Monday, March 6, 2017

Introduction to Internet of Things (IoT)


What is IoT?
IoT is here. It's real. It's inevitable. We are just at the beginning of the Internet of Things and it will be huge.




Infographic - What exactly is the Internet of Things?



"The possible applications of the Internet of Things are more or less endless. Basically any device or product can be made ‘smart’ when several sensors are added and the device can connect to the Internet. Throw in some smart algorithms and the data can be analyzed and provide insights to the user as well as the device itself. With so many possibilities, cheap infrastructure and high demand it is very likely that we will see an explosion of IoT startups in the coming years" ~ Mark van Rijmenam.

“Internet of Things (IoT) enables the objects in our environment to become active participants, i.e., they share information with other members of the network or with any other stakeholder and they are capable of recognizing events and changes in their surroundings and of acting and reacting autonomously in an appropriate manner. In this context the research and development challenges to create a smart world are enormous. A world where the real, digital and the virtual are converging to create smart environments that make energy, transport, cities and many other areas more intelligent.

The concept goal of the Internet of Things is to enable things to be connected anytime, anyplace, with anything and anyone ideally using any path/ network and any service. Internet of Things is a new revolution of the Internet. Objects make themselves recognizable and they obtain intelligence thanks to the fact that they can communicate information about themselves and they can access information that has been aggregated by other things. For example - alarm clocks will go off early if there’s traffic; plants will communicate to the sprinkler system when it’s time for them to be watered; running shoes communicate time, speed and distance so that the wearer can compete in real time with people on the other side of the world; medicine containers tell your family members if you forget to take the medicine. All objects can play an active role thanks to their connection to the Internet." ~ Ovidiu Vermesan et al.

Enabling technologies for the Internet of Things such as sensor networks, RFID, M2M, mobile Internet, semantic data integration, semantic search, IPv6, etc. are considered in and can be grouped into three categories (DuPress):

(i) technologies that enable “things” to acquire contextual information,
(ii) technologies that enable “things” to process contextual information, and
(iii) technologies to improve security and privacy.


Internet of Things - History:  http://postscapes.com/internet-of-things-history

Turning Data into Wisdom 



Wikipedia
 
Credit: Karim Vaes 2013


From Data to Wisdom
Credit: Gene Bellinger, Durval Castro and Anthony Mills - systems-thinking.org
Redrawn by Peter James Thomas

IoT, Industry 4.0, Web 3.0 and IoE

Four phases of Industrialization (IoT and Industry 4.0)
Figure credit: SapHanaTutorial




Source: IoE CISCO

IoT Applications



The sky is the limit in terms of IoT applications.


Battling urban gridlock
Figure credit: Dupress


 Key feature of digital age transportation systems
Figure credit: Dupress

Potential applications of the IoT are numerous and diverse, permeating into practically all areas of every-day life of individuals, enterprises, and society as a whole (Source: IoT Cluster Book).

