“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.” – Albert Einstein
Farm Life And Fathoming The Unfathomable
My husband and I, in our retirement, farm. We wholeheartedly agree with the statement above by Albert Einstein. There is so much awesome beauty and ingenuity to observe when one engages with nature and farm life – it is truly inspiring.
Both of us come from industry – me from the realm of technology and my husband from the realm of science. When I was 20 and just starting out in the tech sector our R and D teams were trying to beat the speed of light in the lower floors of corporate headquarters. Why? to have data signals move faster than ever before across the bus of the computer. The bus is the communication system in computer architecture that transfers data. That was 27 years ago. My husband ran energy and environmental science as Assistant Lab Director at one of our US national labs and also ran scientific discovery research with scientists from around the world, for the leadership of China – to break the coal molecule apart and allow coal to be used cleanly without negative environmental affect.
These are just a few of the many groundbreaking discoveries he and I have witnessed and were part of every single day of our professional careers.
But, what of it regarding farm life?
Indeed, Einstein’s views of science and the phenomenas that exist around us in the natural world are truly awesome. THIS IS WHY WE FARM! And, this is why we love to homestead too – which is to do more things with our own ingenuity versus some product that does the work for us. We THINK! We OBSERVE! And, we LEARN! There is truly so much innovation in nature that teaches us mere humans how to adapt and evolve versus stay static, atrophy and die off.
There is so much “divine elegance” around us on the farm, it keeps our spirits inspired, our minds curious and our bodies active in retirement. Divine elegance is our code work for amazing design in nature that has the hand of God in it. Let me give you a few examples. Fibonacci Sequences. Fibonacci was a mathematician considered the most talented in the middle ages – born in 1175 and died around 1240. He found and could quantify one of the most amazing design elements of the universe, what is called the fibanacci sequence. It is this –
There are millions of examples of the Fibonacci sequence in nature – how the pines on the pine cone swirl if you ever pick one up, black holes, water down a drain, the birthing rates of animals in the wild, the petal patterns in flowers, etc. There is a spectacularly simple set of patterns that expand exponentially in the universe that are at the root of all creation. This is what Mike and I call divine design.
Below is yet another divine design we see in nature. This was discovered by Mandelbrot. Ironically, Mandelbrot actually worked at the national lab my husband and I both worked at. From what I heard, no one really understood why his work was so paramount. That is a complete head scratcher to me as I seek divine patterns of the universe and have found three for which he found one. Here is his pattern he found –
Mandelbrot discovered the SAME pattern repeating over time – space/time. This is fourth dimensional design. Fourth dimension is time. The first three dimensions are length, width and heighth. When time informs the design it changes. This is a same pattern repeating over time believe it or not. Mandelbrot really brought to the fore fractals which are a mathematical set that repeats a pattern at every scale. It is also known as expanding symmetry or evolving symmetry.
Fibonacci ratio is something different that scales. It is this formula, 1+2=3, 2+3=5, 5+3=8 and so on. The formula is simple, look at the numbers. The numbers go up numerically in order. However, the second formula is the addition of the second number in the previous formula and its result. thus 1 plus 2 is three. And the two previous numbers are the base for the next formula – thus 2 plus three is five. HOW SIMPLE IS THAT! And that simple scaling formula is one of the grandest patterns in the universe!!
The third amazing divine design I have found in the universe is why I study bees – it is the hexagon. The hexagon is the six sided shape that bees make in their hives. Honeycombs, water crystals, diamond crystals, basalt columns, epithelial cells in the eye, saturn’s north pole, all are made of the hexagon shape.
So, I asked some of the worlds top scientists in China this question three years ago – Do you know why the hexagon is a uniquely significant shape in nature?
None of them could answer. I had, however, studied this shape as a beekeeper for a long time and partnered that with my studies of design.
Here is the reason – The arc or circle is the strongest shape in the universe. An arch distributes force evenly along its curvature. People think it is the triangle but the force acting on a triangle is transmitted directly to the base, and the two vertices at the bottom experience a pair of forces directed horizontally in opposite directions and thus does not equally distribute across the entire curvature. So, if the arc is the strongest but you then need to use it to SCALE – when you put circles next to circles there is open space between the curvatures BETWEEN the circles. When you put hexagons together there is no wasted space between each shape in a scaling situation like a behive or ice crystals forming up to something much much larger.
So, bottom line – when nature needs both STRENGTH and EFFICIENCY as in no wasted space – the hexagon is the strongest and most efficient design of all in the universe when both sets of conditions need be applied. And, as we know, nature is very efficient, it is just us humans that are learning only now to become both more efficient and effective in our pursuit of strength.
The hexagon teaches us alot about how we humans must think about problem solving. We can no longer think about just one property as the grounds for a right decision – such as strength as the only condition for a good design. We must think of multiple properties and/or conditions for good design such as STRENGTH and EFFICIENCY – thus the hexagon. The hexagon serves as a great metaphor for the next generation of great thinking for all of our scientists and engineers around the world. Old ways of thinking – where one condition creates truth – is no longer true. How is that for interesting.
Another who exemplifies Einstein’s words paired with farming is none other than Isaac Newton. History has it that Newton was home from Cambridge due to a plague that had closed the university. When he stepped out into his garden the notion of gravitation came to his mind due to the falling of an apple from a tree he stood near. In 1666, a young man was led to wonder while standing in that garden, “why would that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground?”
So for my husband and I, living and running a farm allows us to think and observe nature on a moment by moment basis every single day! I did not study the hexagon until after I did bees. I would not have understood Mandelbrot and that he worked at my lab, had I not understood bees. And, I would never had found Fobonacci had I not studied a swirling water pattern in our stream while I was watching fish at our ranch. In noticing it was the same pattern as water down a drain and a twist of a tornado and a wind swirl turning hay up into the air as a mini cyclone hit our farm in the most microscopic of ways – I would never have seen ANY OF THESE DIVINE DESIGNS of nature.
This is what Einstein was talking about. And, this is why I love farm life and why we encourage young people who are interested in STEM studies to spend time on our farm – so we can open their eyes to the divine in nature. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. I guess I didnt mention my husband not only does science but is an engineer and was a math professor at the US Air Force Academy. And, of course I am the techie. So, together we ARE STEM.
I hope this blog helps you see why getting your kids out into nature is a great way to OPEN YOUR EYES to the amazing things Einstein was talking about. Such discoveries do not have to take place in a lab, they can take place simply by being outside.
Learn more about Fibonacci Sequences in nature – here
Learn more about Mandelbrot patterns found in nature – here
Learn more about hexagon patterns in nature here – here
God Bless! L. Davis