April 22, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Blood Clotting Fibers May Lead to Better Networks

We all know that blood clotting has kept us alive many times.  We would never have survived childhood scrapes and cuts had it not been for a cascade of responses in blood that builds a network of fibers quickly upon which a scab of tissue stops the flow of blood and begins repairs.  That first network of fibers must be flexible enough to withstand stretches and strains that are likely to be ongoing as the child runs to mom (or a wounded soldier gets airlifted by medics).  How is the strain distributed to keep the network from tearing?  Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wanted to know, and Science Daily told about their findings.
    In short, individual fibers of fibrin become stiff when they stretch.  As they stiffen, the less-stretched fibers nearby have the flexibility to take up some of the strain.  Dr. Michael R. Falvo explained: “So in effect, strain stiffening in the individual fibers acts to distribute strain equitably throughout the network and thereby strengthen it.”
    This simple yet elegant solution is pregnant with possibilities.  The article said that “their findings may bring about a better understanding of this remarkable strengthening mechanism and may help to guide new design strategies for engineered materials.”

Long-time readers will recall that the blood-clotting cascade was one of Dr. Michael Behe’s examples of irreducible complexity in his classic book Darwin’s Black Box.  Here we see a second aspect of evidence for intelligent design in the same subject: research into the design of blood clotting leads to human design solutions.  One can envision better fishing nets, a more robust electrical grid, or a better internet because of the concept of strain distribution discovered in fibrin networks already at work in your body.  Can anyone find anything in this story for which Darwin can take credit?  It’s intelligent design from every angle.

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