Engineers Without Degrees
Jeff, spent four years in high school taking many courses, including algebra, geometry, and calculus. He then went to
Purdue University where he spent another four years in more advanced studies. Finally, the Purdue Engineering Department awarded
Jeff a degree in Computer Science. Human engineers around the world go through years of similar schooling.
But what if...?
But what if we find creatures in nature - with no schooling
or training - accomplishing complex engineering profects? What then???
A complex engineering project
Imagine an engineer given a special assignment
- to maintain a constant 93 degree temperature in a wooden box about 2 feet square and 3 feet high. The temperature
can vary by only one-quarter of one degree. Sound challenging? Let's make it even harder, let's add two more
conditions to the project:
1) Using electricity is not allowed.
2) The system
must work in all types of weather for long periods of time without failure.
Do you think highly educated human engineers
using the latest equipment could accomplish the project?
Yet this project
is being done routinely every day all over the world!
are the engineers who do such a difficult assignment?
Human engineers are not doing
it. Instead, it is done by.....honey bees!
Source (1) explains "The temperature inside
a beehive during the summer months stays at a virtually constant 93 degrees (to within one quarter of one degree higher or
lower) since this is the ideal temperature for the development of larvae. When the temperature drops, the bees release heat
by vibrating their thoriaic muscles without moving their wings. When the temperature rises too high, they fan the overheated
air by rapidly beating their wings and by bringing water from the outside to cool off the hive. This efficient thermal control
is made possible by the specialized receptors in bee antennae, which can detect variations in temperature to within one-quarter
of one degree."
let's take a minute and analyze what
was summarized so briefly by the authors.
An analysis of surprising
First, a difference of ¼ of one degree is an incredible narrow range.
How quickly each bee must act to either increase or decrease the temperature!
- it's more than that isn't it? Much more. Because the thousands of bees operate all together as a unit,
do they not? We can think of some questions:
How are the directions given?
does the group know when to start either beating their wings to lower the temperature or to vibrate their thoracic
muscles to raise it?
How do they know when to get water?
How much water
Who stays to beat their wings and who goes for water?
Evolutionists tell us that bees evolved from fruit flies. How did the first generation of 100% honeybees
know a constant temperature of 93% had to be maintained or the larvae couldn‘t develop? After all, the first generation
of offspring had to have been done exactly right, there would have been no multiple chances for experimentation
up and down the temperature range.
A major pillar of evolution is survival
of the fittest, right? Right! There are some fifteen million insect species. Over fourteen million other insect species
have no such critical temperature requirement for their offspring to be born. Now consider this - a 93-degree temperature
requirement has to be a huge impediment to survival. Under survival of the fittest, wouldn't a specie with such
an enormous drawback have died out millions of years ago, while species without such a stringent requirement would have survived?
Think for a moment about
what the authors describe as "This efficient temperature control is made possible by the specialized receptors in bee
antennae, which can detect variations in temperature to within one-quarter of one degree."
Why did these specialized receptors evolve just in bees? Fruit flies don't have them. Imagine
such a receptor. It is probably the size of a few dots at the end of this sentence strung together. How could something that
tiny measure temperatures to within one-quarter of one degree? Does that seem incredible to you?
The authors seem to agree by writing, "The "sense of temperature" which is also located in
the antennae of many insects, is a much more mysterious sense. Our own capacities in this regard remain extremely
This writer thinks that in the tiny honeybee's
93-degree temperature maintenance we see an engineering marvel. One that man cannot duplicate, given the same materials,
despite all of his technology and university studies.
More than just
Source (6) gives us more to ponder. "Another example is the task
of ventilation. The bees hump themselves up and move their wings about 400 times per second
on the landing area of the hive...The hotter it gets inside, or the more moisture-laden the air becomes, the greater the number
of bees that will stand there fanning."
The author asks a compelling
question, "Who tells them they must? Nobody as far as anyone can ascertain."....
He continues, "The bees have figured out the world's first air-conditioning system......When
the weather gets very, very hot...the temperature may shoot up in spite of plain bee fanning....The bees, if it become necessary
when plain fanning is not doing the job, lay aside other tasks.
out, find water, and bring it back in their honey stomachs in place of nectar. Hundreds of them, even thousands of
them carry it. They spread it on the combs, on the inside walls of the hive....The evaporation of the water.....cools the
inside of the hive. It provides a crude, but very effective air-conditioning".....
