The Wonder of Poohsticks

Filed in Episode 3 by on July 16, 2017 1 Comment

Walking one of my habitual routes this morning, I stopped by a bridge to play Poohsticks The-Rules-of-playing-Poohsticks(with myself).

One of my three sticks never made it under the bridge. The other two headed straight towards an obstacle but at the last moment were steered round it by the current. Slightly further up they failed to avoid a more substantial obstruction (which consequently became even more substantial). I watched like a child, completely enchanted, then thought like an adult that all this can easily be explained by physics. But so what? That physics explains a natural phenomenon but didn’t bring it into being. That physics could enable us to make a copy but it wouldn’t be a copy, because this little piece of reality is unique and its behaviour is determined by emergence and influenced by events tens, hundreds and even thousands of kilometers away – the butterfly taking off in Brazil principle.

It’s clever and even useful that we can explain this behaviour but what really moves me is the fact that it exists. That we can explain something with a formula doesn’t make it less wonderful, less enchanting. Let’s never forget that.


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  1. Alex says:

    Lovely. So. Everything is a being. Should be seen as being. The stick. The river. The water. All beings. All part of a rich tapestry. It’s just our lost species that questions. Everything else just is. It understands and undertakes its role. And is part of a story, events and wonder, not only thousands of miles away, but billions of years in the making. Important to see the simplicity of nature and then try and explore our own role.

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