Why has evolution failed to utilise radio transmission & reception?

  • #26
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Those are, AFIK, detectors of electric and magnetic fields, not of radio waves.
Yes, I agree they all seem rather crude examples of em sensors, not requiring fine frequency tuning or modulation detection.
 
  • #27
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I did post an example of a complete communication system using radio (microwave). This is fully developed between female and male moths.
This is more than just detection of EM fields.

I also pointed out the size problem of the necessary receptors for light and radio frequencies.
I also pointed out the fact that the interaction of EM radiation with chemical reactions, upon which organisms depend, is generally limited to the visible and near visible.
 
  • #28
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Not necessarily, there is the possibility that animals did evolve with radio communications akin to bluetooth etc but didn't survive because the evolutionary benefits weren't great.
That supposition is not consistent with available fossil evidence. RF antennas would be pretty easy to spot. Of course, "you can't prove a negative", but there are no indications whatsoever that there was ever any such creature.
 
  • #29
dx
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I wouldn't be surprised if there is some organism that can detect/see/utilize EM waves in the radio range of freqencies. I mean we already have organs that can detect EM waves in the visible spectrum, and some animals can see infrared light and so on, so it doesn't seem that unlikely to me.
 
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  • #30
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That supposition is not consistent with available fossil evidence. RF antennas would be pretty easy to spot. Of course, "you can't prove a negative", but there are no indications whatsoever that there was ever any such creature.
my nokia phone doesn't have an easy to spot rf antenna.

I'm sure Evolution is a better engineer than the Finnish. :smile:
 
  • #31
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I did post an example of a complete communication system using radio (microwave). This is fully developed between female and male moths.
This is more than just detection of EM fields.

I also pointed out the size problem of the necessary receptors for light and radio frequencies.
I also pointed out the fact that the interaction of EM radiation with chemical reactions, upon which organisms depend, is generally limited to the visible and near visible.
You didn't post a link, and I can't find anything about moths communicating via microwaves using the almighty power of google.

I don't think your claims to be able to "out-think" evolution are very plausible, I'm sure She's a lot smarter than you :smile:
 
  • #32
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my nokia phone doesn't have an easy to spot rf antenna.
Wrap it in meat and bone, bury it for a few million years, dig it up, and it will be very easy to spot.

Frankly, your premise is silly and your supporting arguments pretty weak.
 
  • #33
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Wrap it in meat and bone, bury it for a few million years, dig it up, and it will be very easy to spot.

Frankly, your premise is silly and your supporting arguments pretty weak.
What, my premise that evolution ought to have been able to evolve something a simple as a radio detector given that it's evolved the eye separately dozens of times?

I suspect some basic restrictions imposed by physics are at play here, but no one seems to have any ideas to offer, which is disappointing.

I think the last idea I came up with, that most of evolution occured in water, and radio transmissions in water are difficult is the best explanation.

I'll stick with that, since the alternative is to admit Evolution isn't quite so amazing.
 
  • #34
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Because it is not required for survival of the species. However, if the atmosphere become permanently smogged that prevents visible light for vision, then maybe in a 1000 generations animals will have built in radar.
 
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  • #35
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What, my premise that evolution ought to have been able to evolve something a simple as a radio detector given that it's evolved the eye separately dozens of times?

I suspect some basic restrictions imposed by physics are at play here, but no one seems to have any ideas to offer, which is disappointing.

I think the last idea I came up with, that most of evolution occured in water, and radio transmissions in water are difficult is the best explanation.

I'll stick with that, since the alternative is to admit Evolution isn't quite so amazing.
what advantage do you think being able to see radio waves would give a species? We see visible light because that's what we get the most of from the Sun... this is not a hard concept to understand.

Species develop traits that help them to survive. Radio waves would not help a species survive. Species don't see radio waves. This isn't even worth debating and I suspect a hint of creationism in your posts.
 
  • #36
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Because it is not required for survival of the species.
But evolution doesn't evolve the minimum requirements, it exploits advantages.

If two fish could hide behind different sides of a rock and communicate via bluetooth it might be advantageous.

But that brings me another idea, evolution is generally competitive even amongst animals of teh same species, and radio communication requires cooperation to be useful, and I think evolution of cooperative behaviour is much less common than pure competitive.

