Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Meaning of Pyramids in Aggregate

"They were able to construct something that we still cannot construct today..." is a line from a Face Book re-post by a friend about how the great pyramid in Egypt must have been done by aliens because of the undeniable alignment in the architecture with many very Earthly concepts such as Pi, and meridians of longitude and latitude.

The quoted observation seems to say modern things, modern constructions, are so understandable, so conceivable, that when one gets even slightly away from conceivable, one must leave the planet and look to aliens for the source.

This teases for me at the Buddhist concept of aggregation. Which I summarize as the fact that any thing is composed of bits that have come together, and which constantly, or suddenly, or a bit of both, will fall apart.

I sometimes imagine the physical world as a complex intertwining wave front of domino falls. This bumping that, bumping that, bumping this in ways so complex it quickly falls into mystery.

Some of you may remember the Apple Newton, one of the first personal data assistants (PDA) from 20 years or more ago. I have a drawer full of them. Could they be made today? I doubt it. At first glance some brave soul might hazard "yes", just get that circuit board, and those integrated circuits, and that case, and that firmware and put it all together. But when forced to think of even just the next layer, how would that case be made, how would the dies for the case plastic be shaped, when writing the code would that pixel transition in that way when the screen transitions from calendar to note taking? It all becomes impossibly complex to reproduce EXACTLY that old Newton on my desk.

Nothing but the very broadest strokes can be designed. The rest is loosely guided "accident".

Try to plan walking across a room with a moderate level of detail, and then walk it and see if it all goes exactly as planned. Any phone calls come in? Did you glance out the window exactly as planned? Can you sense the waves of changing aggregation sweep around you?

Try sitting still with no thought for a few minutes. An easy concept, but it will not happen. The biochemical storm between your ears represents an astounding amount of aggregation and dis-aggregation. It will not stop until you die and then the billions of bacteria in and on you will instantly win the "battle" and begin to dis-aggregate your body in the next millisecond.

That no one can convincingly explain how the great pyramid came to be is not evidence to me of aliens. I cannot convincingly explain how "I" came to be, or this sentence, or this period.

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