In several of my posts, reflecting the approach we have taken at the Future Centre, I have reported on discoveries on Nature that can teach us new ways of “creating artefacts”. This is the case for this one.
I have just read that physicists at the university of Granada, Spain, have discovered why pearls are round, and why sometimes they are not!
When a physicists looks at a pearl necklace, apparently, he is not considering the neck they are resting on and whatever it is attached to it. Rather he is puzzling on why are pearls so perfectly round.
Indeed, pearls are the most perfect spheres you can find in Nature. On the other hand, sometimes they are not round at all! Why is it so?
It turns out that if you look at the nanostructure of a pearl surface you will discover that it actually looks like a ratchet. As it grows by subsequent deposition of layers it rotates in all direction, in a random way under the pressure of random “push” in the oyster. This randomness leads to a perfect spherical form.
On the other hand, if the seed of the pearl has some imperfections the random push can only rotate the forming pearl on one axes and that generates a symmetrical pearl with respect to that rotational axe.
If the pearl seed has several imperfection points there is no preferred rotation and it grows in what is called a baroque way.
Hence, the shape of a pearl is an emerging property of the nanotexture of the seed surface.
Scientists are considering this property to apply it in nanotechnology artefacts.
Interestingly, in the paper reporting the discovery the scientists are just saying that this knowledge should help in nanotech manufacturing but they do not know what should be the application field and therefore they ask the community of scientists to think about possible applications and share their thoughts. We are seeing crowd-sourcing taking hold also in the scientific community as a way to progress science and its application.
This is the magic on pervasive Internet, not in terms of infrastructure (which is needed) but in terms of “being” on the Internet, becoming part of a connectivity structure, not just being connected.
For many of us, particularly for grown up, we see Internet as a convenient way to connect to information, services and people. For Digital native Internet is part of their life, they are not connecting via Internet, they live in a connected space. And this is what the authors in their paper are hinting. Scientists have always relied on other scientists discovery to progress further, it used to be by exchanging letters with challenges (Tartaglia and Cardano – do you remember?- to come to the solution of 3rd and 4th degree equation), by talking at conferences (Hilbert and his 23 mathematical challenges… stated in the 1900 conference in Paris) or by publishing results of experiments (CERN…). Now Scientists are starting to become an ecosystem whose fabric is sustained by Internet and by living in a shared data and shared application ambient. It is a new paradigm, that is taking place also in the development of application, what is usually call the Open Software Framework.
The Gaia paradigm is becoming part of our life and a collective intelligence is emerging.