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Scientists Figure Out How Bees Fly 1237

corbettw writes "Researchers at CalTech have discovered how bees fly, putting one more nail in the coffin of Intelligent Design. From the article: 'People in the ID community have said that we don't even know how bees fly ... We were finally able to put this one to rest. We do have the tools to understand bee flight and we can use science to understand the world around us.'"
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Scientists Figure Out How Bees Fly

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:41PM (#14440186)
    ID people: We must be right because you can't explain everything.
    Evolution People: Wait a sec, we figured something else out, you are now wrong.
    Is it just me or does this have nothing to do with any scientific arguement?
  • Nail in the coffin? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dslauson ( 914147 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:43PM (#14440207) Journal
    I'm not sure you can call this a "nail in the coffin" of ID when there's still such a high percentage of our population that believes in it, you know? The catch-22 of ID is that it can't really be disproved with logic or science. You can shoot down their arguements when they try to put it in terms of biology like this, but I think we all know that this is not going to convince any "true believers" out there.
  • Re:saw this on TV (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gunmod ( 939008 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:57PM (#14440387)
    And by the way, is it one of /.'s top priorities to attack religion every chance it gets?
    You know, I was wondering this very thing. Seems like 95% of /. posters are athesists. Gets annoying after awhile.
  • by GospelHead821 ( 466923 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:03PM (#14440462)
    I am with you, Bel. I consider myself a proponent of intelligent design, simply because I subscribe neither to pure creationism nor to a pure theory of random development. As far as physical mechanisms go, I subscribe fully to scientific theory. In my opinion, evolution, the big bang, condensation of matter, etc. are not gross and unpalatable ideas, as some creationists I know have stated. I find it fascinating and beautiful to suppose that God created the cosmos complete with laws of nature, physical constants, and initial conditions that allowed for the universe to develop under its own mechanisms with minimal intervention from God. (If you find it odd that I mention beauty, it is because I often find that when religious individuals are involved, the argument for or against a proposed mechanism often comes down to whether the individual finds the mechanism aesthetically worthy of God.) For myself, I find no necessary conflict between the mechanisms described by science and the actions of God described by the Bible.
  • by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:12PM (#14440553) Homepage
    I think many people assume that since the ID model includes an original designer that it means we no longer need to understand how how something works-->God made it, I don't have to know how it works, it just does.

    From what I understand of ID, it's not that we can't understand how it works, it's that it could not have evolved on its own and therefore somebody had to design it. In order for this to "refute" ID, they'd need to have shown how it could have evolved naturally.

    Note that although I'm fairly religious, I'm not a believer in ID; I'm just pointing out that the article's claim to have refuted ID is wrong.

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:22PM (#14440687)
    Precisely! And since no one can currently test how the natural order came to be, there is no reason to talk about it in a science class.

    Science shouldn't seek to explain why the universe came to be, but how.
  • by Peter Trepan ( 572016 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:31PM (#14440820)
    Because for everyone but a handful of oddballs, the Intelligent Designer is assumed to be Jehovah --a deity whose basis for existence rests entirely upon Abrahamic scriptures.

    If you have any doubts about that, try speculating about the nature of the "Intelligent Designer" in front of the ID set, and see if they appreciate your curiosity and open-mindedness or simply set you straight about who they know him to be.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:38PM (#14440898)
    It's but a news article, you can look at the research to see the nitty gritty. And yes, ID'ists have been pointing to specific fossil records, bee flight and other things, and when they're smacked down they go on to the next supposed flaw in evolution. And like worms they refuse to own up to their claims, refusing to be pinned down on any issue. IDists did point to this to further their IDist religion. Unfortunately, like the earth going around the sun and like fossilized lizards with wings, you slowly paint yourself into a corner.

    Please, if you believe in ID, why don't you tell us once and for all your reasonsing, your bold assertions. Put it in stone, so you can weasel out of it.

