Design Science - Toward a Peaceful MillenniumNo more irrational numbers  - no more secondhand god Every Age seems to assign a few individuals to carry of the torch. The circumstances of their lives lead to the collection, integration and distillation of that information currently most vital to the survival and health of humanity. It's up to the rest of us to find and nurture that information, to utilize the seed. Hence, some Tibetans make every effort to find that seed as they seek out the new Dalai Lama.

The explosion of know-how in the 20th century led to great specialization of expertise. Everywhere the frontiers of science spread forward, like the fibers of a mold. Some major fibers got Nobel Prizes. Others developed integrated circuits, laser signaling systems, fertilizers, medicines, airfoils and alloys.  The whole thing grew, sometimes like a cancer, until nature's feedback (nuclear winter, global warming, rad wastes, soil depletion...) began to require critical redirection, more inclusive integration.

In this age, R. Buckminster Fuller was asked to carry the torch. Uniquely placed and educated in the heart of both science and industry, uniquely outfited to see large patterns and proceses, uniquely encouraged to ask "How can we do for all?";  Fuller served to synthesize, filter, and integrate the myriad specialized expertise, to forge an all inclusive strategy for reliably, safely and sustainably realizing physical comfort and security for all humans.

Fuller passed on in 1983. His lifetime efforts yielded much of significance. Coming up with the geodesic dome was only the tip of the iceberg. He likely discovered and developed much of the mathematics of nature's own structuring, a mathematics that must account for all the known physical relationships with no irrational numbers.
 

Design Science
design science
Toward a Peaceful Millennium

It is also possible that he has most accurately understood the conditions of humanity's current position and course, and has communicated it so effectively as to enable the rest of us to quickly 'get it' as well. When we 'get it' we discover a new universe, or rather we see the old one in a new light. It's like stepping forth from a dark and frightening cave into a bright, clear, deeply reassuring, alive Universe. The internal pressure to accept an abstracted/institutional version of deity vanishes. We discover a new set of commandments, the real ones, exquisitely in tune with our internal intuitions:

Fuller's central message is that humanity's gradually accumulating knowledge of the physical world has only now crossed a new threshold: we now have irrefutable evidence that we have the power to quickly provide an unprecedented level of physical wealth --true wealth -- to each and every one of us, do so in sync with the intricate ecological systems life depends upon, do it to the disadvantage of no one, and do it within the time span of about 10 years. Upon viscerally realizing that this option truly exists, one howls joyfully, follows a spontaneous longing to make it happen. It intuitively feels like the way home, finally discovered after 10,000s of years of fear, uncertainty and doubt laced with occasional agony. Dog eat dog won't work anymore. It can't. Our power of destruction is too great, and too hair-trigger ready. Our fear-driven scramble to get-mine-first will ignore for too long the carbon in the atmosphere, the rad-wastes in the river and the errors potential in hair-trigger nuclear weaponry systems.

The most lethal condition we face is that very few of us yet know of this grand option. Once we recognize the available technical pathways to powerfully sustainable general plenty, the real difficulty becomes one of rapidly transforming our collective ignorance.

Those who do know of humanity's option, know it largely by virtue of situation and circumstance not of their own making. But if time allows, the universal human response may soon be the joyful howl. Because the vision grows. Popping up here and there, pockets of individually taken initiatives, strengthened by diversity, resiliently dispersed. Nature wants humans to be a success. Longing pulls us all.


From the pain come the dream
From the dream come the vision
From the vision come the people
And from the people come the power
From this power come the change
                         - Peter Gabriel. US 

We may have lived as humans for a very long time. All that experience has been cumulative, collected and refined in the tetrahedral coils of our DNA.  Until the last few moments of our time we were sensing less than 0.1% of today's known Universe.  Virtually all our biological response circuitry was developed prior to the last few moments. On this time scale our knowledge of the physical world of atoms, metallurgy, molecular biology, genomes, galaxies, photons and photovoltaics did not exist until but a few moments ago. If we keep this perspective, we may be  more able to at least understand our brain-stem-driven misbehaviors -- like the near genocidal displacement of other cultures in the name of God or Progress, and the cyclically recurrent reverberations of revenge. And it may be easier to realize that 'just because it's always been that way' is not proof it always will be.

