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Saturday, February 28, 2004

Design Patterns in Nature

Design Patterns is a fancy word in the field of computer science, frequently abused. I take this opportunity to apply the word with reference to Mother Nature. Just as a design pattern serves as a blueprint for solving one particular kind of problems, there are patterns in the nature itself. And just because I have a limited vocabulary, I have used the word Design Pattern for these patterns. Let me know if you can term the following something else:

. System within Individual: Life and its Definition
. Orbital Motion
. Ingredients of a Genius
. Alignment of Elements: The Power Hence
. Attraction Towards the Opposite: The Quest for Completeness
. Generalizing Khans, Blacks and Sikhs (without any racial discrimination)

System within Individual: Life and its Definition

Let me start by putting a question: What are you - an individual or a system? If you think for some time, you are both. And your answer would /should be: "depends on your level of abstraction."

I would then like to put another question: "So if you are a system, why do you think you have life?" And if you are not a thinker this might be a perplexing question.

Let me approach from another direction. If I say that a room in which you are sitting alone is full of life, would you believe me? Think about the micro-organisms and the activities they are doing every moment. If a cell has life then each cell of your body might think that "it has life and it's actually working inside a dumb system with other cells."

Now consider the organization where you work/ study. Isn't each individual person part of a system - whether it's a company or an institute? Does the company have life? Is your educational institute an 'organism'?

Start examining a bee hive - it's a complete system. See inside the hive, you will find individuals - the bees. Take a bee as an individual and dig deeper, see the digestive, neural, respiratory and other systems. Look further inside, you would see a system of tissues and then cells. Don't stop, explore a cell thinking it's an individual and not a system - you would find another complete system (cell membranes, nucleus, acids, etc.). But does it end here? Isn't an acid a system of atoms of various elements? Is an atom an individual or is it again a system of electrons, protons and neutrons? If you think that an electron is not a system, I sympathize with your knowledge of quantum physics [There are Leptons, Baryons, Mesons and the forces].

Is an electron matter or energy? Are you matter or energy?

Re-start from the bee hive and this time start moving in upward direction of abstraction. You will move up and up and will never finish. There is a system within every system! Our concept of life validates only the systems that work as an individual at our level of abstraction!

They say a little knowledge of science takes you away from religion and a comprehensive knowledge of science brings you back! Think about it and let me know via your comments!