Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Physics through the Childlike Eyes of Genius
Physics through the Childlike Eyes of Genius
by L. Edgar Otto April 13, 2010
Bucky Fuller observed that there was much of the child in genius. Also on my mind lately is what steps in the teaching of fundamental things make for a good foundation for educating a generation of better physicists.
We all have stories of epiphanies or influences of mentors and events that explained in part how we got to the pursuits and roles we as adults become. I do not know for sure enough if our goals in awakening young minds is a matter of nurturing or a cure for what we think the diseases of our minds and hearts. I sometimes feel that nothing can be done for some, or is done partially that as if the soul of a lesser beast we humans never really reach our best potential.
I have thought a lot lately about events that led me to come up with the insights I have this day and relate them to the social and scientific climate of my time. A lot of this occurred in the innocence and raw initial honest of my childhood. I speak here of physics as an art form- one that changes or endures, one that is perishable or multiplies, replicates. One that might assert it is the artist that finally is responsible for the creation or destruction of his own work. A post modern artist we in our climate of the passage of time if not progress have a life that falls into the ground as waste and the glory is art that is a much living the once in time. In every age, in the true evolving of the world, its systems, and the atoms themselves we encounter the prison of the limitations of thermodynamic laws and only passing between us, we biochemical pathways, do we expand the lifetime and keep it stable for awhile before the dissipation or return to chaos.
Each of us seems to have a symbolic millennium, a Y2K or some 2012 Mayan like vanishing of the former age- the truth of this is the fire that sustains the myths and makes the rime and reasons seem the better grounded world view. We are a long way from the new age of sociology and economy we imagine may be possible as a quickening of sorts, a new birth of freedom in a free world of sorts.
Fuller with his poor eyesight learned to make his structures by touch while he was very young. That as a part of geometry as well as vision seems the more tangible part, the more constructable part of our abstract structures and ideas.
I looked for children's toys or games to see what they might hold- as Galileo and his telescope, as the wheels before the carts in ancient Aegypt, and for me the Soma cube. So much of the work is lost, most of it usually such as that of Leonardo- or from some idea of politics one's manuscripts are burned. Yes, it is a matter in this world of not being held back by a lack of work and wealth in order to pursue the higher arts, Einstein mentioned that. For me it is rather like the geometer of Syracuse, with his greek wisdom of the Western wind at work in his sand reckoning drawing intent to ignoring the spear and threats of the roman centurion- we do such work at our peril even knowing the debt soon comes due.
I have in the main tried to produce and make candles which is perhaps a profession from earlier times as viable- not even as good as lens grinding. But part of the purpose was to have a bridge to understanding four space- I tried to pour tilted layers in vertical spirals and realized it could be done but only if I took infinite steps. I did not suspect that three space was most of the journey and struggle to grasp what could be made when stuff became a useful artifact.
These ideas seem to me in the search for a simple and clearly digestible unified theory as those in steps we all need to experience as things, our minds, evolve in order to deal with even the most rudimentary of crafts and technology. The same may be said for our methods of computation. At the very least if we are not slaves of concepts and ideas, animals lead with decent lives before the sacrifice and slaughterhouse, in retrospect perhaps to seem a form of slavery, we should teach the thinking for oneself and meanings of freedom and choices before we mutate to perhaps a frightening higher form or merge our miracle of organic systems into ill understood irreversible muddy mixes of colors. We can only have so much time and room to globally experiment on our world and selves and not know at least a simple theory of side effects and unintended consequences, We really have no time for many more lies when they are not innocuous, at all.
I walked through the small museum in the first grade and we had to look at a rainbow trout on display. Most were bored but I ask why we had to look at this for so long and I stayed longer than most- the teacher said it was a matter of our focusing on the detail and our developing of keener observation. As I gazed at the fish I thought a lot about this as well as notices more details of his patterns.
Is it not a bad thing to take the kids to the park full of concrete dinosaurs in all the yellow buses let them out and they run through the trail as if a maze and see nothing as if they needed the race track to survive their boxed in space for fattening and flabby empty nutriments? Has the quality of our instructors gone so far down that they count them only on return, give passing grades, talk among themselves of gardening, and hope they keep at least the peace?
This sort of thinking is a little raw and new to me so I may not have recorded my thoughts clearly or comprehensively yet- but it is a start and a call for a more serious attitude toward our anthropology and sociology. We already know that aware of it or not our problems precipitate and grow, evolve in the depths and backs of our minds and dreams- at various paces. But is that not the power and strength of life and its compensation at least for some in the nest equifinality. We experience time by the shoe sizes seemingly too small over night and the inflation grows and the worries never slow of our parenthood.
It is said that stars like acorns are so prodigious nature wastes so many for every oak strong that grows and every planet of an intelligent species- but in the new age, new millennium and state of the next phase and dream as if one sided the teleology of time reversed and distorted in the mirror- from the other side of nothingness I suspect even wider dreams- I mean it is not clear to me at all that we know what it means to have to die, or what it means we die although that is most obvious and most accept it or fear it- that brick wall of those exposed early to the death of a loved one (see my poem today The Purple Foxglove)- but in that new place with a new science of sorts I question even more this idea that any acorn is lost, any star a failed star, any student in this lifetime not irredeemable.