Smart Cities
  • Smart Parking: Monitoring of parking spaces availability in the city.
  • Structural health: Monitoring of vibrations and material conditions in buildings, bridges and historical monuments.
  • Noise Urban Maps: Sound monitoring in bar areas and centric zones in real time.
  • Traffic Congestion: Monitoring of vehicles and pedestrian levels to optimize driving and walking routes.
  • Smart Lightning: Intelligent and weather adaptive lighting in street lights.
  • Waste Management: Detection of rubbish levels in containers to optimize the trash collection routes.
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems: Smart Roads and Intelligent
  • Highways with warning messages and diversions according to climate conditions and unexpected events like accidents or traffic jams.
Smart Environment
  • Forest Fire Detection: Monitoring of combustion gases and preemptive fire conditions to define alert zones.
  • Air Pollution: Control of CO2 emissions of factories, pollution emitted by cars and toxic gases generated in farms.
  • Landslide and Avalanche Prevention: Monitoring of soil moisture,vibrations and earth density to detect dangerous patterns in landconditions.
  • Earthquake Early Detection: Distributed control in specific places of tremors.
Smart Water
  • Water Quality: Study of water suitability in rivers and the sea for fauna and eligibility for drinkable use.
  • Water Leakages: Detection of liquid presence outside tanks and pressure variations along pipes.
  • River Floods: Monitoring of water level variations in rivers, dams and reservoirs.
Smart Metering
  • Smart Grid: Energy consumption monitoring and management.
  • Tank level: Monitoring of water, oil and gas levels in storage tanks and cisterns.
  • Photovoltaic Installations: Monitoring and optimization of performance in solar energy plants.
  • Water Flow: Measurement of water pressure in water transportation systems.
  • Silos Stock Calculation: Measurement of emptiness level and weight of the goods.
Security & Emergencies
  • Perimeter Access Control: Access control to restricted areas and detection of people in non-authorized areas.
  • Liquid Presence: Liquid detection in data centers, warehouses and sensitive building grounds to prevent break downs and corrosion.
  • Radiation Levels: Distributed measurement of radiation levels in nuclear power stations surroundings to generate leakage alerts.
  • Explosive and Hazardous Gases: Detection of gas levels and leakages in industrial environments, surroundings of chemical factories and inside mines.
Retail
  • Supply Chain Control: Monitoring of storage conditions along the supply chain and product tracking for traceability purposes.
  • NFC Payment: Payment processing based in location or activity duration for public transport, gyms, theme parks, etc.
  • Intelligent Shopping Applications: Getting advice at the point of sale according to customer habits, preferences, presence of allergic components for them or expiring dates.
  • Smart Product Management: Control of rotation of products in shelves and warehouses to automate restocking processes
Logistics
  • Quality of Shipment Conditions: Monitoring of vibrations, strokes,container openings or cold chain maintenance for insurance purposes.
  • Item Location: Search of individual items in big surfaces like warehouses or harbours.
  • Storage Incompatibility Detection: Warning emission on containers storing inflammable goods closed to others containing explosive material.
  • Fleet Tracking: Control of routes followed for delicate goods like medical drugs, jewels or dangerous merchandises.
Industrial
  • M2M Applications: Machine auto-diagnosis and assets control.
  • Indoor Air Quality: Monitoring of toxic gas and oxygen levels inside chemical plants to ensure workers and goods safety.
  • Temperature Monitoring: Control of temperature inside industrial and medical fridges with sensitive merchandise.
  • Ozone Presence: Monitoring of ozone levels during the drying meat process in food factories.
  • Indoor Location: Asset indoor location by using active (ZigBee) and passive tags (RFID/NFC).
  • Vehicle Auto-diagnosis: Information collection from CanBus to send real time alarms to emergencies or provide advice to drivers.
Smart Agriculture
  • Wine Quality Enhancing: Monitoring soil moisture and trunk diameter in vineyards to control the amount of sugar in grapes and grapevine health.
  • Green Houses: Control micro-climate conditions to maximize the production of fruits and vegetables and its quality.
  • Meteorological Station Network: Study of weather conditions in fields to forecast ice formation, rain, drought, snow or wind changes.
  • Compost: Control of humidity and temperature levels in alfalfa, hay, straw, etc. to prevent fungus and other microbial contaminants.
Domotic & Home Automation
  • Energy and Water Use: Energy and water supply consumption monitoring to obtain advice on how to save cost and resources.
  • Remote Control Appliances: Switching on and off remotely appliances to avoid accidents and save energy.
  • Intrusion Detection Systems: Detection of window and door openings and violations to prevent intruders.
  • Art and Goods Preservation: Monitoring of conditions inside museums and art warehouses.
eHealth
  • Fall Detection: Assistance for elderly or disabled people living independent.
  • Medical Fridges: Control of conditions inside freezers storing vaccines, medicines and organic elements.
  • Sportsmen Care: Vital signs monitoring in high performance centers andfields.
  • Patients Surveillance: Monitoring of conditions of patients inside hospitals and in old people's home.
  • Ultraviolet Radiation: Measurement of UV sun rays to warn people not to be exposed in certain hours.
IoT and Community Wisdom (Source: IoT Cluster Book)

People live in communities and rely on each other in everyday activities. Recommendations for a good restaurant, car mechanic, movie, phone plan etc. were and still are some of the things where community knowledge helps us in determining our actions.

While in the past this community wisdom was difficult to access and often based on inputs from a handful of people, with the proliferation of the web and more recently social networks, the community knowledge has become readily available - just a click away.

Today, the community wisdom is based on conscious input from people, primarily based on opinions of individuals. With the development of IoT technology and ICT in general, it is becoming interesting to expand the concept of community knowledge to automated observation of events in the real world.


IoT Challenges

While ICT offers opportunities like a platform for freedom of speech, social contact and enhanced democratic accountability, there are also ethical problems online: for example important questions like privacy and data protection. As ICT becomes ever more important, pervasive and useful, we need to raise and discuss these ethical question.