The author then asks, "Who taught the bees this engineering principle? Who tells them when to
put it into practice? No one knows." (I think creationists know!)
Hoyt tells us about the efficiency of bees even
in cases of fire. "In one case of a barn fire, the heat was so great "that the nearby bee hive nearly burst into
flame.... Later it was found "that all the bees had rallied around during the fire and worked on the air-conditioning....Many,
many bees fanned furiously throughout the fire at the door on the side away from the flames. Thousands carried water.
And when the hive top was lifted off, everything was intact inside. The outside
wall was scorched and burned.... but the bees had saved their wax structure, their stores, and their colony life."
Author Hoyt sums up, "Through engineering know-how their life pattern is highly efficient."
The questions leap out at us. Where did the engineering know-how performed by honey bees come
from? How is passed on to the offspring so that every honey bee does engineering assignments? Mindless evolution, or programming
from an intelligent source?
Could termites be engineers?
von Frisch, a scientist awarded a Nobel Prize in 1973, is famous for his study of how bees communicate nectar sources by performing
intricate, coded dances. Mr. von Frisch's well researched and most informative book "Animal Architecture" (2)
supports evolution, which makes his observations all the more striking. Scientist Von Frisch calls termites: "...masters
in building and engineering." Let's see why he draws that conclusion. Notice some statements:
"There are more than two thousand species of termites living in tropical
and subtropical regions.....All known termite species, like all ant species, are social insects. Their colonies may have over
ten million individuals.
.... Termite nests may be gigantic structures...some
are 21 feet high...
We have even more cause for wonder when we consider
the whole range of termite buildings and the way they are adapted to the most diverse climatic conditions of the countries
Take, for example, certain species of the genus Cubitermes
that live in tropical rain forests. They put roofs with overhanging eaves on their tall mounds, which make them look
like pagodas and serve to keep the torrential rains off the main structure.....Termites in arid zones do not build
such roofs, showing they definitely are umbrellas, not sunshades......
treeless steppeland of Australia, baked by the scorching heat of the midday sun, is the home of the compass termites (Amitermes
meridionalis). Their towering structures, which may be up to fifteen feet high, and 9 feet long, look as if
they had been compressed from two sides. Their two short sides face exactly north and south, so that the surface
exposed to the rays of the midday sun is small, while the long sides catch the evening and morning sun...A traveler
can quickly get his bearings by looking at the direction of these mounds."
the author asks a question for us. "But how do the blind termites orient them so perfectly without
a compass?" But the answer is disappointing. "The method by which the compass termites achieve their spectacular
results has not yet been studied."
How about air conditioning?
Von Frisch's next heading is the surprising one of: "Air-conditioning in termite dwellings".
Yes, it seems termites had air-conditioning thousands of years before humans accomplished it!
Von Frisch explains. "The interior architecture of many termite species is even more astounding.
The distribution of the various chambers according to their different purposes is evidence of a definite building
plan. But the functioning of a large termitary requires not only the systematic layout of the chambers,
but convenient space for the royal cell, the quarters for the different age groups, the fungus gardens, and the associated
network of communications.
.... When a mound of Macrotermes billicosus...has
reached a height of nine to twelve feet, it contains more than two million termites. They live, they
work, and they breathe. Their oxygen consumption, which has been measured, is considerable. Without ventilation they would
all be suffocated within twelve hours...
These insects have established
a strange and ingenious ventilation system...the nest proper, which is almost round, with its royal cell in the center,
and its many chambers, and passages. Between it and the thick, hard outer wall there are narrow air spaces. Below it is there
is a larger air space, the "cellar". The central structure rests on conical supports and is further anchored by
"Another air space above it reaches a long way
into the nest proper, like a chimney. On the outside of the mound, ridges or buttresses run from top to bottom.....Channels
as thick as an arm radiate from the upper air space into the ridges where they divide into many small ducts. These
come together again to form channels as wide as the first leading into the cellar." My note: Don't the last two paragraphs
sound right out of an engineering handbook?
