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: I don’t think we can COPY nature, as the work COPY means to duplicate the same thing in two different places and the two are exactly similar in every details. nature is very complex, highly regulated, and wonderful. we can not copy the essence of these three entities of nature, BUT we can reduce it to its best posible reduction and still functional. YES this is possible.
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      Mar 7 2012: Hey Hermin!!!

      I also think it is a daunting task to exactly copy natural phenomena, part for part, section for section, concept for concept. To emulate nature completely is something that is so difficult because the level of intricacies and connections is so high as you have stated but does our modeling and emulations have to be a mere reduction of nature? I think it is possible to gather information about nature and collate them in a way to exceed nature or at least develop a method or procedure that is more efficient. I think our motivations for improvement stem from nature. We see a functional method but there are possible deficiencies in it. Modeling nature may not be possible but improving it might be.

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