"For [divine] wisdom, though varied in its manifestations in created things, is fundamentally and essentially one - just as the sun is one body, while the appearance of its rays when passing through glasses that are white, dark, red or green, varies and assumes respectively the color of each medium, and just as water with which a park is sprinkled assumes the color of the blooms on which it falls. Contemplate, therefore, G-d's creatures, from the largest of them to the smallest, and reflect on those matters which are at present hidden from you; and, with the help of the Al-mighty, you will find that they are as I have told you. And because these marks of divine wisdom vary in created things, it is our duty to study them and meditate on them till the whole matter becomes established in our souls and abides in our consciousness" - (Duties of the Heart 2:1)
|Pistol Shrimp have one mighty claw that they can snap together with such force that it creates a pressure wave strong enough to kill nearby fish. Water is ripped apart and as the cavitation bubble collapses, the gases produce an acoustic shockwave of about 220 decibels well above the 160 db needed to rupture human ear drums. The violent implosion also produces visible light called 'sonoluminescence', and superhot vapors reaching up to 4,700 degrees Celsius. Conventional Military bombs reach a temperatures of up to 2,480 degrees Celsius. Naval Submarines have been known to hide amongst beds of Pistol shrimp to escape sonar detection. Apparently the noise they create is so much that other submarines find it impossible to pickup other noises using sonar. see it here|
|The Gastric Brooding Frog swallows between 18 and 25 of its own fertilized eggs. The eggs contain a jelly which turns off the production of hydrochloric acid in the mother's stomach. After the eggs hatch, the tadpoles excrete a substance from their gills which keep the mother's stomach in a non-functional state. For the entire six to seven weeks of development the mother does not eat. During this time the size of the mother's stomach continues to increase until it largely filled the body cavity. The lungs deflate and breathing relies more upon gas exchange through the skin. Despite the mother's increasing size she still remains active. Birth is accomplished by the female widely opening her mouth and dilating her esophagus. The offspring, now metamorphosed into tiny frogs, are propelled from the stomach to the mouth, and then hop away.|
|The Spook Fish has a transparent dome intact with tubular eyes located inside its head like a fighter plane's cock-pit. This deep sea fish's periscope like eyes are rotatable and can easily detect the silhouette of its available prey. It is the only creature known to use a mirror eye structure as opposed to a lens, to focus an image in its eyes. The two dark capsules over the mouth are the fish's olfactory organs, or the equivalent of nostrils. see it here|
The Fishing Spider can plunge its legs beneath the water's surface, grab its prey and pull it off to land. The fishing spider sneaks up to fish by walking on the surface tension of water, then attacks them from above. It can also stay submerged underwater for almost an hour by trapping air in its fur and it is an excellent swimmer.|
Spider silk is about five times as strong as high-grade steel, pound for pound. It's also waterproof, highly elastic, and completely immune to bacteria and fungus. It is one of the most fantastic materials in nature, and the leggy creatures make it in their guts. They assemble proteins together into extremely long and unbreakable chains, then spit the protein assembly out through glands called "spinnerets", while at the same time removing water to harden it into a strand. It is also incredibly lightweight; a strand long enough to circle the Earth would weigh less than a bar of soap. The Bark spider, a native of Madagascar, produces the strongest natural substance on the face of the Earth. Their webbing is 10 times stronger than Kevlar (which bulletproof vests are made of) and a whopping 25 times stronger than steel. It also easily surpasses titanium, tungsten and pretty much any other metal around. They make some of the largest webs on the planet that can reach over 80 feet in length. Bark spiders can weave their webs from one river bank to another presumably using wind gliding techniques or a raft. see it here
|Water Bears are micro animals composed of only about 40,000 cells but are about the same size as larger single-celled organisms . Water Bears have an incredible resistance to extreme conditions. They can reversibly lower their metabolism to less than 0.01% of normal and go without food or water for more than 10 years until they dry to the point where their water content drops to less than 1% of normal, and they are just a husk of their former selves. Amazingly, they can then rehydrate, forage, and reproduce. They can be frozen to 1 degree Kelvin (-458F), where atoms come to a standstill, matter goes bizarre, gases becoming liquids and liquids becoming solids and the odd rules of quantum mechanics reign. And that's all the more incredible when you consider that the water bear has a brain that somehow emerges from this unscathed. They also can tolerate pressures six times that of the deepest oceans. And a few of them once survived an experiment that subjected them for 10 days to the vacuum of space. (humans can survive for a couple minutes, max. One poor fellow at NASA accidentally depressurized his suit in a vacuum chamber in 1965 and lost consciousness after 15 seconds. When he woke up, he said his last memory was feeling the water on his tongue boiling). They can also take hundreds of times the radiation that would kill a human due to highly efficient DNA repair mechanisms. Water bears don't mind hot water either-like, 300 degrees Fahrenheit hot. Why the Water Bears "evolved" the ability to survive the kind of cold that only scientists can create in a lab, and pressures that have never even existed on our planet, etc. is a mystery to scientists. see it here|
|The Bombardier Beetle when disturbed, ejects a hot noxious chemical spray from the tip of their abdomen, with a popping sound. The spray is produced by a violent reaction between two chemical compounds, hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide, stored in separate reservoirs in the beetle's abdomen and mixed when needed in a third chamber with water and catalytic enzymes. Heat from the reaction brings the mixture to near the boiling point of water and produces gas that drives the ejection. The damage caused can be fatal to attacking insects and small creatures and is painful to human skin. Some bombardier beetles can direct the spray over a wide range of directions. see it here. The Bombardier beetle has caused much trouble in the hallowed halls of academia leading some evolution trained scientists to have a change of heart. Here is the story of one such scientist.|
|The Diving Bell Spider creates a bubble like web that traps air so they can survive underwater for long periods of time. see it here|
|The Horned Lizard has the ability to literally burst blood vessels in it's eye sockets and shoot an aimed stream of foul tasting blood that can hit targets up to 2 meters away. Amazingly, this bizarre bursting can even be repeated several times if necessary. see it here|
|The Cuttlefish is a master of disguise. The amazing creature has the ability to rapidly alter its skin color at will. Various highly specialized groups of pigment cells orchestrate together to give it dazzling abilities and a photo resolution of about 360dpi. Their skin can even affect the light's polarization giving metallic and shimmering effects. What's even more incredible is that the cuttlefish is completely color blind. And if that's not amazing enough, it has the ability to assess its surroundings and match the color, contrast and texture of whatever its on even in total darkness . Watch it attempt to blend into a checker board here|
|The Hagfish has an unusual defense mechanism. When under attack, the eel-like creature secretes proteins and micro-fibres from specialized cells in its many pores. The mixture combines to form a micro-scaffold which traps the surrounding water molecules. The scaffold rapidly expands into a huge mass of suffocating slime that envelops its predator in a disgusting mass of fibrous gunk. The hagfish, to avoid falling prey to its own defense mechanism, normally twists itself into knots to escape the gelatinous goop. Unlike other slimy secretions, the hagfish's slime is reinforced with micro fibres which lend tensile strength and toughness to the slime. The fibres are ten times stronger than nylon, sparking intensive research by materials scientists. see it here|
|The Tripod Fish is a deep sea fish with very long bony protrusions which it uses as stilts to face upstream and wait perfectly still for whatever tiny prawns, fish, and crustaceans the current will deliver straight into its mouth. see it here|
|The Plumed Basilisk is a lizard which can literally run across the surface of water on its hind legs. They have specially designed feet with long toes on their rear feet and fringes of skin that unfurl in the water, increasing surface area. As they rapidly churn their legs, they slap their splayed feet hard against the water, creating a tiny air pocket that keeps them from sinking. They can even drop from a tree into the water and sprint, upright, about 5 feet (1.5 meters) per second across the surface. Abundant natural predators like snakes and birds keep these amazing lizards on their toes. see it here|
|Embiids are insects which can spin silk from structures on their front legs which they use to weave tunnels and galleries on the ground in which they live. see it here|
|Archerfish prey on land-based insects and other small animals by shooting them down with water droplets from their specialized mouths. It compensates for the curving of the jet through gravity and adjusts for the way light bends at the boundary between water and air. They also "modulate" the velocity of the water jet as they spit to alter its shape through the air. The head of the water jet increases in volume from liquid arriving from its tail to form a large drop, which hits insect prey with greater force. Adult fish usually hit the target on the first shot. Perhaps they should be called sniperfish. see it here|
|Ants are the only creatures besides humans known to keep domesticated animals. A species of ants in Indonesia are nomadic shepherds, moving with their domesticated herds of millibugs from plant to plant, always looking for fresh foliage for their stock. In this and many other ways, ants display a remarkable intelligence despite their tiny brains. see it here|
|A Chicken Egg has an incredible array of mechanisms which must be done in precise clockwork timing and order. see this amazing video for details.. see it here|
|The Blackpoll Warbler can fly all the way from Canada to South America and back, then return to the exact same nest.|
Mantis Shrimp pretty much everything about the Mantis Shrimp is unbelievable. They are crustaceans with two boxing glove like clubs which can deliver a killer blow accelerating as fast as a 22-caliber bullet (100,000M/s2). Because they strike so rapidly, they generate cavitation bubbles between the club and the striking surface. The collapse of these cavitation bubbles produces measurable forces on their prey in addition to the instantaneous forces of 1,500 newtons that are caused by the impact of the club against the striking surface, which means that the prey is hit twice by a single strike; first by the club and then by the collapsing cavitation bubbles that immediately follow. Even if the initial strike misses the prey, the resulting shock wave can be enough to stun or kill the prey. To provide superfast hand/eye coordination, it has the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom, with 12 different color receptors for light analysis and sixnocular vision for unsurpassed depth perception. They can detect UV, visible and polarized light. They are also the only animals known to detect circularly polarized light, which is when the wave component of light spirals in a circular motion. Special visual signal processing, is performed in the eye instead of the brain for greater speed, and the visual information leaving the retina is processed into numerous parallel data streams leading into the central nervous system. Its eye plates outperform all current man-made polarizing optic design. This has inspired research into a new type of optical media that would outperform the current generation of Blu-ray disc technology.|
The mantis shrimp's limbs are extremely resilient, their "fists" can withstand thousands of super-strikes without breaking. They have inspired a new carbon-fiber composite material that is stronger and more durable than what is now used by the commercial aircraft industry. Researchers created an architecture of carbon fibers to mimic the claw's shock-absorbing interior and then used impact testing to judge its toughness vs. other composites. In the end, the mantis shrimp's design reigned supreme , with less denting and greater residual strength after impact. These ceramics are forged at 1,500 degrees Celsius; the mantis shrimp outclasses them all with a body part that's grown at room temperature. see it here
|Lyrebirds are the greatest audio mimics in the world. Besides copying the songs of other birds, they can copy the sounds of car alarms, construction equipment, gunshots, dogs barking, camera shutters, chainsaws, musical instruments and even people. They have the most advanced set of vocal cords in the world, made all the more impressive by the fact that it has no lips to help it shape the sound. The lyrebird does it all with its throat. They also have an amazing memory for recording and storing these sounds. For example, in 1969 a lyrebird song was recorded and sent to a scholar named Norman Robinson. After filtering it, he figured out to his surprise that this bird was singing two popular tunes from the 1930s ... at the same time. see it here|
