Aug 282006

Cornelius Hunter at IDTF posted an interesting case of evolution in action. I enjoy reading Hunter’s books (Darwin’s God & Darwin’s Proof) and posts.

One clever way to deal with a lousy diffraction limit is to process the received signal while moving the instrument. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is today a well established example of this technique. The details are quite complex but simply put, the diffraction limit is improved by moving the instrument so as to increase the effective aperture size. Hence the name “synthetic aperture.” A few decades back this technology was developed for radar so that aircraft radar systems could construct images, in addition to their traditional job of measuring range and range rate to objects within the field of view.

But long before scientists developed synthetic aperture radar, evolution constructed this same technology as part of the bat’s echolocation system. This system not only determines the distance and direction of objects, such as insects, in the bat’s field of view, it also can reconstruct an object’s shape. It can, for example, detect and classify a flying beetle in three dimensions at about thirty feet range.

Hunter challenges design theorists to recognize the limits of their imaginations. Continue reading »