Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#88 The Waggle Dance of Honeybees

I think you are probably familiar with the game of Charades where one person tries to act out a phrase while other members of his/her team try to guess the meaning.

Let’s suppose that the message you are given to act out is the exact location of tonight’s dinner for everyone which it so happens is a couple of miles away.

Remember, you cannot speak and you cannot write. It’s pretty important that you can convey this information or you might all go hungry and eventually die.

Oh, and just to make it a little more tricky, let’s just say that we shrink your communication ability down to the level of a honeybee and similarly for those receiving the message.

Sounds really, really difficult, right? Well, just how do bees do it successfully all the time?

Please watch this National Geographic video (less than 2 minutes) to see a great summation of how they accomplish it. [1] As you might have guessed from the title, they do a little dance.

The Theory of Evolution might say that given millions of years and thousands of generations, the precise method to communicate where the food is located had to (1) accidentally get acted out one day by one honeybee in some way that was (2) correctly understood by another bee. The second one who understood the message, (3) flew off in the right direction and (4) to the right distance and found food. Somehow this accidental communication of information (5) was passed on to other bees in the hive and then (6) passed on to the next generation and ultimately (7) to all honeybees in the world.

I’m having a little trouble imagining that this could happen (sarcasm intended).

Around 40 years ago a scientist, named Karl von Frisch, a professor of zoology at the University of Munich in Germany, discovered the communication technique of honeybees. He set up a very ingenious experiment. He created two honeybee feeders and set them in totally different directions and distances from the hive. Then when bees eventually arrived at the feeders, he painted little spots on them so he knew which ones visited that feeder. He was able to film their actions inside the hive. That is when he discovered what has been named the Honeybee Waggle Dance. He was later given the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1973 for his work.

Wikipedia says, “Waggle dance is a term used in beekeeping and ethology for a particular figure-eight dance of the honey bee. By performing this dance, successful foragers can share, with other members of the colony, information about the direction and distance to patches of flowers yielding nectar and pollen, to water sources, or to new nest-site locations.” [2]

Von Frisch discovered that the honeybee will do a short wiggling dance in a straight line, then stop wiggling. It will swing around to the right and circle back to its original starting point for the dance and then do it all over again. However, the second time when it gets to the end, it will swing around to the left and circle back to the beginning point.

Von Frisch was able to determine that the precise axis the bee is traveling during the dance section tells the other bees the direction to fly in. He also discovered that the number of waggles during the dance was communicating the distance that they should fly.

“While running the straight-line course of the dance, the bee’s body, especially the abdomen, wags vigorously from side to side. This vibration of the body produces a tail-wagging motion. At the same time, the bee emits a buzzing sound, produced by wingbeats at a low audio frequency of 250 to 300 hertz or cycles per second.” [3]

But it is much more amazing than you might first think, although this is totally amazing already. The bee hive is usually built vertically. However, the direction that the bees have to fly will be a horizontal direction. Somehow the bee doing the dance has to be able to take the horizontal direction and distance information and convert it in her brain before she does the dance on a vertical surface. Also, the bees receiving the information have to be able to convert it in their brains back into the original information horizontally.

Von Frisch discovered that the dance being done on the vertical hive surface was using gravity as a reference point and that straight up represented the location of the sun and straight down represented 180 degrees away from the sun.

Here is an outstanding animated video from Georgia Tech College of Computing (7.5 minutes) that illustrates the experiments of Karl von Frisch and demonstrates how bees communicate. [4]

If the axis of the waggle dance was 30 degrees off of the vertical to the right, then the other bees were able to understand that they should take the position of the sun and then fly exactly 30 degrees to the right. Amazing that they can know the exact angle, right?

“The distance between hive and recruitment target is encoded in the duration of the waggle runs. The farther the target, the longer the waggle phase. The more excited the bee is about the location, the more rapidly it will waggle, so it will grab the attention of the observing bees, and try to convince them. If multiple bees are doing the waggle dance, it's a competition to convince the observing bees to follow their lead, and competing bees may even disrupt other bees' dances or fight each other off.” [5]

Now you must be smart enough to realize a big problem…namely the sun keeps moving all day long. Even more challenging is that the arc of the sun is not the same every day but changes in the sky according to the seasons. If the bees live south of the equator, you have to flip things over.

Not only does the sun moving in the sky make it difficult, but sometimes it is so cloudy that we can’t see the sun. Astoundingly, the bees are able to see ultraviolet light, which penetrates the cloud cover. 

So they can see the sun at all times. Not only that, but even more bewildering for a non-believer is that the honeybee’s eyes polarize the sunlight like polarized sunglasses. That means they can even more accurately identify the exact direction of the sun.

The bees have a finely tuned internal clock (Where did they get that?) so a dancing bee who has been in the darkness of the nest for a while somehow calculates where the sun is going to be when their fellow bees head off from the hive. The axis of its dance has to change because the sun moved in the sky. Not only that of course, but those leaving the hive are going to be continually calculating changes to the direction they should fly according to the amount of time that has elapsed and the change in position of the sun.

