Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Layers of Life on the Earth. Learn from Nature

A layered fractal image (the Mandelbrot set) as a self-similarity pattern (created using ChaosPro software)

When the Earth was young, there was no word, no life, no human. Then something of a mystery happened.

First cells.

They evolved; some of them cooperated and became more complex. Then first plants and animals and other organisms consisting of many cells appeared. The tree of life grew and flourished until one day it bore a new fruit called a mankind destined to destroy its cradle, the Earth. Boo!

Or does this fairy tale have another ending? The mankind that was destined to learn its origins, so it could live in harmony with the mother-nature.

Unless we are unfortunate enough to fulfil the first scenario in our generation, we have to try the latter one for the sake of our descendants. Because, the hedonist case aside, it only makes sense to leave the planet in a better shape for your kids than it was before you.

While the harmony is an ideal, it is also a good epitome to strive to. We’ll never reach it, but we can improve.

This is all nice, but not very realistic. Overpopulation, loss of habitats, socio-economic and political crisis, lack of direction, you name it – how on Earth we can rescue the Earth without the voluntary mass suicide (Third World War, hello!), which is implausible and meaningless since the Earth doesn’t want our help, it’s US (the pronoun not the country) who want to keep it nice and clean for our sake (now, where do I put the question mark?).

The answer is simple: we should learn from nature. Indeed, our civilisation and its interaction with the biosphere is almost incomprehensibly complex, yet as life repeats itself on many levels (or layers), we can simply model our anthroposphere on a cell, a smallest unit of life.

By EzykronHD (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Each cell can propagate, pass down its information to the daughters upon division, it can consume, process and excrete. It can synthesize and build new things, yield energy from organic or mineral supply. Same as us, but unlike the mankind and its wasteful economy, cells do these things elegantly; – millions of years of evolution didn’t pass in vain. We can learn from the tiny genius. Then we can move on to larger living systems – tissue-organ level physiology, symbiotic organisms (lichens, corals), then continue with communities and ecosystems (meadow, deserts, the Amazon river), until we finally match the wisdom of the entire biosphere.

This is why understanding nature is so important, it’s in our interests. Biology and ecology may not be taught in the most engaging way nowadays, but as teaching and other information delivery methods develop, I’m sure these two sciences will find bigger appreciation outside the academic circles. Take The Lorax book, for instance, that’s the way to present ecology to children.

To wrap it up – the Future is bright if we make it bright. So learn something every day, layer by layer, and help others in doing likewise. We are all teachers and pupils here. I’m off to a next lesson. Pip pip!

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  • Ashen

    Self-similarity patterns fascinate me. And Mandelbrot … in German Mandel means almond and Brot means bread πŸ™‚ … are beautiful. That little bugger looks just like a Buddha. Love Russian dolls. Wonder who first came up with this lovely idea.

    • GrigoryRyzhakov

      thanks for commenting , Ashen πŸ™‚ the matreshkas (Russian dolls) came from Japan initially
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daruma_doll and Mandelbrot is not just a
      brea but also a dude http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benoit_Mandelbrot πŸ™‚

      • Ashen

        Ah, I didn’t know about the Daruma dolls.
        Re: Mandelbrot, I know -I first came upon his work in 1988 in James Gleick’s book ‘Chaos,’ which had fantastic images. In that book was also a wonderful quote that brought Conrad Aiken to my attention: ‘What else, when chaos draws all forces inward to shape a single leaf.’

        • GrigoryRyzhakov

          I love the chaos theory, it’s only logical when you have a chaotic heterogeneity in energy distribution, then the available energy can be used to drive an ordered state via chemical/biological evolution, which eventually can give you a leaf or something else. So, there’s a process separating the chaotic state and the organised leaf. Mathematical chaos is not random though as many people think of it