"Sooner or later we will have to forget the past " -Sting.

Yesterday's discovery of the microscope allowed us to see small. We saw harmful bugs. We immediately developed sewage treatment systems, arguably the greatest health benefit we have ever enjoyed.  We saw helpful bugs and immediately used them to eliminate smallpox.

The discovery of the telescope allowed us to see big. We saw neither ghosts nor gods. We've now seen billions of galaxies, each with a billion stars. We've seen other suns with squadrons of planets relatively near.  Everything moving -- fast.

We have just come to know that 99.9% of the physical universe can only be seen with these tools, these extensions of our physical senses. Before these tools we saw less than 0.1% of reality.

While seeing only this 0.1%, we created our metaphysical concepts of gods and religions, and our social constructs of nationalism and state -- systems of explaining and accommodating the intuited metaphysical. The problem (and the clue) is that there are a lot of different versions, none within the realm of the redemonstrable physical evidence of experience.

Seeing so little, we found much of our experience impossible to explain. Fear, uncertainty and doubt often held the high ground.  Myriad local experiences of not enough resources for all humans led to the premature conclusion that there will never be enough; that war is a given; that only swiftest, smartest, most ruthless and powerful will prevail.

While seeing only this 0.1%, we also created our concepts of physical reality that shaped our mathematics -- our system of accounting for physical forces and relationships. Seeing so little, we assumed a flat earth surface that extended 'forever'. Everywhere on this surface we experienced the dominant force of gravity, pulling us 'down'.  So it made intuitive sense to measure things in terms left and right, up and down -- hence our 90° articulated xyz, cgs coordinate system by which we attempt to account for all the physical interrelationships we observe. The problem (and the clue) is that many of those relationship calculations end up as irrational numbers. The clue leads to the question, how does nature do it?  Everywhere nature appears whole in coordination, nature must have a single coherent coordinate system. How could it be discovered?

The answer must have been in the courage to suspend clinging to the 0.1%. To 'let it go' and fully respond to the longing to re 'view' everything in terms of the new, sticking only to what could be experienced.  R. Buckminster Fuller may have done just that. He didn't speak for 3 years. His resultant reintegration of 'all we now know' seems to me to be extremely complete. Perhaps he has discovered nature's coordinate system, the basis by which nature structures both the physical and metaphysical. His basic assumptions are exquisitely simple and refreshingly connected to the physical experience of our senses.

For, example I remember being told in grade school math that a 'point' had no dimensions and a line had only the dimension of length, so it had no width. I remember questioning: how could you 'see' a point with no dimensions at all and line with no width? how could it 'be there'? I remember intuitively disagreeing at that very basic level of axiom. But I allowed it and went on to become reasonably adequate at working with these 'nonexistent' constructs. But Fuller didn't go on: he took exception, and he followed up on it.  He assumed a point had to have size. If it exists, it has to have size, no matter how small. Everything we experience has size. Nature's math is the math of reality. You don't build reality from unreality. He assumed any line had to have some thickness.

He assumed universal motion was the norm, as our new sensory experience of the other 99.9% so informs us. Neither atoms nor heavenly bodies are motionless.  Planets cruise along at thousands of miles per hour, and this is slow. Light zips at thousands of miles per second.

He assumed temperature, as no known physical event is without it.

He assumed the 'line with some thickness' could never be straight because we find no straight lines in the other 99.9%, not even light. He concluded sphericity was the norm, as all the atomic and astronomic events are more spherical than linear in spin, orbit, and shape. Ever see a square planet?

He saw universe as a huge scenario of separate events going on, events that are non-simultaneous, only partially overlapping in time.  We live in a swarming sea of electromagnetic waves. Everything hums. Nothing holds still.  The motionless rock in the garden is composed of tiny atoms whose near light-speed electrons are as far away from their nucleus -- for their size -- as the planets are from the sun.

