Can We Generate Our Idea from First Principles?

In any endeavour there is a distinction between having an idea in mind and having something physical, solid and three-dimensional that works. In our connected world it is sometimes easy to lose that distinction as we can be lulled into thinking that what we have seen on a video or web page somewhere is a reality. “If it exists somewhere, then it is good enough”, so the vague thought might go.

But until it exists here where I need it, in this moment, it doesn’t exist, for me, in my little universe. Likewise for you, the reader, to see something on a screen is vastly different than having it working within range of where you are right now. In part, that is why life is like a series of exams or midterms. When we write an exam in school, we are not allowed to look at someone else’s work. We have to generate the answer from memory, and put it together in coherent sentences. This means that sharing a link or clicking a “Like” button doesn’t count. We have to be able to do it on our own, without the assistance of others. Doing so means that we understand the material.

Thus, when I talk about the idea that a house could “self assemble”, that comes from experience. Hauling material from a house. When I talk about how no corners could increase structural integrity that comes from experience. Building lots of things with corners, and find out how easily they can collapse if given a swift kick to a side. And when I think about or draw things that have no corners (or are circular in shape) I know that it is not as easy to cut angles that are not 90o or 45o. These angles are preset on cut-off saws, easy to find and easy to work with. Building a circular shape (much less a circular shape that decreases in size with height, as in a geodesic dome) requires a different set of experiences, skills and knowledge. It is not for no reason that much of our building structures in the Western Hemisphere are rectangular. They are easier to build!

Therefore I don’t think that we should dismiss circular African huts, Native American teepees, or Eskimo igloos out of hand. They may be on to something that we, with our Western arrogance have dismissed due to our ignorance and lack of curiosity, not because of a superior building design.