July 7, 2013 | David F. Coppedge

New Biomimetics Projects

These recently-reported attempts to mimic nature show that the biomimetics revolution continues, with no end in sight.

Splitting hydrogen:  Bacteria make it look so easy, taking hydrogen molecules and dividing them at room temperature.  Nature published a whole paper on attempts to imitate the hydrogenase enzymes in hopes of improving fuel cells.  The only mention of “evolution” had nothing to do with Darwinism.  It was about the “evolution” of hydrogen gas from the artificial metalloenzymes the team developed.

Bird smartphones:  A new generation of “radically better” smartphones may some day employ magnetic field sensors inspired by how birds navigate, reported Science Daily.  European researchers “are the first to successfully create perfect one-dimensional molecular wires of which the electrical conductivity can almost entirely be suppressed by a weak magnetic field at room temperature,” the article said.  “The underlying mechanism is possibly closely related to the biological compass used by some migratory birds to find their bearings in the geomagnetic field.”  Need we mention the new documentary Flight: The Genius of Birds, with its story about the world record holder for global navigation?

Ant-i-cancer:  A new cancer antibiotic was reported by PhysOrg to be “inspired by nature’s fungus farmer, the leaf cutter ant.”  The ants don’t get the credit, though.  The antibiotic is produced by a bacterium that lives in symbiosis with the ants.

Bionic ear:  Researchers at Princeton are “combining electronics with biological material” to produce a “bionic ear” that can both receive and transmit sound, Medical Xpress reported.  The antenna, shaped like a human ear and printed with a 3-D printer, can pick up radio signals and transmit the signal to speakers.

Big Dog:  A video clip on Live Science shows a walking tank called “Big Dog” undergoing field tests as a support machine for the Marines.  Carrying 400 pounds for up to 20 miles, the four-footed robot can follow soldiers over a variety of terrains, carry.  Just the sight of it might frighten the enemy to submission.

Knuckle-walker:  A German team has developed a four-legged robot that imitates the knuckle-walking of apes.  PhysOrg said the team is thinking of developing machines to serve on spacecraft or to support astronauts.  Video clips in the article show the robot ape stabilizing itself on wobbly surfaces.  In the future, improvements to its “spinal column” may allow it to stand up and pick fruit.

Biomimetic air conditioningNational Geographic listed no less than five new cooling technologies inspired by “Mother Nature’s craftiness.”  Featured animals are termites, birds, whales, and even ticks, that secrete a substance to absorb moisture from the air.  Humans were in the list, too, for the “logarithmic spiral shape found in such phenomena as tornadoes, whirlpools, and even airflow in the human trachea.”  A biologist who wrote a book on biomimetics said,

“With biomimicry we’re able to apply fresh thinking to traditional manufacturing, to undo the toxic and energy-intensive mistakes of the past,” said [Janine] Benyus, who is part of a group that hopes to lead a new revolution in design by imitating nature.I wish we had been at the design table at the Industrial Revolution.

 As usual, none of these articles mentioned Darwinian evolution.

Mentions of evolution in biomimetics articles seem to be waning.  Maybe scientists are seeing it as superfluous in their focus on design engineering and intelligent technology.

How would Darwinists try to rescue their myth from these developments?  Would they say that humans are evolved animals just imitating other animals, like mockingbirds?  Let them try that angle (one of Charle’s Angles).  It will backfire, because it will mean their own logic is a product of unguided, meaningless processes.  We can reply, “You’re only saying that because natural selection made you utter various sounds.”

Benyus decried the “energy-intensive mistakes of the past” during the Industrial Revolution.  Why didn’t Victorian scientists realize the models of good technology all around them?  Let’s make up for lost time.




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