|Box Jellyfish have up to 60 tentacles reaching seven feet in length. Every inch of those tentacles has over two million stinging cells full of venom. Within each of the stinger cells is a harpoon style weapon designed to deliver the maximum venom on contact. When the trigger (nematocyst) is fired the harpoon is discharged in less than 700 nanoseconds with an acceleration of up to 5.4 million times the force of gravity. This kind of acceleration is hard for us to imagine. It is about 500 times the acceleration of a 22-caliber bullet. The discharged harpoon strikes its target with enough kinetic energy to pierce the tough armor of exoskeleton. Once the armor is breached, a long, coiled tubule everts from the nematocyst capsule through the stylet and into the victim. Further contraction of the capsule forces neurotoxins through the tubule, paralyzing and often killing the victim.|
|Deep sea copepods are little bioluminescent crustaceans which can blink on and off like a flashing light. More amazingly, they can also fire time-delayed chemical 'light bombs' to throw off predators that try to zero in on their flashes. see it here|
|The Sea Cucumber when attacked literally spills out its guts, then later regenerates all of its vomited body parts. Another remarkable feature of this animal which no other creature possesses is the special collagen fiber that forms its body wall. This can be loosened and tightened at will, and if the animal wants to squeeze through a crack or small crevice, it can essentially liquefy its body and pour into the space. see it here|
|The Kamikaze Ant is packed with poisonous sacks from its head all the way down its back. When a predator to the colony appears, the ant will contract its muscles to build up the poison. Then, similar to a pressure cooker, it explodes, spraying the toxins on the threat. The predator can die from the poison, or if it's large enough to survive, it will think twice before approaching another ant in the area.|
|The Woodpecker has an industrial strength beak with special shock absorbers. His skull is the thickest bone per body weight of any creature. His 10 inch tongue has barbs to stab prey and special glue to stick to the bug. After retracting its prey in its mouth special solvents dissolve the glue so that he doesn't swallow his tongue with the prey. see it here|
|Naked Mole Rats are extraordinary rodents which spend most of their lives underground, digging in poorly ventilated tunnels. Their ability to conduct intensive aerobic work under low oxygen pressures is remarkable, as is their lifespan of 20 years or more, which despite its length is not associated with spontaneously arising tumors. They also have an unmatched resistance to cancer sparking intensive scientific research. While laboratory mice and rats develop multiple skin cancers in response to applied carcinogens, the skin lesions produced by this treatment in blind mole rats heal without tumors being formed. Studies applying DNA damaging compounds have shown that NMR cells have extraordinarily efficient DNA repair mechanisms. The NMR also have superhard teeth which can chew threw solid concrete and 25% of their muscles concentrated in their jaws (this is like having all the muscles of one leg there). Their teeth can move independently like chopsticks and are outside their mouths, so the mole rats can shovel away without eating dirt. They are also the only known mammals that operate a hive system, in the way that ants do, with one queen who does all the breeding and a hierarchy of workers and warriors who have no children of their own. Thus they build underground cities with specialized subterranean chambers such as those dedicated to rearing offspring, storing food, or eliminating bodily waste - there are even major "highway systems" - complete with on-ramps and off-ramps - that allow for more than one animal to travel quickly over vast underground distances.|
|The Platypus possesses a brilliant type of internal radar. It shuts down all of its main senses as it dives for food, its bizarre duck bill takes on an amazing power all of its own - an electro-sensory power that picks up on tiny electric movements. It allows them to detect the weak electric fields generated by the bottom-dwelling invertebrates that are their principal prey. Thus, platypuses can hunt successfully even in very murky water. The unusual appearance of this egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, with some considering it an elaborate hoax. see it here|
|Peregrine Falcons have been clocked at 242 mph (390 kmh) making them the fastest members of the animal kingdom. Diving toward prey, peregrines tuck their wings into their bodies, creating an aerodynamic teardrop shape. The air pressure from the high speed dive could explode a bird's lungs, but small bony tubercles on the falcon's nostrils guide the powerful airflow away from the nostrils, enabling the bird to breathe more easily while diving by reducing the change in air pressure. The design is so effective, it is now used in jet engines. To protect their eyes, the falcons use their nictitating membranes (third eyelids) to spread tears and clear debris. see it here|
|The Star Nosed mole has a unique and highly specialized sensory-motor organ shaped by 22 fleshy finger-like appendages that ring their nostrils. The extremely sensitive star like structure is wired with over 25,000 minute touch receptors known as Eimer's organs. It is so sensitive that the mole can detect a grain of salt buried in a pile of sand. What's more it has one of the fastest responses to stimulus in the animal kingdom, deciding in only 8ms whether something is edible or not. Vanderbilt University neuroscientist Kenneth Catania, who has studied star-nosed moles for 20 years called them "a gold mine for discoveries about brains and behavior in general-and an unending source of surprises". see it here|
|The Giant Palm Salamander of Central America captures fast-moving bugs with an explosive tongue thrust that releases over 18,000 watts of muscle power per kilogram, the highest of any known muscle. The strongest muscle in the human body (the quadriceps) can produce only about 100 watts of power. If your thighs could barely power a lightbulb, the palm salamander could power 18 lighthouses with gigantic 1000 Watt lightbulbs. Watch its almost invisible laser tongue. see it here|
|The Angler Fish sits camouflaged with a fishing rod and a lure which it skillfully waves around to catch prey. When its prey is near, its mouth expands to more than 12 times original size in less than 5 milliseconds (about 1/60th of an eye-blink). The low pressure region thus created sucks in water at great speed, as well as whatever unfortunate fish happens to be nearby. see the video with narrative by Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt'l here|
|The Starfish ejects its stomach from its mouth - placing it over the digestible parts of its prey, typically a mussel or clam. The stomach then partially digests what it can, producing a chowder-like slurry that is then drawn back into the starfishes' ten digestive glands. The Starfish have tube feet operated by a hydraulic system and a mouth at the centre of the oral or lower surface. They have two stomachs and no brain. see it here|
|Honey badgers are classified as the world's most fearless creatures. They are known to chase away lions and rhinos, attack king cobra snakes, bee hives, and just about anything else they feel like. Their secret is an incredibly cut-resistant skin which is so tough that it's been shown to be nearly impervious to arrows and spears, and can even take a full blow from a sharp machete. It's skin is also remarkably loose, allowing the badger to rotate inside it when grabbed to launch a counter-attack. The badgers also have a few other tricks up their sleeves such as the ability to eject a cloud of suffocating stench. They are also nearly immune to the venom of bees, scorpions and snakes and are incredibly clever, successfully outwitting human beings who underestimate them. Watch the badger defend itself against a group of lions. see it here|
|The American Opossum usually reacts to danger as many other mammals do; by hissing, growling and baring its teeth. It can also bite viciously if pushed too far. However, if this all fails and the situation becomes too dangerous, plan B is to feign death; the opossum collapses to the ground, drools as if it was very ill, and then remains motionless, with its mouth open and its teeth bared. It even produces a putrid, corpse-like smell that only adds to their act. The stiff, curled form can be prodded, turned over, and even carried away without reaction. Opossums also emit a protein that can neutralize nearly all poisons that enter their body. see it here|
|The Pacific Golden Plover is a non-swimming bird which migrates thousands of miles from Alaska to Hawaii over the Pacific ocean. They use special formations to reduce aerodynamic drag to conserve energy for the herculean trip. see it here|
|Redwood Trees reach heights of over 110 meters (120 yards) pulling water against gravity and distributing nutrients throughout the tree, without the help of any mechanical pump. see it here|
|The Butterfly metamorphosises into a completely different creature. Its cells dissolve and their components are recycled and turned into a soup from which the adult structure is rebuilt. see it here|
|"the study of the other species of living creatures, their habits and their sustenance will not be concealed by one who observes them and reflects upon the marks of divine wisdom manifest in them" - Shaar Bechina ch.5|
|Owls have a satellite dish built into their face. The circular pattern of feathers acts as a dish, channelling sounds into the ears. More strangely, those feather patterns can also be individually adjusted to increase reception. The owl also has assymetrical ear opening height allowing them to detect the height from which sound is coming from. The owls' ears are linked to specialized cells contained within a discrete region of the midbrain. Each cell is sensitive to a unique combination of time and intensity differentials and responds only to sound issuing from one small area in space. The owl's brain thus contains a "neural map" of auditory space . Once a sound is detected, the owl orients toward it and accurately pinpoints its location to within 1.5 degrees in both horizontal and vertical planes. Basically, an owl can hear a mouse stepping on a twig from 100 feet away. The bird can make in-flight course corrections to strike at its victim. And keep in mind, we're talking about a nocturnal hunter - they're using this finely tuned sense of hearing to hunt prey that they can't even see. Owls also happen to have special serrated feathers rather than smooth, which has the effect of disrupting the flow of air over the wing in flight and eliminating the vortex noise created by airflow over a smooth surface. Thus equipped, owls arrive upon their prey without a sound like a stealth fighter. Furthermore, they have the lowest wing-loading ratio of any bird, meaning they can fly extremely slow if they need to, or carry large loads. see it here|
|The Immortal Jellyfish has a unique ability to avert death by reverting to its juvenile state near the end of its life. The tentacles retract, their bodies shrink, and they sink to the ocean floor and start the life cycle all over again. They can rejuvenate like this indefinitely thereby exhibiting a certain form of biological immortality.|
|Pit Vipers have extremely sensitive infrared detecting organs, which in effect give them a sixth sense to help them find prey. Having one of these organs on either side of the head produces a stereo effect that indicates distance, as well as direction. Experiments have shown, when deprived of their senses of sight and smell, these snakes can strike accurately at moving objects less than 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than the background. The paired pit organs would seem to provide the snake with thermal rangefinder capabilities. Its accuracy sometimes is 0.0002%. These specialized organs supposedly arose multiple times independently in species of vipers, boas, and pythons.|
|Velvet worms immobilize their prey by shooting a fast-drying glue-like substance out of glands in their heads which lassos their prey. see it here|
|Bears such as the Silvertip Grizzly are thought to have the best sense of smell of any animal on earth. It is 7 times better than a bloodhound's, which in turn is 300 times better than a human's. Hence, the bear's sense of smell is 2100 times better than a human's. They also have highly developed noses that contain hundreds of tiny muscles which lets them manipulate their noses with the same dexterity as people's fingers [src]. The surface area inside their 9 inch noses also has hundreds of times more surface area and receptors than a human's and their part of the brain which manages smell is 5 times larger than a humans' despite their smaller brain. A bear's sense of smell is so acute that they can detect animal carcasses even upwind and from a distance of 20 miles away. Basically, the bear knows who walked down the path last night at 11pm, what the soles of their shoe was made of, who they were with, what food they ate, etc. When a Silvertip tracks your steps, you're finished. Even if you have a 2 day head start, you will be emitting a light house trail for the bear to follow until you get tired. see it here|
|The Elephantnose Fish has a probe on its chin which generates an electric field that becomes distorted by nearby objects. The electrical charge is generated on a special organ in the fish's tail, then measured by sensors in its probe. These sensors are so advanced that they can differentiate exact shapes, materials, sizes, volumes and distances (within millimeters) . As it sweeps the ocean floor, the fish can even "sense" if the buried microscopic insects it detects are dead or alive by measuring their ability to store charges. see it here|
