Whales, Parachutes, And Lunges

I’m sitting in an office tower in Calgary hundreds of feet in the air, held up through a blending of human ingenuity and tool use. I call it an office building, and it’s delightfully climate controlled, thus saving me from the blowing wind and snow outside. In short, I’m about as far away from the feeding grounds of whales as one can get, but I have the internet, and that means I can read extremely cool articles like this one from¬†the¬†blog The Loom on Discover Magazine’s web site about new research into the way whales feed, the justification for their size, and how a physicist who specializes in parachutes helped us learn more.

I’m always intrigued by the way that human innovation so often already appears in the animal world naturally. The parachute physics in the article essentially acts as a clever way for us to use our understanding of something we employ and understand from the we-built-it perspective as a means to understand the feeding patterns of whales. It’s much the same as how we came up with a variety of methods of using sound to detect enemies (radar, sonar, et al) only to find that this was exactly how bats have been doing things for ages. It seems like the more we learn about the world around us, the more we draw innovation from it, and the more we innovate, the more we realize these innovations already exist in the world around us.

Evolution’s so fascinating. It’s amazing to imagine that some of these incredible problems were tackled not my teams of engineers working tirelessly at problem solving, but by millions of years of subtle adaptations.

Oh yeah, the bat thing? Been reading The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins, thus that particular reference.


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About biguglyjim

Like a caterpillar that spins a coccoon and emerges as a walrus with a mohawk, Big Ugly Jim has become something unexpected. Raised a fine young Christian boy in the city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jim began to question his teachings, first evaluating the wisdom of other religions and eventually realizing that none of them seemed any more accurate than any other, and not a one of them made a lick of sense. Today, Big Ugly Jim is a musician, a Business Analyst with Large Oil Company Whose Name Is Not Important, a music promoter with the Calgary Beer Core, a writer of fiction and non-fiction, a prick, an atheist, a father, an ex-husband, a role model, a horrifying vision in a red speedo (or at least he would be, if ever that happened which IT WOULD NOT), an announcer, and soon to be an officiator of weddings. Also, he's nice and does dishes. Jim continues to live in Calgary, spreading his filthy doctrine of free, critical thinking and appreciation for music.

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