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Author Topic: Why does nature often have an advantage over chemists?  (Read 5332 times)

Offline peppercorn

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Nature seems very adept at making things (chemicals especially) that we humans want & does it very easily & efficiently.

This may be asking the bloody obvious, but what makes Nature so bloomin' special!!!
(especially in terms of lower energy needs to produce the same results as a chemist)

This is posted partially out of desperation as no-one responded to my previous post *humph* :(

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=14755.msg175766#msg175766

So I thought I'd widen the scope of the question & hopefully make it more interesting a discussion for others...

[Nature works at microscopic levels (eg. bacteria) - Versus -  Humans that have Big brains that can solve complex problems]
« Last Edit: 30/05/2008 19:04:04 by chris »


 

Offline RD

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Re: Why does nature often have an advantage over chemists?
« Reply #1 on: 30/05/2008 16:12:11 »
Nature seems very adept at making things (chemicals especially) that we humans want & does it very easily & efficiently.

This may be asking the bloody obvious, but what makes Nature so bloomin' special!!!
(especially in terms of lower energy needs to produce the same results as a chemist)

Nature has been working on these problems for a lot longer, a few billion years.
As you mentioned there has been natural selection for the most energy-efficient forms of a species, as they are more likely to survive. 
 
Chemists and other scientists do learn from nature's billions of years of trial-and-error, its called biomimicry, (its not cheating, honest  :)).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomimicry
« Last Edit: 30/05/2008 16:17:00 by RD »
 

Offline chris

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Why does nature often have an advantage over chemists?
« Reply #2 on: 30/05/2008 19:08:54 »
This is posted partially out of desperation as no-one responded to my previous post *humph* :(

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=14755.msg175766#msg175766

Sorry, I'd not seen your previous post - but I have now responded!

BTW - tip for you - if you couch the "subject" as a question, you'll get a lot more people looking at your post and therefore more answers.

Best

Chris
 

Offline peppercorn

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Why does nature often have an advantage over chemists?
« Reply #3 on: 31/05/2008 12:37:19 »
Thanks guys!

There seems something kind of poetic to think of nature blindly (or should I say unconsciously) creating a creature with language & reason that, after aeons evolve the capability to understand those very processes.

RD - many thanks for the biomimicry link!

Would you agree that the recent manipulation techniques that come under the Nanotechnology banner are going to give us the next step towards replicating the low-energy processes that the simplest organisms (like bacteria) have shown us?

I think the structure of modern fuel cells could be thought of as having the microscopic complexity on a par with micro-organisms. Is it fair to say that modified (reverse) fuel-cell type structures could soon offer an arena  for chemical manipulation as efficient as micro-organisms, but the directness of traditional large-scale chemical plants?

 

Offline RD

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Why does nature often have an advantage over chemists?
« Reply #4 on: 31/05/2008 16:26:39 »
There seems something kind of poetic to think of nature blindly (or should I say unconsciously) creating a creature with language & reason that, after aeons evolve the capability to understand those very processes.

When I said "nature has been working on the problem" I didn't intend to suggest teleology, (e.g. to create humans). 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleological_argument  
« Last Edit: 31/05/2008 16:29:44 by RD »
 

Offline peppercorn

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Why does nature often have an advantage over chemists?
« Reply #5 on: 01/06/2008 11:09:01 »
There seems something kind of poetic to think of nature blindly (or should I say unconsciously) creating a creature with language & reason that, after aeons evolve the capability to understand those very processes.

When I said "nature has been working on the problem" I didn't intend to suggest teleology, (e.g. to create humans).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleological_argument   

No. I know (or hoped) you didn't!!
My saying it was poetic was definitely not an endorsement of the teleological argument.
I'm just pointing out that nature's results are truly incredible for such a simple set of rules. That deserves some kudos, even without the mysticism!

To paraphrase my second question:
When will mankind catch up? Gaining the ability to manipulate on these tiny scales as efficiently as nature. One could coin the phrase "micro-biomimcry"...
 

Offline peppercorn

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Why does nature often have an advantage over chemists?
« Reply #6 on: 03/06/2008 13:44:39 »
Could we, in time, make nano-structures that could carry out the sort of ion-transport as bacteria? Emulating bacterial ability to efficiently carry out common chemical reactions.
 

Offline RD

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Why does nature often have an advantage over chemists?
« Reply #7 on: 03/06/2008 17:30:10 »
Could we, in time, make nano-structures that could carry out the sort of ion-transport as bacteria?
Emulating bacterial ability to efficiently carry out common chemical reactions.

Genetically modified micro-organisms are already used to produce...
Plastics   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203120115.htm
Medicines  http://annualreport.novonordisk.com/how-we-perform/gene-technology.asp 
 

Offline peppercorn

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Why does nature often have an advantage over chemists?
« Reply #8 on: 03/06/2008 20:47:11 »
Genetically modified micro-organisms are already used to produce...
Plastics   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203120115.htm
Medicines  http://annualreport.novonordisk.com/how-we-perform/gene-technology.asp 

Yes, informative articles. Thanks!
It seems it might be more effective if some day we could model particular activities of micro-orgs such as converting cellulose into alcohols in nanotech 'breeders'. After all, as long as we are using bacteria we can only 'trick' them to carry out the reactions we want & they come with lots of mechanisms (eg. reproduction) that are irrelevant to our needs.
 

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Why does nature often have an advantage over chemists?
« Reply #8 on: 03/06/2008 20:47:11 »

 

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