Metaphorical Insights from the Patterns of Academic Disciplines


Anthony Judge – TRANSCEND Media Service

Learning from the Standard Model of Physics?


This document explores use of a particular metaphor from physics as a means of articulating understandings of openness and closedness in support of individual or collective identity. It follows from consideration of pattern language in a more general argument (Way Round Cognitive Ground Zero and Pointlessness: embodying the geometry of fundamental cognitive dynamics, 2012) of which it is is Annex D.

The argument is based on the assumption that there is a need to find ways to comprehend and engage with more complex patterns, as discussed previously (In Quest of Mnemonic Catalysts — for comprehension of complex psychosocial dynamics, 2007; Conditions of Objective, Subjective and Embodied Cognition: mnemonic systems for memetic coding of complexity, 2007). From that perspective there is then a case for exploring the complexity as articulated and integrated within the standard model of particle physics. It should be emphasized that the concern here is with human capacity to think about complex intertwining patterns, not with what is thereby patterned — whatever the potential implications of isomorphism.

At the time of writing, for example, a seemingly extraordinary similarity has been shown to exist between electrons orbiting a nucleus and the asteroids orbiting Jupiter. As reported by Jade Boyd-Rice (Replica of Trojan asteroids fits in single atom, Futurity, 25 January 2012), a paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, has demonstrated that electrons could be made to orbit the nucleus of a atom in precisely the same way that Jupiter’s 4,000-plus Trojan asteroids orbit the sun.

The findings uphold a prediction made in 1920 by famed Danish physicist Niels Bohr about the relationship between the then-new science of quantum mechanics and Isaac Newton’s tried-and-true laws of motion. “Bohr predicted that quantum mechanical descriptions of the physical world would, for systems of sufficient size, match the classical descriptions provided by Newtonian mechanics,” says lead researcher Barry Dunning… “Bohr also described the conditions under which this correspondence could be observed. In particular, he says it should be seen in atoms with very high principal quantum numbers, which are exactly what we study in our laboratory.

It might be asked to what extent conceptual “objects” associated with a given worldview — dynamically “orbiting” it in some manner — could be similarly comprehended, if only as a source of mnemonic clues to the integrative nature of the comprehension of that worldview.

In a spirit of technomimicry (discussed separately), it is therefore interesting to explore how the standard model of particle physics — the epitome of emergent closure — might be used as a template through which to suggest a cognitive modality embodying both openness and closure. Is there scope for”new thinking” on the “standard model” of human cognition, as previously argued (Beyond the Standard Model of Universal Awareness, 2010)?

Such an exercise could be understood as an exploration of patterns of cognitive significance, following the insights into “pattern language” in designing a desirable “place to be”, as articulated by Christopher Alexander (A Pattern Language, 1977) and discussed separately (5-fold Pattern Language, 1984). In marketing parlance, such a place might be promoted as “heavenly” — as discussed with respect to a requisite integrative mode of cognition (Requisite Childlike Cognition for “Heavenly” Integration? 2012).



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 Feb 2012.

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