There you go, that's at least 5 possible reasons I've posted:

1. Simultaneous evolution of receiver/transmitter unlikely

2. Radio communications in water difficult, and most of evolution occurred in water

3. Transmission range v power requirements not evolutionary beneficial

4. Evolution of predators to intercept transmissions would kill species off

5. Efficient radio communications require multi component networks, evolution evolves individual units.

and, I've just though of another:

6. Periods of high sunspot activity shower the earth in cosmic rays disrupting radio communications, and perhaps preventing any nascent radio technology evolving beyond primitive over millions of years

In fact I believe the dinosaurs communicated via radio, and were killed off during a particularly active period of sunspots and cosmic rays :wink:
 
  • #37
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Species develop traits that help them to survive. Radio waves would not help a species survive. Species don't see radio waves. This isn't even worth debating and I suspect a hint of creationism in your posts.
Radio communications wouldn't help, oh that explains it, thanks.

and by the same logic I might suspect a hint of fascism in your post ie there's absolutely no logical reason
 
  • #38
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Radio communications wouldn't help, oh that explains it, thanks.

and by the same logic I might suspect a hint of fascism in your post ie there's absolutely no logical reason
Actually that does explain it. If there was some significant advantage to being able to see or transmit radio waves, we'd probably see it in nature. We don't. Evolution doesn't just produce variation for the sake of variation; random changes persist because they offer an advantage, if they don't they don't stay around.

You gave an example about two fish communicating around a rock... what is it you think one fish has to say to another, that can't be accomplished by sound or simply swimming to the other side of the rock? The complexity needed to transmit radio waves by biological means would not provide any advantage, and some organism wasting precious energy and time developing such a system would only be disadvantaged. It doesn't exist for a reason, just because you like the idea doesn't mean it's realistic, and frank it borders on crackpot.
 
  • #39
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It doesn't exist for a reason
But it does exist.
 
  • #40
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Actually that does explain it. If there was some significant advantage to being able to see or transmit radio waves, we'd probably see it in nature. We don't. Evolution doesn't just produce variation for the sake of variation; random changes persist because they offer an advantage, if they don't they don't stay around.

You gave an example about two fish communicating around a rock... what is it you think one fish has to say to another, that can't be accomplished by sound or simply swimming to the other side of the rock? The complexity needed to transmit radio waves by biological means would not provide any advantage, and some organism wasting precious energy and time developing such a system would only be disadvantaged. It doesn't exist for a reason, just because you like the idea doesn't mean it's realistic, and frank it borders on crackpot.
I'm usually impressed by the product of 4 billion years of evolution, but not in the case of this demonstration of (lack of) intellect.

Please stop posting confrontational posts, you seem to have illogically assumed your own interpretation, projected it on me and then become upset.

If your answer is "it's obvious" then go away, read post #36 for 7 intelligently thought out possibilities.
 
  • #41
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I'm usually impressed by the product of 4 billion years of evolution, but not in the case of this demonstration of (lack of) intellect.

Please stop posting confrontational posts, you seem to have illogically assumed your own interpretation, projected it on me and then become upset.

If your answer is "it's obvious" then go away, read post #36 for 7 intelligently thought out possibilities.
And what does the statement "In fact I believe the dinosaurs communicated via radio, and were killed off during a particularly active period of sunspots and cosmic rays " fall under? I hope you were joking.

I don't even understand what you're trying to argue at this point - but the fact remains that animals don't communicate or see in radio because it offers them no advantage. Is there a point to this thread?
 
  • #42
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What, my premise that evolution ought to have been able to evolve something a simple as a radio detector given that it's evolved the eye separately dozens of times?
The silly premise I was referring to is the one in your OP. Specifically:
I always assumed that if anything was physically possible at everyday earth temperatures, forces and velocities then it would have emerged naturally from evolution, since the evolutionary benefits are clearly enormous.
As you mention, this is an assumption, and you even cite a counter example proving that the premise is wrong.

First, just because something is physically possible at everyday temperatures etc. does not imply that it has enormous evolutionary benefits. Lighter than air flight is certainly physically possible at everyday temperatures etc., it is also certainly is physically possible for an ambulatory organism to have 3 legs at everyday temperatures etc., but there is no indication that either of those would yield any evolutionary benefit just because they are physically possible.

