Using Waves and Vibrations
Sound moves through air and water in the form of waves, which bounce back if they strike an object. If you possess the necessary technology and knowledge, these rebounding waves can provide a great deal of information about the body they encountered, such as its distance from the source, its size, and the direction and speed of its motion.
This technology to locate objects by means of sound and pressure waves was developed in the 20th century, actually for military purposes. But today, it is also used to locate sunken ships and for mapping the ocean floor. However, millions of years ago, long before man discovered this technology, living things in nature were using the sound waves they spread around them in order to survive.
Dolphins, bats, fish and moths have all possessed this system, known as sonar, ever since they were created. What is more, their systems are much more sensitive and functional than those employed by human beings today.
Bats' Sonar Goes Far Beyond the Bounds of Human Technology
The U.S. Defense Department set out to implement principles of bat sonar in its own system of sonar, an indispensable method for locating submarines under the surface of the sea. According to a report in Science, one of America's best-known magazines, the Defense Department set aside a special allocation to pay for this project.
It has long been known that bats use their sonar system to find their way around in the pitch dark. Recently, researchers have uncovered new secrets of how they do it. According to their research, the brown insectivorous bat, Eptesicus fuscus, can process two million overlapping echoes a second. Furthermore, it can perceive these echoes with a resolution of only 0.3 millimeters (1/80th of an inch). According to these figures, bat's sonar is three times more sensitive than its man-made equivalent.50
Bats' sonar navigational skills teach us a great deal about flying in the dark. Research carried out with infrared thermal imaging cameras and ultrasound detectors afforded considerable information about how bats fly in search of prey at night.
Bats can seize an insect from mid-air as the insect rises from the grass. Some bats even plunge into bushes to capture their prey. It's no easy task to seize an insect buzzing in the air using only reflected sound waves. But if you consider that the insect is among the bushes, and sound waves bounce back from all the leaves surrounding it, you will grasp what an impressive task the bat actually performs.
In a situation like that, bats reduce their sonar squeals, to prevent their becoming confused by echoes from the surrounding vegetation. Yet by itself, this tactic isn't enough to enable bats to perceive the objects individually, because they also need to distinguish the arrival time and direction of the overlapping echoes.51
Bats also use their sonar when flying over water to drink, and in some cases, to capture prey from the ground. Their expert maneuverability can best be seen when one bat chases another. Understanding how they can do this will let us produce a wide range of technological products, especially equipment for sonar navigation and detection. Moreover, bats' broad-band sonar system is also imitated today in mine-sweeping technology.52
As we have seen, the properties of living things benefit us in a very large number of ways. In one verse, God draws attention to the uses in animals:
And there is certainly a lesson for you in your livestock. We give you to drink from what is
Dolphin Sound Waves and Sonar Technology
From a special organ known as the melon in its head, a dolphin can sometimes produce as many as 1,200 clicks a second. Simply by moving its head, this creature is able to transmit the waves in the direction it wishes. When the sound waves strike an object, they are reflected and return to the dolphin. The echoes reflected from the object pass through the dolphin's lower jaw to the middle ear, and from there to the brain. Thanks to the enormous speed at which these data are interpreted, very accurate and sensitive information is obtained. The echoes let the dolphin determine the direction of movement, speed and size of the object that reflects them.53
The dolphin sonar is so sensitive that it can even identify one single fish from among an entire shoal.54 It can also distinguish between two separate metal coins, three kilometers away in the pitch dark.55
In the present day, the instrument known as SONAR56 is used to identify targets and their directions for ships and submarines. Sonar works on exactly the same principle as that employed by the dolphin.
At Yale University, a robot was developed to be used for exploring new environments. An electrical engineering professor Roman Kuc equipped the robot with a sonar system imitating the one used by dolphins. Professor Kuc, who spent 10 years working on ultrasound sensors and robotics research, admitted, "We decided to take a closer look at how echolocation is used in nature to see if we might be missing something."57
Imagine that someone told you that under the sea, sound waves travel at 1,500 meters a second; then asked you to calculate, if your submarine sent out sound waves that came back in four seconds' time, how far away was the object that reflected them.
You would calculate that you were three kilometers away. Dolphins are also capable of comfortably performing similar calculations, but they know neither the speed at which their sound waves travel through the water, nor how to multiply and divide. They don't carry out any of these functions; all the animals do is behave the way God inspires them.
