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Scientists use Darwin theory to develop new technologies

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posted on Feb, 2 2009 @ 11:43 PM
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Scientists use Darwin theory to develop new technologies


www.chron.com

Still a flash point among fundamentalist Christians, the theory of evolution proposed by Charles Darwin 150 years ago has become an indispensable tool for biologists to comprehend the natural world.

Yet as scientists mark Darwin’s 200th birthday this month, evolution is no longer simply a narrative of life. Scientists have begun using it as a tool to develop new technologies.

By doing so, they have improved law enforcement, created smarter computer programs and are remaking the field of medicine. There have been quirkier applications, such as cleaner clothes, too.
(visit the link for the full news article)




posted on Feb, 2 2009 @ 11:43 PM
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For roughly the last 20 years, a small, albeit influential, group of conservatives has actively sought to undermine Texas public school teachers from presenting evolutionary theory free from restraints.


But Andy Ellington, a University of Texas evolutionary biologist, called that argument “almost amusing.”

“You have these folks who are trying to suggest that we shouldn’t teach evolution as something our kids need to know,” he said. “But at the same time, there are these new technologies out there shaping our lives every day.”


When most people hear the words the "Theory of Evolution" one of the first things that springs to mind is the battle between religious enthusiasts intent on introducing some form of Creationism (think Intelligent Design) into the science classrooms of the public school system and educators/scientists balking at such attempts. Despite the controversy surrounding evolution, it is astounding just how influential Darwin's theory has been across a multitude of scientific fields, such as genetics, microbiology and even computer programming.

This article is definitely a thought-provoking read.

www.chron.com
(visit the link for the full news article)



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 02:10 AM
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Darwin was exceedingly correct when he stated (in reference to the eye) how counter-intuitive the theory of Evolution seemed to be. Yet he felt that it was nevertheless true. Humans tend to think of the world around us in a linear fashion. We see order, and assume someone had to put everything in that order. Because without intelligently guided order, things tend towards chaos. It's unfortunate that in Darwin's day they didn't have access to the modern tools we use, such as computers, to sort and compare trends within absolutely titanic volumes of data and preform calculations at a very high rate of speed.

Since we've had these tools, we've been able to test some hunches that we couldn't manage before. What we've found is that linear theory is wrong. Order DOES come from chaos. Because of our limited capabilities, we could only see the data in very small sets. However, as our view widened, we began noticing patterns that repeated. This gave rise to Chaos theory, and to fractals, and eventually the theories of emergence and self-organization. Very simple rules within in a chaotic system influenced the interactions of the particulars of that chaotic system. These interactions became a second layer of rules and influenced other rules... and so on and so forth until patterns emerged.

For instance, it's impossible to accurately gauge when any single kernel of popcorn in a kettle will pop. There's just too many factors to take into account. However, we can accurately estimate when pretty much all of the kernels that are going to pop - will have popped. It's impossible to predict what any single molecule of gas in a room will do. However we can model the properties of a gas as a whole.

It's this fundamental property of our reality that confuses some people over Global Warming. "Oh, they can't accurately predict the weather even a few days in advance! How can they know what the weather will be like in 100 years!?" Because weather forecasts are like gauging when that one kernel of popcorn will pop, and climate forecasts are like gauging when the kettle of popcorn will be done.

I think if educational institutions REALLY want to increase the public understanding of evolution, they should start by teaching the basic fundamentals of emergence and complexity to get people acclimatized to the idea that order does indeed come from the interactions of disorder. Because as we look around, and gauge more and more interactions, we're finding that emergence is the rule - not the exception in nature. As a fundamental property of our reality, like cause and effect, it has FAR reaching potential - and can be observed in every aspect of our universe. From the formation of stars to stability on Wall Street.

And we're sure as hell going to need to know it going into the future if we wish to manage complex systems to our benefit, especially with the potential of genomics, nanotechnology, computerization, etc.

Wiki Links:
Chaos Theory
Self Organization
Emergence
Complex Systems

Ok... now that that long aside is finished, let me mention my brief response to the OP. You may be interested in this article from New Scientists over the newly developing struggle between Evolution and Creationism. It's got nothing to do with god and schools, however, but rather it's a point of contention between human designers and evolutionary algorithms over who can design the better product. It's becoming increasingly clear that the method of evolution is far superior in potential, and is starting to overtake human designs. According to the article, some are even concerned that EA will become so robust that we will have to reverse engineer our own new technologies just find out how they work!

I don't know what the creationist response to these are, because I've never gotten one to give me a coherent rebuttal to their usefulness or effectiveness.

