Hi friends - continued

April 7, 2009

I’m afraid something went wrong with the links in my previous post. Sorry, I still have to get the hang of the blogging software. However, reposting links gives me a good excuse to tell something more about what I referred to, and why (I intended to do so anyway, but that’s not the point).

Here they are:
* Arithmetic, Population, and Energy (by A. Bartlett)
* The Crash Course (on money, economy, environment and energy, by Chris Martenson)

My first link was and is again to a lecture by Professor Emeritus A. Bartlett, Physics Department of Colorado University at Boulder: Arithmetic, Population, and Energy. Cut into eight parts, his lecture has been uploaded to YouTube by a blogging scientist – or science teacher – calling himself wonderingmind42. You might want to check him out; he’s quite briljant in my opinion (I mean content-wise, not per se qua styling or mise-en-scene, but that not the point).

In his lecture – which I think was recorded in the late nineties – professor Bartlett explains the exponentional function. Sounds complex perhaps, but sits smack in the middle of the simple domain of the Cynefin model. One plus one is two. Two plus two is four. Four plus four is eight. And so on. According to professor Bartlet, the foremost shortcoming of human kind is their – our – lack of understanding of this simple pattern. A beautiful and telling example is of course the well known but poorly understood tale of the Chinese emperor, his chessboard and the clever man opposite of him. ‘My request is simple, my emperor. I just want some grain. Put one seed on the first square, two on the next, four on the third…”Adding all the grain on all 64 squares of the chessboard, this man asked for more than three times the global grain production of the late 1990’s. Perhaps you can imagine this amount. I can’t. Still it takes only 64 squares, a doubling time of one field, and a start at one.

There’s something else about this simple exponential function. Which is that if you have reached a doubling time, hopping from square to square as it were, the total is more than the addition of all previous jumps. Let’s say we are at square 3 of the chess board and obediently drop grain on those squares. One, two, and then four drops of grain at the third square. Adding the first and the second square gives us three. And so it goes on.

Yes, we burn more oil this year than all previous years in history combined. Crisis not withstanding.

Next time I’ll write some more about Bartlett and Martenson.

Best, Mireille

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Some more about Bartlett, and perhaps on to Martenson

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