Sonar Helps the Visually Impaired
As scientific research advances, we are discovering astonishing abilities in living things that offer solutions to problems in many areas of daily life, from the workplace to our hospitals. Darcy Winslow, General Manager of Environmental Business Opportunities for Nike, expresses this truth:
The extent to which the natural world can provide technological solutions for the types of product performance characteristics we must provide are virtually unlimited. Biomimicry still requires exploration, innovation and creativity, but by thinking like or working with a biologist, we must learn to ask a different set of questions and look to nature for inspiration and learning opportunities.58
Many firms are now following a strategy that parallels the one that Winslow set out. It is now possible to see electronic and mechanical engineers working together with biologists.
Already, engineers influenced by bat's sonar have mounted a small sonar unit onto a pair of glasses. After a period of familiarization with the glasses, visually handicapped people are now able to avoid obstacles and even ride bicycles. Still, the system's designers stress that it will never replace human vision eye or be as functional as that of the bat.
It's of course impossible for flawless features like this, which even experts have difficulties in replicating, to have appeared by chance. We must not forget that what we refer to here as "features" are actually complex, interconnected systems. The absence or breakdown of only one component means that the whole system fails to work. For example, if bats sent out sound waves but couldn't interpret the echoes reflected back, they would in fact have no echolocation system at all.
In scientific literature, the flawless and complete design that living things display is known as "irreducible complexity." In other words, certain designs become meaningless and functionless if reduced down to a simpler form. Irreducible complexity in all organisms and their systems demolishes the fundamental idea of the theory of evolution, according to which organisms advance gradually, from the simple towards the complex. If a system can serve no purpose before it reaches its final form, there is no logical reason for it to maintain its existence over millions of years, while it refines and completes itself. A species can survive down the generations only if all its systems are present. No components of a system can afford the luxury of hoping to complete their alleged evolution over time. This clearly proves that when living things first appeared on Earth, they were created with all their structures developed and fully formed, as they are today.
God brought animals and all other living things into being through His superior creation. News of this creation is given in a verse:
And He created livestock. There is warmth for you in them,
The Superior Design in the Bat Is Showing Us to Make Our Roads Safer
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh developed a robot that used its smart ears to find its way by means of echolocation, just like a bat. Jose Carmena, of the university's department of informatics, and his colleagues named this invention "RoBat." The RoBat was equipped with a central sound source, serving the same function as a bat's mouth, and two fixed receivers at a distance apart comparable to a bat's ears.
In order to make the best use of echoes, other features of the bat were also borne in mind when designing the RoBat. Bats move their ears to detect interference patterns in the echoes and thus, can easily avoid obstacles in front of them, navigate and hunt down preys. Like bats, the RoBat was also equipped with smart acoustic sensors to make its mechanism as flawless as possible.
Thanks to such nature-inspired sound sensors, it is hoped that one day our roads will be much safer.
In fact, such car manufacturers as Mercedes and BMW already use ultrasonic sensors to help drivers reverse. Thanks to them, the driver is alerted to how close he is to a car or other obstruction behind him.59
A Fish's Detector Against Pollution
The West African elephant nose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) lives in 27oC (80oF) muddy waters of Nigeria. This 10 cm (3.9 in) fish uses its eyes very little in the muddy water. It finds its way by means of the electrical signals constantly given off by muscles in its tail. Under normal circumstances, it emits 300-500 signals a minute. As the pollution levels rise, however, the number of signals emitted per minute can exceed 1,000.
Detectors that make use of elephant nose fish are used to measure pollution levels in the British city of Bournemouth. A water company in the city gave specimens of water from the River Stour to be checked by 20 elephant nose fish. Each fish lives in an aquarium filled with water from the river. The receptor signals in the aquarium are forwarded to computers to which they are linked. If the water is polluted the increased numbers of signals emitted by the fish are identified, and the alarm signal is given by means of the computer.60
50 "The Designing Times," vol. 1, no. 8, March 2000; http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/design.html
51 Philip Ball, "Astounding Bat Mobility," Nature, February 2, 2001.
53 For further details see Harun Yahya's Design in Nature, Ta Ha Publishers, January 2002.
54 Phil Gates, Wild Technology, p. 52.
55 Betty Mamane, "Le surdoué du garnd blue," Science et vie Junior, August 1998, pp. 79-84.
56 Sonar means "Sound Navigation and Ranging.''
57 "Yale Sonar Robot Modeled After Bat and Dolphin Echolocation Behavior," Yale University—Office of Public Affairs; http://www.robotbooks.com/sonar-robots.htm
58 "Biomimicry," Buckminster Fuller Institute; http://www.bfi.org/Trimtab/spring01/biomimicry.htm
59 New Scientist, October 14, 2000, p. 20.
60 "Kirlilige Balık Dedektoru", Science; trans.: Mustafa Ozturk, Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology), TUBITAK Publishings, February 1991, p. 43.