    Methinks you'll just continue to bitch, like a child, attacking, complaining, never offering anything of substance.
  • by vistic ( 556838 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @06:50PM (#14441031)
    And yet if it had not said anything about Intelligent Design, however unrelated, it would not have gotten any coverage and no one would have read about bees flying.

    I think any research I ever do the rest of my life is going to need a mention or two about how it disproves Intelligent Design... that should assure that it receives a much larger audience.
  • by windowpain ( 211052 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @07:01PM (#14441145) Journal
    You have asserted that "[t]he various theories of the evolutionary process have been proven wrong time and time again."

    OK. Kindly name those theories, who disproved them and in what peer-reviewed journal their work appeared.

    Thank you.
  • by electroniceric ( 468976 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @07:23PM (#14441354)
    Mod TheFlyingGoat up! What you describe is pluralism with respect to science.

    My main problem with ID is not that it posits any sort of alternate theory of how we came to be or how we ought to interpret the world around us - frankly I think there's a lot of value in that. It's that ID insists that that kind of learning and reflection be taught in lieu of science.

    Science's "mission statement" has always been to apply analysis to understand the mechanics of how the natural phenoma work. Nothing more, nothing less. It does not and should not tell you how to interpret that, much less to ponder the imponderables: "why is there grief and death in the world?", "what is wisdom?", "is it right for me to fire an employee?", etc. I do think that the understanding provided by science can require some rethinking of how the precepts of religion are intepreted, and that troubles people who view the knowledge provided by religion as eternal and immutable.

    I wouldn't dismiss the notion that religion can provide eternal or immutable knowledge, but I do believe a lot of this is an end run around pluralism. Pluralism in this case entails accepting someone saying, "I think a heavily scientific worldview is a bad one, and while I won't attempt to disprove it, I simply won't believe it". That's roughly akin to saying, "I can accept that you think Mohammed was the Messenger of God, even though I don't" and still think that we can agree on some moral precepts. But ID's basic goal is anti-pluralistic, it is to use present deficiencies in scientific knowledge to challenge anyone's use of science as a worldview.

    I know I'm not the only one that finds the notion that science is a framework for all belief troubling, and I'm not even religious - I'm an agnostic. But I don't think the answer is to go advancing theories that say that science is flawed if it doesn't agree with a particular tenet of faith, and particularly not to represent those same theories as science.
  • by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @07:23PM (#14441361)
    Science is about making new discoveries about the world around us. It is, at a philisophical level about clearly distinguishing between that which we can prove and that which we cannot and then using what we know to find out what we don't.

    There are many outlooks which differ from science most noteably the "What we think is what it is" outlook. The idea is that some group has a "complete" answer for everything be it God, Atheism, or little blue people that make the stars move. Any attempt to challenge that is met with immediate attack.

    "Intelligent Design" is an attempt to wrapping up the latter in the dress of the former. ID'ers like all creationists believe that some higher power must have made the universe, solar system, earth, and all its inhabitants. These people may fight tooth and nail over exactly who or what that force was (God, Gods, Aliens, Godlike Aliens...) but they are all in agreement that a) the outside being exists, b) it is anthropomorphic and c) that we are special.

    ID'ers are attempting to "prove" their baseless assertions by using pseudoscience. They are seeking to pose as scientists while making patently unscientific arguments. Most of these arguments are based fall (in my experience) into two categories. The former are little illogic-games such as "irreducable complexity", or "specific complexity". The latter are "things we don't know" arguments.

    Specific complexity doesn't hold up because it is based upon a tautology. Dembski defined strings that have specific complexity as those that cannot be reduced to any other form or explained by any "process" they must simply be copied as-is. This essentially was a notion of information that is specially complex versus information that is not. ID'ers (but not Dembski himself) have then argued variously that humanity, human dna, etc are all irreducably complex and ergo cannot have been reproduced by some mechanical or impersonal process, say evolution.

