Joined: May 2006
|Sure, maybe this bacterium kicks our butts when it comes to making superglue (for now), but can it make a nanogenerator?|
Actually, I don't know that any bacterium makes a better superglue, overall, than we do. The recent claims have been that it is the best "natural" superglue, and that it may be better than anything we have for wet surfaces. Which means that in one respect it may be better than cyanoacrylate, but it is likely that in many other respects it is not as good as what we make.
We often make more capable machines than does evolution because we can choose, "design", to optimize materials and temperatures. The control of a hummingbird's flight is not yet matched by us, however our ability to power flight beyond the mediocre level that muscles can attain, is unmatched. Nothing much larger than a swan can really actively fly for any extended period of time, while we fly incredibly large planes, sometimes while carrying tanks.
Muscles are not, certainly, the best sources of power possible, almost certainly not even under physiological conditions. In our designs, we may choose nickel tungsten and cobalt to make truly powerful turbines and jet engines, thus to produce flight that life has never begun to approach. This is what sets life apart from machines, in part, this fact that "designers" (yes, the question of what "designer" means is begged here) are incredibly capable of utilizing materials and ideas (indeed, the Wright brothers learned design from the birds--bats and their reputed designer did not) from a wide range of possibilities, while vertebrate life is restricted in materials and information, pathetically having to develop wings out of legs, feathers out of scales.
Nevertheless, feathers are now highly evolved and perhaps close to "optimal" for their function (some improvements in material seem likely to be possible). Of course bats did not benefit from this kind of "design", since bats simply had to evolve from featherless mammals.
Having said all that, however, evolution hits on solutions that humans probably would never be able to do without using tools. Look at the life cycles of some of the parasites, and you see very strange exploitations of contingent opportunities that no "designer" would be likely to think up, not even an evil one. Even that is not much of a limitation to us any more, though, since we are able to computationally, as well as in vitro, evolve solutions to problems that we would not likely achieve by merely thinking about them.
We will probably trump biology in virtually every area, then, because we may harness both evolutionary development and the generality of design to both "mimic nature" (we usually make at least some improvements when we do this) and when we come up with a new "design". I guess we're the new gods, then, since God himself is reputedly restricted to using evolutionary algorithms alone for his "designs" (as inferred from the claims from IDists that God designed clearly derived organs and organisms), while we mix both evolutionary and design characteristics to best God's "designs".
Even though I don't believe in God, I can't leave it at that. For the sake of those who believe in an intelligent God, I must point out that the IDists "God" is an insult to all thinking theists. And to all thinking non-theists, for that matter. If one wishes to believe in God, at least may such a one not reduce the God-concept to one lower than our own estate.
Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of coincidence---ID philosophy