New Scientist - EA's now surpass human designers.



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 03:07 AM
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Very good post Lasheic.


Originally posted by Lasheic
I don't know what the creationist response to these are, because I've never gotten one to give me a coherent rebuttal to their usefulness or effectiveness.


It doesn't really matter what the creationists responses will be, this is neither a discussion on creationism, nor an argument as to whether or not "blind faith" should be used in place of knowledge.

They still can't seem to figure out that the Theory of Evolution has nothing to do with whether or not it exists, we know it exists, we can no longer refute that, the Theory is WHY and HOW it works.



Darwin's theories are very accurate, however, much of it is still incomplete. It's just a matter of time before it is completed. I look forward to that day.

Until we can find a specific equation that governs the evolutionary process, we have to leave it open.

Which is ironic, considering how involved the chaos theory is with it.



For those who have little knowledge of evolution or the theory as to how it works, allow me to use an analogy to explain where we are...

Assume you have a car, but are unable to open the hood, and have never been told what the engine type is.
You know the car exists, that can't be refuted.
You know it moves when you push on the accelerator, you can turn it on, off, steer it, and slow it down.
But one main problem remains, you still can't look under the hood to know for sure what it is that makes it work. All you can do is theorize about it.

This is allot like evolution in that we know it exists, that can't be refuted.
We can steer evolutionary paths, and basically manipulate it in many interesting ways.
However, without looking directly at how it works, all we can do is theorize as to what's making it work.
(That's pretty general as we already have a sound working theory, but we still haven't gotten it down to a precise equation.)

To other members who have also studied the theory, sorry for the layman's talk... I just don't want to exclude those who haven't educated themselves on the topic.

[edit on 3-2-2009 by johnsky]



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 09:44 AM
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Originally posted by johnsky

To other members who have also studied the theory, sorry for the layman's talk... I just don't want to exclude those who haven't educated themselves on the topic.



Well, I think that's part of the problem. A lot of people still regard evolution in a strictly "origins of life" aspect, without realizing that this theory has been a catalyst for research that stretches far beyond monkeys-to-man linear thinking. In the field of microbiology alone, the theory has been used to develop better vaccines and antibodies to combat viral diseases that mutate. The fact that Darwin's theory can be applied to computer programming speaks volumes, and is a testament to its veracity.



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 10:00 AM
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Originally posted by Lasheic
I don't know what the creationist response to these are, because I've never gotten one to give me a coherent rebuttal to their usefulness or effectiveness.

New Scientist - EA's now surpass human designers.


A very good post there, but I dont think Evolutionry Algorhythms call for an additional polarization between "Creationists" and "Evolution-Theorists".

Why? Because "human design" originates somewhere...with a creative human...before taking on an evolutionary path of its own.

Edit-to-add: I just saw that you attempted to discuss this with me here. I've finally responded...in this thread.


[edit on 3-2-2009 by Skyfloating]



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 10:55 AM
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The problem with the 'Theory of Evolution' comes into play when the paradigm drives the 'scientists' instead of the data driving the paradigm.

It is so rampant in every field that the methodology of Science is practically nonexistant.

Only the most skilled and honest of observers will even admit that the rampant adherence to the paradigm basically makes 'scientists' blind to ANY evidence to the contrary.

The real elephant in the room is the role of vested interests. It has diminished Science to 'science'... an absolute farce.





[edit on 3-2-2009 by golemina]



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 01:09 PM
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Originally posted by golemina
It is so rampant in every field that the methodology of Science is practically nonexistant.

Only the most skilled and honest of observers will even admit that the rampant adherence to the paradigm basically makes 'scientists' blind to ANY evidence to the contrary.

The real elephant in the room is the role of vested interests. It has diminished Science to 'science'... an absolute farce.


Really? Please enlighten us as to how the scientific method is utterly lacking of any merit. This should be interesting.



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 07:33 PM
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reply to post by maria_stardust
 


>'Really? Please enlighten us as to how the scientific method is utterly lacking of any merit. This should be interesting.'



Pick ANY field (of 'science') you want.


(Or... If you want me to pick an area of interest... I pick 'medical' 'science'... specifically autism. Fair enough?)

(Or... ANYTHING I have ever discussed on ATS
)


[edit on 3-2-2009 by golemina]



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 08:32 PM
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reply to post by golemina
 


Interestingly enough the scientific method applies equally to all fields of science. However, since this thread relates directly to the Theory of Evolution and its' influence upon various fields of scientific research it would be prudent to limit the discussion to such.

