Thursday, July 5, 2007

Why Size Matters...

So I've been reading this book ("Why Size Matters") by some biologist (John Bonner). It is about why size is important in the biological world. But I've been wondering if his ideas can be extended to the non-biological world. I've concluded that they can. The effects of size in the non-biological world, are such:

1. Bigger things are more impressive.

For an example, consider why the Washington Monument is the tallest structure in D.C. instead of only being, say, 10 feet tall.

2. The physical constraints of our world (existence in this realm of dimensions, physical laws, etc.) makes certain objects of certain sizes impossible.

This might take a little more thought. Obviously, why something very, very large is hard to build is obvious. The larger the structure, the larger the base and the more engineering marvels that must go towards producing it. It might no be so obvious why we cannot build something very small. It is beacuse, oddly enough, we don't fully understand the physical dynamics of the submolecular world (i.e. quantum mechanics or string theory). This is partly because it is nearly impossible to observe.

My point in all of this is that there is a reason why our world, and civilization, looks the way it does. It is beacause if is either physically impossible or impractical for it to look any other way. True, it may not have the variety of a Frank LLoyd Wright skyline, but a boxy skyscraper uses less materials to build as is just as strong, if not stronger. If you look around, you can see the implications of a structure's size on its shape, purpose, and really, the essence of what it is, or at least was supposed to be. Size gives us clues about the world around us, about why something is the way it is. And from that, I think its pretty clear that size does matter, probably more than a lot of other things.

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