The author adds another
bit of surprising information. "Though termites are found in all these structures, they do not act as ventilators as,
for instance, bees do when they ventilate the hive by fanning their wings." The ventilation system of the termitary is
completely automatic automatic." Imagine that.
A technical explanation of termite air conditioning
"The air in the fungus
chambers is heated by the fermentation process taking place there. Like any tightly packed group of animals, the termites
themselves cause a rise in temperature. This hot air rises and is forced by the pressure of the continuous stream of hot air
into the duct system of the ridges. The exterior and interior walls of these ridges are so porous that they enable a gas exchange
to take place. Carbon dioxide escapes and oxygen penetrates from outside. The ridges with their system of ducts might be called
the lungs of the colony. As has been experimentally confirmed, the air is cooled during its passage through the ridges;
this cooler, regenerated air now flows into the cellar by way of its lower system of wide ducts. From there it returns to
the nest via the surrounding air space, replacing the warmer rising air."
on air conditioning and engineering
Source (3) gives us the author's observations of termites
that accomplish feats of engineering. "Termite nests...designed to provide air-conditioning. Their huge air-conditioning
towers are major features in many tropical savannah landscapes."
book includes diagrams with these written descriptions, "Showing the complex fungus garden and the network of
chimney spaces through which hot air arises as part of the termites sophisticated air-conditioning system...A computer
generated simulation of the special vanes in the termites' nest, a vital part of the air-conditioning process.
Worker termites keep the vanes damp, so the warm air passing over them is cooled down as the water droplets evaporate."
There's even more. The author sums up, "It is remarkable that the worker
termites have constructed the equivalent of, in human terms, a skyscraper 6 miles high."
"And they are blind."
systems of termites are so effective that human engineers are now constructing buildings with cooling
systems based on termite design." You may want to read that again.
we think of some questions?
Doesn't all of this seem like very complicated systems to you?
If so, how could they develop by a process of trial and error, by a series of
How could thousands, maybe millions, of generations of the termite
specie survive while all of the trials and errors took place that would be necessary to finally perfect the finished and faultless
working air conditioning system?
Didn't our well known scientist tell
us that without the system the colony would die within twelve hours?
outside the box in an emergency
"Alien Empire" continues, "This makes it even
more remarkable that meaningful reactions to extraordinary situations, or what one might call emergencies, have been observed.
When a termite mound was enveloped in a plastic tent so that ventilation was seriously impeded, the termites managed
within 48 hours to build new structures at the top of the mound, which looked somewhat like small pointed hats and
had exceptionally pointed out walls so that they functioned as a new ventilation system!"
As incredible as it sounds, not only have complicated and efficient engineering systems been described to
us, but now we learn of an ability to even engineer brand new items to react to an emergency. Surely all the more
to be marveled at because the termites are blind and have no one in charge!
Any other feats besides air conditioning and ventilation?
is not the only problem of termite communities. Water is another. A great deal of water is needed because the inhabitants
with their tender skins require a humid atmosphere. In the nests of Macrotermes, relative humidity is 89% to 99%. Much water
is also needed for consumption, for making mortar, and for other purposes. In arid regions, termites may dig to enormous
depths to tap the ground-water table......Some desert termites were found that drive bore holes down to water at a depth of
some 120 feet."
"The construction of such deep shafts
through loose soil is a truly prodigious feat of civil engineering for these small animals." Think of
tells about another tiny engineer, the Grebe bird. "Although disorderly in appearance, the nest is a marvel of engineering.
Composed of buoyant aquatic vegetation, it forms a floating island and thus can adjust itself to the rises and falls in water
A turkey of an engineer
section of von Frisch's book is sub-titled, "Birds that build and regulate incubators".
What bird is that? The brush turkey (Alectura lathami). The male over a period of weeks
picks up nest material (rain-soaked foliage mixed with soil) with his foot and hurls it backward into the growing heap. From
time to time, he climbs on the pile and stamps on it to make it compact.
the brush turkey does is no small matter. His structure reaches a diameter of 9 to 12 feet and a height of about
4.5 feet. The structure is ready not until the inside temperature has settled down to 95 or so degrees, the
warmth necessary for the development of the eggs. Our author says the amazing thing is the turkey checks the temperature
of the mound almost daily.
