Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Constants are not constant

Constants are not the rigid structures, the unquestionable truths which we are
led to accept but rather is the fruit of the limitations of the human intellect to fully comprehend nature's workings.

One of the many widespread beliefs in every culture is, that you can not change
your character, attitude and behaviour, your way of life, your life. It becomes a nagging reality, an inescapable feature for an individual. They represent constants in the very same way as the constants in hard sciences.

The introduction of Gerald Schueler, in his paper "The order/chaos relationship in complex systems" gives an intriguing use of constants. Or rather an ignored dimension of the concept of constant.

Let start again to appreciate the depth of his observation. Nonlinear equations have
been known for a long time, but no one was able to solve them. Traditional scientists
and engineers simply ignored the nonlinear portions of their calculations, the
nonlinear solutions to the equations, and instead used solutions which are close
approximations than exact. They contain one or more factors of nonlinearity which are
typically ignored, or approximated by using constants.

Constants are a recurring thing in almost all aspects of knowledge accumulated in the

task of explaining phenomena in the world. To accept this line of thought regarding

their origin and the reason for being introduced in the first place poses questions

in need of answers.

The constants are ubiquitous objects, their use is universal and

usually goes along unquestioned. Their use surpasses the limited boundaries of the

hard sciences and have permeated into areas defined by aspects of an individual's

activities including human behaviour and personality attributes. Their rigid

unquestionable use by the sciences have enforced a similar stance while used in much

softer subjects.

My impetuous mind goes to such lengths which even compels me towards a complete

overhaul of many established values for which to a great extent they have been based

in accepting without question a great number of constants. The alternative is to

refuse the overbearing burden imposed by the overwhelming beliefs and norms prevalent

in society and instead to constantly seek the underlying causes in a manner dictated

by the premises of chaos, complexity and emergence.

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