Casey Luskin, please come out of your box, or stop trying to stick your opinions through the keyhole without taking a look. Luskin, a mouthpiece for the Discovery Institute, recently tried to attack Carl Zimmer’s National Geographic article on complexity. (Zimmer’s article is, as usual, an incredibly fascinating read, accompanied by a beautiful gallery of images that I was tempted to “borrow” for a fractal.) Sufficed to say, Luskin failed miserably in attacking Zimmer’s work, resorting to using the Ford Pinto as an example. (I won’t bother to try to explain how; my fellow SciBlings have done an excellent job already. I recommend starting here.) I could hardly get to Luskin’s statement about the Pinto in his article, however, because this one immediately stopped me:
The article called evolution a “simple” process. In our experience, does a “simple” process generate the type of vast complexity found throughout biology?
That’s it, I thought. This guy lives in a box. I won’t trust him to make any statements about biology–the study of LIFE–if he’s never lived one. His statement, to me, just defies common sense. Has he ever tried to make a meal? Change lanes during heavy traffic on the freeway? Talk to a 5-year-old? Things in life start simple (read the recipe, put on your turn signal, answer that first question) and quickly, as more variables become involved, become more complex (substituting ingredients, finding the jerk in the pickup doesn’t care to give you room, realizing one question leads to five others, and one of them involves something you don’t want to tell a 5-year-old.) That’s life. It starts simple, then gets complex.
So, for those of you who don’t live in a box, and enjoy seeing how simple processes lead to complex forms, you’re in for a treat. I figured I’d try to keep this week simple, with the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, by sharing some more photographs, along the same lines of the simple spirals discussed here on Friday. Of course, I won’t bother to claim that it will remain simple.
To kick off this theme, I’m offering the first photograph as a “puzzle”. Look carefully:
What is it? Feel free to post your guesses below.
Hint: Something from last Friday’s Fractal had a similar (yet less complex) feature to these lines and belongs to the same class.
Look for the answer here on Wednesday.