The Melton Ring

Everyone is familiar with a Moebius Strip, a length of paper glued to its own end with a half-twist so that a line drawn down the middle of the paper goes twice around before meeting itself.

But a strip of paper is a real three-dimensional object. Imagine instead of being flat and thin that this paper has a thickness equal to its width. Now the Moebius strip has two edges, one with a line drawn down the middle and one without.

Now imagine that the cross-section of this object were five-sided instead of four-sided before the line was drawn down the middle. Now the line drawn down the middle goes five times around before meeting itself.

What if the object had seven sides? Nineteen? Six hundred and forty-one?

What if it had an infinite number of sides? In other words, a circular cross-section.
And you gave the ends a twist that was irrational to the circumference of the cross-section before gluing the ends together?

Now if you start anywhere on the surface of this object and draw a line perpendicular to the cross-section, that line will be a closed loop infinite in length before it comes back and meets itself. Furthermore, that line will touch every point on the surface.

Do you have a three-dimensional object with a one-dimensional surface? If not, why not?

Omega Wolf Pattern

Wolfpacks have a hierarchy of respect, obligation and deference. At the top of this hierarchy are the Alpha Wolves, usually a mated pair but sometimes a single individual. At the bottom of the structure is the Omega Wolf. The Omega eats last and is chased and bitten by all the wolves higher up in the structure.

If the Omega wolf dies or leaves the pack, a new Omega ends up being chosen quickly and is not always the wolf that was formerly the one just above the old Omega.

It’s in the interest of the pack to allow the Omega to remain a member, even though many of the individuals in the pack attempt to drive him or her away. For this reason, the Alpha is obligated by personal interest and social dynamics to defend the Omega when things get out of hand and the weakest member of the pack is in real danger of being driven away or killed.

Humans, lions, hyenas, crows and baboons have oddly resonant social structures; though none of them are similar in all major aspects to the wolfish model, they all do share the Omega Pattern to one degree or another. Humans, lions and crows are actually crueler about this than wolves, baboons and hyenas. Human, crow and lion Alphas sometimes kill or drive off the Omega themselves, perhaps to foster more cohesiveness in the tribe, flock or pride.

But wolf, hyena and baboon Alphas seldom turn on their Omegas wantonly, usually offering them protection from the worst excesses of their pack mates. There must always be an Omega, why get rid of one just to have nature nominate another?

One measure of the civility of human societies might be how much closer to wolf than lion they are in the treatment of their Omegas.

Horses, cattle, rats and elephants do not have Omegas; herds are structured but marginalization is based on different dynamics.

Why am I bringing this up? Just something offered as a topic of meditation, perhaps.

Are we not Omega?

Pissing in the Swimming Pool

The atmosphere of the Earth is a gigantic pool in which we all swim. Using this idea as an analogy, someone is pissing in the pool.

Everything put into the pool stays there until it is taken out. Carbon in the form of carbon dioxide is being put into the pool by all the burning of fossil fuels, including the burning of forests to clear new land for cultivation.

This carbon was removed from the atmosphere by natural processes working over millions of years, mostly by plants and micro-organisms turning carbon dioxide into living tissue. Oxygen breathers and volcanoes have added carbon back during that same time but not as fast as it has been being removed. The removed carbon has been sequestered away from the pool of atmosphere in the form of coal, limestone and other minerals, oil, natural gas, and vast forests of trees, other plants and coral.

Eventually, a kind of balance is reached in systems like this, basically the less CO2 in the atmosphere, the less can be removed and the more carbon there is not in the atmosphere, the more can be turned into CO2. Public swimming pools have a similar ecology, they have filters and chemicals to remove piss from the water. Of course, they can also drain the pool and replace all the water; we can’t do that with the atmosphere.

Humans have come along and, at first quite slowly, have been removing carbon from sequestration, mostly by burning it. Wood has been burnt for probably tens of thousands of years, coal for several hundred and oil in vast quantities for a bit over a hundred years. All of this carbon dioxide goes into the pool of the atmosphere, the one we swim in.

And just like piss in a swimming pool, the carbon dioxide we humans are emitting with our fossil-fueled civilization is polluting the pool. We don’t really have a choice, we have to stop pissing in the pool.