Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Global Warming

Per the Synergetics Dictionary (Vol 1, pp. 680-681), Fuller cast Euler as a pioneer in topology, thereby reconnecting maths, which had gotten very distant, to everyday experience, albiet superficially (at the level of faces, vertices and edges and their relative number). Next, goes the story, came Gibbs and his Phase Rule, which supplied a more visceral grasp of our freedoms, in terms of temperature and pressure, and the relative proportions of solids, liquids, and gases.

You could think of Synergetics.Euler (namespace notation) as pointing to some colorful computer model of some planet, any planet, like in Sims. Whether that's our planet or not is unimportant (from who's perspective?). Then Synergetics.Gibbs adds another dimension: special case tactile reality, as in "oh, so that's our planet, Gaia" (Earth, Terra, Mothership whatever). Our reconnection with reality, through Euler then Gibbs, is complete.

Now I agree: that's a peculiar story, which you'll likely encounter in no other namespace. People find that disquieting ("if Fuller makes sense, why can't we make more sense of him?").

Hugh Aldersey-Williams, in researching his The Most Beautiful Molecule took a quick glance at Synergetics and dismissed it as lunacy, closer to Alchemy than Chemistry, and therefore not possibly a source of rationality.

I shot back it was meant as a contribution to the Humanities. He took that as a sign I was caving to pressure (giving in to a hostile, rejectionary science), but that wasn't it. I'm a philo guy. I consider the Humanities the superior side of the C.P. Snow chasm. I was beating my chest, doing like a King Kong thing.

Like, just look at the mnemonic economy of Fuller's memory palace: Euler (polyhedra-as- graphs, spin, two kinds of twoness, 3rd person overview); Gibbs (vectorial flows, quality of life in environmental terms, 1st person immediacy (as in "how hot, how much water?")).

Anyway, now that we've bridged the chasm ("what's in your wallet?"), I'm less concerned about which side is which anymore. Let's just call it engineering and/or bioneering and get on with our Spaceship Earth scenario as best as we're able to manage.