Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Access Research Network’s Top 10 Darwin and Design Science Stories of 2010

arroba Email

Colorado Springs, CO – December 21, 2010

Access Research Network has just released its annual “Top 10 Darwin and Design Science Stories” for 2010.

Gaining top honors on the list was new research that revealed the optimal design of the human eye. Physicists from the Israel Institute of Technology have created a light-guiding model of the retina, which reveals that the glial (or Müller) cells provide low-scattering passage of light from the retinal surface to the photoreceptor cells, thus acting as optical fibers. Researchers concluded “The fundamental features of the array of glial cells are revealed as an optimal structure designed for preserving the acuity of images in the human retina. It plays a crucial role in vision quality, in humans and in other species.” These findings open up potentially fruitful areas for biomimetics research and might find applications in more successful eye transplants and better camera designs.

The gold rush toward biomimetics research (human designs mimicking biological designs) was another top story this year. According to Dennis Wagner, ARN Executive Director “Dozens of articles appeared in the 2010 scientific literature reporting how scientists are learning how to ‘reverse engineer’ living systems.” Examples include: 1) Caltech scientists who are studying jellyfish in order to build a better aquatic pump; 2) German engineers who are building a robotic arm inspired by the design of the elephant trunk; 3) a European team that is building a robotic arm with inspiration from a octopus’s limb; 4) swim suits and ship hulls that are being patterned after shark skin; 5) students at the University of Texas, Dallas, that are trying to harness the chemical sensing capability of bacteria to build synthetic sensors for toxins; 6) researchers at the University of Queensland who are inventing navigation systems that can perform complex maneuvers by imitating the optical flow of honeybee eyes; and 7) researchers that are pursuing new lightweight and high performance materials based on a new spider species found in Madagascar that spins silk twice as strong and twice as elastic as any previously studied. This “toughest biomaterial ever seen” is 10 times stronger than Kevlar. Wagner observed, “Many of these research articles seem to miss the rather obvious point that in order to reverse engineer a system, it had to be engineered in the first place.”

An online version of the ARN Top 10 Darwin and Design stories for 2010 with hyperlinks to original news sources can be found here.

quote of note: Be that as it may, the most significant implication comes not from how the two cases contrast but rather how they cohere—both showing severe limitations to complex adaptation. To appreciate this, consider the tremendous number of cells needed to achieve adaptations of such limited complexity. As a basis for calculation, we have assumed a bacterial population that maintained an effective size of 10^9 individuals through 10^3 generations each year for billions of years. This amounts to well over a billion trillion opportunities (in the form of individuals whose lines were not destined to expire imminently) for evolutionary experimentation. Yet what these enormous resources are expected to have accomplished, in terms of combined base changes, can be counted on the fingers. bornagain77
OT: Doug Axe has a new paper out in Bio-Complexity: The Limits of Complex Adaptation: An Analysis Based on a Simple Model of Structured Bacterial Populations Douglas Axe http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2010.4 bornagain77
luv u, Barb allanius
The articls on the human eye are interesting, particularly in light of Richard Dawkins' inane comment about how "stupidly designed" it supposedly is. Barb
"evangelicals say that they mean no harm, but we know they are going to suck out our brains from our eyesockets when we least expect it! After they're done brainwashing (using 409) they'll put the brains back and we'll all believe in creationism." Collin
Upright, Chris has the makings of a Friday nite sci-fi frite: "She's BACK!!" Anyone want to do some quick snatches of dialogue? O'Leary
This are great stories. Even if they had nothing to with the evolution-ID debate they are fascinating. My favorite is the convergence story. Does this seem like a contradiction to the claim that there is a nested-hierarchy in nature? Collin
OT... Im sitting here checking emails listening to the TV in the background. On comes Chris Mathews bemoaning the state of evolution education in America. Of course, the by-line is those stoopid uneducated Americans. He then wonders why Americans don't love their ancestors more, and describes Lucy as our "oldest living ancestor". uhm...Chris? Upright BiPed
So what do any of those things have to do with random genetic changes being fixed by natural selection? tribune7

Leave a Reply