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Nature is Round, and Humans are Square

Kyrielle

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Evolution in biological organisms works with the same forces - that is, natural selection uses the Malthusian aspect of nature to pick and choose on the basis of utility, while constraint is reflected in evolution works with what exists, rather than starting from scratch with each generation.

This made me think of something... If plants are generally more simplistic than animals and creatures with round cells, then perhaps humanity is evolving through the same process. If you look at the structures of buildings, vehicles, and objects, we have progressed from very geometric, rectangular forms to more organic, round forms. Perhaps it is that we, and everything, need greater technology to produce round forms. In thinking of plant cells...it's easy to build a box, but think of how difficult it is for nature to create something round. And if nature does indeed create patterns (I think of ferns and crystals), think of how incredibly difficult it is to create patterns with round shapes and still have these patterns be efficient and compact.
 

Zergling

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If you look at the structures of buildings, vehicles, and objects, we have progressed from very geometric, rectangular forms to more organic, round forms. Perhaps it is that we, and everything, need greater technology to produce round forms.

This is definitely true, although square floors and square divisions on flat land and in some other areas will likely still be around for a long time.

Calculations of things are much easier with squares and right angles than with rounder shapes, and the fractal math/chaos theories for explaning tree growth have developed later. It does seem likely that more rounded objects will be produced over time, as people build up the knowledge required to work with them.
 

MacGuffin

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Like toonia said, spheres (which are three dimensional circles) have the highest ratio of volume to surface area among all the shapes. It's why raindrops are spheres.

Unsurprsing they are so common and that curves are seen everywhere.
 

HilbertSpace

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This made me think of something... If plants are generally more simplistic than animals and creatures with round cells, then perhaps humanity is evolving through the same process. If you look at the structures of buildings, vehicles, and objects, we have progressed from very geometric, rectangular forms to more organic, round forms. Perhaps it is that we, and everything, need greater technology to produce round forms. In thinking of plant cells...it's easy to build a box, but think of how difficult it is for nature to create something round. And if nature does indeed create patterns (I think of ferns and crystals), think of how incredibly difficult it is to create patterns with round shapes and still have these patterns be efficient and compact.

It's an interesting thought. I don't think I'd call plants more simplistic. They're fairly complex - their cells have both mitochondria (like animal cells) and chloroplasts, and they also have a fairly sophisticated metabolism. Also, animal cells aren't really round - they're more amorphous, for the most part. Plant cells have a cell wall that lets them remain rigid, but our cells tend to be more like bags of jelly.

There is a thought, though, that systems might increase in complexity as they evolve. Gould thought that the increasing complexity was a result of a drunkard's walk. That is, a drunk walking down the sidewalk, swaying randomly from side to side, will eventually end up in the gutter because on the one side the buildings limit how far he can stray. In organisms, there's a bottom limit to how simple things can get.

Another school of thought, though, says that complexity increases because it has selective value. Complexity can add flexibility and sophistication to a system - it increases the degrees of freedom. I think the same thing happens with technology - technologies build on one another, and so become increasingly can complex and sophisticated.

Ferns and crystals are instances of fractal patterns - one of my favorite subjects.
 

Wolf

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I have one further silly on-topic, joke post:

While there's nothing physically square about me (I have been informed that I might be a human), in every other sense of the word, I'm definitely square.
 

sf17k

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I believe we like rectangles so much because they make for the most efficient and simple use of space for our needs. Trying to get circles to fit snugly together would result in a lot of unused space. Triangles could be seen as hard to build, inconvenient because every other triangle has to be oriented differently, and inefficient because of the sharp angled corners. Hexagons would prevent us from building neat, straight roads that we need for organized high-speed transportation.

Rectangles can be put in an efficient grid with straight roads. They fit our north, south, east, and west directions. They are also easy to build (think log cabins).

Something interesting I thought of is that on a larger scale, we begin to take on more natural patterns. For example, compare these pictures:
http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/discoverthis_1949_714504
http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/maps/texas/countymap/fayette.jpg
 

Littlelostnf

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I believe we like rectangles so much because they make for the most efficient and simple use of space for our needs. Trying to get circles to fit snugly together would result in a lot of unused space. Triangles could be seen as hard to build, inconvenient because every other triangle has to be oriented differently, and inefficient because of the sharp angled corners. Hexagons would prevent us from building neat, straight roads that we need for organized high-speed transportation.

