In the 10:00 section of class, I suggested that one way we know science is working or theory is sound is when it can tell us what the future holds. Today Ed Yong’s post on jumping spiders and the benefits of blurry vision ends with this statement:
Nagata even created a mathematical model for the spider’s eye to predict how far it would miss its jump under different wavelengths of light. The model’s predictions matched the animal’s actual behaviour.
So there it is: Nagata does some math, the math says: the spider will jump yea-far, and voila! the spider does it.
Maybe we tend to think of “predicting the future” more in terms of catastrophe or romance (“you’ll meet a tall dark stranger . . . “), but the ability to predict even tiny things–how far a spider will jump, how fast an object will accelerate, how much effect a certain chemical will have on a biological system–is seductive, isn’t it? It gives me a little thrill, a little moment of HEY THAT JUST WORKED.