I highly suggest you read the news source pertaining directly to this, as well as the others suggested by Lasheic. That would be a good starting point to state your case.



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 10:07 PM
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reply to post by maria_stardust
 


It was, of course, assumed we would take the exchange somewhere else.

>'That would be a good starting point to state your case.'

I can certainly understand why a 'learned' person wouldn't want to mix it up with little ole multi-discipline golem...

This is not the first time that 'science' has announced a 'revolutionary' approach to problem solving.

I just keep hoping that one of them will result in a sentient computer algorithm.



Bottom line Maria_Stardust... I'm NOT selling anything. I perfectly respect your right to hide behind... ??

Please DO keep believing in the efficacy of 'science'.


If you change your mind... Any 'science', any time, any where...

Take care.


[edit on 3-2-2009 by golemina]



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 10:14 PM
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This is a fascinating application of the theory.

While I don't think evolution accoutns for the origins of life, I don't see how anyone can honestly deny that evolution, at least adaptation, happens natrually.

There are numerous examples of this in nature. Flu virus is a good example. Even humans have "Evolved" in the past few decades; we are a few inches taller on average.



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 10:47 PM
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Ah, yes, the fine art of deflection. This thread has been created for the active discussion of the Theory of Evolution as it relates to other scientific disciplines. However, you seem intent on derailing this thread.


Originally posted by golemina
It was, of course, assumed we would take the exchange somewhere else.


If you are seeking a debate, ATS has a separate forum for that express purpose. Please contact me via u2u if you wish to continue down this route, and we can arrange a structured debate.

Otherwise, let's please keep this thread on topic.



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 11:26 PM
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reply to post by maria_stardust
 


The way I see it is that Creationists compare Darwinian natural selection with their our own religious myths on a cosmological level, with major philosophical implications. Evolution is merely a practical science. It's not some far flung philosophical remonstration. It's in no way some attempt to explain the origin of existence. This is where the Creationists are fundamentally confused. They place the beginning of existence contemporaneously with the creation of man, whereas we know through empirical evidence that something has existed for much longer than humans. Their story holds an important structural function in conservative societies across America. They think scientific observation is going to undermine their familial solidarity.

[edit on 3-2-2009 by cognoscente]



posted on Feb, 4 2009 @ 08:48 AM
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reply to post by asmeone2
 




While I don't think evolution accoutns for the origins of life,


You'll be satisfied to know that it doesn't. However, I get the feeling that you're referring more to naturalistic origins or Abiogenesis. I can accept Abiogenesis, or life coming from non life, as an emergent property of simple chemical reactions. (And really, the first life on Earth likely would have been very difficult to consider "life" - just as we have a hard time defining viruses as "life") However, despite some promising leads, the question is still very much in the air over just how it happened.

------------------------------

On topic, I thought these videos might add a bit to the thread. They don't necessarily deal with Genetic Algorithms - but rather, talks on other subjects in which they mention or show applications created using GA's.


A new way of generating power using solar energy and a modification of the Stirling Hot Air Engine. EA's were used to help solve efficiency problems.


Designing robots that learn and procreate. EA's were used to create the robots themselves, and defined how the robots interacted with their world. The final bit about procreation is interesting, that even in the presence of no reward - they found that replication is it's own intrinsic reward which emerges from their EAs.

--------------------------------

I'd also like to make an aside to talk about complexity again, and present this video of a speech from the late Michael Crichton (RIP). Yeah yeah, I know. He's not a scientist, he's an entertainer. He also has a knack for taking complicated or high tech concepts and clearly explaining them in a fashion which we can all understand. It was his books (and a fractal program I had as a kid for my 386) that first opened my mind to complexity and emergence - which is a subject my school never mentioned even a whisper of.



Again, I only stress this because of the importance complexity theory has to Evolution. Has to all aspects of our lives... and I really hope that more people pick up and recognize it. I really should make my own thread, but Complexity is kind of counter-intuitive to Conspiracy... because once you can really recognize it, it's the linear lines we draw between events and organizations in a complex system that makes it look like events are "orchestrated" by TPTB. Some are, and they have their ripple effects on the system, but many most definitely are not... and what you chose to believe will affect the decisions you make. Decisions which can alter course of your life.

[edit on 4-2-2009 by Lasheic]



posted on Feb, 4 2009 @ 10:01 AM
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Robert Full is a biologist from UC Berekley that has made a career of studying how animals walk in order to engineer robots to move in a similar fashion. He currently directs the Poly-PEDAL Laboratory at Berekley which conducts research into the muscles and skeletons of insects and animals to this end.


