Showing posts from September, 2023

Why do things look like other things?

Dandlion seedhead and sparkler seeds radiating from the center - sparks radiating from the center While attempting to organise my unwieldy, burgeoning collection of photographs from the patch I kept noticing something. My brain was continually making connections – "that lichen looks like cracked mud, that flock of birds resembles smoke, there's a face on that tree". Why do things in nature often look like other, completely unrelated, things in nature? The answer to this points to a regularity, order and unity in nature...and to patterns. Grain of an Oak tree and my thumb print Patterns in nature are visible regularities of form - similar patterns appear again and again in  different contexts - in both living and non living things. Why is this? I think there are three overlapping kinds of explanation. 1) Laws of nature - nature has no choice – it has to obey the physical laws of the universe. So a bubble is the shape it is because surface tension pul

The Shropshire African Watering Hole

  On a couple of days on our recent trip to Shropshire I was unable to do much because of health limitations. This proved to be no hardship. I contented myself by sitting in the garden in front of a small patch of Pearly Everlasting. I could have been watching the comings and goings at an African waterhole! Certainly no wildebeest, crocodiles or elephants, but a similarly diverse and fascinating cast of visitors - just on a much smaller scale. No leopard came by, but instead a hornet. And then an extraordinary insect that looked as if it would be at home in a David Attenborough documentary on somewhere exotic like the Amazonia. A Gasteruption wasp carrying a javelin on its back - an egg laying structure as long as its body (picture 6) No cheetah pursued a gazelle in a twisting and turning chase of life and death. But instead an incredible variety and abundance of small, buzzing, flying things made their appearance on this tiny stage. So if your mobility is limited, or if it's not,

The Path

The path Walking along the canal towpath. Like a huge rockfall it falls away - the past shears off. Nothing ever happened. Nothing. And on the other side another landslip. The future. Nothing will happen. Nothing ever could. I suddenly arrive. I arrive here where I am. I'm a spacewalking astronaut, lifeline cut, no umbilical cord to before or after, floating in a starless, timeless void. I don't have any history, no name, I haven't done anything. Walking,, eating, drinking thinking, dreaming, sleeping - none of that. I drag no leaden ball of the past, no slights, hurts, heartbreaks. The slate wiped clean of wrongdoings, boasts, deceits, ill-thought-out misdeeds. That time, first day at secondary school when I wrote 'John Smith' on my exercise book, when all I had to do was write my name, and all the other boys laughed me back into a curled up fetus. Nope, never happened. But neither did those, smiles, laughs, kisses, loves, imagined culinary triumphs, successfully