|Bees have the most complex language out of any animal. They have a unique dance-based sign language. Through their waggling and shaking which consists of one to 100 or more figure eight circuits, scouts can report the distance and direction to patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen, to water sources, or to new housing locations, etc. They also explain about the terrain, whether the area is dangerous, and how rich is the food source. The bees are able to triangulate as well as a civil engineer. The directions are accurate to within about 15 feet. Researchers attached antennas on a few bees to track them through radar to confirm this. Bees also use a voting system to determine certain decisions of the hive. They are also hypersensitive to electricity and use it in lots of unique and amazing ways. Bees' wing flapping builds up a static electricity field which gives them navigation ability and many other amazing uses. When they enter a flower the pollen zaps onto them, and they leave a charge on the flower to let other bees know they were there. Some researchers have even concluded that bees are sensitive to electricity all the way down to the quantum mechanical level. Bees also have a small ring of magnetite particles, magnetic granules of iron, inside their abdomen to detect the magnetic field of the Earth for navigation. see the bee waggle dance see it here|
|The Cave Fish lives in pitch black underwater caves. They have no eyes but a super sense of touch and can "feel" walls, rocks, and obstacles all around them. The cavefish does this by using a unique navigation system. It generates high frequency suction waves with its mouth and then uses these vibrations to measure the distance to objects or other fish nearby. Researchers have found that the cavefish don't measure time with the waves as in echolocation, but rather the way in which pressure magnitude is changed. By feeling the resulting field of pressure changes around them, they can build up a map of what is around them as a kind of extended sense of touch. After mapping out its surroundings the cavefish reduces the frequency of its suction waves relying on memory . The cavefish also passively gathers information produced by body waves when they swim through water. Both navigation methods are used in tandem, similar to how submarines rely on both active and passive sonar. see it here|
|Electric Eel normally water and high voltage don't mix, but these creatures have special cells called "electrocytes" that effectively turn them into batteries. The eels use these electric organs to sense foreign objects and smaller fish that might make a good meal. To feed, they will deliver small shocks to fish, rendering their victims paralyzed. When they sense a threat, they can generate about 600 volts of electricity to the predator, which knocks most enemies dead. The standard U.S. wall outlet only carries about 110 volts. Because its "adaptation" is so epically weird, taxonomists decided it has to be the only species in its entire genus. see it here|
The Mimic Octopus can change its shape, size, and color to take on the characteristics of more than 15 different types of marine life to camouflage itself or ward off prey. Watch it scuddling on the ocean floor looking something like a furry turkey with human legs here.|
Other species of octopus have specialized skin cells which change not only their coloring, but also the texture of their skin to match rocks, corals and other items nearby, creating textures ranging from small bumps to tall spikes. The result is a disguise that makes them nearly invisible. Their skin is essentially like a 3D television screen. see it here
|The Pipe Fish have a highly modified skeleton formed into armored plating. This dermal skeleton has several longitudinal ridges, so a vertical section through the body looks angular, not round or oval as in the majority of other fishes. Watch this and other incredible underwater masters of disguise here|
|The Wood Frog is able to withstand being frozen solid - and then thaw out again as if nothing had happened. The wood frog stops breathing and its heart stops beating entirely for days to weeks at a time. What's more, the frog is likely to endure multiple freeze/thaw episodes over the course of a winter. Normally living cells sustain damage when frozen. But when the wood frog feels ice forming on its skin, its liver produces special sugars which are pumped into the cells in place of water. Since the sugars won't lose shape when frozen, the cells are not damaged by being frozen. The water from the cells is pumped out and deposited on the frog's skin to form an icy suit of armor to protect the frog. While other animals take time and effort to hibernate, this frog can sit back and let nature take its course. see it here|
|Bear Hibernation During the 5-7 months of hibernation a bear does not eat, drink, defecate, or even urinate. It essentially enters a mode of conservation, efficiency and recycling. For months on end the bear doesn't consume any fluids all the while never becoming dehydrated (despite that the bear loses considerable water via the moisture in its exhaled breath) which would obviously normally kill any animal. However, the bear hibernation physiology allows it to get all the water it needs from the metabolization of fat. Water is a byproduct of fat metabolization and the bear is able to use this water to supply all of its fluid requirements. Their kidneys shut down almost completely and urea, a major component of urine, is recycled into proteins that maintain a bear's muscle mass and organ tissues. Without the ability to recycle urea, ammonia would build up to toxic levels and poison the animal.|
|The Blue Whale is the largest known animal ever to have lived on Earth; it is larger than any of the giant dinosaurs were. The biggest recorded blue whale was a female in the Antarctic Ocean that was 30.5 m long (more than 3.5times the length of a double-decker bus and as long as a Boeing 737 plane) with an estimated weight of 144 tonnes (almost the same as 2,000 men!). The tongue alone of a blue whale can weigh as much as an elephant and an entire football team could stand on it! The heart of a blue whale is about the size of a VW Beetle car and weighs up to 1000 pounds. The aorta, a major blood vessel for the heart, is big enough for a human child to crawl through. . The call of the blue whale reaches levels up to 188 decibels and can travel thousands of miles across the ocean. see it here|
|Gannets are seabirds with amazing hunting habits. They fly high and swoop down crashing into the water face-first at speeds of up to 145KMH (90MPH). To protect itself from becoming a meal to the fish it is trying to catch, it has an extra-thick helmet-like skull that is able to withstand impact. The bird also has special safety airbags in its face, chest, and shoulders which can be inflated at will to absorb impacts that would kill just about any other animal. see it here|
The Human Brain is the most complex and least understood organ in human anatomy. It is about 3 times larger than that of the great apes and much more advanced. It has about 10 billion neuron cells. Each neuron cell sprouts a vast dendritic tree ending in 100,000 branches to contact other neuron cells. That's a total of 10^15 connections. If you had a forest that covered half of the USA, all the leaves in those trees would be about 10^15 leaves. That's how many connections there are in the human brain. That's way more than all the connections in the phone and internet systems on the entire planet - and those connections are not random. The neurons connect to other very specific neurons to get certain results and effects. They have to connect correctly. Computer scientists worldwide are currently nowhere near getting anywhere close to making a supercomputer which can have a basic intelligent conversation remotely like a human being (that one feels he is conversing with an "intelligent personality"). A computer can be programmed to calculate chess moves or the like but such things as rational thought and intelligent speech are a whole different ball game. The power consumption of the brain is only about 20 Watts and its resilient parallel network architecture can withstand deaths of many millions of nodes (neurons).|
Michael Denton writes in Nature's Destiny (pg.258): "Furthermore, the neuron and its dendritic tree is not a mere frozen network of silicon threads but a living, ever changing network, learning, reacting, responding, and integrating a vast number of different electronic and chemical signals. In the words of a recent Nature reviewer, 'the latest work on information processing and storage at the single-cell level reveals previously unimagined complexity and dynamism. We are left with a feeling of awe for the amazing complexity found in nature. Loops with loops across many temporal and spatial scales'".
The development of the fetus is the most advanced system known in the universe. It magnifies its size in only a few weeks or months million-folds and more. It self-organizes into some 10 trillion specialized cells. What system known in reality is able to do so only with mother's food and air digested and moved through the blood. Nothing like it even a tiny bit 1000 times exists anywhere ever, such brilliant ability to magnify a structure by such an enormous factor - all autonomously in the womb, such sophistication and wisdom of Creation. See below video where a university professor of neurology marvels at the sophistication of the assembly of the neural network in the human brain. The underlying wisdom it exhibits is so mind boggling and so incredibly complex that the professor can only call it a "miracle". see it here
Eukaryotic flagella, whip-like organelles that elegantly propel microorganisms and pump fluid, seem to embody simplicity on the microscopic scale. But appearances can be deceptive: Flagella are composed of 650 different types of proteins.Six hundred and fifty components to get this tiny filament to beat with the proper rythm! Scientists tried to produce a synthetic one but eventually gave up and settled for a simple string of beads computer model.
Their jobs are vitally important. Flagella help sperm swim, sponges eat, and sweep mucus from the lungs, among other functions. Their length depends on their purpose but flagellas' structure and rhythmic, beating movement remain the same across functions and species (though they necessarily arose independently).
That fluid movement is a highly sought-after capability in small-scale devices, such as microrobots. But scientists have struggled to build a simple, controllable model that can recreate it.
Even though the entire sequence of the E. coli K-12 chromosomal DNA has been known for [over] two years, we are still far from knowing all of the details of how the cell operates, lives, replicates, coordinates, and adapts to changing circumstances . . . the number of experimental journal articles on aspects of the basic biology of E. coli has increased from an average of 78 per month in 1996 to an average of 94 per month today . . . new biological information about this well-studied organism continues to roll in. New metabolic capabilities are discovered and are connected to underlying genes. There are new regulation systems, new transport systems, and more information on cellular constituents and cellular processes.Regulation systems? Transport systems? Looks like scientists are learning the hard way just how unbelievably complex even "simple" life forms truly are.
. . . but how many regulators are needed to maintain coordination of expression of the genes and correct interaction among the gene products? Regulation systems are not the same in all bacteria, and we still do not have all of the information for the regulatory networks of even one bacterial species . . . the minimal set of genes and proteins necessary for life of an independently replicating cell does not have an easy answer.
Experimentation into details of the biology of E. coli continues unabated today, and the numbers of papers published annually continues to increase . . . not all enzymes and pathways in E. coli are known . . . besides genes for unknown enzymes, we have data for enzymes that don't have genes. There are 55 enzymes of E. coli that have been isolated, purified and characterized over the years, but their genes have never been identified.
The advent of massive DNA-sequencing technology and the completion to date of [more than] 20 microbial genomes that are now available to the public have not brought us (yet) to a complete understanding of exactly how a single free-living cell functions and adapts to changing environments.
To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometres in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometre in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.To add to the amazement this great, complex, and busy metropolis reproduces itself in a matter of hours!
We would wonder at the level of control implicit in the movement of so many objects down so many seemingly endless conduits, all in perfect unison. We would see all around us, in every direction we looked, all sorts of robot-like machines. We would notice that the simplest of the functional components of the cell, the protein molecules, were astonishingly, complex pieces of molecular machinery, each one consisting of about three thousand atoms arranged in highly organized 3-D spatial conformation... Yet the life of the cell depends on the integrated activities of thousands, certainly tens, and probably hundreds of thousands of different protein molecules.
We would see that nearly every feature of our own advanced machines had its analogue in the cell: artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction. In fact, so deep would be the feeling of deja-vu, so persuasive the analogy, that much of the terminology we would use to describe this fascinating molecular reality would be borrowed from the world of late twentieth-century technology.