    This falls apart because of the original tautology. Strings are irreducably complex only because they are... irreducably complex by definition. No proof of such complexity exists, and there is no way to show that humans are irreducably complex except by saying so. Therefore this doesn't "prove" anything ID'ers just like to say that by claiming we are irreducably complex they have proven that the godlike whatever made us.

    The latter arguments (what the authors are getting at here) fall along the same lines as the former. ID'ers sieze upon something that is unproven or they claim unproven and assert that it cannot be understood (is irreducably complex) and therefore that we will never find it out and therefore that it must have been made by some God(s), Aliens, or Godlike Aliens. The flight of the bumblebee is one of the more classic examples of this. Two others are the lack of "intermediate" fossils between the existing fossils (there will always be this), and the flagella of the paramecium.

    To think about how silly this is consider a prehistoric, or even dark ages individual presented with a car, airplane, or an Archimedes Screw []. They could easily claim (and many did) that we would "never figure it out" but we have!

    What really divides the two outlooks is how they respond to the unknown. Scientists are excited by the unknown and seek to dive headlong into it in order to find it out. Theey do so by admitting what they do and do not know and then attacking the unknown. The latter group fear to find out that they are wrong, and to admit that they do not know things. Therefore they seek to pretend that the unknown is not there.

    Given the difference in outlook and the fact that ID'ers seek to pollute science by claiming that they practice it it makes perfect sense that the Scientists involved would love every minute of disproving them.
  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @07:35PM (#14441467)
    I thought we already knew this - that bees fly because little ridges on their wing roots act as vortex generators, breaking up the airflow above the wing? This design technique works for whales as well - at least for swimming in water. They have tubercles on their leading fin surfaces [].
  • by not-enough-info ( 526586 ) <> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @07:59PM (#14441662) Homepage Journal
    Bee wings don't generate lift the same way other winged creatures' wings do. Most animal wings generate lift by passing air over the lifting surface. (See Bernoulli Principle []) This is done by generating forward thrust or by beating the wings in an x pattern to force air over the leading edge. Bee wings are too small by surface area for this method of generating lift to work sufficiently. It is because of this fact that it has been long said that the reason bees can fly is that they are too stupid to know that they can't. Recently (I forget, within 8 years?), slow motion video and CFD analysis has revealed that Bees fly by generating a lifting vortex. The vortex is created by the wing on the up-stroke by beating at a high frequency in a figure-8 pattern. The lifting vortex acts on the entire body of the bee rather than just the wing surface thus generating sufficient lift for the bee to fly.
  • The inconsistencies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AutopsyReport ( 856852 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:53PM (#14442044)
    I'm a simple man. I do not get bogged by the inconsistencies of evolution (or lack of a creator) or intelligent design. I interpret things at face-value and determine what seems authentic and known to be true. I'm a firm believer in microevolution, but not macroevolution. There just isn't enough solid evidence on the plate to convince me yet.

    But for years, I've had a major problem with the anti-creationism crowd. And yes, I am talking about Intelligent Design, because denying intelligent design implies that the substance of the earth and universe came into being through a means other than a deity.

    If that is what is know to be true, then how did matter form in the beginning? I've had many discussions with folks proposing that there is no God (and no intelligent design) and I that I should look to science to resolve this large issue. But I cannot escape the fact that there is simply no explanation for how the matter came into being. Everything which has a beginning has a cause, so there must be a viable explanation for how matter was formed from nothing.

    To this date, there exists no such answer that I know of. I'd like to point to a statement Stephen Hawking made in 'The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe'. He said, "It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun...except as an act of a God who intended to create us."

    In my mind, it is equally impartial to deny both intelligent design and evolution/no creator. In terms of the laws of the land, intelligent design may not have a place in the education system, but it certainly has it's place in the world. Until it can be empirically proved that no God existed, both theories should retain the uncertain authenticity they deserve, and both sides should earn the right to be respected of their beliefs.