Second, simply being physically possible and evolutionarily advantageous does not imply that it would have emerged naturally. All life on earth is based on some common biochemical machinery, specifically DNA and proteins. So, for a thing to be produced biologically it must be something that can be made directly or indirectly through proteins which are encoded by DNA. I know of no protein which can build a long and thin conductive metallic structure nor do I know of any protein which itself is as conductive as a metallic structure. When biology conducts electrical signals the best it can do is using neurons which are orders of magnitude too resistive and slow for RF signals.
 
  • #43
cepheid
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So I'm puzzled that simple radio transmission/reception doesn't appear to be used anywhere, surely the ability to communicate via radio waves (rather than squawking really loudly) offers a huge evolutionary benefit.
It's only a huge benefit until the predators also develop radio receivers, at which point, you ARE being "loud." I just thought I'd point that out. There is nothing intrinsically advantageous about any particular communications medium that is independent of who is sensitive to it. [EDIT - at least not in the sense of "stealth." People have already posted numerous examples of how visible is clearly advantageous compared to radio in terms of amount of available information from the environment.]

I'm sorry if this was mentioned already. I didn't read the whole thread. [EDIT - Okay so I went back and did.]
 
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  • #44
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Mu naught said:
And what does the statement "In fact I believe the dinosaurs communicated via radio, and were killed off during a particularly active period of sunspots and cosmic rays " fall under? I hope you were joking.

I don't even understand what you're trying to argue at this point - but the fact remains that animals don't communicate or see in radio because it offers them no advantage. Is there a point to this thread?
I added smilies to indicate the dinosaur references were jokes (how could you miss them), a tongue-in-cheek nod to the on-going debate about what really killed the dinosaurs (climate change, volcano eruption, asteroids, over-consumption...)

To put this in a practical context, how many of our current radio communication technologies would work reliably for the next few million years, with climate change, cosmic radiation bombardments, magnetic poles switching etc.?

I think evolution would have evolved radio communications if the environment had allowed, but something prevented it happening.

The point of the thread is not only to discuss the limits on evolutionary "technology", but even more to put in context what a mundane "technology" consciousness is, since that evolved, it seems, fairly easily in comparison to boring old radio communications technology.

Realising this should make us realise we (humans) are far less important than we might think we are, pretty ordinary in the context of the universe and the physical possibilities that exist at high energies, huge gravitational forces and near relativistic velocities.

Once that second era of copernican humbleness has settled in we might actually achieve something worthwhile, stop pussyfooting around and get on with the construction of artificial consciousnesses which will be far superior to us.

But I rather hoped those thoughts might emerge discretely in a discussion which unfortunately hasn't really taken off.
 
  • #45
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The silly premise I was referring to is the one in your OP. Specifically:As you mention, this is an assumption, and you even cite a counter example proving that the premise is wrong.

First, just because something is physically possible at everyday temperatures etc. does not imply that it has enormous evolutionary benefits. Lighter than air flight is certainly physically possible at everyday temperatures etc., it is also certainly is physically possible for an ambulatory organism to have 3 legs at everyday temperatures etc., but there is no indication that either of those would yield any evolutionary benefit just because they are physically possible.

Second, simply being physically possible and evolutionarily advantageous does not imply that it would have emerged naturally. All life on earth is based on some common biochemical machinery, specifically DNA and proteins. So, for a thing to be produced biologically it must be something that can be made directly or indirectly through proteins which are encoded by DNA. I know of no protein which can build a long and thin conductive metallic structure nor do I know of any protein which itself is as conductive as a metallic structure. When biology conducts electrical signals the best it can do is using neurons which are orders of magnitude too resistive and slow for RF signals.
I corrected myself about the logic of "physically possible = beneficial" in a later post #22?

Your point about limitations on materials for the antenna is a good one, I assumed a salt solution or maybe carbon based antenna (graphite?) would be suitable, that's exactly the "obvious" detail I was looking for.

This is the Classical Physics section after all :smile: , so graphite or salt solution wouldn't be suitable as an rf aerial, even for weaker local transmissions?
 
  • #46
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and not to sound trivial, but when I touch my indoor tv aerial or radio the reception does often improve. :)
 
  • #47
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Ok, after a little searching I found this article on a salt-water antenna:

http://highfields-arc.6te.net/constructors/antenna/ila.htm [Broken]

When David started his experimentation he contacted an electrical engineer and asked him, "What is the best ratio of water-to-salt to make the highest conductivity of saltwater to make an antenna?"
The reply was, "That will not work as an antenna, RF energy would only radiate through metals."
To which David countered, "I have just talked to Australia on my saltwater antenna."
The surprised engineer replied, "I'll be damned!"

