The previous post ended with a quote from William Shakespeare (1564-1616) from his play As You Like It. It’s worth repeating:
“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women are merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts….” The many parts include the infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, early retirement (my translation), and second childhood. In describing the soldier he wrote “Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon’s mouth.”
Over 200 years later, in 1827, Robert Brown published his description of the random movement of particles in a fluid. It became known as Brownian movement or pedesis. It describes the particles randomly bouncing off of the molecules of the liquid and moving in the space between them until they strike other molecules and changed direction. In 1905, Albert Einstein published his theory of Brownian movement. This was the same year he published his work on the theory of special relativity. Of importance here is that classical mechanics cannot determine how far a Brownian particle travels in a given time interval because of the enormous number of collisions it will make every second, on the order of 1014 or 10 trillion.
Einstein developed a diffusion equation with a mean and variance. While 10 trillion is roughly 13,000 time the population of the earth, it suggests that we humans are engaged in Brownian-type movement at a much slower pace. Of course, we need to account for the fact that human movement is not necessarily linear between interactions. Expand further and we see the universe seemly expanding at even a slower pace from our observational perspective.
Biased by my engineering/business background, I begin by building a bubble model of society. Each person is a bubble with a radius of one. If you want to consider, perhaps, radius corresponding to intelligence, then the model would have radii normally distributed around one. At birth, the bubble begins bouncing around the fluid we call society, absorbing knowledge and information (energy transfer from other bubbles and the supportive fluid of knowledge and information). The probability of interaction with another bubble is directly proportional to the radius of the bubble and the properties of the fluid.
At some point, the single bubble merges with another bubble (marriage?). Doing a volume calculation (a bubble is assumed to be a sphere), the new radius is 1.2599. Keep amassing bubbles and you build families, communities, companies and societies. But while this is happening, the fluid (the environment) is changing. So we rely on probability and statistics, often represented by economics, to measure the bubbles. Are we really dealing with Brownian-type movement with an ever changing fluid environment to which the bubble, fed by knowledge and information, must adapt individually and collectively? And it is happening at an exponentially growing pace?
In Brown’s description of Brownian motion, particles bounce off molecules (at least as I understand it). Energy transfer occurs but chemical reactions do not. In my mental bubble model, interactions can and do occur between the bubbles and the fluid is information and knowledge. Plus, the bubbles can absorb some of the fluid. Clearly, this is far more complicated than Brownian movement, but it suggests randomness, probability and control play major roles. Moreover, while the bubbles are changing, so is the fluid. According to www.industrytap.com, knowledge is doubling every 13 months. Can an education system adapt fast enough to keep up with the exponential growth of knowledge?
If every person is the smallest individual bubble, there are about 323 million bubbles in the United States existing on a land mass of 3.797 million square miles or about 85.1 bubbles per square mile. Los Alamos is about 109 square miles, suggesting a population of 9,275 bubbles or people. So does our population of about 18,000 mean we are overpopulated? How about the Los Angeles – Long Beach – Anaheim area with a population density of 7,000 people per square mile? Obviously, we bubbles cannot and would not want to be uniformly distributed and unable to play our different parts. But how do we deal with randomness, probability and control in bubble interaction and growth in an ever increasing density of information and knowledge fluid?
Till next time….