On any given day my head is full of numbers and figures, and though these two words are often used synonymously, in my head there is a distinction (http://goo.gl/hDjP4f
). We live in a world where technology is allowing, more and each day to turn everything we do into a mathematical abstraction (http://goo.gl/K6opQ0
). Numbers that show an instance of us. Equations that describe our world: http://goo.gl/t9Rtdn
Although much of my life is devoted to shedding light upon particular issues (Connections-http://goo.gl/7myrmB
) what I am really trying to do in the background is better understand who we are and what we do, as people. At first glance it may seem like a futile task but it has a poetic dimension to it which allows me to feel that I am, in my mind at least, an explorer.
You see in mathematics, an equation is an equality between two expressions involving at least one object that is unknown and must be found. Starting from what I can ‘see’ I try to edge towards the still invisible, unquantifiable and unknown and help make it, at least partially, known. While this may appear to a reductionist approach (https://goo.gl/8bWj6r
) to a complexity that is frequently stunning, it is never a reduction in the sense of wonder of what I come across.
Everything stems from us. If we cannot think about something, visualize it or imagine it, it can never exist. Yet we, the source of everything (from this perspective at least) are essentially chaotic systems (http://goo.gl/rEYk1n
), infinitesimal changes to initial conditions lead to wildly different outcomes - http://goo.gl/6hKVdT
. Our minds may be quantum computers (http://goo.gl/jmt3B
). Our sense of consciousness a field effect (http://goo.gl/0Aa5BX
). Our bodies, similarly, may be quantum mechanical at a cellular level: https://goo.gl/1JKOvC
. We may, heck, are - nonlinear systems balanced at the very edge of chaos: https://goo.gl/iglZh9
. What we see, what we perceive and what we are, creating order out of randomness. Who we are defining its nature; determining its shape.
That is a scary thought. It makes us so responsible for everything that happens that we run a serious risk of being paralyzed with fear. Unable to make a single move because how do we, how can we, really know that it will be the right one?
Part of that fear leads us to reach out and grasp at data. By looking at reality at the level of captured ‘noise’ - bits of raw information, we hope to be able to process it through an equation that allows us to then make sense of it: http://goo.gl/t9Rtdn
. The possibility that this approach might succeed is often provided from the most unlikely quarters: https://goo.gl/7K04Hr
. The least expected associations of data which allows information to surface: http://goo.gl/IPdcTu
The suggestion here then is that if reality, the incredibly chaotic, messy, maybe even inexplicable construct we observe, has an existence that is independent of us, but can be rendered through maths: http://goo.gl/vQYGQy
, we can then uncover relationships which allow nonlinear systems with a dynamic behavior (yeah, that is actually what we are) - http://goo.gl/1XyjPC
, to be mapped in a way that makes it more likely they can be understood: https://goo.gl/5VA5i1
As Jer Thorp beautifully illustrates, complexity does not necessarily need to be complex: https://goo.gl/3ryXCz
. We can use the seemingly trivial to mine relationships, extract raw data and come up with meaningful information. Derive signal from the noise: https://goo.gl/UUwLPJ
. And if that is the case we are then uncovering fractals (https://goo.gl/QAoNjO
) of a sort. Underlying building blocks that create more than just one of the things we see or just one of the things that exist: https://goo.gl/l5a6hZ
There are several strands of thought to this approach, some of which I think about frequently as I struggle to solve the admittedly much smaller issues I look at. One of these strands thought is that if we are all, each, data (something which recent ‘experiments’ seem to pointing out to: http://goo.gl/F9DbXx
) we then should have the expectation of certain fundamnetal protections: https://goo.gl/auvFS3
Another strand of thought is that we may be edging towards a better understanding (if not necessarily a solution) of our behavior: http://goo.gl/o738qj
which also means a better understanding of the inconsistencies we see in us: http://goo.gl/R9DTLH
Our understanding of everything, including each other is inherently imperfect, fundamentally flawed, riddled with assumptions, oversimplifications and accumulating errors. At their very worse all these lead to a fundamental breakdown at the interface of our connection to each other (read: riots, wars, murders). Acts which can be justified as ‘output’ to data which we process wrongly. Internalize poorly. Comprehend marginally.
There is real hope in all this. Hope that by shedding more light in the complexity that surrounds us, we begin to gradually better understand our own. Our place in the chaos that exists then becomes more discernible. The fears that drive us diminish; replaced by a clearer sense of purpose and maybe, even a sense of wonder.
So, by taking a little of the magic of flour (http://goo.gl/oWvvVy
), the physics of water (http://goo.gl/w4kBRQ
) and the science of sugar (https://goo.gl/PX7hZv
), coupled to the miracle of coffee (http://goo.gl/KBXva
) in at least some of its variants: http://goo.gl/JNmTHj
, we should have, right this moment, mountains of croissants, cookies, donuts and chocolate cake and endless rivers of coffee. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.