  • ID != Creationism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by burntsigil ( 898978 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:56PM (#14442067)
    I wish people would quit confusing Intelligent Design and Creationism. Science and ID should technically be able to coexist peacefully since the whole ID theory states is that the universe is so complicated that it must have been designed by some intelligent entity. This is the theory I hold to and in my opinion, science REINFORCES my belief. Creationism, however, states that God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days, yadda yadda yadda and usually people who believe in Creationism insist on taking it literally and therefore shutting their eyes to science and intelligence. And frankly, I'm more interested in how bees fly than how this proves or disproves anyone else's arguments.
  • by pcgabe ( 712924 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:21PM (#14442244) Homepage Journal
    I also don't like the summary because it almost grants the notion that science has to have an answer for absolutely everything or else creation must be true.
    "Mysteries don't prove science is bunk. They are the reason for science."
    -- Dr. Galapagos []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:44PM (#14442407)
    First off, let me say that, because I believe in God, that intelligent design appeals to me.

    And perhaps I am not totally versed in how the term "ID" is being bantered about right now; so I could be displaying my ignorance (what's new...)

    But, to me, this whole polemic argument holds no water. I do not understand why the two are incompatible. Even if science were to discover every tiny tidbit of knowledge there is to know, that would not prevent me from believing that there is a God. Why? Because science is equipped to answer "what" and "how" questions, but not to answer "why" questions (speaking philosophically and simplistically). Those we can only guess at. The atheist looks at the facts of evolution and says, "Boy, that sure suggests to me there is no God!" A believer can look at the same facts and say, "Wow. Isn't it interesting how God did that?!"

    Science can speculate on "why," but it's hard to test. So can religionists. Ultimately, they go back to your fundamental beliefs (yes, beliefs) in either materialism or divinity, which are pretty much untestable by scientific means.

    So for me, I can't see what all the hullabaloo is about. Now we know how God made Bees so they could fly! Cool!

  • by pappy97 ( 784268 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:01PM (#14442533)
    Think about this people. Why are we even having this ID/evolution debate?

    Oh I know....when humans came to be they had something other animals did not: the ability to reason.

    Most animals can't reason, and their whole life consists of eat/sleep/sh**/f***/survive and then die.

    With humans we think beyond that, we can reason. It's a blessing and a curse.

    Blessing to be so intelligent, but curse because it makes us ask the ONE single question (among other questions) that got religion started: what happens after we die???

    Because humans have the ability to reason, we can't deal with the fact that nothing happens when we die. Most humans would be too paranoid to live life (because of the ability to reason and think about these abstract things), so we invent religion. We invent stories that say what happens when we die, to put us at peace. Once those stories got a hold of us, people pulling the strings busted out creation myths(ding ding ding!) and the rest is history.

    So what is the point of arguing ID vs. evolution? ID is based on religion, which came about to put humans, who have the ability to reason, at peace during their lives because they can't deal with the fact that nothing happens after death. You just die.
  • by DoubleMike ( 942739 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:47PM (#14442776)
    seemingly all of their arguments are witheringly obsolete.

    There's something that needs to be cleared up about this whole issue. The vast majority of these "arguments" are in fact not used at all by supporters of Intelligent Design, but are created by their opponents to make everyone think they look stupid. Sure, they may stem from some comment made by some un-educated supporter, buy why in the world is anyone taking the word of some anonymous idiot as the viewpoint of the entire group? The real supporters of intelligent design have PHDs and know what they're talking about, but never get posted on slashdot because they're not "controversial" enough.
    It doesn't really matter, though; the only non-idiotic argument I've ever heard against Intelligent Design is that "It can't be disproven." (seriously) Everything else I've seen is either BS or is based on a misunderstanding of ID (like this one about bees). If you want to attack it, come back when you actually have heard the real thing, instead of laughing at idiots who claim bees can't fly.
  • by KnightStalker ( 1929 ) <> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @11:32PM (#14443022) Homepage
    As an US ex-fundamentalist, I will attest that they do believe that evolution denies their faith, and I think they're right. Evolution doesn't contradict theism, or Christianity in general, but fundamentalist beliefs cannot accommodate it. There are two reasons for this.

