Leaf Vein Patterns Are Not in Vain
The vein patterns in a leaf approach perfection. If the requirement is to reach every cell with the shortest and most efficient paths, leaves do it just right. A team of scientists at Cornell, “inspired by plant leaves,” tried to build a network in a polymer substrate that would maximize distribution of fluid with evaporation-driven flow. Their “biomimetic leaf” couldn’t improve on the real thing. Read all about it in PNAS.1
Next, they think the “design principles” they uncovered will be useful for inventors. “These scaling relations for evaporatively driven flow through simple networks reveal basic design principles for the engineering of evaporation�permeation-driven devices, and highlight the role of physical constraints on the biological design of leaves.”
1. Noblin et al, “Optimal vein density in artificial and real leaves,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print July 1, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0709194105.
Don’t you creationists try to latch onto this story now. They said, “The long evolution of vascular plants has resulted in a tremendous variety of natural networks responsible for the evaporatively driven transport of water.” So clearly they believe in evolution. This is merely an adaptation. Natural selection is up to the task. That’s what natural selection does: adapts things to their environment. It searches through all possibilities and finds the optimum solutions to nature’s engineering problems. It tinkers with things until it gets them right. Evolution has millions of years to work its magic. Given enough time, anything is possible, even things that look like miracles. Evolution is smart. Evolution is like… well, a god. Believe!