from the world's big
This little-known physics law silently controls your life
Ever recognize the repeating patterns of nature? There’s a theory for that.
Ever noticed that shapes in nature tend to repeat themselves? Leafless tree branches, for instance, resemble the branching nerve endings inside the human body, which also resemble forked lightning strikes, subways maps, and even the tributaries of a river basin. Scientists have noticed these similarities too, and one has identified the properties that come along with it.
Everything flows from the fluids inside our bodies to the electricity that feeds our homes. But it's more than that. Information in computers and cultural norms flow too, as do artistic movements and breakthrough developments. Everything has flow and the greater our knowledge about it, the better we can manage our life and the world around us.
The overarching concept is known as constructal theory, also known as constructal law. It's actually the latter. Often referred to as a theory, its actual governing principles can be applied over many different systems, large and small, dynamic or inanimate. While laws in science are overarching, theories operate locally, specifically. Constructal law states that any system tries to maximize flow. Flow just means transporting important things, such as fuel or water, from one place to another.
This is the driving force behind three disparate categories, evolution, engineering, and design. Mechanical engineering professor Adrian Bejan discovered constructal law in 1996. It dawned on him while he was designing the cooling system for laptop computers, which has tree branch-like channels in the architecture. Two years later, he noticed that his designed resembled the limbs of trees and constructal law started to take shape.
It was the branching pathways in the cooling system that got him thinking about flow and how it influences all kinds of systems. “For a finite-size system to persist in time (to live)," he said, “it must evolve in such a way that it provides easier access to the imposed currents that flow through it." The theory has helped us better understand natural systems, design more sophisticated communication networks, and much, much more.
Forked lightning over Istanbul, Turkey. Credit: Getty Images.
Constructal law is gaining wider acceptance in scientific literature and has grown to such prominence that in April, Bejan was awarded the prestigious Benjamin Franklin medal for “his pioneering interdisciplinary contributions in thermodynamics and convection heat transfer that have improved the performance of engineering systems, and for constructal theory, which predicts natural design and its evolution in engineering, scientific, and social systems."
So in layman's terms, constructal theory can help us understand how a system adapts or evolves over time, whether it be a moving or stationary system. Systems change in predictable ways to improve flow, Bejan discovered. These changes increase flow, which allows for more access to currents as time moves on.
That means any system, be it the evolution of car engines, cats, financial structures, even humans, change over time according to the same principles. In 2012, Bejan co-wrote a book on these called, Design in Nature, How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology and Social Organization, outlining these principles. He believes understanding this law better could revolutionize not only design but government, social dynamics, economics, and business.
Designing useful machines is quite like to how systems evolve in nature. The better the flow through the system, the better it operates. Credit: Getty Images.
So what can you learn from constructal law to improve your own life? "When movement stops, life ends." Basically, we have to keep evolving. No matter our position, resting on our laurels sooner or later equals doom. Always continue to innovate and don't be afraid to redefine yourself. Those systems that increase flow become more productive. So the more dynamic you become, the more prosperous you'll be. In most situations, when in doubt, go with the flow.
Inaction, when there is a problem, interrupts flow. If no mediatory steps are taken, pressure builds and builds until the system dies. The moral—don't let important problems go for too long. Keep things moving. Don't wallow in sorrow or despair forever after suffering a setback, like getting fired or a painful breakup. Increasing flow is what sustains organisms and devices and stagnation kills them. Lastly, free yourself as much as you can. The freer you are, the more dynamic you'll be. As Bejan told Business Insider, "Freedom is good for design." It's good for one's psychological health, too.
To learn more about constructal law, click here:
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.