Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thoughts on natural patterns

I sat down this week with a copy of The Self-Made Tapestry by Philip Ball. Here are some of my thoughts:

1/ Wow, I am so not as smart as I look with my glasses on.

2/ I wonder how Philip Ball can write a science book of this depth and value and have it not be a life's work, but write a bunch more of them?

3/ What kind of career makes this kind of research standard currency?

4/ It is such a good thing I didn't try to study for that kind of career, whatever it is.

5/ How cool is it that slimy single-cell bacteria emit scent when times are tough to attract other slimy single-cell bacteria so they can team up into a multi-cell unit, each with different jobs, and house a bunch of babies that can live on nothing until times improve?

6/ How gross are clumps of slimy single-cell bacteria? Probably super gross. Neat, but ew.

7/ This is like humans really - everybody likes to have independence and choice, but hardly anybody wants to be alone in the middle of a genuinely terrifying horror movie moment. On the other hand, not so many people are sufficiently non-independent to agree on all the different jobs they'd each have to do to protect themselves from an axe-wielding horror guy. Probably more than a few of them would argue enough about who has to take the garbage out not to notice the axe sneaking up behind them, and they'd get hacked out of the clump.

8/ These patterns are just beautiful. I wish I could understand more than three sentences on an average page. Philip Ball is supposed to be a really accessible writer - am I really not as smart as I look with my glasses on? Maybe it's the sleep deprivation.

9/ Maybe it's not the sleep deprivation. I couldn't grasp the lay version of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time either. I'm pretty sure I wasn't sleep deprived when I tried to read that.

10/ Oh well. At least I can see with my glasses on.

1 comment:

Kathleen Taylor said...

Sounds like an absolutely fascinating book.

If it helps, I didn't get the Hawking book either. I tried, but nearly all of it went over my head. whoosh.