Has A Curvilinear Camera Surpassed Biology?

One of the most amazing inventions to date was announced by media outlets like science daily. A tiny camera with a versatile zoom which has the ability to enhance endoscopic imaging,  dubbed as “Robotics, Night Vision.”  It has been compared to the human eye but only better, while it true that human eyes do not have zoom lenses, how does this comparison hold up?

“The “eyeball camera” has a 3.5x optical zoom, takes sharp images, is inexpensive to make and is only the size of a nickel. (A higher zoom is possible with the technology.) While the camera won’t be appearing at Best Buy any time soon, the tunable camera — once optimized — should be useful in many applications, including night-vision surveillance, robotic vision, endoscopic imaging and consumer electronics.”

“We were inspired by the human eye, but we wanted to go beyond the human eye,” said Yonggang Huang, Joseph Cummings Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. “


Does the original paper claim it’s an improvement over the human eye? In PNAS…”Mammalian eyes provide the biological inspiration for hemispherical cameras, where Petzval-matched curvature in the photodetector array can dramatically simplify lens design without degrading the field of view, focal area, illumination uniformity, or image quality.” Adding the invention of the zoom lens has gone beyond it’s design in nature.

Researchers sighted two cases in biology where animals have a kind of binary zoom: “in avian vision, where shallow pits in the retina lead to images with two fixed levels of zoom (50% high magnification in the center of the center of the field of view),” and “imaging properties occur, but in an irreversible fashion, during metamorphosis in amphibian vision to accommodate transitions from aquatic to terrestrial environments.”  The curvilinear camera unlike animal eyes, would be capable of continuous zoom. Does this mean it’s an improvement over the eyeball? The authors conclude…“Interestingly, biology and evolution do not provide guides for achieving the sort of large-range, adjustable zoom capabilities that are widely available in man-made cameras.”

Even if researchers find a way to improve the eye, they would indirectly be supporting the intelligent design of the creator. Reverse engineering gives glory to the Designer of what is being imitated. Despite their passing reference about evolution, its story about step by step accidents has nothing to do with the brilliant engineering of the eye. Human ingenuity can and does exceed biology all the time.  No animals can explore the sun, the moon, the solar system, deep space, or invent x-rays, harness energy where it produces artificial light so we can see at night. God gave humans the minds and hands to expand their biological capabilities!

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4 thoughts on “Has A Curvilinear Camera Surpassed Biology?

  1. Well, the human eye is nice but pretty crappy (although the lens itself is not too bad) … after all, it is not designed …

    There are much better eyes around in nature, and of course the telescopes I work with are much better than the human eye as well :-)
    The latter *are* actually designed.

  2. So what is Michael’s point here? Previously, he has always exulted in man finding design in nature, beyond previous human efforts. But now he boasts that man has designed a visual apparatus better than God could do!

    Oh, wait. Here it is—

    “Even if researchers find a way to improve the eye, they would indirectly be supporting the intelligent design of the creator. Reverse engineering gives glory to the Designer of what is being imitated.”

    And yet, Michael correctly notes earlier that this design does not reverse-engineer the eye. The authors say that their invention was “inspired” by the eye, in some unspecified way. Well, so was the camera two centuries ago. So was the CCD array in the 1960s. So is almost any optical device you can think of.

    What are the two advances of this invention? (1) Adjustable zoom lenses. There are no zoom lenses in nature. (2) A deformable optical sensor. No natural retina can deform—much less deform reversibly—to provide different surfaces for different magnifications.

    So the only two novel features of this invention were not reverse-engineered from eyeballs, nor inspired by them, since none have them.. If this supports intelligent design, then so do rubber bands, which are obviously reverse-engineered from tendons. Now that’s a stretch!

    What creationists do here is to paint a target on the wall after someone else has shot an arrow at it. The way to discern this is to ask them to predict beforehand how a better product could be inspired by a unicorn’s hoof, or how a pseudomonas culture will grow based upon their principles.

    ZZZZZZT Time’s up!

  3. Interestingly enough, Michael not only quotes, but emboldenizes, the PNAS authors’ comment that destroys his own point:

    “Interestingly, biology and evolution do not provide guides for achieving the sort of large-range, adjustable zoom capabilities that are widely available in man-made cameras.”

    How can one “imitate” something that provides no guide for the improvement? How can one “reverse-engineer” non-existent features?

    .

    Of course, the point Michael is really trying to assert is that evolution has not come up with everything sous le soleil, and thus is false.

    Another stretch. Good luck.

  4. Michael may wish some lead time to prepare for International Darwin Day on February 12. His 202d birthday. For events he can attend, see International Darwin Day Foundation. Although events are concentrated in February, some will be held throughout tyhe year.

    **** This has been a public service announcement. ****

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