The author describes the turkey's painstaking
procedure. "Digging a hole deep enough for him to disappear into except for his tail, he repeatedly tests the temperature
inside with his open beak. He takes some of it into his mouth and spits it out again when he withdraws his head. His behavior
suggests that either his tongue or the inside of his beak contain highly sensitive temperature
organs." I'll say.
Constant monitoring and fixing is needed. "If
the pile is too hot, he leaves ventilation holes. If it is not hot enough, he adds further material suitable for fermentation
and then closes the hole."
When at last the composted incubator is
ready, the hen lays her first egg, which is covered up by the malew long does the hen lay her eggs? Every two or three days
over a period of several weeks.
The maletinues to test and regulate
his incubator until all the eggs have hatched. That takes about nine to ten weeks for each egg.
Let's summarize the work of this ten-pound engineer - who never went to school and who has no degree.
In a shady spot, he builds a structure, throwing the material backwards, of brush and soil.
heat, cold, and rain, he maintains in this primitive structure a constant temperature of about 95 degrees.
spends weeks building the structure, eggs are laid over a period of several weeks, then it takes nine to
ten weeks for the birdlings to hatch.
Thus the brush turkey checks and maintains the pile
constant for a period of some eighteen or so weeks.
more engineers without degrees?
Scientist von Frisch calls our attention to the mallee bird,
or (towan Leipoa ocellata). These birds are also called "thermometer fowl" because they spend ten to eleven
months of each year regulating the temperature of their nests.
for mallees is that fluctuations of temperature are very great in the arid open bush of central Australia Foliage needed to
build the nest is scarce, which adds to the problems. Moreover the climatic conditions subject the mounded up nest to be easily
dried out by the sun and scattered by the wind. Consequently, constant and strenuous efforts are needed
to build and maintain the compost heap at the high and constant temperature required.
mallee birds start by digging a large pit about 3 feet deep for which they collect any twigs or leaves they find in
the vicinity...They fill the pit and heap up further vegetable material and a great deal of sand to form a mound on top of
it, which is carefully smoothed..... Soon the compost below starts fermenting, but it takes four months until
the desired constant temperature of 93.2 degrees is achieved."
ready, the hens lay every four days or so. First, the male digs a brood chamber in the compost and tests the temperature.
Then the hen enters and tests the temperature for herself. If she is not satisfied, the male has to find a better place in
.... After the preparatory of four months, an incubation period
of six to seven months follows until the hatching of the last chick. The adult birds, then, are occupied almost year around
with the business of building the incubator and tending it so the temperature of the interior, where the eggs of the clutch
are lying close together, stays at an even 93.2 degrees. Temperature is checked almost daily and usually it is controlled
to an accuracy of about one degree"!
A variety of engineering
How do these tiny creatures control the temperature to within one degree?
The author explains, "The method for doing this changes with the season. In spring, it is sufficient
to get rid of excess heat by making ventilation shafts and closing them at the right time. In summer,
fermentation slows down but solar heat increases. To prevent overheating, the birds add to the sand layer of the
mound. But when the heat of the sun gradually penetrates deeper, despite these precautions, they adopt more surprising
and efficient countermeasures; they dismantle the dome in the cool hours of the morning, scratch a deep
crater reaching close to the place where the eggs are, and spread out the sand. When it has cooled down,
they throw it back into the hole and heap a thick layer of the old material on top for insulation. Each time this
work takes two to three hours."
"In autumn, when fermentation
has ceased and solar heat declines, the dome is dismantled in the late hours of the morning and only a thin layer
of sand is left on the eggs which are warmed by the midday sun. The sand that has been removed is spread in the sun, constantly
turned over, and finally put back in the hole. This involves almost five hours of work, but
it is effective."
