September 21, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Introducing: The Spinach Cell Phone

The next spinach sandwich you hear about may not be an item at the health food bar but an electronic device powered by the sun.  According to an MIT press release, chloroplasts from spinach leaves have been successfully sandwiched into a solid-state electronic photocell that could be used before long to power cell phones and laptops.  100,000 of the protein-based light collectors could fit on the head of a pin.  Deborah Halber of the MIT News Office remarked, “Plants’ ability to generate energy has been optimized by evolution,  so a spinach plant is extremely efficient, churning out a lot of energy relative to its size and weight.”

And for that groaner, Deborah is a nominee for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week.  Evolution does not optimize anything.  It only can eliminate things that are not already optimized.  For an example of how optimized chloroplasts are for photosynthesis, read about how they make use of quantum mechanics to squeeze every bit of energy out of light in the 09/16/2004 entry.  No wonder human engineers would like to borrow such intelligent design rather than try to produce it from scratch.
    The industrial revolution proceeded by trying to do things from scratch.  Men took iron and copper and oil out of the ground, learned the laws of steam and thermodynamics and electricity, and built heavy, clunky inefficient machines that got the job done only with a huge expenditure of entropy.  An incandescent light bulb, for instance, is horrendously wasteful compared to the cold light produced by bioluminescent bacteria.  How humbling to see that the optimal solutions to light, flight, lubrication, energy, materials, propulsion, signalling and many other technologies have surrounded us all this time.  If intelligent designers are now trying to imitate the designs in nature, how can anyone claim that nature arrived at such fully optimized designs without purpose, guidance or intelligence?  The 21st century may see such illogical beliefs tossed onto the intellectual junkyard, as The Design Revolution gathers momentum.

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