What we would be witnessing would be an object resembling an immense automated factory, a factory larger than a city and carrying out almost as many unique functions as all the manufacturing activities of man on earth.. (Michael Denton, Evolution, a Theory in Crisis, pg.250)
You should know that all of G-d's works are awesome, infinitely broad and deep. This is the meaning of "how great are Your works O, G-d" (Ps. 92:6). The least of His works contains such degree of wisdom, in quantity and depth, that it is impossible for us to ever fully grasp it. This is the meaning of (the second half of the verse): "Your thoughts are exceedingly deep" (i.e. infinitely deep). We can only grasp the superficial surface of the works of G-d.. (Daas Tevunos sec.54)Indeed, the more we discover, the more we realize how much more there is to know. This wisdom, in other words, is of a different kind of wisdom than ours. It is of the infinite enclothed in the finite - precisely the concept of creation.
|Inner life of the cell |
Harvard University's computer generated animation giving a glimpse into the world of cells.watch | download
|Powering the Cell: Mitochondria|
Harvard University's computer generated animation about the microscopic world of mitochondria, the organelle generating the cell's power.
|Astonishing Molecular Machines|
(without the error correction mechanisms)
see here  for an outline of the process.
|Voyage Inside the Cell|
|Cell Division and many more short videos|
|Neurons and Nerve Cells|
see also:the Central Nervous System 
|The Immune System (amazing video on microwarfare)|
see also: T-Cells | Immune Response
|The Water Bear (amazing video on the micro-animal)|
When light strikes the retina a photon is absorbed (through a quantum mechanical process) by an organic molecule called 11-cis-retinal, causing it to rearrange within picoseconds (10^-12 seconds) to trans-retinal.Interesting little world, don't you think? The above-mentioned example is not only for vision of the eye. Just about every system in living creatures exhibits this kind of circus of complexity and even more when examined at the level of biochemistry.
The change in shape of 11-cis-retinal forces a corresponding change in shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which it is tightly bound.
As a consequence of the [rhodopsin] protein's metamorphosis, the behavior of the protein changes in a very specific way. The altered [rhodopsin] protein can now interact with another protein called transducin.
Before associating with rhodopsin, transducin is tightly bound to a small organic molecule called GDP, but when it binds to rhodopsin the GDP dissociates itself from transducin and a molecule called GTP, which is closely related to, but critically different from, GDP, binds to transducin.
The exchange of GTP for GDP in the transducinrhodopsin complex alters its behavior. GTP-transducinrhodopsin binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When bound by rhodopsin and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the ability to chemically cleave a molecule called cGMP.
Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the action of the phosphodiesterase lowers the concentration of cGMP. Activating the phosphodiesterase can be likened to pulling the plug in a bathtub, lowering the level of water.
A second membrane protein which binds cGMP, called an ion channel, can be thought of as a special gateway regulating the number of sodium ions in the cell. The ion channel normally allows sodium ions to flow into the cell, while a separate protein actively pumps them out again. The dual action of the ion channel and pump proteins keeps the level of sodium ions in the cell within a narrow range.
When the concentration of cGMP is reduced from its normal value through cleavage by the phosphodiesterase, many channels close, resulting in a reduced cellular concentration of positively charged sodium ions. This causes an imbalance of charges across the cell membrane which, finally, causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain: the result, when interpreted by the brain, is vision.
If the biochemistry of vision were limited to the reactions listed above, the cell would quickly deplete its supply of 11-cis-retinal and cGMP while also becoming depleted of sodium ions. Thus a system is required to limit the signal that is generated and restore the cell to its original state.
There are several mechanisms which do this. Normally, in the dark, the ion channel, in addition to sodium ions, also allows calcium ions to enter the cell; calcium is pumped back out by a different protein in order to maintain a constant intracellular calcium concentration.
However, when cGMP levels fall, shutting down the ion channel and decreasing the sodium ion concentration, calcium ion concentration is also decreased. The phosphodiesterase enzyme, which destroys cGMP, is greatly slowed down at lower calcium concentration.
Additionally, a protein called guanylate cyclase begins to resynthesize cGMP when calcium levels start to fall.
Meanwhile, while all of this is going on, metarhodopsin II is chemically modified by an enzyme called rhodopsin kinase, which places a phosphate group on its substrate.
The modified rhodopsin is then bound by a protein dubbed arrestin, which prevents the rhodopsin from further activating transducin. Thus the cell contains mechanisms to limit the amplified signal started by a single photon.
Trans-retinal eventually falls off of the rhodopsin molecule and must be reconverted to 11-cis-retinal and again bound by opsin to regenerate rhodopsin for another visual cycle.
To accomplish this trans-retinal is first chemically modified by an enzyme to transretinol, a form containing two more hydrogen atoms. A second enzyme then isomerizes the molecule to 11-cis-retinol.
Finally, a third enzyme removes the previously added hydrogen atoms to form 11-cis-retinal, and the cycle is complete...
Other examples of irreducible complexity abound, including aspects of protein transport, blood clotting, closed circular DNA, electron transport, telomeres, photosynthesis, transcription regulation, and much more...
source: www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_mm92496.htm see there for more
"I'm in awe of some of the things I see. It's too beautiful. Every day I go to work to unlock the mystery of the eye. The cornea, lens, retina, nerves, connections are ridiculously complex. There is so much to know. For an eye to be able to see, all the basic components must be present at the same time and work together perfectly. For instance, if all the other components, such as the cornea, iris, pupil, retina, tear glands, and eye muscles, are all present and functioning properly, but just the eyelid is missing, then the eye will incur serious damage, dry up and blindness would quickly ensue.".Let us now examine a minor component of the human eye - the eyelid.
"A few very eminent and very serious scientists, including Nobel Prize winners are arguing that Darwin's Theory just doesn't work (ex. Roger Penrose, probably the world's top scientific mind today). These scientists are not necessarily saying that this proves the existence of G-d, they are just saying scientists have absolutely no idea what caused life on Earth to originate, evolve, and develop consciousness. While Richard Dawkins is still selling a record number of pro-Darwinian books to the public, in the upper echelons of the scientific community support for evolution is undoubtedly in decline...(parenthetically, even if infinite universes existed for infinite time as some atheists want to claim, it would still not help to explain life since the level of complexity in cells exceeds what a random gradual change (Genetic algorithm) can ever produce as explained above.)
At the heart of Darwin's Theory is random change and natural selection. Computer Scientists have been experimenting with "Genetic Algorithms" for a long time now, and its clear they have enormous limitations. A computer program to play chess, for example, looks several moves ahead and chooses the move that will lead to the strongest position in the future. The power of a chess playing computer is determined by the number of moves it can look ahead. Any modern computer can beat the average human chess player, but it took a massive supercomputer to beat Kasparov in 1997. As the computer looks further into the future the number of combinations it must analyse increases exponentially. Chess playing algorithms regularly make short term sacrifices for longer term goals. Genetic Algorithms, however, can not do this because they are concerned only with the strength of the next generation. It does not matter how large the population or the length of time, Genetic Algorithms just can not solve Chess problems. Genetic Algorithms are also unable to build a structure such as a bridge which is only useful once it is complete and requires a complex series of meanwhile wasteful steps...
The genetic algorithms get stuck in local maxima/minima. They reach a point where all small changes have a negative impact. If that makes no sense: Try to imagine a bridge developing under Darwin's Theory. Until you can walk across the bridge the wasted structure detracts rather than adds to its success, yet the bridge is far too complex to be built in a single generation. Now if Genetic Algorithms can't even build a simple bridge how could they possibly build the human eye? Biologists sometimes struggle with this argument, but for hard core scientists with mental discipline it completely undermines the entire theory...
...Since the discovery of DNA Biologists have been gradually learning that the basic cellular unit underlying all known life on Earth is enormously complex. Far more complex than the latest Intel CPU for example. It's so highly mechanised with concepts such as hardware and software that many at the forefront of microbiology believe a genetic algorithm could not possibly have produced it. Time does not help, its technical structure, they say, simply exceeds what genetic algorithms are capable of ever producing. So the realization of the microscopic complexity of the cellular unit, which began dawning in the 1950s, is building toward a sort of Copernican revolution in biological science, and the revolutionaries tend to be theoretical physicists and microbiologists, and the defenders of the status quo tend to be ordinary biologists specialising in the habitat and lifestyle of chimps and chimpanzees etc...
There is no explanation of how such a hugely complex 'device' could have come into existence. No simpler forms of life have ever been found but they would have had to exist. This argument is currently getting a lot of attention because in the past biologists just waved the original cell into existence with stories about some lightning and some soup, but now they are really marvelling at how absolutely mind bogglingly complex cells really are. Forget all the rest, many say, how on earth could a random gradual change have ever produced a device like this even in a zillion years? It's so highly mechanised with concepts such as hardware and software that many find it impossible to believe that it has not been 'designed'. You have to do a bit of studying to appreciate the scale of this problem, but it's huge." (see there for more)
"Yet, despite the dreams of artificial life and the gurus of nanotechnology, the undeniable fact remains that many characteristics of living organisms are still without any significant analogue in any machine which has yet been constructed. Every living system replicates itself, yet no machine yet possesses this capacity even to the slightest degree. Nearly, half a century after von Neumann, Claude Shannon, Norbert Wiener, and their circle dreamed of self-replicating machines, the dream is nowhere near realization. Nor does there exist even a well-developed, detailed blueprint in the most advanced area of nanotechnology for a machine that could carry out such a stupendous act. In the case of von Neumann's model, for example, no serious consideration was given to the fuel and energy problem. Von Neumann assumed conveniently that his automata would have unlimited energy! The challenge is enormous. A self-replicating machine requires a data storage system which must be accessible or comprehensible to the constructor device. It requires that the constructor be assembled from a very small number of readily available substances. It requires a means of energy generation, storage, and distribution to its working components and so forth. None of these problems has been solved. Yet, every second, countless trillions of living systems from bacterial cells to elephants replicate themselves on the surface of our planet...There is a push by some to propose life was seeded on earth by an advanced alien civilization. This view is becoming increasingly popular as the extreme complexity of the cell is becoming revealed. But, besides being more science fiction than science, there is no reason to believe the original first replicator which started the supposed alien civilization was a simple device. Dr. Fred Hoyle, a Nobel prize winning astrophysicist, tries to convince his colleagues on this alien view (from his paper "Evolution in Space" ):
And it is not just the act of self-replication which has not been copied in our technology. Even the far less ambitious end of component self-assembly which is utilized by every living cell on earth, exhibited in processes as diverse as the assembly of viral capsules to the assembly of cell organelles such as the ribosome, a process whereby tens or hundreds of unique and complex elements combine together, directed entirely by their own intrinsic properties without any external intelligent guidance or control, is an achievement without any analogue in modern technology...
The contrast between the apparent ease with which life forms assemble and replicate themselves and the absolute failure to simulate this effortless activity in any sort of nonliving artificial system is very striking. While engineers have been dreaming about the possibilities of artificial self-replicating automata over the past fifty years, advances in biology since the early fifties have gradually revealed how the miracle of self-replication is actually realized in living things...
