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From: Seth L. Kroger To: All Msg #68, Jun-01-93 02:14PM Subject: The DC-9 Argument [a la the Watch] Organization: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo From: skroger@tuba.calpoly.edu (Seth L. Kroger) Message-ID: <1993Jun01.221408.172215@zeus.calpoly.edu> Newsgroups: alt.atheism,talk.origins >ijaz@ccu.umanitoba.ca (Tahir Ijaz) writes: >>Chance and trial and error has little role to play in the engineering and >>technological accomplishments of human beings, who have produced machines >>and devices. It seems hard to believe that the "machines" in the bio- >>logical world - (machines of grand design and engineering which humans to- >>this day cannot duplicate) are the result of chance. I'd like to relate the story of an airplane called the DC-9. The DC-9 is a commercial jet that was made by McDonnell-Douglas. The design of the DC-9 was derived from a DC-8, the major difference being that it's two engines are located at the rear of the plane instead of on the wings. When they built the plane and test flew it they discovered a problem. The plane had lousy stall characteristics. A 'stall' is a condition where the plane loses lift, something you wouldn't want to persist for long. The DC-8 had good stall characteristics, and the engineers were at a loss as to why DC-9's weren't similar. Finally, some engineer said, "Look, just about the only difference between the two wings is that the DC-8 was engine pylons [small fin like structures used to mount the engine] on it. Why don't we *try* putting engine pylons on the DC-9's wing and see how it flys?" [or something to that effect :-)] The others went along with it. So, they took two engine pylons, slapped them onto the wing and flew the plane. Lo and behold, they got the stall characteristics they wanted. For later flights, they progressively sawed part of the pylon off, to see how small they could get it while still being effective. Now, the engineers had no clue as to why this sawed-off pylon worked. They just used trial and error from a chance modification, and got it to work. [Of course, they also had to come up with a spiffy name instead of a 'sawed-off pylon' so they called it a 'vortilon' instead.] It just so happens that some birds have feathers on the front of their wings quite similar to these vortilons. Now then, if a DC-9 had it's flight characteristics improved by these devices through trial and error, and birds' flight characteristics are improved by similar devices, would it not be reasonable to assume that these feathers could also the result of a trial and error process? |======================================================================| | Seth Kroger "If God made us in His image we | | skroger@oboe.calpoly.edu have certainly returned the | | Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo compliment." -Voltaire |

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