Monday, October 24, 2011

Analog Math

I get quizzical looks, sometimes, when I mention "analog math", as if perhaps I may have a few screws loose. I suppose the situation degrades further when I speak or point to a magnetic tetrahedron and/or the five ways to align four magnets along the center-to-vertex lines of a tetrahedron.  Of course this spawns the n4, n3s, n2s2, ns3, and s4 primary isomers and we're off and running with the "look and feel" of many biologically significant molecular arrangements and a HUGE fraction of the biosphere.  And, of course since one can feel the artifact and the pull and push of of the quantum gravitational fields, the thing gives the right  "analog" signals right out of the box.  But a fair question still is,  "Why tetrahedron?",  or "Why magnets?"

Before I answer that,  or fail to answer that, let me share a few thoughts I had one night about the minimal sets that go into other types of math. Let's say the counting numbers and geometry.   In geometry, for example, the starting condition is, say, two sticks, or two lines meeting at ends and separating out some angle.  Two sticks!   "Why two lines?", we might ask.  But then we already know or can remember. Pick two lines. Define an angle. All the associated relationships also pop into place. Plus, some arrangements of lines, angles, sticks really are stronger than others. What a treasure it would be, to first discover some of those connections. All starting with two sticks.

Or, the counting numbers.  Ten fingers. Ten toes. Then what.  Stacks of tens, Piles of ten tens, all in countable rows.  "Why ten fingers?", we might ask.  But then we remember all of the associations and security that comes from knowing "there is enough", or a specific need for "more", or to simply attain a balance. 

The truth is, one night in 1981  I'd been reading about R. Buckminster Fuller quests for greatest strength with lightest weight, and him settling on building polyhedral structures with aluminum. Then the notion occurred to me: "What do you get when you build a tetrahedron out of magnets?"

It intrigued me.  Intuitively, of course, or perhaps sub-consciously, having studied organic chemistry for a few years, at some level, I was aware of ALL those innate tetrahedral patterns.  Yet, during that moment, one thing that also intrigued me was a speculative parallel: aluminum -> weight-bearing structure  ::  magnetic fields -> energy generation.  And then the notions of building something in some design pattern which, when one set it out in the environment, it simply struck several harmonics and generated useful energy flow.  Hmmmm. Perhaps someday, someone will...

Looking into the predominantly tetrahedrally-shaped patterns of water, ammonia and much of organic carbon chemistry, one notes that there are already naturally occurring water cycles and nitrogen cycles and carbon cycles. So the "natural machine" is already functional and at work.

Now, perhaps, I wonder. What about that second generation design of an energy generator? 

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