Our author sums up, "It is amazing
how precisely the birds can adapt to their activities to the situation and thereby succeed in holding the temperature
in the egg chamber at an almost exact 93.2 degrees most of the time"
As we ponder which is true, evolution
or creation, let's summarize what these amazing creatures do to carry out their complicated engineering project:
Make ventilation shafts
Close them at the proper time
Add to the
sand layer when needed
Dismantle the dome when needed
Scratch out a deep crater
Spread out sand
Throw material back and heap new material on
the dome each morning when needed
Leave only a thin layer of sand on the eggs when heat is needed
Spread sand in the sun, constantly turning it over
Put the turned over sand back in
the hole when more heat is needed
We are confronted with some problems
of logic: Where did the first generation of these creatures get their engineering training and knowledge? It could not have
come from evolution, even its supporters acknowledge evolution is mindless accident. How is it passed on to each succeeding
generation? How do these small creatures measure the temperature so exactly, with no errors?
Doesn't all of this seem like marvelous feats of dedicated engineering to you? They to do this writer.
Another marvel of engineering
tells us about webs made by spiders. "The most renowned web in the arsenal, the orb, is a marvel of engineering.
It may contain sixty-five feet of silk and have from 1,000 to 1,500 connections, yet it is usually spun
in less than 30 minutes by its master weaver. Extremely fine and light, the web may support a spider that weighs more
than a 1,000 times as much as the silk used in its fabrication."
victim ..."is held by a substance with far greater tensile strength than steel and twice as elastic as nylon. Some threads
can stretch to more than 4 times their original length without snapping."
Why do insects have six legs?
Is probably a question that has perplexed you
for years. Just kidding! Our source (1) gives us the answer, "Insects use their six legs, which may appear to be an uselessly
complicated technique.....It stands on a tripod formed by the first and third leg on the one side and the middle leg on the
other, while the three legs move forward, legs on the alternate side are then moved.
advantages of an alternating tripod movement so impressed [human] engineers that they based designs
for crawling machines on insect locomotion. These designs may one day be used to propel remote-control reconnaissance units
for the exploration of other planets."
Who invented the wheel?
The book "Microcosmos" asks and then answers, "...yet what about the wheel?...Now here's
an invention designed uniquely by man. Yet, if we observe a common dung beetle at work, another surprise lies in store for
Starting with an unshaped clump of cow or sheep dung, it uses its head
as a shovel to flatten the chunk, then its legs to form a virtually perfect sphere. It then rolls its creation
along..... The dung beetle did not invent the wheel, but certainly came close to it; we will grant it the invention of the
We do not have
space to detail the work of beavers. Suffice to say noted naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews (5) calls them engineers.
It is also worth noting that in his book author Christopher O'Toole (8) has
a chapter about insects he sub-titled "Miniature Miracles of Engineering."
Have plants "evolved" any engineering principles?
small creatures temporarily and see more engineering in a different area.
you ever wondered about the stalk of a flower? At the end of a long, narrow, somewhat flimsy looking stem is this heavy -
by comparison - flower. Yet the slender stem holds up the heavy flower very well, holds it up even strong winds and heavy
rains. It is really quite remarkable if we stop and think about it.
Harold William Rickett taught Botany at the New York Botanical Garden as well as several universities. He explains (7) "The
arrangement of wood in an herbaceous plant bears a curious and interesting resemblance to the structural materials
in buildings planned and erected [in other words-engineered] by man."
Dr. Rickett adds that the elements that carry water and minerals through the plant are not scattered, but
are grouped in bundles running lengthwise through the stem and roots. These bundles are the long tough strips familiar
in a stalk of celery or in a plantain leaf. Rickett adds that every builder knows that to get the maximum stiffness
in a column or pillar from a number of strips or rods he must place them as far as he can from the center; if this is done
any force which tends to bend the pillar will have to stretch the rods on one side and compress or bend them on the other.
This bending and compressing gives much more strength than if they were all together in the center. On the other hand, in
the stem, whose problem is to stay erect and to resist forces which would bend it, the woody bundles are found in
a ring near the (outside) surface.
Different engineering principles
are required for roots
Now Dr. Rickett explains about a different building system, "When
we come to the root, we are dealing with something not usually subjected to forces which would bend it, but to lengthwise
pulls from the stem above. In it, we find the same sort of cells, but arranged in a strikingly different way; and again,
arranged in a way that corresponds with structural principles used in human industry."
