One of our coworkers is David Strong, of Phoenix, Arizona, who owns a materials testing lab.  Dave is interested in new fabrics and materials and subscribes to a magazine titled Advanced Materials and Processes.  What is amazing about this field of scientific research is that the most amazing discoveries made in the field are frequently situations where materials found in nature are copied to make new miracle fabrics and materials for man.  In the April 2005 issue, page 8, are some reports of recent examples of this.

Lotus leaves.  Researchers at Ohio State University are designing new materials that copy the lotus leaf.  This leaf has a superslick water-repellent surface which causes water to just roll off the leaf .  The leaves are waxy and are covered with tiny, closely spaced bumps that do not allow the water to wet the surface of the leaf. The water just rolls off the leaf without wetting it.  Dr. Bharat Bhushan has developed a computer model that calculates the best surface for different materials and applications. Self-cleaning glass is one of the products envisioned for this copy of the lotus leaf.  No material could adhere to the surface or wet it, so it would just roll off the glass.  Another use will be in moving machinery parts that cannot be lubricated by conventional methods.  Bhushan points out that what causes much of the friction in moving parts is the surface of the parts and that "what is good for water repellency is good for fighting friction."

Petrified Wood.  Yongsoon Shin at the U.S. Department of Energy has been studying the make-up of wood, pollen, and rice hulls.  These materials have a highly complex system of micro channels and pores that provide huge amounts of surface areas for the size of the sample.  These huge surface areas can allow filtering of gases to such an extent as to remove many impurities that now escape into the atmosphere and cause illnesses in humans.  Shin has been able to copy the natural process of petrifying wood, but speeds it up with an acid, a silica solution, baking at 1400°C, and doing all of this in an argon-filled furnace.  The product is like petrified wood and has the filtering properties that Shin is looking for.  One gram of this material could be flattened out and completely cover a football field.

As man studies the methods that God has used to prepare materials in nature, he finds ways to solve the most critical of his problems.  Suggesting that these incredibly complex materials in the natural world could come into existence by chance requires a great deal of faith in chance.  Recognizing the intelligence and purposeful design of the creator represents a more reasonable explanation, and strongly suggests we should continue to look at every material there is in our natural world to find solutions to the problems facing mankind today.

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