    One, they demand that the entire Bible be read literally, except for parts that are specifically labeled as poetry or metaphor. So, Genesis 1 describes six literal days, and they more or less ignore the fact that it contradicts Genesis 2.

    Two, they believe (by taking Genesis and Romans 5:12 literally) that death is a specific punishment for Adam & Eve's sin, and did not exist before the Fall of Man (the literal event). Obviously, evolution implies that death occurred for billions of years before humans existed.

    It's a pity that they don't take other parts of the Bible literally. For example, "prove all things, hold fast what is true" or "provide things honest in the sight of all men".
  • by ummit ( 248909 ) <> on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @12:10AM (#14443204) Homepage
    The vast majority of these "arguments" are in fact not used at all by supporters of Intelligent Design, but are created by their opponents to make everyone think they look stupid. Sure, they may stem from some comment made by some un-educated supporter, buy why in the world is anyone taking the word of some anonymous idiot as the viewpoint of the entire group?

    Fair enough. So what are some of the group's better arguments, as used by the educated supporters?

  • by Darby ( 84953 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @12:48AM (#14443366)
    There has never been anything proven incorrect about the bible.

    Like I said, lay out the most important day in the entire religion without leaving out inconveninet inconsistent facts. It can't be done.

    It isn't even internally consistent, let alone if you add in outside facts.

    Also, don't you think that someone who devoted their life to following Christianity would know the facts of their own religion better than that of an interested bystander?

    It would be great if that were true, but if Christians took an honest look at the history of their religion, there would be no more Christianity.

    The history of reborn sun gods is ancient.
    Far older than Christianity *or* the Christian god.
    Those are simple basic facts that anybody with an interest in the subject would know.

  • by Darby ( 84953 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @01:29AM (#14443548)
    Evidence please.

    The Bible.

    You've made the claim - under formal debate standards, it is now your job to uphold it. If you fail, it might seem to be implied that you can't do it.

    I have asserted that it is impossible to reconcile the "facts" presented there.
    Were it possible, it would fall upon you to do so.
    It should be as easy as pie. After all, a perfect loving god put it there for you.

    I'll even formalise it for you:

    Read Matt 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21, Acts 1:3-12 I Corinthians 15:3-8

    Now, write a simple, consistent, chronological narrative of that one day *without ommitting one single biblical detail*

    Sounds easy enough, after all, it's the one day upon which the entire religion completely relies.

    knock yourself out, but you will fail it. utterly.

  • by Onan ( 25162 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @03:44AM (#14443982)
    I'll infer that you consider the existence of God to be the primary illogical or unfounded assumption. After all, a "rational" person should never believe in anything until it is proven, right? Except rational people believe in plenty of things that are not proven, foremost being Reason itself. Another example would be the existence of the universe. Oh, does that sound silly? Let me rephrase it, then: the belief that we are not living in the Matrix. These beliefs cannot be proven. They are axioms. You can accept or reject an axiom, but not through pure reasoning.
    Hint: any time you find yourself inferring or rephrasing someone else's argument, you're most likely just creating a strawman, whether intentionally or not. That certainly appears to be the case here.

    If one wishes to be pedantic, very close to nothing whatsoever is provable. Your Matrix reference is indeed the modern-day pop culture example thereof. A closer to canonical example would be Descartes contemplating whether it was possible to prove that anything--the world, his existence, his memories, other people--actually existed, or whether it was possible for them to all be artifacts of a malevolent demon that was intending to deceive him. (Hence the "I think, therefore I am" line that everyone loves to misunderstand. He wasn't asserting his purpose in life, he was listing the sum total of everything in the universe that could ever actually be proven to be true.)

    But while this is all a fun philosophical and semantic game, it's disingenuous to suggest that because nothing can be absolutely proven, all things are at equal levels of non-proof. I absolutely cannot prove that the sun will rise tomorrow, but I can present some historical data and an astronomic theory that make it a far more reasonable assumption than the converse. "The sun will rise tomorrow" and "the sun will not rise tomorrow" are both assumptions, but that doesn't mean that they're on equal footing, or that we should just throw up our hands and refrain from predicting either one.