"We showed that a random shuffling of amino acids, the building blocks of living things, would have as little chance as one part in 10^40,000 zeros of producing the enzymes. [It is usual to attempt to side step this difficulty by arguing that the first enzymes in the first life were much shorter in their polypeptide lengths, and so were much less improbable to come by. The idea is for the first life to evolve by natural selection, with the enzymes growing in length and becoming more complex, until eventually they reached their present forms. There is nothing in this hand-waving beyond attempting to argue that the 2,000 or so enzymes are built from a much smaller number of basic components, with each component of a simple structure. Whether or not this is so can be decided by reference to the actual amino acid sequences on the enzymes themselves. While there are some repetitions of structure (trypsin and chymotrypsin are examples) we think it safe to say that if so remarkable a suggestion were true it would long since have been discovered. Besides which the same problem applies widely to other complex biosubstances such as the histones. When one considers the need for a program to control the behavior of cells, the problem is aggravated. Everyone who has actually set up a sophisticated program for a normal computer will agree, we think, with our experience that the writing of sub-routines is the least part of the job. The hard part lies in the logic of the main program. In the biological case, the enzymes, histones,..., are only the subroutines. The main program remains, and likely enough this is the really awkward part, a part that is probably MUCH LESS likely to be discovered by random processes than the complex biosubstances on which our probability estimates have been based, much less likely than one part in 10^40,000... The theory that life was assembled by an intelligence has, we believe, a probability vastly higher than one part in 10^40,000 of being the correct explanation of the many curious facts discussed earlier. Indeed, such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.Interestingly, he believes life was planted by aliens from outer space. Now, when he says "The reasons are psychological rather than scientific", can the same apply to him? He can't bring himself to say the G word, i.e. G-d. He has to say Martians, aliens, despite that he calculated the chance of life happening spontaneously to be "much less than 10^40,000". And this is just for his estimate of the simplest autonomous cell. There are hundreds of thousands of different specialized cells in plants and animals each one building specific sets of proteins, some with exotic cellular systems etc.
This page you're reading contains letters, words and sentences. It contains a message that means something. As long as you can read English, you can understand what I'm saying. You can do all kinds of things with this message. You can read it on your computer screen. You can print it out on your printer. You can read it out loud to a friend who's in the same room as you are. You can call your friend and read it to her over the telephone... You can forward it to someone via email, or you can post it on some other website.The structure of all life also testifies to a single Superintelligence, for all life on earth is highly related using a common DNA structure.
Regardless of how you copy it or where you send it, the information remains the same. My email contains a message. It contains information in the form of language. The message is independent of the medium it is sent in. Messages are not matter, even though they can be carried by matter (like printing this email on a piece of paper). Messages are not energy even though they can be carried by energy (like the sound of my voice.)
Messages are immaterial. Information is itself a unique kind of entity. It can be stored and transmitted and copied in many forms, but the meaning still stays the same. Messages can be in English, French or Chinese. Or Morse Code. Or mating calls of birds. Or the Internet. Or radio or television. Or computer programs or architect blueprints or stone carvings. Every cell in your body contains a message encoded in DNA, representing a complete plan for you.
OK, so what does this have to do with G-d? It's very simple. Messages, languages, and coded information ONLY come from a mind. A mind that agrees on an alphabet and a meaning of words and sentences. A mind that expresses both desire and intent. Whether I use the simplest possible explanation, such as the one I'm giving you here, or if we analyze language with advanced mathematics and engineering communication theory, we can say this with total confidence:
"Messages, languages and coded information never, ever come from anything else besides a mind. No one has ever produced a single example of a message that did not come from a mind."
...We find DNA is not merely a molecule. Nor is it simply a "pattern." Yes, it contains chemicals and proteins, but those chemicals are arranged to form an intricate language, in the exact same way that English and Chinese and HTML are languages. DNA has a four-letter alphabet, and structures very similar to words, sentences and paragraphs. With very precise instructions and systems that check for errors and correct them. It is formally and scientifically a code. All codes we know the origin of are created by a conscious mind. Hence, DNA was designed by a mind, and language and information are proof of the action of a Superintelligence. End quote. See there for more.
...Noise introduces uncertainty as to what the original message was. It was originally 1000001 ("A") but the receiver doesn't know that. It might think the message was 1000100 and give you a letter "d" instead.
When Claude Shannon worked out the math, he found something very surprising: The formula for noise in an information system was identical to the formula for entropy in thermodynamics.
Entropy is the irreversible process of useful energy becoming useless energy. The heat coming out of the exhaust pipe in your car is cooler and a whole lot less useful than the heat inside your engine, and that process is irreversible.
All audio engineers know that noise is also irreversible. Once it's in your recording, you can't get it back out. It's in there for good. All you can do is try to disguise it.
Also, noise NEVER improves a signal. There are a few very narrow applications in digital signal processing where noise can be put to good use (i.e. dither and noise shaping) but noise always destroys information. It never creates it.
Shannon measured information in bits, the exact same way that we measure the size of computer files. So one thing that confuses a lot of people is that when you add noise to a signal, it adds bit information to the signal and the signal appears to have more information. In one sense it does - if you add noise to a signal, the signal does contain more data. But you can't separate the noise out of the signal once it's in.
Once your signal is lost it's gone forever.
Also, there is no such thing anywhere in engineering or computer science as a percentage of the time that noise "accidentally" improves a signal.
Nor is there an "optimum" level of noise that you would want in a signal. The ideal amount of noise to have in a signal is ZERO.
Shannon pointed out that the best way to combat noise was through redundancy: Extra letters or numbers in the signal that help you fill in the blanks if there are missing letters... see there for more.
Imagine a room in which a body lies crushed, flat as a pancake. A dozen detectives crawl around, examining the floor with magnifying glasses for any clue to the identity of the perpetrator. In the middle of the room next to the body stands a large, gray elephant. The detectives carefully avoid bumping into the pachyderm's legs as they crawl, and never even glance at it. Over time the detectives get frustrated with their lack of progress but resolutely press on, looking even more closely at the floor. You see, textbooks say detectives must "get their man," so they never consider elephants.Dr. Behe writes in his book "Darwin's Black Box" (pg.232):
There is an elephant in the roomful of scientists who are trying to explain the development of life. The elephant is labeled "intelligent design." To a person who does not feel obliged to restrict his search to unintelligent causes, the straightforward conclusion is that many biochemical systems were designed. They were designed not by the laws of nature, not by chance and necessity. Rather, they were planned. The designer knew what the systems would look like when they were completed; the designer took steps to bring the systems about. Life on earth at its most fundamental level, in its most critical components, is the product of intelligent activity.
The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself, not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs. Inferring that biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. It comes simply from the hard work that biochemistry has done over the past forty years, combined with consideration of the way in which we reach conclusions of design every day.
...So as this talk concludes we are left with what many people feel to be a strange conclusion: that life was designed by an intelligent agent. In a way, though, all of the progress of science over the last several hundred years has been a steady march toward the strange.
People up until the middle ages lived in a natural world. The stable earth was at the center of things; the sun, moon, and stars circled endlessly to give light by day and night; the same plants and animals had been known since antiquity. Surprises were few.
Then it was proposed, absurdly, that the earth itself moved, spinning while it circled the sun. No one could feel the earth spinning; no one could see it. But spin it did. From our modern vantage it's hard to realize what an assault on the senses was perpetrated by Copernicus and Galileo; they said in effect that people could no longer rely on even the evidence of their eyes.
Things got steadily worse over the years. With the discovery of fossils it became apparent that the familiar animals of field and forest had not always been on earth; the world had once been inhabited by huge, alien creatures who were now gone. Sometime later Darwin shook the world by arguing that the familiar biota was derived from the bizarre, vanished life over lengths of time incomprehensible to human minds. Einstein told us that space is curved and time is relative. Modern physics says that solid objects are mostly space, that sub atomic particles have no definite position, that the universe had a beginning.
Now it's the turn of the fundamental science of life, modern biochemistry, to disturb. The simplicity that was once expected to be the foundation of life has proven to be a phantom. Instead, systems of horrendous, irreducible complexity inhabit the cell. The resulting realization that life was designed by an intelligence is a shock to us in the twentieth century who have gotten used to thinking of life as the result of simple natural laws. But other centuries have had their shocks and there is no reason to suppose that we should escape them. Humanity has endured as the center of the heavens moved from the earth to beyond the sun, as the history of life expanded to encompass long-dead reptiles, as the eternal universe proved mortal. We will endure the opening of Darwin's black box..."
"A scientific study of the universe has suggested a conclusion which may be summed up . . In the statement that the universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician." - Sir James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe p.140In truth it is not only the laws and constants of physics. There is a long and impressive ever growing list of conditions for life in the full spectrum of cosmology, physics, biology, chemistry, geology, etc. that we are discovering.
"Curious as that seems, it is a possibility worth weighing-against the only alternative I can imagine: Eddington's suggestion that G-d is a mathematical physicist." George Wald, Fitness in the Universe Origins of Life, Vol. 5, p. 26.
"The symmetries and delicate balances we observe require an extraordinary coherence of conditions and cooperation of laws and effects, suggesting that in some sense they have been purposefully designed" (George Ellis)
Numerous features of our universe seem fantastically fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life. While some physicists still hold out for a "natural" explanation, many others are now coming to grips with the notion that our universe is profoundly unnatural, with no good explanation other than the Anthropic Principle - that the universe is in this exceedingly improbable state, because if it weren't, we wouldn't be here to discuss the fact...
We physicists need to confront the crisis facing us. A scientific theory [the multiverse/ Anthropic Principle/ string theory paradigm] that makes no predictions and therefore is not subject to experiment can never fail, but such a theory can never succeed either, as long as science stands for knowledge gained from rational argument borne out by evidence...
With this backdrop, a growing number of scientists are calling for head-to-head interactions with philosophers...
Consider a force like gravitation which varies predominantly inversely as the square of the distance, but which is about a billion-billion-billion-billion times stronger. And with another difference. There are two kinds of "matter", which we can call positive and negative. Like kinds repel and unlike kinds attract-unlike gravity where there is only attraction. What would happen?Hence, without the uncertainty principle, electrons would collapse into protons thus destroying the world. As a physics student, I always had great difficulty understanding what in the world this law of physics was and why is it here. But with the right perspective, one can see that it is necessary for the plan and purpose in the universe.
A bunch of positives would repel with an enormous force and spread out in all directions. A bunch of negatives would do the same. But an evenly mixed bunch of positives and negatives would do something completely different. The opposite pieces would be pulled together by the enormous attractions. The net result would be that the terrific forces would balance themselves out almost perfectly, by forming tight, fine mixtures of the positive and the negative, and between two separate bunches of such mixtures there would be practically no attraction or repulsion at all.
There is such a force: the electrical force. And all matter is a mixture of positive protons and negative electrons which are attracting and repelling with this great force. So perfect is the balance, however, that when you stand near someone else you don't feel any force at all. If there were even a little bit of unbalance you would know it. If you were standing at arm's length from someone and each of you had one percent more electrons than protons, the repelling force would be incredible. How great? Enough to lift the Empire State Building? No! To lift Mount Everest? No! The repulsion would be enough to lift a "weight" equal to that of the entire earth!
With such enormous forces so perfectly balanced in this intimate mixture, it is not hard to understand that matter, trying to keep its positive and negative charges in the finest balance, can have a great stiffness and strength. The Empire State Building, for example, swings less than one inch in the wind because the electrical forces hold every electron and proton more or less in its proper place. On the other hand, if we look at matter on a scale small enough that we see only a few atoms, any small piece will not, usually, have an equal number of positive and negative charges, and so there will be strong residual electrical forces. Even when there are equal numbers of both charges in two neighboring small pieces, there may still be large net electrical forces because the forces between individual charges vary inversely as the square of the distance. A net force can arise if a negative charge of one piece is closer to the positive than to the negative charges of the other piece. The attractive forces can then be larger than the repulsive ones and there can be a net attraction between two small pieces with no excess charges. The force that holds the atoms together, and the chemical forces that hold molecules together, are really electrical forces acting in regions where the balance of charge is not perfect, or where the distances are very small.
