Store Is Closed
Jul 30 2011 7:07:39 pm ESTTopics:
From the Genetics Science Learning Center at the University of Utah, I found this excellent Flash animation that displays a scaled representation of various organisms, bacteria, viruses, and molecules down to a carbon atom.
The animation helps put in perspective the size of the systems responsible for life. In particular, I am surprised by the size of viruses, and can appreciate the difficulty in detecting them.
I believe that over time, human technology and infrastructure will approach molecular scale engineering principles. For example, structural steel will be replaced by carbon nanotubes, perhaps assembled and woven by modified microorganisms or artificial life.
As we approach this direction, we will rely upon nature for guidance. Our current engineering practices are better suited for larger systems. However, nature has billions of years experience on the molecular level.
In my studies of natural systems, the core of my studies stem from one work, On Growth And Form by D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson.
First published in 1917, On Growth and Form has become a classic text on morphology. It was ahead of its time when first published, and may find new use as we delve into biomimetics over the coming years.