Islands of Coherence.

M42_3123 flickr no copyright BrandonGhanyFloating, seemingly disconnected, the cosmos we exist in is a map of multiple dimensions we know of. Yet it’s not disconnected. It’s a daisy chain of chemical reactions, inertia, gravity and time.

On a small planet, only important because we happen to be here, we have wide ranging ecosystems that we understand more slowly than we impact. Existing within that complexity, a mammalian species with overgrown nerve bundles generally closer to the sky than the rest of them developed civilizations that we pride ourselves on, and with these civilizations we have built complex systems that often seem to live by their own rules at the very limits of their influence, like planets that aren’t planets:

First, a body has to have established a stable orbit around the Sun. Thousands of bodies meet this condition. Secondly, a body has to have developed a spheroidal shape. When a body is sufficiently large and massive, gravity will mold it into a spheroid. Pluto fulfills this condition. Third, and finally, the body has to have cleared its debris field. It has to be sufficiently massive so as to incorporate all proximate objects into it. Pluto fails on this condition, as its orbit passes close to or even within the Kuiper Belt, a region from which short periods comets originate. By adopting resolution 5A, the IAU demoted Pluto, firmly established the other eight planets as planets, and disqualified all the bodies beyond Pluto, all in one fell swoop.

In our proud civilizations, we have people who are like Pluto to civilizations. Just far enough out of influence not to have ‘cleared their debris field’ of challenges. It’s even gotten to the point where we have civilizations that treat other civilizations that well, perhaps an indictment of our own methods as much as a necessary classification.

complex systemsSome of us feel this way about the human construct of race. Some of us feel like that about gender identities. Some of us feel that way about socioeconomics. Some of us feel that way about geography. Some of us feel that way in some way or the other. It’s part of being an individual, where being in an area of some influence means being of lesser influence in others. Pulled in different directions from different systems, complex systems and largely artificial systems that are influenced by complex natural systems… well, we’re a lot of small islands in a sea of chaos.

The source for the quote on the right is allegedly from, “From Being to Becoming: Time and Complexity in Physical Sciences” (1st Edition, 1981), by Ilya Prigogine. I have not found it in the text.

Who is this person? A man born in Moscow, Russia a few months before the Russian Revolution of 1917, and because his family was critical of the Soviet system, they left in 1921 for Germany, and in 1929 to Belgium where he would become a Belgium National in 1949. So before the Bolsheviks started the USSR, and because of the way the political wind was blowing, at age4 he went from Russia to Germany. At age 12, they went to Belgium – and so it’s easy to conceive that he had to forge his own identity like most Third Culture kids. How peculiar I’m quoting someone born in Moscow right now, and yet… maybe appropriate since he left at an early age.

‘Islands of coherence’. Islands that will form a whole, islands that ’emit the same waveforms and frequency’. Islands of… commonality. It’s the common things that bind us, really. Our neighbors are of the same geography, but as the world grows more granular, geography is not enough. You can have more in common with someone you have never met on the other side of the world than with the person next to you.

There are so many islands of coherence divided by so many things that it’s almost implausible that they would ever connect in a meaningful way.

What if they could?

This is meant as a reference for future things.


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