You know, of course, that atoms are made with positive protons in the nucleus and with electrons outside. You may ask: "If this electrical force is so terrific, why don't the protons and electrons just collapse on top of each other?"... The answer has to do with the quantum effects. If we try to confine our electrons in a region that is very close to the protons, then according to the Uncertainty Principle they must have some mean square momentum which is larger the more we try to confine them. It is this motion, required by the laws of quantum mechanics, that keeps the electrical attraction from bringing the charges any closer together... (i.e. due to the Uncertainty Principle, electrons are not small objects orbiting the nucleus but rather a sort of wave-particle cloud. It isn't anywhere in particular nor is it at any particular velocity. Though strange, there are very definite mathematical descriptions to go along with these words.)
There is another question: "What holds the nucleus together"? In a nucleus there are several protons, all of which are positive. Why don't they push themselves apart? It turns out that in nuclei there are, in addition to electrical forces, nonelectrical forces, called nuclear forces, which are greater than the electrical forces and which are able to hold the protons together in spite of the electrical repulsion. The nuclear forces, however, have a short range-their force falls off much more rapidly than 1/r^2. And this has an important consequence. If a nucleus has too many protons in it, it gets too big, and it will not stay together. An example is uranium, with 92 protons. The nuclear forces act mainly between each proton (or neutron) and its nearest neighbor, while the electrical forces act over larger distances, giving a repulsion between each proton and all of the others in the nucleus. The more protons in a nucleus, the stronger is the electrical repulsion, until, as in the case of uranium, the balance is so delicate that the nucleus is almost ready to fly apart from the repulsive electrical force. If such a nucleus is just "tapped" lightly (as can be done by sending in a slow neutron), it breaks into two pieces, each with positive charge, and these pieces fly apart by electrical repulsion. The energy which is liberated is the energy of the atomic bomb. This energy is usually called "nuclear" energy, but it is really "electrical" energy released when electrical forces have overcome the attractive nuclear forces.
"What turns out to be true, is that the more we investigate, the more laws we find, and the deeper we penetrate nature, the more this disease persists. Every one of our laws is a purely mathematical statement in rather complex and abstruse mathematics. Newton's statement of the law of gravity is relatively simple mathematics. It gets more and more abstruse and more and more difficult as we go on. Why? I have not the slightest idea... It is impossible to explain honestly the beauties of the laws of nature in a way people can feel without their having some deep understanding of mathematics... Mathematics is not just a language. It is a tool for reasoning... It is in fact the results of some person's careful thought and reasoning. By mathematics it is possible to connect one statement to another... - The Character of Physical Law, Feynman pg.42As scientists probe the atom deeper and deeper, they are left to work out increasingly complex mathematical structures. Likewise, for other physical structures such as the fabric of spacetime. Even vacuum (empty) space turns out to be a ridiculously complex interaction of n-dimensional fields of mind-boggling mathematics.
One of the more confusing things about quantum fields is that they react differently depending on how they are observed. The way we observe protons is by hitting them with other high-energy particles in a particle accelerator and seeing what comes out. In a slow collision, with very little energy involved, the proton acts like a single point particle. If we give the particles slightly more energy, the proton looks more like a blob with three points in it --- these are the three quarks of common knowledge... If we give the colliding particles even more and more energy, the proton will appear to be an ever-more-dense amalgamation of all sorts of particles: quarks, antiquarks, gluons, photons, electrons, and everything else. We call these particle partons (because they're part of the proton)...The tantalizing paradox in nature is that things appear so childishly simple at first. As mentioned earlier, the scientists thought matter was not so complicated. Only 3 particles right? And neutrons don't affect the properties of materials significantly. They are there to stabilize the atom. So really everything, all matter, is determined by only two particles - protons and electrons. That's it!
"As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter".As scientists probed the atom further, the "simple" shell peeled off and they were left with this mind boggling mathematical structure of boundless depth. As mentioned before, mathematics is not "real". It is essentially a language of thought. This is what led Max Planck to conclude there must be a "conscious and intelligent Mind" behind it all.
I read a stat one time that said that a mathematician is 2.5 times more likely to believe in G-d than a biologist. No idea how legit that stat is at all but I can totally believe that. Math to me is like an exploration of creation. Of the Divine. It's all theoretical and abstract. You really spend your time thinking in this absolute truth mindset. You think a lot about infinity and complexities beyond your understanding. You get to practice trying to understanding something which you can never fully understand. To me math and G-d are so intertwined. G-d made math and in math I can learn about how G-d works. Every time you go a little deeper into the math it's like you get a tiny glimpse into His mind. And the more you learn, the more you realize there's so much more you'll never understand...She ends off with a quote from Mike Roshko, a mathematician of the University of Alberta:
For me, it's amazing the way in which the seemingly different areas of mathematics fit together. When you begin studying advanced math, you tend to think of geometry, algebra, analysis and so on as separate entities, each beautiful and elegant on its own.
But as you go on, you realize that these different areas are connected in the most astonishing yet natural ways. You may discover that what you thought of as purely a part of geometry turns out to be an essential part of algebra. And what we're dealing with is not just something we've made up. It's a reality. It's there.
And it all intertwines and works so perfectly, so beautifully, that you realize that Somebody or Something must have done this. It simply could not have happened by chance. It's a kind of revelation, I guess. And it's very convincing." (see there for more)
Does the universe rotate? Observation of the galaxies give no indication of any rotation of the cosmos. Study of the cosmic background radiation emitted by particles some 15 billion light years away allow us to see very far. A rotation of the Cosmos would be manifested in variation of its intensity along the axis of rotation. Measurements by the COBE satellite confirm absence of any measurable rotation of the Cosmos.. Why does the Universe rotate so little (if any)? Nothing in the Big Bang theory specifies what should be the state of rotation of the Universe in its distant past. Another ancient enigma.MASS OF THE UNIVERSE
Inertia is the name we give to the property of things to resist a change in velocity. An undisturbed body remains at rest and requires the exertion of a force to impart motion to it. A moving car requires force to slow it down or to make it change direction. Like gravity inertial forces are related to mass. It requires more force to make a large object move or change the direction of its motion that for a small object. The wind may set a feather in motion but not a boulder. If inertia had been less, then the wind could well have set a boulder in motion. In such a world we would be subjected to a continual bombardment by all types of objects in our environment.Hence even the total mass of the Universe was finely tuned. (note that there are other theories for the origin of inertia. The matter is largely a mystery).
However if inertia had been much greater, then unless the strength of muscles was much greater, we would have profound difficulty even in starting to move our finger. And once in motion, control of its direction and speed would be next to impossible. It is clear that the inertia of matter must be very close to what it is for an animal of our size to function in an environment similar to the earth's. Extraordinary as it seems, physicists have proposed that the inertial forces experienced by objects on the earth are generated by the total combined gravitational attraction of all matter in the cosmos, including the most distant stars and galaxies. Because most of the matter in the universe is far from the earth, this means that the greatest contribution to the inertia of objects on earth is made by the most distant galaxies. As Dennis Sciama comments in his "Unity of the Universe":The idea that distant matter can sometimes have far more influence than nearby matter may be an unfamiliar one. To make it more concrete, we may give a numerical estimate of the influence of nearby objects in determining the inertia of bodies on the earth: of this inertia, the whole of the Milky Way only contributes one ten-millionth, the sun one hundred-millionth, and the earth itself one thousand-millionth... In fact 80 percent of the inertia of local matter arises from the influence of galaxies too distant to be detected by the 200-inch telescope. ("Unity of the Universe", London Faber, pp.118-119)In a very real sense, then the existence of beings of our size and mass with the ability to stand, to move, and to light a fire is only possible because of the influence of the most distant galaxies, whose collective mass determines the precise strength of the inertial forces on earth. If this view is correct, then it means our existence is critically dependent on both the mass of the earth and the total mass of the universe being very close to what they are. There is a distinct echo in these curious coincidences of the old medieval doctrine of man in the microcosm, which held that the dimensions of the human body reflect in some profound sense the dimensions of the macrocosm.(Nature's Destiny - Michael Denton pg.255)
|Vastness of the Universe (impressive video on the vastness of the universe. ignore speculation at end about multiverse)|
When we contemplate the world, it will become apparent that - it is the design of one Thinker, and the work of one Creator. We find its roots and foundations to be similar in its derivatives and equal in its parts, and the signs of wisdom manifested in the smallest of the creatures as well as the biggest testify that they are the work of one Wisdom. If this world had more than one Creator, the form of wisdom would be incongruent in the different parts of the world, and change in its general nature and parts.This is what one is supposed to see in nature. The truth is this Divine wisdom is manifest even in the tiniest segment of empty space as the Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman noted (from his book: The Character of Physical Law - Chapter 2 - the relation of mathematics to physics):
Furthermore, we find that it is interdependent for its maintenance and welfare, no part is completed without the help of another part, like the links in a coat of armor, the parts of a bed, the limbs of the human body, or other things which have interdependent parts for their functioning.
Can you see that the moon and the planets need the light of the sun, and the earth needs the sky and the water, and that the animals need each other, and some species feed on other species such as predatory birds, fish, and beasts of the forest - all need each other? And Man's need for everything, and the rectification of everything through man (man gives a higher purpose to everything)...
And the Divine wisdom appears in the tiny creatures as well as the large ones, because the wisdom manifested in the formation of an elephant, despite its huge body, is no more wondrous than the wisdom manifested in the formation of a tiny ant. On the contrary, the smaller the creature the more wisdom and power it appears to reflect, and the more it testifies to the wondrous ability of the Creator.
This teaches that they are all the design of one Designer and Creator, since they are similar and alike in furthering and completing the natural order and maintenance of the world in all of its parts. If there were more than one Creator, the form of wisdom exhibited would be different in some of its parts, and things would not be interdependent. Since the world, despite its being different in its roots and foundations, it is equal in its derivatives and compounds, one can see that its Creator who put it together, its Governor, and Designer is one.
"It always bothers me that according to the laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out what goes on in no matter how tiny a region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time. How can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one tiny piece of space/time is going to do? So I have often made the hypothesis ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement, that in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the chequer board with all its apparent complexities. But this is just speculation."If this is so for even the tiniest speck of vacuum space. How much more so, for an electron, or beyond to living organism, whose design is perfectly coordinated from the atomic level up - it all gently points to a single Creator, of infinite wisdom, power, and ability who designed them (and the laws of physics to go with them).
You should know that all of G-d's works are awesome, infinitely broad and deep. This is [the meaning of] "how great are Your works O, G-d" (Ps. 92:6). The least of His works contains such degree of wisdom, in quantity and depth, that it is impossible for us to ever fully grasp it. This is [the meaning of the second half of the verse:] "Your thoughts are exceedingly deep" (ibid). We can only grasp the superficial surface of the works of G-d...Likewise, the Rambam wrote:
When a person contemplates G-d's great and wondrous deeds and creations, and he observes through them His infinite wisdom which surpasses all comparison, he will immediately love, praise, and glorify Him, yearn with tremendous desire to know [G-d's] great name, as David stated: "My soul thirsts for the L-rd, for the living G-d" [Psalms 42:3].