"If the wood of a root were arranged as in a stem, the pulls to which it is subjected might easily snap
the bundles one by one and the root would no longer anchor the plant safely in the earth. But the wood of the root is
concentrated in the center, forming a solid tough core, like a rope; just as we use a thing strong cable to anchor a boat,
not a group of wires separated from each other by a soft core."
engineering principles are required for leaves
Dr. Rickett writes about a third type of engineering
system, "The same principles of construction are to be found in the venation of leaves, particularly
in that of large leaves.....The secret of their strength is to be found in the veins, which form a system of girders
projecting from the lower surface and radiating from the place where the blade joins its stalk. The girders stand
vertically, just as they do in our buildings, and so offer all their substance in depth to resist bending; they are
joined by smaller girders which prevent them from falling sideways, and these in turn are braced by smaller veins which rise
from the surface of the blade."
Ever heard of "girders"?
You probably have, very familiar items in constructing tall buildings. The author says systems of girders are found
on common everyday leaves, adding this, "It is said that Joseph Paxton derived the idea for the framework of the famous
Crystal Palace erected in Hyde Park in 1851 from the veins of the leaves of the giant water-lily of the Amazon."
system of these huge water-lily leaves are so strong that "...if precautions are taken to distribute the weight
evenly, a full grown man may be supported (on water) by one of these leaves."
there we have it. Even in a common everyday flower plant, stalk of wheat or celery, blade of grass, or the like, we can see
principles of construction/engineering painstakingly carried out. In the stalk or stem, where maximum stiffness is needed,
the strength is on the outside; in the case of roots, where pulling strength is needed, the strength is on the inside,
much like a rope; on leaves where lateral strength is needed to resist bending, the strength lies in a girder
What is common to all three methods, inside, outside, or lateral
girders, is that they all follow well recognized construction or engineering principles.
Source"(8) has this surprising conclusion. "The ingenuity of plants in devising forms of construction
far exceeds that of human engineers."
The author explains why the
conclusion was made. "Man-made structures cannot match the supply strength of the long hollow tubes that support
fantastic weights against terrific storms. A plant's use of fibers wrapped in spirals is a great mechanism against tearing
not yet developed by human ingenuity. Cells elongate into sausages or flat ribbons locked one to the other to form
almost unbreakable cords. As a tree grows upward it scientifically thickens to support the greater weight."
"The Australian eucalyptus can raise its head on a slim trunk above the ground 480 feet, or
as high as the Great Pyramid of Cheops, and certain walnut trees can hold a harvest of 100,000 nuts."
We have to wonder, did all of this precise engineering come about by accident,
or was a master engineer involved?
Tiny creatures doing precise
Mr. von Frisch devotes a large section of his book to honeybees. He first points
out that bees do not use round, triangle or square shapes for the honeycomb cells, but he remarks on what they do use, "...the
amount of building material required for cells of the same capacity is the least in the hexagonal construction, and
hence that such a pattern is the most economical design for warehouses."
We have to wonder, did bees really happen to stumble on the very best shape after years and years
of trial and error?
The author continues, "Anyone lifting a full honeycomb
for the first time will find it amazingly heavy. A comb measuring 14.6 by 8.86 inches can hold more than four
pounds of honey. Yet in the manufacture of such a comb, the bees use only about 1.4 ounces of wax! The
author then, probably with tongue in cheek, makes this understatement. "The relationship between the construction of
a comb and its strength would seem to be a worthwhile subject for study."
The secretion of the needed wax is no accident
"...When bees start building,
they first attach themselves to each other in chains. Soon they form themselves into a dense ball, the building cluster
within which they maintain a temperature of 95 degrees - the temperature needed for the secretion of wax.".
How is a honeycomb constructed?
look at honeycomb cell construction. You might think each honeybee starts its own cell, completes it, then starts its
next one. That seems logical and the easiest way. Of course "easiest" is an understatement because even that would
be quite remarkable. But honeybees don't make their cells the "easy" way.
Instead honeybees build cells the hard way, working on the next cells before the first ones are finished!
The author details this, "They do not build one complete cell after another. While the lateral walls of the first cells
are gradually being added to, new adjoining cells are being started lower down. As these triangular sections are enlarged
laterally, they gradually coalesce from the top down. The joins are so skillfully made that no trace of
the separate beginnings remain visible."
