Butterflies and Biomorphs

Butterflies and Biomorphs

Boing boing links to the Butterfly Alphabet. 24 years of probably very enjoyable obsession, with implications likely to send Kabbalalists spinning towards the nearest wailing wall. Kjell managed to find every letter of the alphabet, photographing the butterflies alive.

Very coincidently, we’ve been discussing Richard Dawkin’s early Alife paper, “The Evolution of Evolvability” (from his book the Blind Watchmaker, or the proceedings of the 1st Alife conference). In which, he describes his Biomorphs software, a sort of hybrid Genetic Algorithm and L-System, with human aesthetic choice guiding morphological evolution. As an aside to the implications for evolutionary theory, he mentions his experiments in trying to evolve Biomorphs that resemble the Roman alphabet.

Even though, as usual Biology beat him too it, both natural and artificial evolution encountered the same problem. No matter how much screen time Dawkins devoted, he was unable to evolve “K” in his biomorph alphabet. One of the most difficult letters for Kjell to find among the butterflies was “K”. Asymmetric physical improbability.

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