TED Conversations

Josh Mayourian

Student , Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art


This conversation is closed.

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?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Mar 7 2012: Well.... are we not a part of nature ourselves?

    I feel that in answering this question I am inclined to look to conclusions of a supernatural creator ("God") to account for the reasons that we have not yet replicated the process of forming diamond or gold.

    Yet, I also feel that you were not asking for a answer of the metaphysical type, but the purely physical type which possibly requires a different way of approaching the subject.

    Take diamond as an example though, we have not the resources or the expertise to create a perfectly flawed diamond - what we can do though is create a substitute with cubic zirconia. It will never will reach the point of truly copying diamond though, because each diamond in uniquely created and formed out of such scarce circumstances that we would be foolish to use our resources to imitate nature.

    Coming back to my introduction though, I rarely feel that I (personally) am not part of nature, and so to copy human nature in technology perhaps is more achievable. I feel that if we achieve this then it would be a small step until other parts of the created universe become copied in technology.

    First we need to understand human nature though....

    "Aim to know the whole universe.... you will understand nothing,
    Aim to know yourself... and you will understand the whole universe"

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.