The author adds more remarkable
insight, This is even more remarkable when one considers that many bees are employed in the building of
each individual cell and that they often relieve each other at intervals of no more than half a minute or so. Apparently
each bee immediately comprehends what stage the construction has reached at the place where she starts to
work and continues accordingly"
More complexity is added to the job
of cell construction. Notice, "Right from the start the cells meet at the correct angle of 120 degrees.....
"It is not just the shape of the cells that depends upon the skill of their
builders; skill is just as much needed:
to vary the size of the cells for worker bees and drones,
to manufacture such extraordinarily thin walls, and
to orient them accurately in space."
Wait, there's more precise engineering. "The cell walls are built with
a gradient of about 13 degrees from base to opening. This is sufficient to prevent the thick honey from running out.
The distance from the wall to that opposite is 0.205 inches in a worker cell, and .0.24 inches in a drone cell.
The thickness of the cell walls is .0.0029 inches, with tolerance of no more than 0.001 inches."
As the author points out, "None of these things just "happen",
they are the result of work directed to a purpose."
Doesn't all of that seem like extremely complicated engineering to
you? It sure does to me!
We have to wonder, how do these remarkable creatures
measure to such strict requirements - 120-degree angles, 13-degree gradients, 0.205 inches, 0.24 inches, 0.0029 inches,
0.001 inches? That some sort of precise measuring must continually take place is obvious. But where are their measuring
Von Frisch agrees by his statements, "What truly astounding
precision! Economy in the use of building material is thus taken to the utmost limit. Human craftsmen could not do the work
of this nature without the use of carpenters squares and sliding gauges
Are any special tools provided?
Von Frisch answers, "The bee's own head serves as a plummet to determine the line of gravity.
It rests on two pivots forming part of the outer skeleton of the thorax and its center of gravity lies below this
articulated connection. Hence, if a bee sits with her head pointing upward, its heavier, lower part will be pulled toward
the thorax by the force of gravity."
"In a downward position,
the head is automatically rotated in the opposite direction. These gravity pulls are accurately registered by a tactile
organ consisting of a set of highly sensitive bristles on the tips of these pivots. Any position
at an angle to the vertical is registered by a characteristic distribution of pressure on the set of sensory hairs.
This is the way bees control both their own position in space
and the position for the comb, which is always built vertically downward."
there you have it. Summaries of a bee's special tools are:
The head serves as a plummet tool.
Two pivots are used.
Highly sensitive bristles register gravity pulls.
hairs measure angles to the vertical.
More engineering by tiny insects
Source (6) tells us more about engineering done by honeybees as they build honey cells. "The worker cell
will be built exactly 4.83 cells to the inch.....How can so many tiny minds gauge 4.83 cells to the inch so exactly?
Even an engineer would need all sorts of instruments to measure. The bees have none.".
"...It is completely incredible that, with thousands of bees coming up and adding their bit of wax to
the spot where the "drawing out" is going on, you don't get a thousand different variations of shape and thickness.
You're led to the conclusion that every one of these thousands of insects in her own right must be a trained
Each bee adds only
a tiny part to a given area of comb. Yet each cell ends up the same size and shape as all the others."
The author goes on to tell us even more about the marvelous way cell walls are built. "The walls are
so thin and light...And yet these tiny engineers know that wax this thin will hold their honey store perfectly...It
can be carefully transported across the United States or Europe without damage."
more. The author adds that each bee as she adds her wax to the cell thins it down, leaving a thick part at the top, just as
she found it. All subsequent cell builders do the same, thinning their contribution down, leaving the thick top intact. The
thick top is necessary to support the heavy weight of each contributor, yet the vital thinness is perfectly maintained.
The author sums up cell making very well by writing, "So the combs progress
downward and sideways, with bee space between of just the right width, as if a human engineer had planned it meticulously.
Hundreds of thousand of bees will dab at every bit of it, mold it, and change it. Again, remember that there is no master
planner in a bee tree. Yet the proper spacing, the proper size to the cells, comes out as if a foreman stood over
the bees with a set of blueprints."
The fact these insects and animals receive no schooling or training during their lifetime is obvious. Where,
then, did their sophisticated and precise knowledge come from? How is it so perfectly passed to their offspring?
The intangible something in nature that previous generations of humans without
computers called "instinct", we can better understand as "programming". Doesn't
it seem logical that this engineering knowledge and ability had to have been "programmed" into these creatures?
