Architecture of Diatoms

Architecture of Diatoms: Design Teacher's dilemma


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So far more than 70,000 species of diatoms are documented each with uniquely shaped shell. Shells range in size from millionth of meter to thousand times as large, and can very in structure (New Scientist, 17 January 2004).

     There is no scientific definition of life, says James Lovelock, and gives its attribute, “Life is social. It exists in communities and collectives … homeostasis or ‘the wisdom of the body’ is a colligiative property of life” (The Ages of Gaia, OUP. 1988, P.18). This is evident in algae as well as bacteria in the gut.

    The attribute to design in Nature is cryptically described by Martin Jones bio-archaeologist, “In whole organisms, randomness structure is uncommon. Everything seems finely tuned by brutal rigours of natural selection. There are no spare limbs to be found and hardly any dispensable organs. This forced economy of organism design has always limited the use of bodily form as evolutionary timepiece” (The Molecular Hunt, Penguin 2002). He gives a most apt definition of design for any artefact from product design to regional planning, machines and institutions by humans. The institutes that teach architecture may aspire to produce geniuses on their assembly lines; the students, however, produce homogenised designs.

   Algae’s habitats are ocean, river, lake, pond, puddle and tree where there is dampness. It is a community. Algae, besides other organisms in the water, recycle waste and chemicals. Some are edible for man and animals. It is green manure rich in nitrogen.

    Humble algae are generous benefactors unlike so-called advanced developed societies that only take or grab the resources of the Earth to create wealth and waste that are almost impossible to recycle

    We end, or rather begin, with optimistic note by quoting Ben Okri, Nigerian writer:

    “The full potential of human creativity has not yet been tapped. Along with the ever-increasing miracle of love, this fact is one of the brightest hopes for human race” (A way of Being Free, 1999. p 28). ¢



Remigius de Souza 

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14 October 2004

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