From his rigorous and uniquely well informed observations of the new, came a set of basic, but so difficult to uncover, assumptions -- assumptions that led to an exquisitely straightforward and beautiful mathematics. His geodesic dome is but the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Synergetics, energetic synergetic geometry -- a geometry of motion, temperature, size and time. And a geometry of thinking, of how we recognize and interact with otherness, for thinking is structural, too.

So we come into a new universe, or rather we see the old one in a new light. A universe of deliberately non-straight lines and deliberately nonlinear events, everything in motion. Everything takes time to happen, nothing is instantaneous. No event can be known to be infinite. Dumping sewage into the ocean doesn't send it away, it sends it around and back again.

As we learn to see beyond the 0.1% we find tremendous reassurance in the exquisite integrity of pattern and intelligence of organization. There is no longer a need to create images of gods or a god. There is exquisite evidence of pattern integrity everywhere we look. We have now reached out more than 11 billion light years from earth, always and only finding the same 92 regenerative elements that we find here on earth, and in the same relative abundance. At the level of the atoms, there is some closure with regard to what is both out there and in here.

It's like stepping forth from a dark and frightening cave into a bright, and clearly defined meadow, to discover we now have a new set of commandments, the real ones:

We need be scientifically illiterate no more. We can guide the experts. We can decide what to build and what should never be built. If programmed by the wisdom of adequately informed human choices, the rapid and consistent logic of computers can direct the inanimate muscle of machines to stamp out dwellings, vehicles and industrial processes that are: Yes, the 'if' is big. But it seems more a question about wisdom than one about know-how. We now have the know-how.

We must quickly comprehend our new condition and react correctly, because though you cannot go faster than light, you can't go much slower either. Light speed is normal now. The growth of destructive trends such as tropical deforestation is often exponential. We must be scientifically illiterate no more. We must be informed by the specialists and guide them. We must decide what to build and what should never be built.

Perhaps teleology is the deliberate exercise of our intuitive inclination to discover the invisible, timeless, weightless and always true Generalized Principles that govern the the operation of Universe, and the effort to comprehend and eventually utilize the power of these principles to ever-improve our collective ability to live successfully and regeneratively on -- and eventually beyond -- our planetary birth home.

We must recognize that our constructs about religion, social organization and allocation of physical resources have been based on a 'coordinate system' of thinking that is as fraught with irrationals as our coordinate system for the physical world. We must acknowledge that we need a coordinate system for our metaphysical structuring as badly as we need one for our physical world.

Likely acknowledgment itself will open unseen doors. Perhaps soon, like Forest Gump, humanity will kick off its crutches and start running.

Footnotes:

1. True wealth isn't money. Even the most wealthy cannot protect themselves from random violence, targeted kidnapping, global warming, nuclear winter, the disease of conceit, the stress arising from the intuited sense that their wealth is at the expense of others and the stress of the knowledge that unpredicted and unpredictable circumstance could take it away. True wealth may be better measured by the number of forward days of fully adequate life support securely available. The insecurity of having it 'taken away' will only disappear when all humans have fully adequate, environmentally sustainable life support.  Once that is achieved the number of forward days of securely available life support leaps to approximately 2x1012.   [back] 

2.  10,000s of years isn't a precise number, but it represents a significantly relevant number of previous lifetimes of genetic programing.  Reincarnation is scientifically quite plausible, but currently not within the realm of redemonstrable experience.  Fuller's suggestion that the number of humans on earth today is approximately equal to the cumulative total of all previous human lifetimes has always impressed me as lending plausibility to the concept.  Whether we call it 'genetic memory' or 'previous lifetimes' doesn't matter, but I can clearly recall two instances in my life where I had the very real experience of remembering a state of being that we experienced together  -- before -- maybe several million years ago, a state where words didn't need to be spoken because we already 'knew'. We were each fully and uniquely ourselves and of one mind. Maybe we were home in some cosmic sense. [back]