Monday, December 20, 2004

Latent bookshelves

If you believe that the universe is just a bunch of isolated bits & pieces which tend towards entropy, well, how does one explain life? Or, for that matter: gravity, magnetism, chemical bonds ...

As the Taoists knew, things fall apart, but only as a complement of the way they cohere, or come together.

In the same way that an object in a gravitational field has potential energy, so a field of matter in a 'loose state' has potential coherence. This is not a philosphical distinction, but a physical description. Is is difficult to measure ... few even try, and work needs to be done! But everyone is aware of it, and whenever you see two things that would work better together, you are seeing potential coherence. You are part of the field too, and when you act, to make something more coherent, it makes you feel better.

Christopher Alexander sometimes calls them latent fields of coherence. They are physical fields. So, the next time you see a haphazard pile of books sitting against a wall, you are, in fact seeing a latent bookshelf!


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