turning to June

As the months wind out in front of me, behind me, I see new sections of my timeline. The way it unwinds before my consciousness reminds me of something. I think it’s DNA cloning. My timeline strand is exactly as long as my lifetime, so with normal life experience, it will take exactly my entire lifetime to see the whole strand. I can think of my timeline as a long strand of DNA if I want to, why not? It kind of fits.

If I model spacetime like a donut built by Buckminster Fuller:


then maybe one human lifetime is kind of like a potato chip.

Hypar Potato Chip

I am constrained (because I am human) to experience the entire potato chip as a straight line. I am not sure about animals. Maybe some of them can access the donut, or the potato chip. We already know that many animals can do magnetic navigation. I say, humans have blood too! If this is just ferrofluids, maybe I can access that. Is my womb a magnetic chamber, lined always with ferrofluid as it is? Are babies grown in a magnetic field? Is a chicken egg somehow doing that too?

This is what my brain looks like (the Sunshine Band, starting at :50). I evince as KC, the friendly kinda dorky front for an organized parade of OMG going on behind the scenes. If KC and the Sunshine Band are a model of my brain, the bongo drummer (2:03) is key. I don’t have that dude on my own and so must partner with that resonance. See him? HE IS COMPLETE UNTO HIMSELF.

My brain is the band (especially the guy in the Technicolour Dreamcoat) and goes at that speed, at that resonance, and mostly the rest of people in the room, in the world, look to me a lot like this audience. Many people are just standing there. And some people are trying, and some people are moving. 


Hypars (which everyone really could be if they were comfortable unfolding) don’t even fit into flat planes unless they have the context (and tension/pressure) of a much larger system that they are part of (like a really, really huge donut).

To fit into a line, which is even more condensed, the Hypar needs the advantage of being reduced to a mathematical expression or the convenience of being folded. And good news, everything folds! You can absolutely fold the Hypar into what looks like a line. It will be oddly dense, of course, much like our Universe, or the potential of a human lifetime.  It’s fun to do this with origami Hypars, fold them into a line and slip them into a cigar tube.

Here is Erik Demaine, holding one Unfolded. You can fold your own, here is his pattern. Try one, and condense it! You get a weirdly dense line.

Erik Warped Square

Most people don’t even look directly AT their potential, much less try to use it, because it’s well known that it can bring madness if there aren’t enough degrees of freedom.

Thinking creatures with no freedom can constantly dream of being free (and be miserable) or abandon the idea and conform (and perhaps find happiness in complacency). Each outlook makes a different kind of creature; most of us live somewhere on that line. I am completely, irrevocably on the left. I’d rather die than lose freedom. Others fear death.

Anyway. Density.

It’s our birthright, if only because of the number of choices we have at any given moment.

A sparrow many not have very many choices, as it turns out – most of the intervals of a snack-sized songbird are likely occupied with finding something to eat or not being eaten. It’s like a hoarder; lots of intervals, but mostly the same impulse over and over (I need that/someone might take it from me routine is much like Is that something to eat/am I about to be eaten routine of a prey animal.  (photo Warren Photographic)


(Crows don’t kill sparrows (or they shouldn’t be doing so under the Universal Plot) but it’s a good picture. Each of the birds has concerns, but the concerns of the crow must really different from those of the sparrow. What is a crow afraid of? Loneliness, guys with guns?)

I can think about these things because I have lots of intervals, and also because I have others to commune with. Two people I love to talk to told me about birds and hoarders. I can’t think of everything on my own or I am just a protest singer, not the damned SUNSHINE BAND. Of course protest singers have won vastly more Nobel prizes than flashily dressed rock bands (1-0 so far).

Back to density.

What IS all that invisible density we cannot see or measure yet, we wonder. We can’t even measure our own potato chips! Embarrasing, but understandable. Much is supposed to be hidden, it’s part of the enjoyment of the game. If we didn’t have variability, probability, chaos and resonance, we’d be bored to tears; every dice roll would be predictable (if there were even dice in such a dull Universe) cause you’d always roll a damn 2, 1 or 0, and they would all be the same move.  BORING.

