TED Conversations

Josh Mayourian

Student , Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art


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Will we ever truly be able to model nature?

My Bioelectricity professor Nina Tandon recently gave a TED talk “Caring for engineered tissue” and I was amazed how we are able to copy the environment of artificially grown cells. There are many techniques used to reduce error and create accurate results. Such amazing replications allow us to grow artificial hearts and bones, enhancing research opportunities on these
parts of the body. This made me wonder how successful we are at modeling
other living systems, so I watched the TED talk “Robert Full on engineering and evolution.” Many years ago, engineer's claimed bees shouldn't be able to fly, dolphins shouldn’t be able to swim, and geckos shouldn't be able to climb from their calculations. However, in the past few years we've been able to explain these phenomenons, showing how much we have progressed. Through watching these great talks, I was curious: How close are we to modeling nature and making predictions without ideal assumptions? Will we ever be able to reach this point and truly copy nature?


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  • Mar 6 2012: A model of nature ought to be using parts of it.
    Unless the model is an exact replica of nature, with ALL of its components, you can't be sure that the model is an accurate description which gives accurate predictions. There's always a chance that some missing part in your model holds for a certain nature phenomena, which you won't see in the model. Similarly, due to missing parts, the model can give false predictions, which aren't part of nature.

    So, in summary, you can make as many models as you wish, but you're never going to be sure you modeled nature correctly.

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