Here is another video. This one is loaded with film footage of bees at work and what their eyes are really seeing. (5min, 18sec.) [6]

The bee also communicates a second very important piece of information…the distance to fly to get to the food source. This is done by either the number of waggles or the length of time waggling. Researchers now estimate that one second of waggling equals one kilometer of distance. If the food source is close, there is no waggling at all, but just a circling around motion.

"While several variables of the waggle dance relate to distance (such as dance “tempo” or the duration of buzzing sounds), the duration of the straight-run portion of the dance, measured in seconds, is the simplest and most reliable indicator of distance. As the distance to the food source increases, the duration of the waggling portion of the dance (the “waggle run”) also increases. The relationship is roughly linear. For example, a forager that performs a waggle run that lasts 2.5 seconds is recruiting for a food source located about 2,625 meters away." [7]

But note that scientists have observed that if there is a strong headwind coming from the direction of the food source, the bee will have to fly a longer time to reach the destination. The waggle dance will last longer. This leads scientists to believe that the bees are not measuring the distance to fly but the amount of energy it takes to get to the food source.

The forager bees who do the waggle dance also bring back on their legs and abdomen some of the food source that has been discovered. So the other bees are able to sample what their goal is at the distant location. So smell may also be a strong component of the communication.

Scientists know the waggle dance is real, so bees really in fact can do this. However there is controversy about how much it is effectively used by other bees, with estimates as low as 10% of other bees actually using the data.

The simplest and most elegant explanation for the waggle dance is that it was designed by the Creator of the Universe, an unimaginably superior intelligence. If you decide against there being a Creator, then you have to posit some other explanation which must be based on pure accident and random happenstance coming together in a fortuitous way. Then another random accident brings another fortuitous result. This pattern repeats itself again and again, thousands or more accurately millions of times. Notwithstanding that this violates the laws of nature and probability, you must imagine and try to believe that’s how it happened because, voila, the truth is that scientists have now discovered these facts of how bees communicate using the waggle dance.

I’ll stick with, there must be a God.

[1] National Geographic video, World’s Weirdest: Honeybee Dance Moves,

[2] Wikipedia, “Waggle Dance”,

[3] N.C. State University, The Honey Bee Dance Language,

[4] Georgia Tech College of Computing, Video: The Waggle Dance of the Honeybee,

[5] Wikipedia, “Waggle Dance”,

[6] wgbhstocksales Video: Bee Waggle Dance,

[7] N.C. State University, The Honey Bee Dance Language,

Saturday, July 25, 2015

#87 Pain

Thank God for pain...nobody ever said.

However, you are about to learn why we can in fact recognize that a loving God created us because we have the incredible ability that allows us to feel pain.

There are about 20 documented cases of American children born with a genetic defect called “congenital insensitivity to pain.” It makes them unable to feel pain. One parent called it a “living hell”.

“Congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP), also known as congenital analgesia, is one or more rare conditions in which a person cannot feel (and has never felt) physical pain. ... Despite sounding beneficial, it is actually an extremely dangerous condition.” [1]

Here is a link to the video of a little girl on Oprah’s show. “She poked out her own eye, chewed her skin raw and bit her tongue until it bled. Five-year-old Gabby Gingras feels no pain. As someone who has no nerves to carry the pain signal from her skin to her brain, she's one of the rarest little girls in the country.” [2]

There is also Ashlyn Blocker. “Ashlyn walked over and put her hands on the muffler. When she lifted them up the skin was seared away. There was one story about the fire ants that swarmed her in the backyard, biting her over a hundred times while she looked at them and yelled: “Bugs! Bugs!” There was the time she broke her ankle and ran around on it for two days before her parents realized something was wrong.” [3]

Here is a link to the story of Isaac Brown. [4] He broke his pelvis and did not know it. One day he was found pounding on a door with a piece of broken glass. No pain. He once put his hand on a hot stove burner. No pain. He had to be taught that “blood is bad”.

Dr. Stephen Waxman, a leading researcher on this condition, blames the problem on mutation and says that probably just one gene out of 30,000 has been messed up. [5] Evolutionists should listen to themselves if they say a mutation is what causes this horrendous problem. And then watch them try to say with total belief in Evolution that mutation is the miraculous process that gave us all good things.

At the beginning of May of this year, I hurt a vertebrae in my spine and was in bed for two and a half weeks with excruciating pain. During that time, I was not thanking God actually. But I did think a lot about pain. You would think that with two and half weeks in bed that I could get a lot of reading and such done. Not actually. I could only think in a straight line for a few seconds at a time. Then the pain would return and the only thing I could think of was how to adjust my body to alleviate some of the pain. I spent most of the time thinking about how to get out of pain. When you are in pain, it overrules everything else.

Our ability to feel pain is phenomenal in its complexity. It is unbelievable in its accuracy. The sensitivity to the damage, vicinity, and seriousness of an injury is way better than you could imagine if you designed it yourself.