The next Universe you built, if you were bored with predictability, you’d build in some variability into an otherwise sturdy system, right?

On a recent trip to Albuquerque with the Skunk team, I met a suite of amazing people.

One of them was a retired Sandia scientist named Pace VanDevender. He worked with my uncle, John Freeman, in the experimental plasma fusion labs at Sandia. Words cannot describe how much I loved him; he died in 1992 at the age of 42. Everyone loved him; he was one of those people. Brilliant, beautiful, didn’t talk til he was 3, out of MIT with a full Phd at maybe the youngest ever for the university. Erik Demaine (youngest professor ever hired) is the matching MIT card to John Freeman.


John was my mother’s younger brother, and he died of Huntington’s disease, which runs in my family. The photo is of him holding his daughter Jennifer, my first cousin. John taught me everything; from a very young age he encouraged me to believe that E = mc2. I mean, actually believe it. That if I would simply start there, I could do or be anything. There are no words to convey what he meant to me, just like I could speak of my high school geometry teacher, Burton Tingle, for equally long but you really had to be there to understand how deeply isolated I was, and how deeply magnificent these two people were to me.

So there has definitely been some strong emotion associated with what I have learned in past weeks. It’s exhausting, uplifting, expanding, painful, beautiful.

Pace (who loved John Freeman probably as much as I did) has been studying how individual particles (like quarks) may be banding together in three-part harmony to form cosmic dustballs. So far he calls the tangles quark nuggets, but I’d rather call his high-energy dustballs potential bundles.  All of the quark words seem silly to me up, down, strange. Is Chicago up from Memphis? Am I strange?

Stuff like that depends on context, so to me it has no place in scientific naming.

Pace is pretty sure that these potential bundles, these quark tangles, they are raining down on us from space all of the time, and he’s built detectors to record them.

This reminds me of free radicals and cosmic rays, electrons from space. I have a feeling about all of this energy. While some of it may be damaging if we don’t understand how to use it (or shield from it) it also might be manna from heaven.

Pace, who has been thinking about all of this for a good long number of decades, is also hypothesizing that extreme ball lightning, a phenomenon that he separates from “ordinary” ball lightning (which is controversial enough, but probably just ordinary plasma) is a representation of some of the quark bundles.

Here is an entertaining review of a talk that he gave in 2006, some time ago now.

It’s always a Thing to be a highly qualified physicist looking at something bizarre, and you can see how careful the blog author is to list his qualifications. “Dr. VanDevender is a Senior Member of the IEEE and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.” 

Identifying some pieces of dark matter like this would be handy, and I’m 100% behind it. After all, we can only observe and categorize something like 4% of the known Universe; there is a lot of stuff we’ve binned under “dark energy”, “dark matter”, “energy from the quantum vacuum”. Quantifying any of it would be refreshing, and ease the math.

I’m fairly sure that much or most of what we are calling dark energy can just be called potential. It’s everything that didn’t happen, isn’t happening, and won’t happen, it’s energy that lives on the Other Side of the equation; the lagging strand, the manna that we can derive from what is constantly raining down upon us. There are a lot of ways that energy can arrange, balance, or fit into a place that it doesn’t really fit. If you see something that doesn’t make sense, there is probably a Special Circumstance. In this photo, it’s probably just glue.


I take great pleasure in also linking to the Daily Mail story on ball lightning.

Crackpots discussing genius beautifully is my favorite thing, and if my blog had footnotes I would SURELY link the Daily Mail writeup to the 1979 business of the reporter from the newly formed Weekly World News being the ONLY ONE to discern that something fishy was up with the sudden re-appearance of S-band transmissions in the Pioneer 11 Saturn data – and sure enough, he was right – the sudden blast of signal was the Russians, turning their satellite array back on. We had a secret deal! And only the crackpot noticed it!

