Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The human eye

Our friends in the Discovery Institute are crowing about the great design of the human eye

The Human Eye Is so Poorly Designed That Engineers Mimic It

According to a recent MSNBC article, the supposedly poorly designed human eye is inspiring engineers: "Borrowing one of nature's best designs, U.S. scientists have built an eye-shaped camera using standard sensor materials and say it could improve the performance of digital cameras and enhance imaging of the human body." The article reports that the "digital camera that has the size, shape and layout of a human eye" because "the curved shape greatly improves the field of vision, bringing the whole picture into focus."

And what about improving upon the human eye? The article reported that "[t]he device might even lead to the development of prosthetic devices including a bionic eye" as one scientist stated, "If you want to develop an eye to replace a human eye, certainly you want the shape to look like a human eye." While inefficiently designed objects can still be designed (ever used Outlook, the current bane of my existence?), it seems very much like the human eye is not an inefficient or poor design.

When we talk about the human eye being badly designed, we're talking about more than just the fact that it has a curved surface and its general shape. And it's the curved surface and the general shape that the scientists mentioned in the MSNBC article have mimicked. For more information about this new design, see the article in Nature (unfortunately behind a paywall).

As usual, the DI people are twisting the facts to suit their purposes.

Also, for something so greatly "designed", there certainly are a lot of problems. See e.g. this ScienceDaily article: Refractive Errors Affect Vision For Half Of American Adults

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