OpinionMother nature is a lousy designer
      – BorgClown, 2008-10-17 at 05:22:10   (25 comments)

On 2008-10-17 at 05:26:38, BorgClown wrote...
Take horse legs, for example: From the mechanical engineering standpoint, they should be thicker to handle the load safely, but contradictory, they are actually weaker than the minimum! Mother Nature solved that issue by teaching running horses to only touch the ground with their legs extended, otherwise they break. And you know, crippled horsies can't reproduce. Problem solved!
On 2008-10-17 at 09:51:31, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Technically nature isn't a designer at all. When it comes to end products, and experimentation, nature has time on its side - lots of time. As a result, we end up stealing a lot of ideas from nature and continue to do so. Nature has already come up with solutions to a vast number of problems, and it's actually quite nice to be able to show that life does follow mechanical principles - there's no magic or 'life force' involved, and we are really machines. The only real limitation life has is that it cannot go back to an earlier version and start from scratch - it always tries to incrementally change what is already there, sometimes perversely. Natural selection is a useful tool though - artificial evolution has been used to create a great many products, including a radio circuit without traditional components which ends up far smaller and more efficient than any that has been designed.
On 2008-10-17 at 15:57:15, BorgClown wrote...
It's amazing how a brute force approach gives such good results. It doesn't have to fully understand what's happening as long as it gets to retry many, many times.
On 2008-10-17 at 16:01:14, BorgClown wrote...
I'm referring to artificial evolution.
On 2008-10-17 at 16:01:42, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Right, this is how my Sokoban puzzles were generated. A program generates a template at random, determines how many pushes are required to solve the corresponding puzzle and evaluates mutations in order to find variants with longer solutions. It takes about 30 hours to generate a single puzzle this way, but I've built entire puzzle collections this way. All I had to do was utilise random numbers and lots of processor time and ended up with puzzles that humans find almost impossible to solve. http://fruise.googlepages.com/sokoban.html
On 2008-10-17 at 16:14:24, BorgClown wrote...
Please tell me that the SokHard collection is a pun. If not, maybe the SokMe program is.
On 2008-10-17 at 16:16:18, Lee J Haywood wrote...
I was going to call a later collection SokWhole, but never got around to releasing that one.
On 2008-10-21 at 19:29:50, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Natural selection exists within us as well... Our brains use selection to kill off cells that aren't being used, and strengthen connections between the ones that are. Our immune system trains its cells by creating random variants and killing off those which attack our own bodies, before releasing the survivors for action.
On 2008-11-06 at 07:04:36, RoryMc wrote...
Disagree. If mother nature was such a lousy designer, fewer things would fit into their place in the world perfectly. It may take time but it works out perfectly in the end.
On 2008-11-06 at 08:28:19, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Natural selection is lousy, but precisely because there is no designer. There are countless examples of evolution 'gone wrong', e.g. our eyes being wired up backwards. Things don't fit perfectly in the world at all - that's just an illusion that the religious like to believe in. But life is very adaptable and good at self-repair, with creatures fitting into ecological niches relatively well - not 'perfectly', but such that any mismatch tends to lead to local extinction.
On 2008-11-06 at 22:07:03, BorgClown wrote...
It seems that life fits perfectly with its environment because the individuals who didn't usually die. Many of them painfully. Even things as simple as our teeth don't fit perfectly but grind and push each other until they kinda fit in your jaw.
On 2008-11-06 at 22:35:24, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@BorgClown: Or don't fit very well at all, in my case. (-:
On 2008-11-06 at 22:57:36, BorgClown wrote...
I didn't need my wisdom teeth to be removed, but they messed my bite. It took my teeth half a year to somewhat resettle. It's awful when you're chewing and suddenly one of your teeth slips in the wrong direction and grinds with another. Luckily it's almost over.
On 2008-11-11 at 14:26:32, Baslisks wrote...
@BorgClown: damn. I cringe at the thought of that.
On 2008-11-11 at 16:34:41, BorgClown wrote...
Wisdom teeth are stupid.
On 2008-11-11 at 16:37:12, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Dentist, n.: A Prestidigitator who, putting metal in one's mouth, pulls coins out of one's pockets. - Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
On 2009-02-18 at 09:16:14, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@BorgClown: Oh, I finally released my SokEvo program by the way. Evolution in action... http://fruise.googlepages.com/sokoban.html
On 2009-02-18 at 12:48:27, Thelevellers wrote...
I might just have to point out -as no-one else has - that there are costs (in food and/or time to maturation [is that a word?!]) involved with making, as per example, a horse's leg stronger. It may well be that horses used to have stronger legs, but it turned out to be 'cheaper' to have weaker legs but better running technique. Oh, weight could be an associated cost as well, but not so much for this scenario. This is another reason why nature is imperfect.
On 2009-02-18 at 12:49:14, Thelevellers wrote...
PS, Douglas Adams said it best (as usual) in regards to seeming 'perfection': . . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.
On 2009-02-19 at 05:56:14, BorgClown wrote...
"The SokHard collection" sounds kinda naughty LOL. Checking out SockEvo.
On 2009-02-19 at 11:21:30, Lee J Haywood wrote...
The Interlock puzzles are worth trying (though not evolved) - they're organised into levels, where you have to connect all boxes of the same colour. (I'm trying to implement a later version now, to add more puzzles, but it's taking too long).
On 2009-02-20 at 02:48:24, BorgClown wrote...
Boy, hop mode is a great aid. Who would've thought that an old game like SokoBan still could be improved?
On 2009-02-20 at 09:30:14, Lee J Haywood wrote...
The keyboard hop dates back to my text-only Unix implementation in 1997, but you can just click a cell with the mouse to jump to it. Better still, you can click a box and say where you want it to go.
On 2009-05-15 at 22:37:07, Lee J Haywood wrote...
@BorgClown: I've just released a new collection, if you're at all interested. http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/sokoban/message/2930
On 2009-05-16 at 03:41:33, BorgClown wrote...
Thanks, I'll give it a try. I'm not a big fan of block games (Tetris being a notable exception), but I'll try it.