Applied Intelligent Design: Engineers Know Engineering When They See It

American Chemical Society, biologists, Biomimetics, biomimicry, butterfly wings, China, coral, Duke University, engineers, fish scales, geckos, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech, Intelligent Design, Johns Hopkins University, leaf, leaves, Life Sciences, materials science, Michael Varenberg, Nanjing Tech University, nanowires, New Scientist, polymers, Teflon, telescopes
Engineers of all types (e.g., mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, civil, software) are focused on how to get things to work. They need to pull together all that is known about materials and properties, and organize them to perform a function. They need to meet design requirements: a company or government says “Here is what we need to do; how can we get it done within the limits of cost and time available?” Knowledge of engineering principles grows as the needs of a society grow, often becoming more sophisticated, pushing the boundaries of know-how. Engineers are trained to see design and judge good design. Human engineers must also navigate intellectual property laws, because many engineers want to patent their designs and protect them from theft. There’s a lot of angst going on…
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Important Medical Effects but Modest Mutations

Charles Darwin, CypA, Darwin Devolves, Darwinian processes, Evolution, FCT, function, Functional-Coded-elemenT, HIV, information, isoform, natural selection, New Scientist, Origin of Species, owl monkey, protein, random mutation, retroviruses, rhesus macaque, RNA, The Quarterly Review of Biology, TRIM5
I was asked to address a comment left by a viewer of one of Discovery’s YouTube videos. The comment is:1 Some monkeys have a mutation in a protein called TRIM5 that results in a piece of another, defunct protein being tacked onto TRIM5. The result is a hybrid protein called TRIM5-CypA, which can protect cells from infection with retroviruses such as HIV. Here, a single mutation has resulted in a new protein with a new and potentially vital function. New protein, new function, new information. A bit of Googling shows that the text was taken word-for-word from an old article (2008) on the New Scientist website2 (perhaps by way of intermediate copying). That was during a period when the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species was…
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How Butterflies “Evolve” by Design

beauty, butterflies, caterpillar, cortex (gene), Douglas Blackiston, Drosophila, Elena Casey, Evolution, foresight, Georgetown University, Heliconius, helicopter, hotspot gene, Illustra Media, Intelligent Design, larvae, Lepidopterans, light waves, Martha Weiss, Metamorphosis, Model T, Monarch butterflies, moths, New Scientist, odors, Paul Nelson, photonic crystals, pigmentation, PLOS ONE, Royal Society Biology Letters, South America, tobacco hornworm moths, University of Liverpool, wing patterns
Butterflies, those universally loved flying works of art, offer many reasons to celebrate design in nature.  They showcase aesthetic beauty beyond the requirements of survival (see “Beauty, Darwin and Design,” featuring Paul Nelson).  Their migrations show foresight over multiple generations.  The one-gram Monarch butterflies astonish biologists with their exceptional endurance to survive hardships while flying thousands of miles on paper-thin wings (see “2-Minute Wonder: A Monarch’s Journey“). Their navigation systems exhibit stunning accuracy to arrive at locations they have never seen. Their keen senses can find the right host plants from miles away; they can smell very faint pheromones for mating; and they can distinguish precise angles of sunlight for orientation and timing of migration.  Their wing scales, organized into “photonic crystals,” give precision control of light waves to create…
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