David reports that his tests using a water filled tube as an antenna consistantly out performed 4g copper wire of the same length when suspended side by side and using the same equipment for testing.
Another link:
http://www.wireservices.com/n9zrt/ [Broken]

more google search results

(edit, so maybe that crazy idea about whale water spouts being temporary aerials wasn't so crazy, eh :wink: )
 
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  • #48
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I did post an example of a complete communication system using radio (microwave). This is fully developed between female and male moths.
This is more than just detection of EM fields.
studiot, are you sure you are not thinking about ultrasonic sound waves?

If you really mean microwave EM radiation, please tell us more about the source of this info. If true, this would be amazing.
 
  • #49
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studiot, are you sure you are not thinking about ultrasonic sound waves?

If you really mean microwave EM radiation, please tell us more about the source of this info. If true, this would be amazing.
I think he's mistaken, I did ask for a link twice but never got it.

Let's bring this to a rational conclusion:

Assuming evolution can't build carbon based antennas or ones consisting of metallic compounds then other biological based antennas as receivers seem plausible but the power requirements to make (for example) ionic liquid based antennas efficient transmitters are just too high. In that case, before mankind started transmitting radio signals there would have been no useful signals for evolution to work with, and hence no evolution of sophisticated rf receivers either (even though physically possible).

In contrast, detectors for em fields have developed in abundance.

Now, an interesting possibility is that since rf homing beacons and the like have been transmitting for decades, will an animal evolve a receiver to take advantage? The timescales involved make it seem very unlikely, but you never know with the short lifecycle of insects and other small animals.

Incidentally, apparently the army have used trees to aid rf communications http://www.comsistel.com/HAM documents/Trees01141017.pdf
(although the tree is used in a toroidal coupling there, not as an antenna on its own)

And a plausible ionic liquid rf antenna has been proposed for bio-monitoring A Novel Liquid Antenna for Wearable Bio-monitoring Applications

Thanks for the constructive ideas, I think it's a convincing argument now.

I should have stated the premise as "anything physically possible with biologically possible constructs should have emerged in evolution if it provides any type of competitive advantage" (But then you have the problem of deciding what's biologically possible :smile: )
 
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  • #50
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I think he's mistaken, I did ask for a link twice but never got it.
Well, he could be mistaken, or perhaps the scientific claims from the source of his information were later disproved. This often happens in science. I would expect this effect to show up in a scientifc paper in a credible journal, so I'm presently doing a literature search. So far, I have found some anecdotal support for studiot's interesting comment. For example, I've found several papers with citation to the following, but I have not obtained the article yet.

Infrared and microwave communication by moths, HS Hsia, C Susskind - IEEE Spectrum, 1970

One paper that cited this article is the following reference dealing with hornet navigation using RADAR. The RADAR operation does require transmission as well as reception of EM radio- or micro-waves. The paper makes clear of the need to do more investigation, but studiot's idea, that insects may already be using microwaves, is viewed as plausible by some scientists.

Hypothesis Stipulating That a Natural Radar Navigational System Guides Hornet Flight
Authors: Ishay, J.S.1; Gavan, J.2

Source: Journal of Electromagnetic Waves and Applications, Volume 13, Number 12, 1999 , pp. 1611-1625(15)


Abstract: Our hypothesis of a natural sophisticated radar navigation system guiding hornet flight is derived from an investigation of the complex arrays of spike elements revealed on vespan cuticle by electron microscopy. The occurrence of three different lengths and dispositions of these elements has led us to draw an analogy with the antennae associated with radio theory and practice and thus to hypothesize that they represent three transmitting and receiving phased arrays operating at three different frequencies in the sub-millimetric wavelength range. The natural thermo-photo and piezoelectric generation of energy in hornets, reported previously by us, could provide the Radio Frequency (RF) energy required for the operation of such a natural radar system. A comparison is made with the sophisticated sonar tracking and navigational system of bats vis-a-vis the mode of operation and main parameters of the three prolonged detecting and tracking system of hornets. We stress the need for further experimental and theoretical investigations before reaching decisive conclusions and propounding a precise model for the suggested radar system of hornets. Results of these further investigations may possibly provide means for improving vespan tracking and navigation, especially by exploring as yet unused submillimetric wavelength ranges.


Anyway, this thread raises some an interesting questions.
 
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