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30 August 2009

of a few things large and many things small

reading Robinson's Red Mars reminds me of a basic and oft-under (or un-) appreciated principle of ecology: change in the ecospere tends to flow from small to large, and not vise versa.

sure, planets have colided. asteroids caused massive turnover in earth species composition. nonetheless, where did life come from? the smallest of units, testing a galaxy of possibilities, some succeeding, some aggregating.

the little things. we dream grand dreams of galaxies, of control. seen from a plane, humans' works are not vast. none but our roads and our lights warrant note. points and lines.

ozone hole; global warming; oxygen atmosphere: consequences of small units, people and plants and refridgerators, units repeated to vast proportions over time, an inflation of individually insignificant individuals that, together over time, effects nontrivial change.

this is the law of history as well as ecology. the pyramids, slaves. democracy with it's masses, intel's chips.

small isn't trivial.

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