There are several different pain receptors, but they, in fact, work together to report the intensity and severity of the damage that has been done. “Every square centimeter of your skin contains around 200 pain receptors but only 15 receptors for pressure, 6 for cold and 1 for warmth.” [6]

Think about that…200 receptors for pain in a square centimeter. Each one of them connected to your brain.

There are two different types of nerve cells lined up end to end that report pain to your brain. They even use completely different types of pathways to get to your brain. Two different centers in your brain do the interpretation of the pain signals.

“The conscious perception of pain probably takes place in the thalamus and lower centers; interpretation of the quality of pain is probably the role of the cerebral cortex.”[7]

In other words you have more than one system in your body for reporting pain. Think about how two systems to accomplish the same function could have possibly evolved separately and accidentally.

“Pain travels through redundant pathways, ensuring to inform the subject: “Get out of this situation immediately.” Without these attributes, the organism has no means to prevent or minimize tissue injury.” [8]

“Pain from the skin is transmitted through two types of nerve fibers. A-delta fibers relay sharp, pricking types of pain, while C fibers carry dull aches and burning sensations. Pain impulses are relayed to the spinal cord, where they interact with special neurons that transmit signals to the thalamus and other areas of the brain.” [9]

Wikipedia writers believe in Evolution and make this statement in their article, “human awareness of painful stimuli is an evolutionary necessity to avoid injury and death.” Well, duh.

But just exactly HOW does the Theory of Evolution describe the development of your pain recognition system? I did not find any answers to my question, only a lot of descriptions of the history of pain research. Evolution says there must have been a slow and gradual process of random mutations that were beneficial. So somehow a receptor for pain accidentally mutated into existence and that was beneficial enough to spread all over our bodies and then be inherited to all mankind.

Although, think about this, it must have taken millions of more mutations before the nerve chain (of hundreds or thousands of nerves) developed to get the signal to our brains which then somehow learned to recognize the signal as pain.

How could pain receptors somehow mutate everywhere, completely covering our bodies? But somehow they did not cover our bodies equally since certain areas have more receptors than others. Luckily the most pain receptors are in exactly the places where we need them most.

But the story is much more complicated. There are actually four different types of pain receptors in the skin. How could that evolve?

“Skin nociceptors (i.e. pain) may be divided into four categories based on function.
The first type is termed high threshold mechanonociceptors or specific nociceptors. These nociceptors respond only to intense mechanical stimulation such as pinching, cutting or stretching.
The second type is the thermal nociceptors, which respond to the above stimuli as well as to thermal stimuli. (i.e. hot or cold)
The third type is chemical nociceptors, which respond only to chemical substances.
A fourth type is known as polymodal nociceptors, which respond to high intensity stimuli such as mechanical, thermal and to chemical substances like the previous three types.” [10]

There is a great amount of research and information available if you want to continue to study about pain. For example, scientists have been able to distinguish 22 degrees of “Just Noticeable Differences” in applying heat to our skin. This article, as you can see is just scratching the surface.

Also it’s a fact your body has pain receptors everywhere, not only on your skin, but also in all of your joints, your arteries, and inside your body connected to all your various organs. There are different types of pain sensors in these areas as well. Did all this evolve slowly and gradually? Not likely.

"The distribution of pain receptors in the gastrointestinal mucosa apparently is similar to that in the skin; thus, the mucosa is quite sensitive to irritation and other painful stimuli. Although the parenchyma of the liver and the alveoli of the lungs are almost entirely insensitive to pain, the liver and bile ducts are extremely sensitive, as are the bronchi and parietal pleura." [11]

Let me highlight one more amazing ability we have which defies Evolution, our reflexes. If you put your hand on a hot surface, you will pull it off immediately, even before the signal gets to your brain. Similar reflexes exist connected to all of our pain receptors. The neurons from our pain receptors to our brains all go through our spinal cord. But there is a short circuit process if the pain is intense. There are nerves directly from the spine to our muscles that make them pull away from any pain source. Our brain is bypassed. Is there really a way for this to evolve slowly and gradually?

Nobody likes pain, but what an incredible blessing it is that we have the ability to feel it. If not, we would be constantly injuring ourselves in terrible ways and have really shortened lives. When we experience pain, we are strongly driven to do something about it and to get it to stop. Looking at the whole pain perceiving ability, it totally testifies to having been designed.

For a related study, read my Proof for God #70 Healing [12]. The process of healing is another total miracle that had to be designed.

There must be God.

[1] Wikipedia, Congenital insensitivity to pain,

[2] The Oprah Winfrey Show,

[3] Heckertnov, Justin, The Hazards of Growing Up Painlessly, The New York Times Magazine.

[4] Mohney, Gillian, Good Morning America, Meet the Child Who Feels No Pain, Oct. 25, 2013,

[5] Mohney, Gillian, Good Morning America, Meet the Child Who Feels No Pain, Oct. 25, 2013,

[8] Dafny, Nachum, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, The UT Medical School at Houston, "Pain Principles",

[10] Dafny, Nachum, Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, The UT Medical School at Houston, "Pain Principles",

[12] Stephens, Jim, Proof for God #70 Healing,