When he [continues] to reflect on these matters, he will immediately recoil in awe and fear, knowing how he is a tiny, lowly, and dark creature, standing with his flimsy, limited, wisdom before He who is of perfect knowledge, as David stated: "When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers... [I wonder] what is man that You should recall Him" [Psalms 8:4-5]. (Mishne Torah, Yesodei Torah ch.2)
"the mechanistic explanation of cells has really broken down. When you look at the literature now, more and more. the bolt properties to explain higher structures of the cyto-architecture of cells, you've got to look at collectives, to the properties of collectives, and higher order things. You can't see it from below. So this is in fact the beginning of a long process. In mainstream science, it might take one or two decades. But certainly, you are seeing at the level of the cell, a breakdown of that great mechanistic, mechanical idea which has dominated science certainly in the last century, in the DNA age, the genetic age, where 'everything is in the genes sort of thing'. You are seeing in fact that everything isn't in the genes. Everything isn't in the molecules. Everything isn't in the bricks. The architecture of the house is somewhere else... The former is an active principle in nature which organizes matter into the form of a living thing... basically what it is, is there are causal factors in addition to what happens at the molecular level... But it is very difficult to think about this because when we think of a complex system, we think of a machine. To start thinking of something that's not a machine is a big paradigm shift and also it's not exactly clear where this is all going. But what's happening is the machine analogy I think is failing..." (from http://youtu.be/DuNuH5pckMw )Here is another video of a university professor totally bewildered by the assembly of the hundreds of trillions of very precise connections in the human brain. She admits that science has no clue whatsoever how this happens and can only call it a miracle. The countless molecular machines, etc. appear to be "aware" of what the cell needs. They work together to build huge entities that they will never see and make them function properly. All this despite the enormous level of inherent "noise" which is replete within the cell.
The sophisticated behaviors observed in plants cannot at present be completely explained by familiar genetic and biochemical mechanisms. Plants are able to sense and optimally respond to so many environmental variables-light, water, gravity, temperature, soil structure, nutrients, toxins, microbes, herbivores, chemical signals from other plants-that there may exist some brainlike information-processing system to integrate the data and coordinate a plant's behavioral response. The authors pointed out that electrical and chemical signalling systems have been identified in plants which are homologous to those found in the nervous systems of animals. They also noted that neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate have been found in plants, though their role remains unclear.
Plants have evolved between fifteen and twenty distinct senses, including analogues of our five: smell and taste (they sense and respond to chemicals in the air or on their bodies); sight (they react differently to various wavelengths of light as well as to shadow); touch (a vine or a root "knows" when it encounters a solid object); and, it has been discovered, sound. In a recent experiment, Heidi Appel, a chemical ecologist at the University of Missouri, found that, when she played a recording of a caterpillar chomping a leaf for a plant that hadn't been touched, the sound primed the plant's genetic machinery to produce defense chemicals. Another experiment, done in Mancuso's lab and not yet published, found that plant roots would seek out a buried pipe through which water was flowing even if the exterior of the pipe was dry, which suggested that plants somehow "hear" the sound of flowing water...
Scientists have since found that the tips of plant roots, in addition to sensing gravity, moisture, light, pressure, and hardness, can also sense volume, nitrogen, phosphorus, salt, various toxins, microbes, and chemical signals from neighboring plants. Roots about to encounter an impenetrable obstacle or a toxic substance change course before they make contact with it. Roots can tell whether nearby roots are self or other and, if other, kin or stranger. Normally, plants compete for root space with strangers, but, when researchers put four closely related Great Lakes sea-rocket plants (Cakile edentula) in the same pot, the plants restrained their usual competitive behaviors and shared resources.
Somehow, a plant gathers and integrates all this information about its environment, and then "decides"-some scientists deploy the quotation marks, indicating metaphor at work; others drop them-in precisely what direction to deploy its roots or its leaves. Once the definition of "behavior" expands to include such things as a shift in the trajectory of a root, a reallocation of resources, or the emission of a powerful chemical, plants begin to look like much more active agents, responding to environmental cues in ways more subtle or adaptive than the word "instinct" would suggest. "Plants perceive competitors and grow away from them," Rick Karban, a plant ecologist at U.C. Davis, explained, when I asked him for an example of plant decision-making. "They are more leery of actual vegetation than they are of inanimate objects, and they respond to potential competitors before actually being shaded by them." These are sophisticated behaviors, but, like most plant behaviors, to an animal they're either invisible or really, really slow.
The sessile life style also helps account for plants' extraordinary gift for biochemistry, which far exceeds that of animals and, arguably, of human chemists. (Many drugs, from aspirin to opiates, derive from compounds designed by plants.) Unable to run away, plants deploy a complex molecular vocabulary to signal distress, deter or poison enemies, and recruit animals to perform various services for them. A recent study in Science found that the caffeine produced by many plants may function not only as a defense chemical, as had previously been thought, but in some cases as a psychoactive drug in their nectar. The caffeine encourages bees to remember a particular plant and return to it, making them more faithful and effective pollinators.
One of the most productive areas of plant research in recent years has been plant signalling. Since the early nineteen-eighties, it has been known that when a plant's leaves are infected or chewed by insects they emit volatile chemicals that signal other leaves to mount a defense. Sometimes this warning signal contains information about the identity of the insect, gleaned from the taste of its saliva. Depending on the plant and the attacker, the defense might involve altering the leaf's flavor or texture, or producing toxins or other compounds that render the plant's flesh less digestible to herbivores. When antelopes browse acacia trees, the leaves produce tannins that make them unappetizing and difficult to digest. When food is scarce and acacias are overbrowsed, it has been reported, the trees produce sufficient amounts of toxin to kill the animals.
Perhaps the cleverest instance of plant signalling involves two insect species, the first in the role of pest and the second as its exterminator. Several species, including corn and lima beans, emit a chemical distress call when attacked by caterpillars. Parasitic wasps some distance away lock in on that scent, follow it to the afflicted plant, and proceed to slowly destroy the caterpillars. Scientists call these insects "plant bodyguards."
Plants speak in a chemical vocabulary we can't directly perceive or comprehend. The first important discoveries in plant communication were made in the lab in the nineteen-eighties, by isolating plants and their chemical emissions in Plexiglas chambers, but Rick Karban, the U.C. Davis ecologist, and others have set themselves the messier task of studying how plants exchange chemical signals outdoors, in a natural setting...
Karban told me that, in the nineteen-eighties, people working on plant communication faced some of the same outrage that scientists working on plant intelligence (a term he cautiously accepts) do today. "This stuff has been enormously contentious," he says, referring to the early days of research into plant communication, work that is now generally accepted. "It took me years to get some of these papers published. People would literally be screaming at one another at scientific meetings." He added, "Plant scientists in general are incredibly conservative. We all think we want to hear novel ideas, but we don't, not really."
I first met Karban at a scientific meeting in Vancouver last July, when he presented a paper titled "Plant Communication and Kin Recognition in Sagebrush."
The most controversial presentation was "Animal-Like Learning in Mimosa Pudica,"... She focussed on an elementary type of learning called "habituation," in which an experimental subject is taught to ignore an irrelevant stimulus. "Habituation enables an organism to focus on the important information, while filtering out the rubbish," Gagliano explained to the audience of plant scientists. How long does it take the animal to recognize that a stimulus is "rubbish," and then how long will it remember what it has learned? Gagliano's experimental question was bracing: Could the same thing be done with a plant?
Mimosa pudica, also called the "sensitive plant," is that rare plant species with a behavior so speedy and visible that animals can observe it; the Venus flytrap is another. When the fernlike leaves of the mimosa are touched, they instantly fold up, presumably to frighten insects. The mimosa also collapses its leaves when the plant is dropped or jostled. Gagliano potted fifty-six mimosa plants and rigged a system to drop them from a height of fifteen centimetres every five seconds. Each "training session" involved sixty drops. She reported that some of the mimosas started to reopen their leaves after just four, five, or six drops, as if they had concluded that the stimulus could be safely ignored. "By the end, they were completely open," Gagliano said to the audience. "They couldn't care less anymore."
Was it just fatigue? Apparently not: when the plants were shaken, they again closed up. " 'Oh, this is something new,' " Gagliano said, imagining these events from the plants' point of view. "You see, you want to be attuned to something new coming in. Then we went back to the drops, and they didn't respond." Gagliano reported that she retested her plants after a week and found that they continued to disregard the drop stimulus, indicating that they "remembered" what they had learned. Even after twenty-eight days, the lesson had not been forgotten. She reminded her colleagues that, in similar experiments with bees, the insects forgot what they had learned after just forty-eight hours. Gagliano concluded by suggesting that "brains and neurons are a sophisticated solution but not a necessary requirement for learning," and that there is "some unifying mechanism across living systems that can process information and learn."
A lively exchange followed. Someone objected that dropping a plant was not a relevant trigger, since that doesn't happen in nature. Gagliano pointed out that electric shock, an equally artificial trigger, is often used in animal-learning experiments. Another scientist suggested that perhaps her plants were not habituated, just tuckered out. She argued that twenty-eight days would be plenty of time to rebuild their energy reserves.
On my way out of the lecture hall, I bumped into Fred Sack, a prominent botanist at the University of British Columbia. I asked him what he thought of Gagliano's presentation. "[expletive](nonsense)"," he replied. He explained that the word "learning" implied a brain and should be reserved for animals: "Animals can exhibit learning, but plants evolve adaptations." He was making a distinction between behavioral changes that occur within the lifetime of an organism and those which arise across generations. At lunch, I sat with a Russian scientist, who was equally dismissive. "It's not learning," he said. "So there's nothing to discuss."
Later that afternoon, Gagliano seemed both stung by some of the reactions to her presentation and defiant. Adaptation is far too slow a process to explain the behavior she had observed, she told me. "How can they be adapted to something they have never experienced in their real world?" She noted that some of her plants learned faster than others, evidence that "this is not an innate or programmed response." Many of the scientists in her audience were just getting used to the ideas of plant "behavior" and "memory" (terms that even Fred Sack said he was willing to accept); using words like "learning" and "intelligence" in plants struck them, in Sack's words, as "inappropriate" and "just weird." When I described the experiment to Lincoln Taiz, he suggested the words "habituation" or "desensitization" would be more appropriate than "learning." Gagliano said that her mimosa paper had been rejected by ten journals: "None of the reviewers had problems with the data." Instead, they balked at the language she used to describe the data. But she didn't want to change it. "Unless we use the same language to describe the same behavior"-exhibited by plants and animals-"we can't compare it," she said
Time-lapse photography is perhaps the best tool we have to bridge the chasm between the time scale at which plants live and our own. This example was of a young bean plant, shot in the lab over two days, one frame every ten minutes. A metal pole on a dolly stands a couple of feet away. The bean plant is "looking" for something to climb. Each spring, I witness the same process in my garden, in real time. I always assumed that the bean plants simply grow this way or that, until they eventually bump into something suitable to climb. But Mancuso's video seems to show that this bean plant "knows" exactly where the metal pole is long before it makes contact with it. Mancuso speculates that the plant could be employing a form of echolocation. There is some evidence that plants make low clicking sounds as their cells elongate; it's possible that they can sense the reflection of those sound waves bouncing off the metal pole.
