Saturday, 16 June 2018

Hothouse Musings. A Deeper Understanding. Morphogenesis in Nature and Society.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
On a recent wander around the Glasgow park-lands, some of which may at some stage be sold off to private developers for luxury housing projects as is already happening in many other parts of the UK at the moment under an increasing " it used to be a treasured public facility but it costs far too much to maintain so lets get rid of it and make some money " ongoing current popular agenda. A Common Blue Butterfly here which got me thinking about Alan Turing's Morphogenesis theory of Reaction:Diffusion to explain how animals, including us, have fingers and toes, how tigers and zebras end up with various stripes yet others have spots, flora and fauna patterns, and how all this can be explained as a form of natural engineering through chemicals and other factors interacting. Basically, the more we learn about the natural world the more it does seem to have been 'designed' or fits into mathematical profiling at any rate.
I don't pretend to understand all of this link but the general themes I can appreciate. Maybe at some future date using this theory in practice we can build not just 3D printed organs and structures but actually grow them organically- almost like a flower or an embryo grows using the same basic principles... Or buildings. Science Fiction has long imagined structures/ spaceships/ humans that combined both natural and synthetically grown materials into one cohesive unit.
A classic give and take system in action with a busy bee. All directions covered.

After all, it's only eleven short years since the Ray Winstone film Beowulf came out in 2007 as an animated version of the classic tale. It was a good enough film but also memorable for the lifeless eyes of many of the characters in close up. Jump forwards eleven years and you get this-..... a complete world of realistic looking plants, animals and humans with eyes full of expressive intent.

 In another 50 years will we know this world from the 'real' one? In 200 years will we know if we are still human and not just a regenerated version living in a simulated universe. What if we are there already and just don't realise it yet? Could we be created and designed? These fleeting thoughts and mental brush strokes of imagination certainly passed the time on a warm Sunday afternoon around the Kelvingrove district. Decades ago in the 1960s these ideas and concepts were certainly around in some of the books I read then but to be honest they seemed about as plausible and certain to come true as a flat earth with the oceans pouring over the edges... now though I'm not so sure given the leaps in technology over the last 30 years.

A self contained world under glass at the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow. Is this plant aware that it is growing up in an artificial environment or does it have its core needs satisfied to the extent that it doesn't really care. Obviously it couldn't survive outdoors at these latitudes anyway even if it was aware to some extent that it's living life in a sheltered dome.
This dome in fact.
One of the tree info signs in the Botaniic Gardens. I never thought I be getting such an interesting lesson in American history wandering in a west end park on the other side of the Atlantic but there you go.
I've found myself looking at things differently and in great detail on recent walks over the past few years and the more you look deeper into design features the more complex they become.
Is it just me or does this orchid resemble a walnut whip interior? ( well, an old style one anyway before they shrunk the interior and reduced the chocolate and nut content.)
Another orchid. The mouth of a hungry bird or just some weird coincidence?
An orchid or a hunting insect looking for a victim? Very mantis like. Or a tiny bird of prey in flower form.
Soon I was starting to see things that weren't there. Like a wood elf and a small velociraptor behind the middle part of this fence. Maybe need a decent sized screen though for that to happen.
Or a line of chatty women getting their hair styled in the local salon. Incidentally, I agreed wholeheartedly with Germaine Greer's comments last night about the # MeToo and Time's Up movements in that if it's taken so long since the 1960s to get to this feeble stage and still so little forward progress in general thinking and workplace attitudes/practices then there's not much hope unless suffragette style action is taken. The rise of the internet, with body shaming, surgically enhanced celebrities as desirable role models to aspire towards, overall casual degradation of women online everyday (but not men) and in social media comments everywhere ( from men and women.. who should know better) and the easy, always tempting option of shedding clothes and values as a tried and tested career path in certain influential industries to get ahead/ get noticed.... i.e in films, television, fashion, music, other entertainments etc means that women's lib is an uphill battle with a giant marble that's always gravity defined to roll back down again the instant you stop shoving. And it's been that way for millions of years. (Just wipe us out altogether and leave the marble alone.) The fact that many women in 2018 in Glasgow are getting three pounds an hour less than men for doing the exact same job says everything about progress on that front. I've had a few female bosses in the past so I presumed they were paying themselves the going rate but you never know until it's out in the open.
As unfair a set of scales as a recent programme about affordable social housing/ social cleansing/deliberate political tilted table engineering over decades highlighted in this link.

