Things seen from an unusual and enlightening point of view. Things that deepen understanding and perception.

Ok, we need to talk about this. This is a spider setting up a cozy little home.

Essential steps and the abilities they require (require of Something, not necessarily of this exact spider)

  • What made him do this, “I need a place to sleep.”? (Executive function: I better get this done)
  • What makes him choose this one shell out of many? Did he check it out for size? (Critical thinking: This one will work better than those)
  • Did he set up that block and tackle lifting system ahead of time? (Foresight: I’ll need this in a few minutes)
  • How did he know “That’s about enough” after wrapping the shell for lifting? (Predicting outcomes: This is enough to haul it up without falling)
  • Do spiders have imagination and logic? (Creative thinking: Hey…those things would make good houses!)

Most people would say “It’s instinct, it’s just instinctive behavior” putting the issue to rest. Here’s the definition of instinct “An innate typically fixed pattern of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli”.

Instinct sounds meaningful but it isn’t. “Instinct” is a tautology, circling the question. Semantically it says “Yes, that behavior is a thing.” or “I don’t know why or how, but they all do that” or even “That’s what it is, but we don’t talk about that”. The word instinct is a placeholder description, not a real answer. Saying Instinct shuts off questioning without providing answers, it is an empty box labeled “behavioral presets”. The classic Darwinian answer to “But how, why?” would be “Spiders that behaved this way were better at surviving and reproducing. That is why the behavior was retained”. Continue reading


“‘Jailer, I’ll tell you an interesting fact. Everything we study, we modify by our study of it. Hence truth eternally eludes us.’
“He did not look convinced, just held out his hands for the plates.
“‘Take crabs, for example, I said ‘We poke them with a stick to see how they behave, and they behave as if poked by a stick.’
He folded his arms, the plates dangling from his fingertips.
“This is, of course, a very simple example,’ I said. Take a subtler example, such as atoms of light. Light, as you know, is one of the four great elements-in common parlance, fire. We study it by bouncing it off polished stones, or bending it in water, or squeezing it through holes. And how does it behave? It behaves as if bounced or squeezed or bent. We learn nothing, we merely cause events.’ I bent closer to him, waving my finger to keep his attention. ‘Has it occurred to you that sundials do not measure time, but create it?’ It had not, I saw. Time,’ I said,’is actually a thing, like porridge.’ I folded my arms and beamed at him, triumphant. The left side of his mouth twitched very slightly. He withdrew.”

From The Wreckage of Agathon, John Gardner – 1970 


A ‘star drop’ refers to the patterns created when a drop, flattened by some force, is excited into shape mode oscillations

Abstract: “These patterns are perhaps best understood as the two-dimensional analogs to the more common three-dimensional shape mode oscillations. In this fluid dynamics video, an ultrasonic standing wave was used to levitate a liquid drop. The drop was then flattened into a disk by increasing the field strength. This flattened drop was then excited to create star drop patterns by exciting the drop at its resonance frequency. Different oscillatory modes were induced by y varying the drop radius, fluid properties, and frequency at which the field strength was modulated.”

Shape oscillation of a levitated drop in an acoustic field,” by W. Ran & S. Fredericks (Clemson University, Department of Mechanical Engineering)


These images were taken with a Scanning Electron microscope (SEM). The surface of a specimen is scanned by a beam of electrons that are reflected to form an image. Color is added later.

“Plenty of Room at the Bottom” is the title of an article written by the American genius, Richard Feynman in 1959. He worked on the Manhattan Project that delivered nuclear weapons to our military before the end of World War II. In the 1980s he was the scientist who figured out why the space shuttle Challenger exploded. In “Plenty of room at the bottom” he visualized the core ideas of Nanotechnology 2 or 3 decades before it became a widespread big idea.

“It is a staggeringly small world that is below. In the year 2000, when they look back at this age, they will wonder why it was not until the year 1960 that anybody began seriously to move in this direction.” Richard Feynman


We’re talking about a bustling industry where objects are measured in nanometers and micrometers.

  • A nanometer =1 billionth of a meter and is represented by the symbol ‘nm.’. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.
  • A micrometer = 1/millionth of a meter (symbol: μm) A sheet of paper is 70 to 180 μm thick.
  • One millimeter is equal to 1000 micrometers or 1000000 nanometers. A millimeter is equal to approximately 0.039370 of an inch. (mm)

In this video, we begin focused on a shrimp at a scale of 1 mm. We zoom down and in toward the top of the head where we see a microscopic sea plant, which eventually fills the screen. We close on a single bacteria, atop the seaweed zoomed from 1mm to 0.5um.

The remarkable chain drive below was built by the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories.  The distance between chain link centers is 50 microns. The diameter of a human hair is approximately 70 microns. This is one example of thousands of separate projects and experiments laying the foundation of Nanotechnology.