Natures Design: exploring the mysteries of the natural world

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About Richard L. Richard L. Richard Leslie Thompson, also known as Sadaputa Dasa February 4, — September 18, , was an American mathematician, author and Gaudiya Vaishnava religious figure, known principally for his promotion of Vedic creationism and as the co-author with Michael Cremo of Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race , which has been widely criticised by the scientific Richard Leslie Thompson, also known as Sadaputa Dasa February 4, — September 18, , was an American mathematician, author and Gaudiya Vaishnava religious figure, known principally for his promotion of Vedic creationism and as the co-author with Michael Cremo of Forbidden Archeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race , which has been widely criticised by the scientific community.

Dolphins can avoid slim metal rods equally well whether day or night—and they can even distinguish between different fish of the same size by echo-location Thomas, et al.

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Dolphins also use their system of navigation for communication. They can obtain a panoramic view of their environment by moving their head from side to side to scan a large area in front of them while producing as many as sound bursts per second. Creatures as small as spiders are master engineers that can spin webs stronger than steel using a material known for its strength that can easily hold many times their own weight Ritchie Each spider type also has its own unique web style—a trade name of the builder—all of which display marvels of geometric design and workmanship. Spiders lift heavy loads by dropping moist web strands from an overhead limb to the objects on the ground that they wish to hoist up to their nest such as nest building material and food.

After fastening the object to the strand, they then wait for it to dry. As it dries, it shrinks and lifts the object slightly. More wetting and waiting causes more shrinking and more hoisting. Spiders patiently work with these web cables until the load is several inches above the ground, then they construct a nest in it. How this tiny arachnid learned to produce the right combination of material that shrinks when it dries so that this technique can be used to lift loads cannot be explained by gradual evolution.

Nor can how they learned to properly apply the scientific principles involved to solve this problem. Animals also display a high level of engineering skill. A bird nest shows skill in masonry, weaving, tunneling, statics the science of construction such as bridges and buildings , and expert use of structural strength properties. Beavers build large dams out of trees and mud and construct spacious underground homes with underwater entrances that limit the entry of almost every would-be intruder. Some creatures, such as certain water insects, manufacture tiny bricks that they use to build chimney-shaped towers Martin , p.

Most wasps can construct a type of paper similar to human manufactured wood pulp paper Martin , p. The familiar bees and wasps nests make paper that they form into a hexagonal shape, a strong design that wastes less space than a circle. Hexagons are now a common structural shape in buildings that are used in the framework of roofs and other structures. Bees also use a hook and eye system to help hold parts of the bee hive together similar to that used in clothing today instead of buttons.


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Read more about the archerfish from The Aquarium Guide. Certain types of ants construct living bridges so that their comrades can traverse over water. Yet other ants construct boats out of leaves to enable them to effectively float across water.

Nature by Numbers

Every human-made building requires a ventilation system to circulate air. Although blind to red, bees are able to see ultraviolet to which we are blind as a separate color.

14 Patterns of Biophilic Design

Knowledge of this has helped humans to open the door to our discovery of infrared sensitive eyes in snakes, polarized light-sensitivity in bees, and even electrosensitive organs in fish Forbes Hypodermic needles used today to inject medicine into millions of patients, saving countless lives, are considered a wonder of modern medicine. Insects, though, were first—mosquitoes, wasps and bees all possess well-designed, effective, hypodermic needles.

Researchers are now studying insects to develop more energy efficient machines. Our earth-moving machines can carry tons of dirt, sand, and gravel for miles, and our modern energy-economy concerns have motivated engineers to double the gas mileage of many vehicles, but we have achieved nowhere near the efficiency level of many animals.

A flea, for example, can pull times its weight—yet not eat for as long as a year. Although less than an eighth of an inch long, it can jump from 13 to 36 inches, similar to a man using only his own power to jump over the foot-tall Washington Monument. Our dream of cryogenic very low-temperature preservation of life, has so far failed—but the flea does it quite well. If frozen, the creatures are fine when thawed out. They have survived in the frigid Antarctic under thick layers of snow and ice, and have been known to live for as long as seventeen months without food, but probably could survive for much longer.

This is how they live in extremely cold places that have long, very cold winters. We were not even first to master radio communication: female moths send out a radio frequency signal over a large area to enable distant male moths to pick up their messages. Before their radio system was discovered, scientists believed that the female moth used only odors to attract males. This view was revised after efforts to interfere with the odor call failed. Although humans can copy some things from insects, others are far more difficult to duplicate. An excellent example is bioluminescence—the production of light by fireflies, glowworms, shrimp, jellyfish, bacteria, worms, mollusks, fish, and even some single-celled organisms Rehder Complex chemical light-producing systems, chemiluminescence, are called cold light systems because the chemical reaction produces much light and very little heat.

