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Similarities across scales of size and proportion

As a child watching the water teem down the tiled wall, I saw a pattern that I’d seen in pictures before.

As the water ran down the subtly uneven tile surface, the straight course of the water being ejected from the shower head would begin to meander and bow.

In an instant, this straight course would become broken and small tributaries would either form or die, and in some cases, small bows of water would be left isolated.

I stood naked in the bath and watched the course of mighty rivers form, coalesce and break away, happening millions of times faster than the process of nature, all in miniature.

Images that I’d seen on film, caught there in the arial photographs taken for wildlife documentaries, the Amazon, the Ganges and the Nile.

At my feet, I watched the water cycle around. Then, in an inexorable motion of cycles, the water began to circle the plug hole, drawn down into the gape of the hole, disappearing out into the drain.

This too I had seen before. The process of all manor of matter being syphoned down into the mouth of that great cosmic force; the quantum singularity.

In life, we exist in a region where we see similarities across scales of size and proportion.

While in historical times, such an ability to see and fathom such patterns would often be the domain of scholars and the worldly wise. Now, as we grow and develop in a world saturated with data, information and knowledge, we begin to see similarities across scales of size and proportion.

As a child, I would wonder about many things, most of which would be beyond the grasp of my comprehension, but I would not let this deter me from probing them and teasing the edges of these puzzles to determine their meaning and to draw some conclusion, no matter how incorrect they might have been at the time.

And then some weeks ago, while out jogging, I posed myself one of the last unsolved puzzles in my mind; why do virulent diseases try to kill us?

What reason would any disease have in killing its host?

But this was yet another similarity across scales of size and proportion.

And to answer this question, I must first ask myself another: why do we humans try to destroy our world?

Up until the late nineteen seventies, we weren’t even aware that we were destroying our world. Thus, the answer to the first question is answered by the answer to the second question.

The virus has no idea that the demise of the host is an inevitable byproduct of its thirst for existence and survival.

The virus merely wishes to spread beyond the host and to infect further hosts by making use of the resources of the first.

On a small scale, the virus desires to leave the confines of the small world in which it exists, to make that perilous voyage through that of most dangerous and treacherous mediums before hopefully arriving on hospitable and fertile territory conducive to its survival.

Thus, the human species endeavors to spread throughout space and to colonize other planets, making efficient use of the resources available to us.

The meaning of all life is quite simple, we exist to survive, and to survive we must fight using means both fair & foul alike.

Unless the meek and the weak are both very smart and resourceful, they will never inherit the Earth.

After all, in the end, there can be only one…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

4 replies on “Similarities across scales of size and proportion”

The process of evolution gradually strikes a balance between how virulent a microbe should be, and how successful a species it should be.

Think of the plague in the Middle Ages. It so rapidly killed off many of its victims, that it had little chance to propagate. So, as a result, despite killing millions, the plague itself died out.

The infectious diseases that survive today, have been plaguing humanity for thousands of years. The more virulent strain must have destroyed tribes, and destroyed themselves in the process. The least virulent ones also died out, as they could not infect very many people. Only the intermediate ones survived.

There are several competing theories for what caused the plague, one is that the disease started out as a benign skin condition from some tropical people.

In its natural environment, given that people wore so few clothes, the disease could spread rapidly and easily.

Once the disease had been taken from its natural habitat, into colder climes and where people worse much more clothing, the disease had to improve its skill set and infection vectors.

However, evolution really isn’t the point that I’m making. In this scenario, evolution is merely an agent of change.

I’m more interested in the similarities across scales of size and proportion…

I’m more interested in the similarities across scales of size and proportion…

Agreed. Nature tries to re-use its code, so to speak. But similarities can only take you so far. Phenomena that arise out of Quantum Mechanics do not have any large scale similarities. On the other hand, fractal patterns can be found in crystal growth, which suggests a scale-independent growth pattern!

I remember when you made the comment (in my post of time travel) and you got me thinking about Quantum Mechanics, where you described how the ‘time line’ of all matter extends through time in all directions.

There is a lot to be discovered, but it’s almost like some scientists are looking at the problem from the wrong angle, certainly in the short-term.

If an alien were to look at a sheet of sandpaper, they might learn very little about what it does, but to see that sheet being used explains the apparently chaotic arrangement of sand particles glued to the surface.

Maybe the perceived chaos of the quantum realm is a by-product of actions being performed elsewhere?

For example, the current theory for gravity is that the vast majority ‘leeks’ into higher dimensions.

Could it be that we are the [un]happy recipient of forces emerging from somewhere else?

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