Follow the Leader: Nature
June 21, 2011
Ever since biomimetics (the imitation of nature) gradually emerged around 2002 and really took off in 2005, it has not slowed down. Over 90 previous entries in these pages have reported teams all over the world seeking out natural designs for ideas. The reports have accelerated in recent years to the point where there is only space for short summaries that give a taste of the wide variety of engineering work taking inspiration from plants, animals, and even cells. You yourself might inspire some inventor. Here are a few more highlights from recent adventures in biomimetics.
Biological Information Symposium a Success
June 4, 2011
Friday morning June 4, participants were on their way homes across America and in Europe from a successful conference entitled Biological Information: New Perspectives. They had come to hear leading lights in the Intelligent Design movement deliver 27 scientific presentations on a variety of subtopics under the umbrella theme of information in biology. From all appearances, everyone had a great time of fellowship, encouragement and intellectual stimulation. No protesters or critics detracted from the event—partly because it was not widely advertised, in order to protect the identity of those wanting to take part without jeopardizing their careers.
Appreciate Your Gifts
May 29, 2011
We like to showcase stories of amazing animals, but humans are special, too. What animal can boast some of the qualities that science has recently reported?
A Little Knowledge Without Ethics
May 28, 2011
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. When is knowledge enough? And can a lot of knowledge be a dangerous thing, too? Whether little or much, knowledge without ethics empowers evil.
Does Science Belong Here?
May 19, 2011
Scientists continue to insert their particular methods and viewpoints into every aspect of life, but questions might be raised about the validity of their findings and the propriety of scientists acting as advisors on moral and political questions. Happiness science: Advice found online: “the best way to increase your happiness is to stop worrying about […]
Humans As Guinea Pigs
April 27, 2011
Some scientists like to examine everything except themselves. Human beings are natural objects, they think; why not apply the scientific method to the study of other human beings? It’s a perfectly natural inclination; the question is whether the findings have scientific validity, or result in understanding of human nature better than the explanations offered by […]
Scientists Invade Religion
April 21, 2011
Science and religion, those uneasy combatants in turf wars, do not get equal treatment in the media. The referees in the science news media frequently overlook invasions by science into religious territory, but fail to heed calls of foul by the invaded. World religion: Last month in New Scientist, Kate Douglas theorized about what an […]
Who Should Teach Self-Control?
April 15, 2011
A symposium at Massey University in New Zealand has come up with a profound thought: self-control is a key to a happier life. Academics have helped themselves to an ancient notion that teaching self-control to children leads to happier outcomes as adults. Did the world need science to reach this conclusion? Self-control is […]
Seeing Is Believing, or v.v.
April 4, 2011
What you see is not what is out there in the world – not exactly, at least. Scientists have shown that your brain is tweaking the light coming in from your eyes and making predictions about what you expect to see. The “blind spot” experiment is well known to students. That’s where it […]
Science Discovers the Unexpected and the Obvious
March 30, 2011
Young’s Law jokes, “All great discoveries are made by mistake.” Here are some recent examples. Arch-istan: Think the world’s natural features are all well known? “Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have stumbled upon a geological colossus in a remote corner of Afghanistan: a natural stone arch spanning more than 200 feet across its base,” […]
Neurons Know What to Do
March 27, 2011
Neurons are among the most vital cells in the body: after all, your brain is largely composed of neurons. Neurons are transmission lines of information that keep a body in touch with itself and the world. None of the other body organs would work without neurons. The increasingly powerful tools of microscopy are allowing neuroscientists […]
Sensing the World Requires Intelligent Design
March 24, 2011
How do our bodies make sense of the external world? Through our senses, of course; at least they are the entry points of data into the mind. Behind those senses are remarkable mechanisms that we use but do not actively operate. The design in their automatic operations is slowly being revealed with better observing techniques. […]
If Pigs Have Wings, SETI Could Be Robots
March 11, 2011
The SETI program is still waiting to catch a sentient signal from deep space, but in the absence of data, people are free to speculate. Michael Dyer, a computer science professor at UCLA, is certain that the first aliens to visit Earth will be robots. He even attached a probability to it, according to Adam […]
Is the Mind a Computer?
March 5, 2011
After a computer named Watson beat two contestants on Jeopardy last month, people are asking if the human mind is becoming obsolete. What are the similarities and differences between gray matter and deep blue? PhysOrg asked, “Machines beat us at our own game: What can we do?” For one thing, they should have […]
February 27, 2011
Philosophy of science is a broad discipline incorporating many sub-disciplines such as intellectual history, sociology, ethics, rhetoric, logic, demarcation of science from pseudoscience, classification, discovery, verification, explanation and more. A dozen recent news stories discussed some of these topics. Medical ethics: PhysOrg reproduced an AP story about medical research on humans in the US in […]