To increase the light intensity the eyes of some living organisms use a pigment cell layer that functions as a reflector and transparent tissue shaped to form an effective lens. Modern spotlights, automobile headlights, and flashlights are all patterned after this reflector-lens design. Although the chemistry of cold light has been studied for some time, scientists still do not understand the process, and have not been able to produce a practical way to do what animals do naturally.

Iconoclastic

It is now known that animal bioluminescence is caused by a highly efficient system using a protein called luciferin and an enzyme known as luciferase Munch , p. Luciferase is a catalyst that produces cold light from luciferin in the presence of oxygen. Although we have produced electroluminescent materials similar to the chemiluminescence achieved by animals, we have not yet learned to economically and effectively produce light as animals do.

Chemiluminescence in animals is highly efficient compared to human lighting systems. Florescent lighting is only about 22 percent efficient compared to around 90 percent for some animal chemiluminescence systems Roda Our best scientists are also trying to copy the ability of plants to exploit renewable solar energy Balzani , p. Scientists are making progress and are now elated to have mimicked the first vital step in photosynthesis Bullis And although humans harnessed electrical energy only recently, electric eels have been generating up to volts to stun larger animals to defend themselves for millennia.

As they are used, the soft part wears down much faster, keeping the teeth continuously sharp. This finding was applied in developing a saw blade that sharpens itself. This blade is constructed from tungsten carbide powder that is mixed, pressed, and heated. When cutting metal, it lasts up to six times longer than the next best blade in common use today. Human-designed clocks come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and accuracies. Yet many plants and animals have built-in clocks that use a mechanism which still baffles scientists Ward , Mathur , pp. Some crabs can tell time, a fact known because they respond to tide cycles—but if moved in a location with a different time for the tide cycle hey still react with the same accurate timing.

Even plants such as algae operate on cycles, and if put in a different environment, the same cycle persists Binkley The cycle occurs even if they are removed far from the ocean. The cycle is also not linked to a twenty-four hour day, but occurs fifty minutes later every twenty-four hours.

Only the start of the cycle is connected to the particular locality in which the crab lives. The cycle is set when the crab is born and, once set, accurately corresponds with the tide until it dies Winfree They retain their sense of time in relation to their home high tide no matter where they are and regardless of the surrounding conditions.

If we could understand how they maintain their time relationship, the jet lag problem would be better understood, and maybe even solved. Only recently have humans been able to accurately measure temperature.

Reward Yourself

Many plants, and even some reptiles and insects, are keenly aware of the heat level, and if we learn to read their signs, we can likewise read the temperature Levenson The number of chirps the snowy tree cricket produces per minute corresponds to the air temperature, and can be translated into the temperature with an accuracy level of within a degree or two Walker , p. The ability of machines to travel on all types of terrain was possible only in the last century with the invention of snowmobiles, four-wheel-drive Jeeps, and pneumatic tire vehicles. Insects such as daddy-long-legs have been designed to effortlessly solve some of the most frustratingly complex problems that engineers and roboticists are now struggling with Kleiner ; Brand Spring-loaded tires absorb some bumps, as do vehicles that can toss and turn easily, but researchers are hoping to develop non-wheeled devices that can walk across ocean floors or distant planets.

To do this, researchers built a rough terrain using wooden blocks and filmed arachnids strolling across their obstacle course. Next, they attempted to reproduce the mechanical aspects of the feat. After years of research, compared with the average arachnid, walking robots are pitiful shufflers, but advances are being made as computer technology develops Kleiner , p.

As of we still have not been able to achieve the effectiveness of these animals. When humans turn their powerful light and radio telescopes toward the heavens, they view supernovas, white dwarfs, red giants, spiral nebulae, globular star clusters, billions of galaxies, and trillions of stars. They observe our eight planets and scores of comets move about the sun, all in well-defined orbits, running on an amazingly precise schedule. Even our most powerful telescopes are still too nearsighted to see the boundaries of our seemingly endless universe. Some speculate that it is even possible for stars to produce gamma-ray lasers called grasers.

Humans did not develop a successful maser until the mid s—and this was hailed as a dramatic scientific breakthrough that now has had an enormous impact on society. Yet, the heavens have generated these high-energy excited atom systems since their creation—for what reason, we do not yet know, but speculation abounds Hecht and Teresi Lasers and masers are a system used to amplify light electromagnetic radiation enormously so the light can be powerful enough to burn holes through steel. Laser light is aligned so that it does not spread out much as it travels on its path, thus becomes less intense as it travels away from the laser source.

Scientists have sent a laser to the moon with so little spread as it travels towards its destination, thus very little light loss from the light beam, that it is visible on the moon. Humans have built complex masers and lasers for use in medicine, electronics, communications and other fields.


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  • Yet radio astronomers have found that modern science has been scooped by natural systems that do not need a jungle of coaxial cables, power supplies, and strip-chart recorders to build a maser Nourse One type of maser was discovered in the variable giant red stars, and later other types were found, including stellar water and silicon monoxide masers.