    So no, I do not expect a rational person to refute gods because they cannot be absolutely proven to be true. I expect a rational person to refute gods because their existence would be contrary to a larger and more consistent set of evidence about the cosmos.

    As some bloke name John McCarthy appears to have put it: "An atheist doesn't have to be someone who thinks he has a proof that there can't be a God. He has only to be someone who believes that the evidence on the God question is at a similar level to the evidence on the werewolf question."

  • by typical ( 886006 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @05:11AM (#14444245) Journal
    I'm a firm believer in microevolution, but not macroevolution.


    We know that nucleotides get flipped, that mutations happen. We know that this causes physical changes.

    The only requirement to buy into macroevolution is that you believe that enough of those flips can result in two critters different enough that they can't succesfully breed with each other any more. Surely you don't have an objection to that? I'd have a hard time believing in the non-existence of macroevolution -- I don't see why it *wouldn't* happen.

    If that is what is know to be true, then how did matter form in the beginning?

    That doesn't answer the question. How did God form? Same answer applies to matter.
  • This is the place where science is completely wrong about the formation of really obvious things like craters, has no idea why the brightest object in the sky has a cool interior and blindingly hot atmosphere, can't explain why comets do stuff like sit way off-centre in their coma or emit material in thin jets, and wildly mis-predicts the positioning of heavily red-shifted objects?

    The cosmos where we, half of the bats (but not the other half!) and a few things like octopi all have eyes that use the same mechanism? Where most of the basic body plans appear to have been all sorted out in a geological eyeblink? Where the very simplest organisms require large numbers of horrificly complicated organic molecules for their mere existence?

    Just to triple-check: you speak of a cosmos containing a planet with tens of thousand of square kilometers of inverted strata? With continents standing proud that we know will be eroded to sea level in around ten mega-years? Which has totally homogeneous, kilometers-thick soft monoliths like Uluru just standing around in the sunshine?

    Surely we can't be talking about the same place here?
  • by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @06:15AM (#14444443) Journal
    The history of reborn sun gods is ancient.
    Far older than Christianity *or* the Christian god.

    That reminds me something I was discussing with a friend after seeing the "last temptation of Christ" movie and reading Anne Rice book "Blood and Gold" (about Vampire Marius life).

    We where wondering why did a religion from a poor, non important country/place like Israel (please correct me if I am wrong in the facts) or the Jews (in some way a minority) came to conquer the world?, If you see all the religions "available" at that moment in the history, you have the Greek gods, the Roman Gods, the Nordic Gods, Egyptian gods and the pre-American gods (Mayan, Aztecs, etc) or one of the oriental religions.

    Being (on that time) the Romans the most powerful civilization, its religion is the one that *should* have dominated humankind (at least, being spread). In contrast with the Catholic religion (I am not sure if Catholic is the generic term of that religion) other religions where in better arming with nature, some of them did not claimed that God(s) put us in the world to use all the other organisms to our will until we spend all the natural resources. Some of them even taught that the human is a part of the whole nature system.

    Also, unlike Catholicism, other religions were not as "machista" (don't know the exact word in English) as it is. If you read the bible or study (as I did) 9 years in a catholic school you will realize that this religion is focused on men (masculine) and Women tends to be just something men owns in order to continue his legacy.

    Now, Catholic religion principles are staying behind our society's principles. It is interesting to see how (like with a constitution written 100 years ago for our today society) Catholics are patching the basic ideas (like the amendments or appendixes, btw I am talking about Mexican constitution, not American, that is a flame war for another thread) in their basic rules book (the bible).

    My opinion is that it would have been better if other religion (like Greek or Roman) was the one spread around the world.

    P.s. I am really sorry for my great engrish, I hope I don't make anyone blind with it :)

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan