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At Mind Matters News: One way human vision is better than a machine’s

The fact that humans and other life forms “want” things may underlie the superiority of natural vision systems to machine vision systems. It will be interesting to see how easy the gap is to close — if it can be done at all. Read More ›

At Mind Matters News: Do ants think? Yes, they do — but they think like computers

Navigation expert Eric Cassell points out that algorithms have made the ant one of the most successful insects ever, both in numbers and complexity. Computer programmers use some of the same basic structures. Read More ›

Smallest propeller on Earth powers fastest life form?

Researcher: “M. villosus swims at a speed of about 500 body lengths per second,” said Dr. Lavinia Gambelli, of Exeter’s Living Systems Institute (LSI)... “At first glance, this does not seem much. But in comparison, a cheetah achieves only 20 body lengths per second – so if an M. villosus cell had the size of a cheetah, it would swim at approximately 3,000 kilometers per hour." Read More ›

At Evolution News and Science Today: Arthropod architects amaze engineers

Researchers: Because of silk’s nanoscale size and the complex web architecture, little is known about the architecture and mechanics of three-dimensional (3D) spider webs during construction. This work comprehensively investigates the structure, mechanics, and functionality of a 3D spider web under construction, using consistent imaging and computational simulations methods. Read More ›

Jellyfish enhance their skills by building a virtual wall

Either jellyfish are smarter than we think or there is design in nature. Researchers: "The fact that these simple animals have figured out how to achieve a 'ground effect' type boost in open water, away from any solid surfaces, has the potential to open up a range of new possibilities for engineered vehicles to take advantage of this phenomenon," Gemmell said. Read More ›

Insects were mimicking lichens 165 million years ago

Whoever wrote the media release was very, very light on the Darwinblather. Mind you, claiming that it all happened via endless iterations of natural selection acting on random mutations wears a bit thin when the time Darwinians thought they had has been sharply reduced. Read More ›

More Salt in the Peppered Moth’s Wounds

The entire history of Kettlewell’s Peppered Moth experiment is littered with problems: doctored photographs, wrong assumptions and slim evidence, followed by genetic analysis revealing that the protein exons coding for color were not changed, but, rather, a transposon (non-random) was inserted in an intron (“junk DNA”). And now there’s this paper. It seems that the “Caterpillars of the peppered moth perceive color through their skin.” From the Abstract: We previously reported that slow colourchange in twig-mimicking caterpillars of the peppered moth (Biston betularia) is a response to achromatic and chromatic visual cues. Here we show that the perception of these cues, and the resulting phenotypic responses, does not require ocular vision. Caterpillars with completely obscured ocelli remained capable of enhancing Read More ›

Octopuses even have “smart” skin

So much complex, specified information and we are to believe it all just sort of happened via natural selection acting on random mutation (Darwinism)? Interestingly, this particular item doesn't even make that claim. Maybe just too ridiculous. Read More ›

Cats played a unique role in the space program

Back in the 1960s, space scientists needed to know if it is true that a cat always lands on its feet: NASA contributed funding to the paper “A Dynamical Explanation of the Falling Cat Phenomenon,” published in the International Journal of Solids and Structures, by Stanford’s T.R. Kane and M.P. Scher. What was so significant about the paper was that it demonstrated that cats are physically capable of rotating their body in mid-air to right themselves when falling. A cat employs specific motor functions in order to achieve this self-righting mechanism, and the paper analyzed these functions as equations that could then be applied to humans. While this function isn’t very useful to humans on earth, it’s critically important in Read More ›

Suzan Mazur asks: How far have we gotten in understanding the mechanome?

The mechanome is the underresearched “ the set of proteins or molecular entities that sense or respond to forces” within the cell (Allen Liu). Our earlier stab at the subject here at UD garnered 354 comments, so there’s no shortage of interest. The mechanome (and mechanobiology in general) plays a key role in research into artificial cells. Suzan Mazur is the author of The Paradigm Shifters: Overthrowing ‘the Hegemony of the Culture of Darwin’. Suzan Mazur talks to mechanical and biomedical engineer Allen Liu, one of the people best placed to offer some insights:   Suzan Mazur: The Liu Lab at the University of Michigan is particularly interested in the mechanobiology of the cell lipid membrane. Would you briefly describe your Read More ›

Fri Nite Frite: The electric eel’s biggest shock: Sophisticated use of electricity

Not just to zap prey, apparently. From Ed Yong at the Atlantic: It’s a remote control. It’s a tracking device. It can deliver shocks of up to 600 volts. But then you did want to stay awake, didn’t you? You think the electric eel is shocking? You haven’t seen anything yet. In this episode of Animalism hosted by The Atlantic science writer Ed Yong, we investigate the subtle and sinister ways of the electric eel. More. See also: Bumblebees judge flowers via electric fields