The patterns that we’re made of

Lizard

A leaf with a shadow on it cast by a gecko on the other side of the leaf.

A photo of a different creature, by Laura Pashkevich

A few months ago, I was sitting in my friend’s backyard, eating breakfast. His family had made a glorious garden with all sorts of tiled mosiacs and flowers and trees and so on. Chewing on some omelette, I was enjoying the view when I saw… a lizard.

It was maybe 15cm long… initially moving and then suddenly motionless. I got up to have a better look.

I found myself wanting to attach various narratives to its motionlessness. “What’s the purpose of this lizard?” I wondered. “What is it trying to do right now?”

I had been recently reading The Simple Math of Evolution, a sequence of posts intended to convey how evolution works in a really straightforward, graspable way. One thing I took away from the post was that evolution is purposeless, and totally nonstrategic. It is simply an optimization process.

This lizard, I realized, had no purpose. » read the rest of this entry »

A portrait of Malcolm Ocean

I'm Malcolm Ocean.

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