 Before Grenfell: A Hidden History. BBC 2. A snapshot of what's happening across the rest of the UK as well but focused on this one estate where a normal poor/ordinary working class family can all be working industriously over decades yet never afford to buy into London's booming property market but just a few streets away in Notting Hill and other affluent districts folk can earn more just from house value increases alone in one decade as that entire family gainfully employed over a lifetime of toil, scrimping and saving can. Unfair enough in itself but of course due to the UK system at present many have used that extra cash to buy ex- council properties, snapping them up elsewhere then renting them out to poorer folks who actually live in that area but are way down the ladder, cash wise, for a further profit. Well, you would, wouldn't you? Now I understand how people can afford to buy all the luxury properties they seem to be building everywhere I've noticed on cycle rides over the last decade. Not since the mid 1800s has this level of inequality existed in the UK and it has been engineered deliberately in many instances. This programme raised interesting points going back 50 years into the birth and transformation of that estate and London as a city. It got me thinking at one point...   'are the so called 'UK working class' turning into a redundant extra we no longer require ...with traditional jobs disappearing fast over the horizon? Not at present but in the near future. Or are they just changing into a Piranha feeding station instead with various outlets springing up every year to grab an extra mouthful of the action, capitalizing on desperation or stupidity. Legitimate short term loans, credit card industry, University loans...etc...(I get a new credit card offer in the post at least once a month. I could have dozens by now if I was that way inclined)
After all in the 1980s we switched from manufacturing and heavy industry into mass unemployment and a business and service society. Maybe another big change is on the way now and not in an obvious direction either.
  Anyway, back to colourful images again.
Flowers sprouting from a bare branch. Who needs leaves? In 50 years time will we actually need the numbers of ordinary workers around at present or will they become an increasingly unnecessary commodity. Same thing happened with the weavers when machines replaced their efforts... and society moved on from strength to strength without them, rarely looking back.
A sunny day outside Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Bowls match in progress. My thoughts rolling along in tandem.
But maybe it doesn't always pay to look too closely at how the world around you works...
as you may not like what you find... ignorance is sometimes bliss.
A twice restored Glasgow School of Art perhaps if the city can afford it?... or luxury apartments instead utilizing the gutted shell facade of the recently burnt building and a few remaining fragments of period art thrown into the mix. Good views from that hilltop so a prime location. Our very own version of Edinburgh's Quartermile. Out with the old I say and in with gleaming glass and steel towers rising phoenix like from the ashes to soar above the city. Luxury penthouse apartments for speculators who might well choose to live elsewhere, even in another country,rather than occupy them but who would snap them up as a 'sure fire investment'. Not only will it save loads of money for Glasgow but 'Mackintosh Heights' would be a fine updated symbol of modern age Britain. Always a silver lining. (After all, he might well fall out of favour again in another 20 to 30 years time as he struggled to make a living at it when he was alive and was largely forgotten by his home city after his death until fairly recently.  This is the age of austerity after all and everyone must tighten their belts accordingly as we keep being reminded. We are all in this together. United by common adversity. No money now available in a permanently cash strapped UK, even for day to day living. Food banks are the way forwards from now on. Our new reality. Side by side, all born equal, pulling as one unit in our struggle upwards towards the light. Blah, blah blah, etc etc....

Robots and the desire to create artificial life is nothing new, of course. Here's a very lifelike attempt at it from the late 1800s. " for 100 dollars extra we can build you a soul."  The ancient Clockwork Guild............or a future bio- engineering project.



Kay G. said...

Are we created and designed? Yes, I think so from God, the great creator.
Spending time in nature, I realize more and more the miracle of creation and the circle of life.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
I would expect nothing less from a religious society. My jury is still out on 'Mary' being a real woman that existed though :o) 'Created and designed' is plenty for me at present as I live in a proud heathen country of empty churches.

Anabel Marsh said...

You are thinking deep thoughts today! I’m probably too tired for deep thoughts by now. I agree nature follows laws. More inclined to think they evolved that way over millions of years, than that they have been deliberately designed.

Carol said...

