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StandingWaves

Light is made of electric and magnetic fields. Sound is made of pressure fluctuations in air (or other media). Both light and sound ripple along as waves, propagating at a characteristic speed. But add up waves going in different directions and you get standing waves --- vibrations that stay in place ... interference fringes ... local configurations of stabilized energy.

A living cell is a standing wave in a sea of chemicals. Molecules come in through the cell membrane. They're seized and rearranged by nano-scale manipulators. The cell builds structures, repairs damage, fights invaders, corrects mistakes, and expels wastes. It powers itself by controlled transfers of electrons from one atom to another. It copies itself. If conditions move too far from its realm of stability, the cell dies. But while it lives, the cell persists as a recognizable pattern --- even when most or all of the specific atoms that make it have been replaced.

A person is a standing wave in a sea of cells. She breathes and drinks, eats and excretes, grows and matures, works and plays, learns and teaches. She recovers from illness and injury. She undergoes radical change over the years, both physical and mental. Yet she persists as a recognizable pattern --- even when most or all of the specific cells that form her body have been replaced.

An organization is a standing wave in a sea of people. Whatever it may be --- club, corporation, charitable society, or governmental agency --- it recruits individuals, helps them learn their jobs, supervises their work, and pays their wages. It transfers employees from post to post, retraining them as conditions shift. It takes in revenue, sells (or gives away) products, and accumulates capital. The mission may change; the name may change. Yet the organization persists as a recognizable pattern --- even when most or all of the specific people who work there have been replaced.

A civilization is a standing wave in a sea of organizations. Nations rise and fall ... languages mutate ... industries prosper or wither ... populations thrive, shrink, migrate ... science & technology, literature & art, religions & laws, plus a host of other social structures all co-evolve. Yet the civilization persists as a recognizable pattern --- even when most or all of the organizations which comprise it have been replaced.

Monday, August 21, 2000 at 20:27:17 (EDT) = Datetag20000821

TopicOrganizations - TopicScience - TopicSociety


(correlates: DeathRaysYesterday, ExpandingContexts, DoWithout, ...)