Here’s an example of what Kathy suggested in her comment on the spiral coloring book. One pair of complimentary colors is blue and orange.
Below is the original image from the coloring book:
In a recent post I discussed how looking at forests and fractals evokes a sense of awe. The research studies found that natural fractal structures, like trees, and man-made fractals, like certain art, stimulates awe, altruism. It might be that looking at these structures that repeat patterns across very large and small scales evokes a sense of infinite. The abundance of the infinite might even support altruism, since giving any amount of the infinite still leaves one with the infinite. When I see the same rich patterns in larger and larger (or smaller and smaller) scales, I feel a sense of infinity. I have the same feeling when I participate in Thich Naht Hanh’s meditations on a tangerine. When we eat a tangerine, Thich explains, we can be aware of the sun, soil and people that nourished the tangerine. When we peel the tangerine, we can find a seeming infinity of sensations, smell and sight, if we peel mindfully. Eating the tangerine, slowly, we can find an infinity of sensations in our mouth as well as tastes. In these practices, I feel awareness of the very large and the very small, and feel a wonderful sense of abundance. It struck me that those enjoying coloring mandalas might feel something like this.
Mindfulness meditation gives me this rewarding feeling of abundance in the present. While, there is a [Read more…]
Many scientists have confessed to experiencing awe when beholding nature’s vast complexity of forms. But only recently have researchers systematically studied causes and consequence of experiencing awe. One cause of awe is vastness of scope, size or complexity, experiments revealed. The same experiments found that one consequence of awe is altruism (Piff et al 2015). Beholding a forest of cypress trees evoked a feeling of awe which, in turn, stimulated altruistic behavior. The researchers (Piff et al 2015) credit the awe to witnessing vastness. They also found that small things that were vast in complexity had the same effect as the cypress forest. A drop of colored dye spreading in milk also triggered the altruism after evoking a feeling of awe. It is a vastness of complexity, not sheer size, since the swirling droplet provoked awe-altruism, and awe-altruism didn’t result when persons looked up at a tall and relatively plain building. Neither can we just credit positive feelings, since witnessing tornadoes evoked fear and, at the same time, had the awe-to-altruism effect.
Emerging patterns may stimulate awe.
What do these awe-striking images have in common? The droplet of colored dye splashes outwards in milk, breaking into smaller droplets projecting in all directions, but ultimately merging back into the milk in a new homogeneity. In all these experiences evoking awe-altruism, it seems to me, patterns emerge. In cases such as the cypress forest, the patterns may emerge because our perspective is changing. When I’m in a forest, my eyes travel upwards and back, looking at trees close, then up to far away treetops. On the way up, I see branching out into ever more diversity. Patterns emerge. The tops of the trees, due to their distance from us, converge towards a vanishing point.
Our game Tolerance shows how segregation emerges even when individuals are relatively tolerant. In our game, we use two types of crabs with arbitrary differences. Both types are tolerant, so there’s no asymmetry or one-sidedness. The game includes an alternative version, Attraction, in which integration emerges from gameplay. One lesson is that even a relatively heavy dose of tolerance, a slight preference for one’s own kind aggregates to a collective segregation, what seems a group intolerance. In our alternative game, Attraction, integration often emerges despite that all individuals have only a mild attraction to difference. Passive tolerance itself is not enough. We have to actively welcome difference. A wonderful example are the signs spreading across the nation, “”No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” Three languages: Spanish, English and Arabic.” The lesson we offer about tolerance not being enough is very focused on one point. This is a point that one can prove with a simple model: segregation can emerge even when no one wants it. Thus the board game Tolerance shows a pattern emerging that you would not expect based on the simple game rules. In this way the game introduces a practical application of emergence in complex systems and may offer some insight into an important social issue.
We also provide a computer model of the Tolerance board game. Our inspiration for the game was Schelling’s model of segregation (1971), so we provide a very brief example of that in this video and discuss this at some length in our rulebook. We also look at hypothetical applications of the model, such as to segregation by gender in classroom seating in this longer video. You can try computer models of Tolerance and segregation at: www.flockecogames.com.
Like many great scientists, Alan Turing found beauty in simple explanations for nature’s complexity. He often found simple explanations for very complex problems. The same mind that cracked Germany’s Enigma code during WWII (inspiring Winston Churchill to say Turing made the biggest single contribution to the allied victory) wondered how a human emerges from a homogeneous blob of cells. While trying to answer that question, he created a model that generated spots and stripes. This model turned out to explain how patterns emerge on animal fur. Turing answered the old questions: How do tigers, zebras, and many others, get their stripes? How do leopards get their spots?
Life on earth has survived five mass extinctions, periods when a great many types of life forms suddenly disappear. The most recent mass extinction was many millions of years ago. Since then, our ecology and the climate supporting it has experienced a relatively steady state. That ecological balance supporting life is now in danger of tipping, and this could cause a sixth mass extinction. But you can take action to help prevent this, once you understand ecosystem balancing and tipping. A good way to learn about balancing and tipping is through toy models, simplified or smaller versions of the larger real world. Toy models of ecological dynamics can be an adventure into the wonder of microbial, ocean and land diversity. Flock Eco-Games explores toy models of balancing and tipping in predator-prey interactions, population growth, solar energy systems, climate change, and human behavior that has ecological, climate and health consequences.
Our new board game has the title “Tip: A Barely Balanced Ecosystem Game” to suggest that ecological balancing is precarious, but the term balanced can be misleading if it implies that the ecology can resist man’s interventions. We also provide a version of Tip that has simpler rules. The board pieces are smaller so more fit on the board. We call this simpler game, Little Tip. Both board games are models of ecosystem dynamics, which makes them great learning tools as well as fun to play.