The Daily Mail graced their ball lightning writeup with a bonus illo from 1901.



Yesterday, in trying to comprehend something else, I watched a couple of simplified animations about DNA replication. I think the partial segments are what my unspooling timeline is reminding me of.  I was enchanted to watch the enzyme engines working in mirror sections, unspooling a whole DNA doublestrand at the speed of a jet engine.

The little machines clone off half-strands (at 10,000 rpm!) that ideally end up being identical no matter how they were made. Due to their mirror orientation on the DNA strand, though, each section isn’t equal into the copy machine. The lagging strand (which is essentially upside down and backward) must undergo a second processing during cloning. So it goes through Ginger Rogers-style, you know, backwards and in high heels.

Why? It would be easy enough to create the cloning zone with mirror cloning factories. I mean, seriously. If you have what it takes to build this, you can build a mirror setup.

What’s in it for us to process both sections separately (and with fairly radically different processes) if our goal is identical halves? It must be that the opportunity to diverge is deliberately built in at the system level.

Real-world takeaways for me:

•  If you make 1/2 of a thing it’s likely to attract a match
•  1/2 of anything will likely be more natural/easy than the other half
•  More processing = more room for error but also evolution.

If half of your product is produced efficiently/correctly/identically/by the book and half is produced with more room for error, then you have met the universal ratio. Should we be doing this? Hell, for the Contemporary Geometric Beadwork project, I just spent five years of CPU time re-engineering Rick-Rack to grow through mirror production, instead of the tedious half-easy, half-hard. Did I blow it? Or am I a GENIUS?

It makes me wonder what percentage of that more vulnerable half produces variations? And how many of those stick and turn into positive evolution? How can evolution be really evaluated as positive or negative until the whole system is over?

Lots of builders use the tactic of matching halves too. If you put two mirror forms together, even if an error is built in, well, maybe you have something new instead of something that can’t breathe properly or stand up straight.

chaos and destruction

Whew. I spool all of this out not necessarily because you need to know it (although you may) but mostly because I need to communicate: this is what it’s like inside my head, this is why it’s difficult for me to churn out conclusions. Conclusions are never correct, nothing is ever over, there is always more to know, to discover, every gate we crash is just to the next bit unspooled for our examination.

It’s a warehouse in here in my head, it’s crammed so full. Unless I can keep the top of my head open, streaming energy, I would be in danger of Exploding Head, which might be a lot like spontaneous combustion, who knows. Or maybe those poor people just got hit with potential bundles, and what we really need are the equivalent of tin foil hats.

Maybe the reason that that guy I know who briefly lost his mind thinking that Jupiter was controlling Earth just lost his shit because he happened to notice (accidentally or through drug use) with his own detector that JUPITER WAS CONTROLLING EARTH. I mean, it is. It really is. But so what. It’s way off of any of our potato chips. But if you are the only person who knows it, and you try to drive somewhere really fast to tell someone, you are more likely to be held on a 5150 than to be taken immediately to MIT. Better to just take yourself.

kate lying in chapel, photo by Ryan Anas

For survival, and optimal system performance, I’ve got to match as many cards as I can to make space for more. It’s nuts in there, but really also highly organized and I try to be as rigorous as I can. I must finish all of my existing questions, yes, but I know that what will come from that is more questions. It’s a machine with no end.

I am that band, I am that enzyme, I am the questions.

Oh, also, jumping spiders can see the Moon. Craters and all. This charming story could be the front end of any story about scientific discovery… people talking to people, noticing things, telling each other.

We must get together, or we are nowhere.


2 thoughts on “turning to June

  1. once I experienced my whole life all at once. But now you’ve got me interested in thinking outside that timeline, and what connections could be made. It hurts my head to try to think of this and that’s always a sign to me of serious works taking place in the brain.I love the exuberant Kate whose mind is too full of ideas and concepts to make sense to everyone.

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