His internationally recognized research program in comparative physiology and biomechanics has shown how examining a diversity of animals leads to the discovery of general principles of locomotion... At the same time, discovering the function of simple, tractable neuromechanical systems along with a knowledge of evolution can provide new design ideas applicable to the control of animal and human gait. Recently, Professor Full's research has focused on the role of the mechanical system in self-stabilization.


Poly-PEDAL

The following is a facinating presentation that Fuller gave at a TED Conference in 2002.
How engineers learn from evolution



posted on Mar, 2 2010 @ 07:19 PM
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@ op

Thought Id go visit some of your post since you removed one of my post for gratuitous edit or something.


I have to say in your defense here

en.wikipedia.org...

en.wikipedia.org...


In computer science, evolutionary computation is a subfield of artificial intelligence (more particularly computational intelligence) that involves combinatorial optimization problems.

Evolutionary computation uses iterative progress, such as growth or development in a population. This population is then selected in a guided random search using parallel processing to achieve the desired end. Such processes are often inspired by biological mechanisms of evolution.


In fact I am working on something that utilizes natural selection for the construction of a weapon or two.

heres more

en.wikipedia.org...




A genetic algorithm (GA) is a search technique used in computing to find exact or approximate solutions to optimization and search problems. Genetic algorithms are categorized as global search heuristics. Genetic algorithms are a particular class of evolutionary algorithms (EA) that use techniques inspired by evolutionary biology such as inheritance, mutation, selection, and crossover.

Methodology

Genetic algorithms are implemented in a computer simulation in which a population of abstract representations (called chromosomes or the genotype of the genome) of candidate solutions (called individuals, creatures, or phenotypes) to an optimization problem evolves toward better solutions. Traditionally, solutions are represented in binary as strings of 0s and 1s, but other encodings are also possible. The evolution usually starts from a population of randomly generated individuals and happens in generations. In each generation, the fitness of every individual in the population is evaluated, multiple individuals are stochastically selected from the current population (based on their fitness), and modified (recombined and possibly randomly mutated) to form a new population. The new population is then used in the next iteration of the algorithm. Commonly, the algorithm terminates when either a maximum number of generations has been produced, or a satisfactory fitness level has been reached for the population. If the algorithm has terminated due to a maximum number of generations, a satisfactory solution may or may not have been reached.

Genetic algorithms find application in bioinformatics, phylogenetics, computational science, engineering, economics, chemistry, manufacturing, mathematics, physics and other fields.


now as to the nature of the debate slightly started here it seems...

Scientific method

en.wikipedia.org...

Problem
Hypothesis
experiment
observation
conclusions

always forgotten it seems:
rinse
repeat

It seems you are arguing over the history of science. If I understand the mode, then in this avenue she is correct in agreeing that the method is infallible. because it is not the object of the test.

Your trying to state that the whims of public opinion are polluting the results...

could you two clear that up for me please otherwise I have to agree with her statement

[edit on 2-3-2010 by ripcontrol]



posted on Mar, 2 2010 @ 07:58 PM
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reply to post by ripcontrol
 


Wow, this is a surprise! Haven't seen this thread in about a year.





Your trying to state that the whims of public opinion are polluting the results...

could you two clear that up for me please otherwise I have to agree with her statement


I'm not quite sure which statement in particular you're referring to, but as this deals with what has become a thorny issue regarding politics, fundamentalist activists and the hijacking of the science curriculum in the Texas public school system... I give it a go.


Over the course of the last couple of decades a dedicated group of Christian fundamentalists have managed to work their way on to the Texas State Board of Education and undermine the way educators present the Theory of Evolution in science classes. A couple of strategies they have attempted to use has included stressing perceived weakness within the theory itself by calling the scientific method into question; and by attempting to introduce alternatives to evolution such as Intelligent Design (a thinly-veiled form of Creationism).

The original article cited in this thread discusses the fact that the Theory of Evolution has been able to influence other venues of scientific research including advances in technology.

So it is not necessarily the "whims of public opinion" that are polluting the issue, but rather a small, albeit influential group of Christian fundamentalists who feel that the Theory of Evolution correlates to their personal belief system and, as such, should not be exposed to children in the public school system.

Don't know if that answers your question, but I hope that helps.



posted on Mar, 2 2010 @ 08:10 PM
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reply to post by maria_stardust
 


"evolution" as a word just basically means trial and error

Human beings using trial & error to make better clothing does nothing to prove the theory of Evolution.

This can only really be attributed to Darwin *if* the concept of "trial & error" does not predate him.

[edit on 2-3-2010 by Snarf]



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