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Insects Lead the Way

Why engineer things from scratch, when we can imitate nature?  Two recent examples come from the world of insects.  A press release from UC Berkeley begins, “Using the eyes of insects such as dragonflies and houseflies as models, a team of bioengineers at University of California, Berkeley, has created a series of artificial compound eyes.”  […]

Experimental Biologists Look to Animals for Inspiration

Whether insects, fish, birds or mammals, animals have a lot to teach scientists and engineers.  Here are some recent stories that begin to answer, “How do they do that?” with hopes that humans might be able to mimic their feats. Hard sponges:  Aimee Cunningham in Science News (03/25/2006; 169:12, p. 184) described the astonishment Joanna […]

What’s Darwin Got to Do With It?

Is evolutionary theory useful?  We saw Donald Kennedy et al. claiming last week (see 02/24/2006) that doctors need training in evolutionary thinking.  This week, Christopher Beard (U of Pittsburgh Medical Center) claimed that a study of dinosaur evolution can help doctors understand human lower back pain (see EurekAlert).  These, however, are announcements after the fact.  […]

Alien Engineering: Is It Intelligent Design?

The SETI Institute finished airing a 2-part series on the History Channel called Alien Engineering (it will be rebroadcast on Feb. 18).  The series, featuring SETI Institute scientists Seth Shostak and Frank Drake, asks the following questions: Prepare for an exercise in imagination.  Suppose that an alien spacecraft crashed in the desert and we humans […]

Eyes on the Prize: Science Sees Gold in Biomimetics

A fly eye made the cover of Science this week.1  It’s not that the compound eye is interesting to entomologists; MSNBC News picked up on the real message: “Animal eyes inspire new technology – Researchers learn optics lessons from biology.”  The cover story is about biomimetics, or reverse-engineering nature.  Scientists are looking for ways to […]

Scientists Learning How to Harness Cellular Trucks

In an article that blurs the line between biology and technology, a press release from the Max Planck Institute (see EurekAlert for English translation) described the amazing performance of the nanoscopic trucks that ride the cell’s microtubule superhighways.  Kinesin and myosin motors, fueled by ATP, usually “sprint” on the trackways for short distances, but working […]

Living Wonders at a Glance

Here is an assortment of recently-reported biological marvels at the cellular level.  Researchers into creation and evolution explanations may wish to delve into these more deeply. Clock Conductor:  The brain is a “time machine,” reports EurekAlert on research at Duke University about the human biological clock.  Each structure in the brain has a resonant frequency […]

Georgia Tech “Bioneers” Plagiarize Mother Nature to Advance Science

“Copying the ideas of others is usually frowned upon, but when it comes to the work of Mother Nature, scientists are finding they can use nature as a template.”  That’s how an interesting press release from Georgia Tech begins (reproduced on EurekAlert) about a new center on campus called the Center for Biologically Inspired Design […]

Sponges Use Fiber Optics for Interior Lighting

51; Sponges are among the simplest of multicellular organisms, but they contain an advanced human technology: fiber optics.  In a case of reverse biomimetics, scientists have determined that one of the products of proud human engineering was already at work in a lowly sponge.     Fiber optical properties of sponge spicules was already known, […]

Flight Design Inspires Research

There are flying machines hovering over our planet that can turn on a dime, making rapid 90-degree turns.  Their instruments process images ten times faster than we can, and possess precision gyros that tell them how fast they are rotating in space – yet their computers are smaller than the head of a pin.  They’re […]

Intelligent Design Put to Good Scientific Use

51; Evolutionists try to portray intelligent design as something outside of science that threatens science.  Actually, the techniques of intelligent design are hard at work within science, and have been for some time.  Examples are not hard to find on a variety of fronts. Archaeology:  “The ability to tell the difference between crystals that formed […]

Mutating Evolution Into Design

51; The word evolve gets used in funny ways.  As Paul Nelson has noted, it often becomes a Designer substitute.  Look how an article in New Scientist employed it: Could a 3D printer help to create in minutes what nature took millions of years to evolve – the perfect insect wing? Tiny robotic insects would […]

Harnessing Cellular Machines for Humans

The cell is loaded with molecular machines, so why reinvent the wheel?  or the whole truck?  Martin G. L. van den Heuvel and Cees Dekker wrote in Science that engineers ought to put the existing technology to work.1  The biological cell is equipped with a variety of molecular machines that perform complex mechanical tasks such […]

Amazing Animals on Parade

You have to admire animals.  They have tricks humans still need to learn, and possess technologies that engineers are striving to imitate. Spiders:  Don’t let the black widow scare you; it’s only a picture on Science Daily.  Scientists are amazed at how these animals produce one of the best dragline silks in spiderdom.  It is […]

Flies Turn on a Dime

51; A fly can turn 180 degrees in one tenth the time it takes you to blink an eye.  Beating their wings 250 times a second, they don’t even have to think about each wing beat, PhysOrg said about studies at Brown University using high-speed cameras and image tracking software.  “[Attila] Bergou discovered that flies […]
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