundation, the program, which “strives to … cultivate a new and diverse generation of inventors and increase global understanding of the role of invention,” is to designed to celebrate and highlight the importance of invention in the modern economy.  This year’s class—the second in the program—will spearhead the Program’s goal “to showcase the human face of inventors in order to inform, inspire, and influence thought leaders and global communities.”

Recent Press

  • Thoughtful review on “The Business and Promise of Biomimicry” by Patricia L.R. Brennan of the University of Massachusetts (Oxford University Press BioScience Journal).
  • New, full-length interview from Carol J. Clouse in OZY online magazine describes Jay Harman as a biomimicry evangelist …
  • Nice article from Evonik Magazine (in a PDF translated from the original German) about Jay’s ideas for an “atmospheric mixer” to stem climate change.

Nicol Ragland has made a lovely short film about Jay Harman and his work at PAX.  Watch it below–and learn more about Nocol’s fascinating work as a photographer and videographer at Indigene.



Earthworm-inspired low-energy lighting, antibiotics from cockroaches, materials based on maggot skin, and aerodynamic paint that mimics shark skin are the future. At least, they are according to Jay Harman, an Australian-born inventor and entrepreneur who uses these and many other examples of nature’s solutions to put the case for biomimicry as the next engineering revolution.

Nature has helpfully carried out trillions of parallel, competitive experiments for millions of years, which is why, argues Harman in his introduction to the ‘The Shark’s Paintbrush’, nature’s successful designs are dramatically more efficient than human inventions. He feels it is time engineers embraced nature’s efficiency and functionality.

Fluid dynamics is one of Harman’s main interests (he has developed a dolphin-inspired boat and runs a venture in California called PAX Scientific, which makes energy-efficient turbines, fans, and water mixers based on geometries found in whirlpools) and something he writes particularly well about. The ‘Shark’s Paintbrush’ refers to the tiny scales or ‘denticles’ on sharkskin, which help reduce drag in water. So good is this design that researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have created paint with denticles that reduces drag on aircraft and ships. Applied to the world’s aircraft, it could save, they say, almost four and a half million tonnes of fuel per year.

In many ways Harman has mixed three books into one. The first explores what we’re discovering about nature’s ready-made answers, such as the nine different molecules in cockroaches that are deadly to bacteria, and how tiny creatures like the moss piglet can withstand absolute zero temperatures (-273°C). The second is a kind of naturalist’s diary of animal adventures. Finally, there is a business guide on running a successful biomimetics company.

While one might quibble about the uneven tone and style, the charm of Harman’s almost missionary zeal makes this a truly inspiring book.

— Christine Evans-Pughe, Engineering and Technology Magazine

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.

— Publisher’s Weekly, May 6, 2013

Overall, this is a tour-de-force combination that includes memoir, a broad overview of biomimicry, a detailed review of spiral geometry and its applications, views on creating and running a transformative business, and practical advice on using biology to build an effective organization. [We] recommend this book to anyone interested in biomimicry.

— Janet E. Kübler, Kamelia Miteva, Curt McNamara, zq05 (Zygote Quarterly), Spring 2013


Where’s the Blueprint for a Truly Sustainable Revolution?

— Greenmoney, July-August 2013

With Biomimicry, it’s worthwhile to swim with the sharks

— Andy Giegerich, Sustainable Business Oregon, August 9, 2013

“The Shark’s Paintbrush, by Jay Harman: Learn how scientists and engineers are using natures designs to create new medicines and materials.” (blub in book section)

— Science News, August 10, 2013

“Spiral Hegira: PAX Scientific’s Curving Path to Clearing the Air”

— Tom McKeag, zq6 (Zygote Quarterly, Issue 6, Summer 2013)

For the Press

Download The Shark’s Paintbrush sales sheet
Download the author bio page
Contact Jay for an interview