My friend lives in the Kelvin Grove area - near the river in a nice flat - we called in to see him once on our way to Oban or somewhere...

I personally think Womens' Lib is going too far now and is getting too strident and a bit out of hand. I liked what it started out as...

Awful about your fire the other day - the building's been completely destroyed by the looks?

As to affordable housing - while developers are never building any nowadays (not lucrative enough), the main problem facing affordable housing is house-buyers. They will insist on buying a house they know is way too small for their requirements - because it's affordable - and then extending it into a semi-detached mansion or suchlike - with a commensurate price!

Kay G. said...

I also meant to say that I need to do a post on the tulip tree! Thanks for sharing that sign about it. It is a beautiful, native tree and we have it all over Georgia.

Mark said...

I wasn't aware of that aspect of Turings work (I studied Turing Machines at Uni). Sounds fascinating. Appropriately, it seems to me, I had just started listening to The Clash's 'Combat Rock, before I started reading this post. There seemed to me to be some synergy between the politics of some of the songs and of the post.
'On Growth and Form' by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson is perhaps a precursor of Turing's work - it argues that biological forms follow mathematical laws - a theory which seems vindicated by the astonishing approximations to natural structures which can be generated mathematically using fractals or random processes.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I used to accept that as fact as well and still do for now but when you see how realistic 3d graphics are getting and the mathematical processes behind them, aided by computers I'm starting to believe that mathematics may well be the language of nature after all and that eventually we will be able to replicate the entire world in all its complexity given enough computer power. Unless we go to other planets or curb population growth it looks likely we will run out of natural resources or blow ourselves up and in 10 short years most of the planet has already turned into cyborgs, unable to function socially without being attached to gadgets.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
given the lack of any conversational filters online and the fact that the most extreme viewpoints and hateful comments tend to dominate on any popular social media platforms online I've looked at maybe they feel they have to be strident but it does put people off. I certainly don't think the internet has helped social equality or females much ( apart from some women only sites) when you see the levels of abuse they get for fairly innocuous statements or viewpoints. Even people dying is a source of daily fun online and that's just Yahoo News not anything extreme. It's the Wild West out there with gunslingers, bands of outlaws, and hanging trees which is why I've never commented on it myself. Not worth the aggro.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Kay, its a lovely tree and that was an interesting and unexpected info tag. Several other trees had them but that was the best.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Mark,
I must be an angry young man then in an old body but it gets me that they can just sell off or privatize everything under the disguise of austerity measures when its only one section of society getting hit all the time while another seems to get richer and richer feeding on the unwashed masses. Public parks are already getting targeted( too expensive to maintain, prime building land) libraries and other public facilities sold off, recreational centres and swimming pools (subsidized or free)closed down then replaced with paid entry private gyms. It's a deliberate dismantling of life as we used to know it and nobody seems to care much.
"If you tolerate this your children will be next." by the Manic Street Preachers is more my train of thought. And serves everybody right.
Fractals are amazing.

Mark said...

I whole-heartedly agree. All public services and all publicly owned bodies and properties are being run-down due to a dogmatic blind-faith in Milton Freedman and his ilk's bs theories about economics, combined of course with outright greed and indifference. Unfortunately, the idea that everything can be done 'better' by profit making organisations is also prevalent in many parts of the Labour Party, hence the diabolical mess of Public Private Finance Initiatives and other appalling 'New Labour' ideas.

Andy said...

Some deep thinking there Bob and like you I feel a sense of dread at where our society is headed. Its always been easier for a rich minority to exploit a poor majority. Much easier to make money in small packets from a large group than the other way round. It seems to be getting worse and with those same people largely in charge of our media the truth gets buried under messages like "we're all in this together". Like hell we are.
Oh and nice pictures by the way :)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers guys,
sometimes writing a post like this one I wonder if I'm getting it right so it's nice to have some positive feedback. As you say Andy and Mark they seem to be selling off or running down every UK asset left that they can, many owned by the taxpayer, yet very little coverage or outrage in the media about it. Facilities that previous generations fought hard to win and keep in local areas gone forever for a quick buck, leaving commuter ghost towns in many places while the nation is distracted over Brexit. They'll be bugger all left to trade with if we do become independent of the EU as very few large companies or familiar household brands are British owned anymore.