MEMS Seminar: "Perfection is the Enemy of Evolution"
Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science
Fall 2023 Seminar Series with Professor Adrian Bejan, J.A. Jones Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke University. ABSTRACT: You may be familiar with the saying "The best is the enemy of the good" (Voltaire), or "Perfection is the enemy of progress" (Churchill). It sounds counterintuitive. Most of us tend to associate the better performing with the more perfect. Is the saying true? This is a question of physics, not opinion. I address it in terms of the physics of evolution (constructal law). I predict in simple terms the 'enemy' relationship between performance and perfection (access to movement, space, and time). It is natural. Everywhere we see it, in human movement (life) in the city, animal life, athletics evolution, vascular designs, business, and human diversity on the globe and in universities. From cause to effect, nature 'happens' in this direction, not the other way around:
Freedom to change --> evolution --> performance (access) --> diversity.
ADRIAN BEJAN (MIT SB 1971, SM 1972, PhD 1975) is the J.A. Jones Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke University. His research covers thermodynamics and design & evolution in nature.
He was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal 2018 ""For his pioneering interdisciplinary contributions in thermodynamics and constructal theory, which predicts natural design and its evolution in engineering, scientific, and social systems."
Professor Bejan is the author of more than 30 books and 700 peer-referred articles. His h-index is 110 with 90,000 citations on Google Scholar. He received 18 honorary doctorates from universities in 11 countries, such as ETH Zurich, and The Sapienza University of Rome.
In the world impact rankings, Adrian Bejan is ranked among the top 0.01% of world scientists, specifically, 11th in all Engineering disciplines, 1st in Pratt, and 5th at Duke, cf., "Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators," 19 October 2021, DOI:10.17632/btchxktzyw.3, by John P.A. Ioannidis et al. of Stanford University.