The bean plant wastes no time or energy "looking"-that is, growing-anywhere but in the direction of the pole. And it is striving (there is no other word for it) to get there: reaching, stretching, throwing itself over and over like a fly rod, extending itself a few more inches with every cast, as it attempts to wrap its curling tip around the pole. As soon as contact is made, the plant appears to relax; its clenched leaves begin to flutter mildly. All this may be nothing more than an illusion of time-lapse photography. Yet to watch the video is to feel, momentarily, like one of the aliens in Mancuso's formative science-fiction story, shown a window onto a dimension of time in which these formerly inert beings come astonishingly to life, seemingly conscious individuals with intentions
In October, I loaded the bean video onto my laptop and drove down to Santa Cruz to play it for Lincoln Taiz. He began by questioning its value as scientific data: "Maybe he has ten other videos where the bean didn't do that. You can't take one interesting variation and generalize from it." The bean's behavior was, in other words, an anecdote, not a phenomenon. Taiz also pointed out that the bean in the video was leaning toward the pole in the first frame. Mancuso then sent me another video with two perfectly upright bean plants that exhibited very similar behavior. Taiz was now intrigued.
The most bracing part of Mancuso's talk on bioinspiration came when he discussed underground plant networks. Citing the research of Suzanne Simard, a forest ecologist at the University of British Columbia, and her colleagues, Mancuso showed a slide depicting how trees in a forest organize themselves into far-flung networks, using the underground web of mycorrhizal fungi which connects their roots to exchange information and even goods. This "wood-wide web," as the title of one paper put it, allows scores of trees in a forest to convey warnings of insect attacks, and also to deliver carbon, nitrogen, and water to trees in need.
When I reached Simard by phone, she described how she and her colleagues track the flow of nutrients and chemical signals through this invisible underground network. They injected fir trees with radioactive carbon isotopes, then followed the spread of the isotopes through the forest community using a variety of sensing methods, including a Geiger counter. Within a few days, stores of radioactive carbon had been routed from tree to tree. Every tree in a plot thirty metres square was connected to the network; the oldest trees functioned as hubs, some with as many as forty-seven connections. The diagram of the forest network resembled an airline route map.
The pattern of nutrient traffic showed how "mother trees" were using the network to nourish shaded seedlings, including their offspring-which the trees can apparently recognize as kin-until they're tall enough to reach the light. And, in a striking example of interspecies cooperation, Simard found that fir trees were using the fungal web to trade nutrients with paper-bark birch trees over the course of the season. The evergreen species will tide over the deciduous one when it has sugars to spare, and then call in the debt later in the season. For the forest community, the value of this cooperative underground economy appears to be better over-all health, more total photosynthesis, and greater resilience in the face of disturbance.
In his talk, Mancuso juxtaposed a slide of the nodes and links in one of these subterranean forest networks with a diagram of the Internet, and suggested that in some respects the former was superior. "Plants are able to create scalable networks of self-maintaining, self-operating, and self-repairing units," he said. "Plants."
(from www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/12/23/the-intelligent-plant see there for much more)
When a person contemplates G-d's great and wondrous deeds and creations, and he observes through them His infinite wisdom which surpasses all comparison, he will immediately love, praise, and glorify Him, yearn with tremendous desire to know [G-d's] great name, as David stated: "My soul thirsts for the L-rd, for the living G-d" [Psalms 42:3].Along came Darwin and proposed really life is not the result of any special engineering. In fact, there is not even any intelligence behind it! It is solely the result of dumb luck accumulated over time. That's my theory!
When he [continues] to reflect on these matters, he will immediately recoil in awe and fear, knowing how he is a tiny, lowly, and dark creature, standing with his flimsy, limited, wisdom before He who is of perfect knowledge, as David stated: "When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers... [I wonder] what is man that You should recall Him" [Psalms 8:4-5]. (Mishne Torah, Yesodei Torah ch.2)
Everyone working in fundamental biological research can hardly fail to see, was namely that things are getting more and more complicated every decade as our understanding increases. The endless complexification of biological systems with advancing knowledge was the subject of a recent article in Nature...With these words he echoes the famous prediction of the Zohar as explained here.
As far as where science is going in the future, I think that it's going to be increasingly obvious as the scientific revelation rolls on that you cannot account for life in the universe without proposing that there's some intelligent order behind it. And I think this is going to grow more obvious with each year as biological science advances. Already biological systems are, as currently understood, complex almost beyond conception - think of the millions of neuronal path finding cells navigating through the ever changing biochemical matrix of the developing brain and laying down the circuitry of the nervous system, or the zoo of regulatory micro RNAs regulating gene expression, or the complex, ever-changing 3D topologies of the genome during development.
Or consider the fine-tuning of nature to have living things here in the universe and thriving on a planet like the earth. In this area the criteria are becoming more and more stringent as knowledge advances necessitating an ever-greater degree of fine-tuning of nature's laws toward the end of life. I also see this ongoing revelation as one of the great purposes of science in human history. So if you ask me where science is going in the future I think it's essentially going to be drawn towards some form of intelligent design to account for the world we see around us. And I think that's perhaps the destiny of science, and this was perhaps its destiny from its inception. It's perhaps a somewhat extreme or radical view of the scientific adventure but I think that's what it's about.
"Would you not say to yourself, 'Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.'"Similarly Francis Crick (atheist), the discoverer of DNA:
An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.He can't say it's a miracle because Crick is an atheist. So "almost a miracle" is as close as he can get.
Flew: "I think that the most impressive arguments for G-d's existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries. I've never been much impressed by the Kalam cosmological argument, and I don't think it has gotten any stronger recently. However, I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it... Absolutely. It seems to me that Richard Dawkins constantly overlooks the fact that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design."An interesting alternative to Darwin's random evolution theory is being presented by some such as Perry Marshall, an engineer. Here's an excerpt from his paper.
A cell under stress will splice its own DNA into over 100,000 pieces. Then a program senses hundreds of variables in its environment and then re-arranges those pieces to produce a new, better, evolved cell... consider the significance of this. A protozoa re-programs its own DNA and evolves. Intelligently...In other words, adaptive changes do happen but they are not random. The cell has the power to re-program its own DNA intelligently. Scientists mistakenly "prove" random evolution by pointing to changes in living things. But they fail to realize that these changes are not necessarily random. They are part of the incredible machinery of the cell. see there for more. See also Denton's book "Nature's Destiny" where he brings evidence on this and concludes the same.
If Microsoft DOS 1.0 evolved into the Windows of today without any engineer touching it, would you say: That accidental file copying errors, culled by natural selection, were responsible for these evolutionary changes? OR would you say: That the original engineer who wrote DOS 1.0 was so incredibly skilled that he actually devised a program that could self-adapt? That it could upgrade itself without downloading another annoying Service Pack?
"The custom practiced in the yeshiva world is not to study the Shaar Yichud. And even though, there is no doubt whatsoever that all of what he says there is absolute truth, nevertheless, his words are of philosophical inquiry and this inherently leads to many questions in the mind of the person studying them, and not every person is capable of fully understanding them. It is possible therefore that one could remain with unresolved questions, or at least with doubts, that would not have occurred to him had he not studied this work. Therefore, it is customary to walk simply and accept as a given, simple faith that the Creator is One. And the explanation of One is that there is no power in the world besides Him, no place in the world devoid of Him, and nothing in the world without Him. These things are above the powers of our minds to grasp.Hence, according to this, there is a danger in rational inquiry that a person will be left with doubts. One must be careful when treading the path of logical inquiry for he is not assured from stumbling and erring in treading this path, as in fact there are many, many casualties strewn along this path. We can see in our times, that those groups which believe only that which they can fully understand logically wind up engulfed in doubts and eventually drift away from the Torah and become atheists.
"Be careful that your steps not stray from the path of the forefathers and the path of the early ones towards a new path you have devised, and be careful to not rely on your intellect nor to take counsel only with yourself. Do not reason on your own. Do not distrust your forefathers in the tradition they bequeathed to you as to what is good for you. Do not reject their advice in what they taught you".The Bite of Rationalism
I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.For in truth, all the various animals, beasts, birds, fish, insects, plants, etc. etc. are in fact absolutely astonishing. Each one of them is an intense world that one can study years and years, and nevertheless know only a little bit of how it works. Despite all of our technology, we are only playing, toying with nature. Mixing this, joining that. Applying stem cells here or there. Likewise, we are only toying with the many natural laws which are placed before us. we play with the laws of motion, gravity, electromagnetism, optics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, etc. The wisdom manifested before us is literally infinite. It is unbelievable when one considers all that is happening seemingly on its own.
"If a man is a baal nefesh (non-superficial), and the time is a quiet time, free from the hunger of desires, and his eye opens wide to the glorious vision of the heights of the heaven, and to the depths of the earth, he becomes aroused and aghast. For the world appears to him like an impossible riddle, hidden and wondrous. And this riddle encircles his heart and mind and he becomes faint-hearted. There is no spirit left in him except for this riddle which occupies all his desire and his aspirations. And the understanding of its answer captures his soul, until he is willing to go through fire and through water for it. Because for what is life worth to him, if this life is hidden from him with absolute concealment, and his soul is dizzy, mourning and yearning to understand its secret and to know its root. But the gates are locked..." (Emuna U'Bitachon Chapter 1)But the disease of rationalism crept in and the awe was replaced by a fanatical belief that everything must have a rationalistic, materialistic explanation. There is nothing supernatural here. No need for a creative Power. But as scientific knowledge progressed, the questions only increased. For the more one knows of G-d's infinite wisdom, the more it becomes apparent how much more there is to know. But the rationalist trapped, continues to fool himself and those around him that all is well. There is no supernatural Intelligence behind it all. The more wisdom he uncovers, the more he corrupts himself, for he must deceive himself and others that such wisdom and sophistication arose by sheer dumb luck.
For spiritual matters, once we are convinced of their existence, it is not proper to investigate their nature because this approach only ruins our intellect. This is like one who tries to understand the sun from observing its light, radiance, shine, and its power to dissipate darkness. If he accepts its existence, he will benefit from it, use its light, and attain all that he seeks from it. But one who strives to study its roundness and focuses his eyes to stare at it - his eyes will dim and (eventually) their sight will be lost and he will not benefit from the sun.This, according to the Midrash (Raba Gen.1:10), is the opening teaching of the Torah - the beginning of wisdom is to realize that some things cannot be fully understood by man.
The same thing will happen to us. If we study the existence of the Creator from the evidence of His signs in the creations, the wisdom manifested in them, His power shown in all His creations.. then our minds will be illuminated with knowledge of Him and we will attain all that is possible for us to attain.. But if we exert our minds to understand the matter of His glorious essence, and to try to liken or represent Him in our minds - we will ruin/diminish our intellect and understanding, and we will not grasp even what was known to us, as would happen to our eyes if we stared at the sun.
Rabbi Jonah taught in the name of Rabbi Levi that the world was created with a letter bet (the first letter in Genesis 1:1, which begins the Torah, "In the beginning G-d created"), because just as the letter Bet is closed at the sides but open in front, so one is not permitted to investigate what is above and what is below, what is before and what is behind.