I have no idea what’s happening with Brexit. I have no idea what’s happening with the French Gilets Jaunes protests. And I have no idea what’s happening with the longest ever US government shutdown. I have a sense of living in a time of madness. Or of living in a time of greater madness than usual.
I’m inclined to wish that I just had a few really good books that I could become totally immersed in until the storm blows over. Instead I get immersed in ideas like my Theory of Ice Ages. I get immersed in writing a computer heat flow simulation model. That’s my style of escapism, I suppose. Other people take long holidays, or watch movies, or listen to music, or smoke pot: I write computer code.
I was wondering this morning whether monasticism was another kind of escapism. When the world becomes too terrifyingly turbulent or worrying, what better way out might there be than to go live in a cave somewhere out in a desert where nothing ever happens. Many of the monastic orders seem to have started up around about the time of the fall of the western Roman empire, and perhaps that was one reason why they did.
This morning I started piecing together an idea for a new bit of computer code that I might embark on when I’ve finished writing my current simulation model. In my current model, the surface of the Earth heats up and cools down cyclically, and when that happens the surface of the Earth must expand and contract, and it’s very likely to swell up and sink down and buckle and fold as well (as I’ve considered before). So my proposed new model would be one in which I look at the differential expansion and contraction of sheets of rock. To simulate this, I’d use a spaceframe or polyhedron made up of ties (a bit like the one at right, which is from some former project of mine). The ties would all have temperatures, and would expand and contract as they heated and cooled, and the surface of the Earth would hopefully buckle and pucker and swell. And maybe on the surface of a cooling Earth, the contracting rocks would fracture in places, and there’d appear plates on the surface of it. And if the Earth was also spinning around the Sun, and subject to tidal forces, that would have an effect too.
But this morning I was just wondering why hills form. Much of England is covered with gently rolling hills. And because these hills often look just like the waves found in oceans, I’ve often wondered whether there are land waves just like sea waves, but which move much more slowly. And so places like the US midwest or the Russian steppes would be places where there’s dead calm, and places like the Alps or the Himalayas are places where there are great slow-motion storms in progress. And in England the land is just a bit choppy. If so, then these waves all ought to be moving across the surface of the Earth, just like waves out at sea. But it’s probably impossible to measure speeds as low as one millimetre per century, which might be the order of magnitude of land wave motion.
And I might be able to consider such land waves using my proposed new model. It would certainly be possible to propagate waves across the surface of the Earth. We already have such waves in the form of tides (which I’ve also built models of).
All sorts of processes must act to form hills. They are maybe formed simply by the slow erosion of land by water and wind, as soil is gradually removed by streams and rivers. Or they could also be the product of wave motions in the lithosphere beneath. Or differential heat and cooling.
Anyway, that’s another future project. And one that will likely grow out of my current project. For I always have one idea or other that I’m interested in. And the more turbulent and tumultuous the world becomes, I’ll maybe spend more and more time with these ideas.
Speaking of movies, I recently discovered Japanese Zatoichi movies. Zatoichi is a blind masseur who spends his life wandering on foot around Japan. He also happens to be an expert swordsman who keeps a sword in his walking stick. If you liked movies like Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, you might like these too. And there seem to have been 20+ Zatoichi movies made between 1962 and 1989, all featuring the same actor, Shintaro Katsu. And there was a TV series as well. Here’s the very first subtitled movie: