Sunday, 22 January 2012

Walking in the winter

We have all noticed that it has been snowing/raining/snowing/raining/freezing/snowing/freezing on and and on... it makes life a real adventure. My easy-going 2 minute walk to the metro station became a dangerous task, I risk my life at least 2 times daily.

I learned from last year when I went through (and survived) my first nordic winter. I bought winter shoes: warm shoes with “good grip” under the sole.
These shoes help me being a bit more stable, but it happens more than occasionally that it feels as if the world under my feet slides away. Luckily I’m young and vital and able to catch myself most of the times - it is really embarrassing to fall into a slippery pool of winter slush.

This week during the first week of this course we climbed up a little hill close to Stockholms University. I was wearing my pair of winter shoes but I still felt clumsy and awkward walking around in this naturescape.
During this walkscape I realized I don’t really feel comfortable in this type of naturescape. So I did some research and looked at how different animals adapted to this type of naturescape so they survive, and feel comfortable.

Me and my flat mate are taking care of 2 cats of a friend of us.

This is Tibast.

And this is Lisa.

Lisa is a very normal, but a very old and angry lady cat.
Though, Tibast, is a young and vital mister cat. He is a typical cat that stems from the wild cats that live for example here in the north of Europe. His long hairs protect him from the cold. This type of cats are often quite big which also make them more cold resistant. I took a look under his feet and this is what I found.

Tibast has lots of long hairs between his toes. This will keep his feet warm while walking on cold surfaces covered in ice and snow. Clever. But how about the grip? I guess Tibast is anyway more stable than me because he has 4 legs and a tale to keep his balance, whereas I just have two legs and two clumsy arms trying to find a tree or stick to keep me from slipping.
But when I made this picture Tibast felt offended. Or I think so, because before I knew it he clutched his claws in the skin of my hand. Quite a surprise because where did these claws come from, they are not visible in the picture. So I guess, whenever Tibast feels slippery he will use his claws to grab hold of the surface he is walking on.

Animals on the Poles are doing similar things to keep themselves from slipping.

Polar bears.

And even the Walrus.

In town I have seen old people that attached a product to their shoes that will keep them from slipping. It doesn’t look very cool, but I also found this.

This is obviously really cool and I’m sure it would have made me feel much more secure during our naturescape walk. Though I doubt how "biomimicry-ish" this is. Did they take their inspiration from nature? It would be for example more efficient if you could "pull back your claws" if you don’t need them anymore. And what about the materials that we can use and the production process. I would like to know how the Inuits solved this problem, anyone up for a walkscape at the Arctic!

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