Sunday, June 22, 2008

Energy Economics

Students interested in computing come to see "sorting" as a kind of "work," in that imposing or discovering an order among items takes joules, calories -- how many depends on both the field to be sorted, and the algorithm's efficiency.

"Sorting" as a metaphor for "organizing" more generally has that anti-entropy flavor of "work" per information theory i.e. adding signal versus noise, with the two extremes hard to tell apart sometimes (undeciphered pure signal looks just like pure noise).

Linking to business education, we see world trade as a kind of sorting, getting the right antiques to the most interested collectors and so on. This sun-powered enterprise takes real humint to keep humans happy i.e. you can't "do it all" with "just AI" (too anemic).

July's Scientific American shows an uptick in graphical sophistication in its latest article on hypercross physics (Quantum Universe): lots of triangles, hexagons etc., "very synergetics" in some ways. The Menger Sponge on page 48 is named for Eve's dad.

Of course when it comes to energy, humans harness and channel only a microfraction of nature's relatively vast pattern integrities, such as typhoons. Design science is not about "conquering nature" so much as about "learning from nature" and respecting her powers.

From my iGoogle quote of the day service:
I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth. - Umberto Eco