If so, can there be programming of information by mindless chance? Can there be programming without a Master Programmer?
Classic evolution instruction tells us we have to picture a scene that happened
millions and millions of years ago; a seething ocean and a blob of algae. Suddenly an exceptionally massive bolt of lightening
"happens" to strike the blob of algae! The blob comes to life, crawls out of the sea, and begins it's
millions of years journey of evolving into living molecules, into a fruit fly, then to other forms, and eventually evolved
into apes, and finally into humans.
What is missing from this - far-fetched
if we think about it - scenario?
Well, lots of things. But certainly a prime missing ingredient is.....information....
Is any knowledge present in ocean water?
Is any knowledge present in a blob of algae? Is any knowledge present in a bolt of lightning?
Where, then, did the highly specialized engineering knowledge come from that is obviously
exhibited by the creatures we have just studied? Furthermore, how is this detailed knowledge and training passed
on to the offspring of each creature? We will explore those questions in more depth in another article.
Do you think the title "Engineers without degrees"
is just my exaggeration? Our sources, most of whom support evolution, have applied the terms "engineer" or
"engineering" some sixteen times to these creatures.
As a quick review, we have looked at the following:
Bees that maintain a 93-degree constant temperature needed for larvae development, with only ¼
of one-degree variation.
Bees air-condition their hive by fanning their wings (400 times
a second!) and by bringing in water.
Blind termites construct the equivalent of a six-mile high
skyscraper. With no blueprints and no overseer.
termites construct the equivalent of a six-mile high skyscraper. With
no blueprints and no overseer.
Termite structures are called evidence of a definite building plan.
Short sides of termite structures that face exactly north and south.
air-conditioning in termite structures.
air-conditioning in termite structures.
methods are now studied by human engineers.
When their air-conditioning was restricted,
the termites within 48 hours constructed new vents.
Tiny termites, as a major civil engineering
feat, dig down as much as 120 feet for water.
Grebe birds build a floating nest called a work
Brush turkeys maintain a constant 95-degree temperature in their primitive
large brush and soil incubators.
Mallee birds maintain a constant 93.2 degrees in theirs.
And do it for ten to eleven months a year.
The orb spider builds in 30 minutes a web with 1,000 to
1,500 connections, called "a marvel of engineering."
The superior six-leg arrangement
of insects is now being copied by human engineers.
The first ball was made by dung beetles.
Even in plants we saw engineering principles strictly carried out, sometimes superior to human ingenuity.
A dense ball-like cluster of bees maintain a constant wax making temperature of 95 degrees.
Thousands of honeybees, working independently, nevertheless construct precisely engineered honeycomb
of honeybees, working independently
, nevertheless construct precisely engineered honeycomb cells.
Multiple numbers of bees work on each cell, for a maximum of thirty seconds, yet all completed cells are
exactly the same.
Worker cells are exactly 4.83 cells to the inch.
cell walls are precisely engineered, 0.0029 inches thick, to a tolerance of only 0.001 of an inch.
Cell construction and honey retention requires the maintenance of a gradient of 13 degrees.
honeybee's head serves as it's vitally needed plumb tool.
is so efficient hives have even survived barn fires.
A final question
We have to ask ourselves, are all the things we have studied, including the twenty-three items summarized
above, more logically the result of:
evolution, that admittedly is:
Or, more logically the
Which one makes more sense to you?
(1) "Microcosmos" by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Perennon,
published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang, New York, no year given.
(2) "Animal Architecture"
by Karl von Frisch published 1974 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Ind., USA.
(3) "Alien Empire"
by Christopher O'Toole, published 1996 by Crowood Press, Ramsbury, England.
(4) "Insects and
Spiders", various authors, published 2000 by Discovery Channel, Retail, Random House.
Ways" published 1969 by Crown Publishers, Inc., New York.
(6) "The World of Bees" by
Murray Hoyt, published 1965 by Bonanza Books, New York.
(7) "Botany for Gardeners" published
1957 by the MacMillan Company, New York.
(8) "The Secret Life of Plants" by Peter Tompkins
and Christopher Bird, 1973 by Harper and Row, New York.