Rectangles can be put in an efficient grid with straight roads. They fit our north, south, east, and west directions. They are also easy to build (think log cabins).

Something interesting I thought of is that on a larger scale, we begin to take on more natural patterns. For example, compare these pictures:
http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/discoverthis_1949_714504
http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/maps/texas/countymap/fayette.jpg


Very interesting. I think about New York City...the main part of the city is straight lines, but below Canal Street the roads look like your ant farm example. I'm more comfortable traveling those roads...perhaps because I'm never quite sure where I'll end up :) and I just feel more at home and for lack of a better word...cozy (yup folks cozy) on those streets. They are definately more satisfying to travel on. (not quite as easy but def more fun).
 

hereandnow

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Another school of thought, though, says that complexity increases because it has selective value. Complexity can add flexibility and sophistication to a system - it increases the degrees of freedom. I think the same thing happens with technology - technologies build on one another, and so become increasingly can complex and sophisticated.

This point, in my view, is valid. An example is the technology you mentioned and, in the field of physics, an array of examples. Whilst SJG's example of a drunkard is enticing it's less so than the above. In the future, IMO, we will see this become ever more apparent to a wider audience.
 

darlets

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"“Five hundred years is a long time, and I don't expect many of the people I interview will be known in the year 2500. Christopher Alexander may be an exception.” -- David Creelman, Editor of HR Magazine"

Christopher Alexander has pretty much turned the world of architecture and design on its ear in his lifetime.

His done extensive work on explaining how you can build cites for humans by mimicing a natural process.
calexander
 

kuranes

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The Mirror and the Lamp by Meyer Abrams. Up until the Enlightenment, literature (and, by extension, other aspects of culture) acted as a mirror, reflecting and interpreting the world. There was a shift around then that changed the focus from reflecting the world to illuminating and improving. This seems to be about when people decided that the best way to go about inventing was to do the opposite of nature and forge ahead with better ideas. The pendulum appears to be swinging back in the other direction somewhat.

*Makes print-out of this Amazon page*
If you like this, you might want to undertake Jean Gebser's "The Ever Present Origin" where he traces back human development through various levels of consciousness, which are all retained ( like the so-called "reptile brain" is still there in humans ) though superceded by new developments. As each comes into being, it is reflected in all aspects of human culture, and not just Science/Philosophy. For example, artists begin to use what is known as "perspective" in their works, to illustrate new ways of looking at time/space.
 

Ivy

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*Makes print-out of this Amazon page*
If you like this, you might want to undertake Jean Gebser's "The Ever Present Origin" where he traces back human development through various levels of consciousness, which are all retained ( like the so-called "reptile brain" is still there in humans ) though superceded by new developments. As each comes into being, it is reflected in all aspects of human culture, and not just Science/Philosophy. For example, artists begin to use what is known as "perspective" in their works, to illustrate new ways of looking at time/space.

Ooh, that sounds neat. Now, if I can just remember to check it out and not let it join the legion of cool things I've heard about, vowed to check out, and then promptly forgotten. *emailing myself*
 

Nonsensical

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Perfectly resembles the tide us humans are pushing back..going against natures natural wave patterns..acting as unhumane as possible..think about it, we're acting less like humans each day.
 

Anja

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Honest-to-goodness, there are days when I think "progress" is one of the worst concepts possible.

Edit: You know, Haight, taking your thoughts a step further, I'll say that women are inclined to "round" and men to "square."
 

Hermit of the Forest

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I came across an interesting thought when I was walking my dog through a forest and around a lake yesterday.

I thought, I don't see anything in nature that is square, either aesthetically or down to the biological structure, if I were to examine them though a microscope. Moreover, after walking back into the housing tracks, I realized that the vast proportion of things that humans construct are square, and would done correctly, they are perfect squares.
Wow, I can’t believe this is a thread. I’ve been thinking something very similar lately. How the square is almost absent in nature, but utterly ubiquitous in the realm of humans.

When people think of the greatest human invention some might mention the wheel, but I think it could certainly be argued it was the square.
 
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