Sunday, November 07, 2010
[optimized to the limits of physics]
The New York Times recently published an article pointing out some new insights which physicists have discovered regarding the perfection and efficiency of living things.
For example, scientists have learned that the fundamental units of vision, the photoreceptor cells that carpet the retinal tissue of the eye and respond to light, are not just good or great or phabulous at their job. They are not merely exceptionally impressive by the standards of biology, with whatever slop and wiggle room the animate category implies. Photoreceptors operate at the outermost boundary allowed by the laws of physics, which means they are as good as they can be, period. Each one is designed to detect and respond to single photons of light — the smallest possible packages in which light comes wrapped.
Scientists have identified and mathematically anatomized an array of cases where optimization has left its fastidious mark, among them the superb efficiency with which bacterial cells will close in on a food source; the precision response in a fruit fly embryo to contouring molecules that help distinguish tail from head; and the way a shark can find its prey by measuring micro-fluxes of electricity in the water a tremulous millionth of a volt strong — which, as Douglas Fields observed in Scientific American, is like detecting an electrical field generated by a standard AA battery “with one pole dipped in the Long Island Sound and the other pole in waters of Jacksonville, Fla.” In each instance, biophysicists have calculated, the system couldn’t get faster, more sensitive or more efficient without first relocating to an alternate universe with alternate physical constants.
Researchers have shown that an E. coli microbe navigating its way through a chemically chaotic environment and over to food relies on an algorithm of compare-contrast-act, the note-trading taking place between surface receptors on the bacterium’s front and aft. “The reliability of its decision-making is so high,” said Dr. Bialek, “that it couldn’t do much better if it counted every single molecule in its environment.”
As science expands our knowledge of creation, we can only stand in overwhelming awe and love for our infinitely wise Creator.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 12:09 PM