29 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 Evolution Versus Engineering

What's the difference between evolution and engineering? Engineering is the designing of a whole out of parts suited to their individual purposes. Evolution is the process of tiny incremental changes, each making some small or large improvement in the ability of the thing to survive and reproduce. A good engineer avoids the kluge-jargon for the use of a part not particularly suited to its purpose. But evolution favors, even cherishes, the kluge. Suddenly finding a new purpose for a part witho...
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Evolution is all about kludges.

20 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 The Idiotic Design of the Eye

Hermann von Helmholtz, the great nineteenthcentury German scientist (you could call him a physicist, but his contributions to biology and psychology were greater), said, of the eye: 'If an optician wanted to sell me an instrument which had all these defects, I should think myself quite justified in blaming his carelessness in the strongest terms, and giving him back his instrument.' One reason why the eye seems better than Helmholtz, the physicist, judged it to be is that the brain does an am...
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Wired backwards with a blind spot.

03 JAN 2011 by ideonexus

 Number of Bits for a Set of Encyclopedias are Minuscule C...

I have estimaged how many letters there are in a the Enclyclopaedia, and I have assumed that each of my 24 million books is as big as an Encyclopaedia volume, and have calculated, then, how many bits of information there are (10^15). For each bit I allow 100 atoms. And it turns out that all of the information that man has carefully accumulated in all the books in the world can be written in this form in a cube of material one two-hundredths of an inch wide--which is the barest piece of dust t...
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Feynman estimates the number of atoms neccessary for storing a set of encyclopedias, and then compares that to the amount of data included in a DNA string.