The Internet of Things promises to bring smart devices everywhere, from the fridge in your home, to sensors in your car; even in your body. Those applications offer significant benefits: helping users save energy, enhance comfort, get better healthcare and increased independence: in short meaning happier, healthier lives. But they also collect huge amounts of data, raising privacy and identity issues.” ~ Neelie Kroes

"ICT revolutions since the invention of the first single-chip microprocessor in 1971 have transformed the way we live, work and do business. By giving autonomy to objects, and by blurring the line between bits and atoms, the Internet of Things will produce another quantum leap forward on both the technological and societal levels by erasing boundaries between information entities and moving the reality across traditional legal, business, social and cultural concepts towards a single  environment. The scale of the challenge is unprecedented." ~ Gérald Santucci
 
Some Research Challenges

  • Absolutely safe and secure communication with elements at the network edge
  • Energy saving robust and reliable smart sensors/actuators
  • Technologies for data anonymity addressing privacy concerns
  • Dealing with critical latencies, e.g. in control loops
  • System partitioning (local/cloud based intelligence)
  • Mass data processing, filtering and mining; avoid flooding of communication network
  • Real-time Models and design methods describing reliable interworking of heterogeneous systems (e.g. technical / economical/ social / environmental systems).
  • Identifying and monitoring critical system elements
  • Detecting critical overall system states in due time
  • System concepts which support self-healing and containment of damage; strategies for failure contingency management
  • Technologies supporting self-organisation and dynamic formation of structures / re-structuring

 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ready for a New Way of Thinking?

By Christopher Chase
“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”  ~Albert Einstein
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If you turn on the news, the human species seems to be at a crisis point. Poverty, racism, political division, ecological destruction, social instability and other seemingly “unsolvable” problems appear to be getting worse. And yet, when walking in a forest or looking up at the night sky there is a sense that we live in a Universe of great balance, mystery and beauty.

The wise among our species have repeatedly offered very simple solutions to humanity’s difficulties. Walt Whitman and Van Gogh were overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds us, and sought to share that in their poetry and paintings. The Dalai Lama has often said that we just need to prioritise peace, gratitude, love and wisdom. That the human family’s problems are caused by closed hearts and minds, and will be solved as more and more of us open them. Could it be that simple?
“If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.” ~Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama’s advice aligns with what Jesus taught, what Charlie Chaplin spoke of in the 1930s (see video below) as Hitler’s popularity was rising in Germany. At that time, both Chaplin and Einstein stressed our need for more compassion, imagination and kindness, less of an emphasis on technology, materialism and knowledge.

They believed that humanity’s problems stem from a lack of love rooted in a crisis of thinking, the dominant world view of warrior civilizations that promote fear, aggression and attention to problems instead of gratitude, love and attention to creative solutions.

The sad truth is that modern people see the world in simplistic ways, much as our ancestors did 2000 years ago. Our secular institutions (media, government, education) train us to categorise and compartmentalise reality, to focus on differences, rather than relationships and connections.

We seem to see life as a struggle, identifying ourselves (and others) by race, religion, nationality, political affiliation, gender, sexual preference (gay/straight), education level and/or career status. We separate the world in our minds, setting ourselves into constant battle with each other.

The recent election in the United States shows how such thinking can feed polarisation, anger and conflict. These distinctions and comparisons keep us boxed in “us vs. them” narratives of nationalism, racism, elitism and identity politics. This feeds a perpetual warrior mentality, political conflict, militarism, a sense of competition, fear and division.

trump-clinton-angry

To become wiser as a species, Einstein believed that we need to develop a broader and deeper sense of identity, one that focuses on our relationship with the Universe (and one another) rather than cultural differences. He encouraged us to transcend our human identifications (of race, politics, gender, nationality, religion), focusing on our connection to the Cosmos and the planet. Understanding ourselves to be Earth residents, children of Nature (or God) and the Universe, points us in the right direction. He said:
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
What is missing in mainstream consciousness is an awareness of ourselves as members of the human family, the Universe and the Earth community. We tend to ignore that our cells and bodies are part of the creative history of evolution. That our atoms are part of the history of the Cosmos.

cool-einstein-2222

Peace and gratitude arise naturally in our hearts when we take time to celebrate and reflect upon how we are each a part of a much greater whole. Such awareness dawned on a wide scale for humanity during the 1960’s, and we need it to rise again. As Alan Watts expressed:
“If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that.”
you-are-the-universe

What Einstein, Watts, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama and many others believed is that our species has the potential to grow wiser, more creative and loving as a species. We just need to be mindful of our connection to the rest of humanity, to Nature and the Cosmos. We need to be more rooted in a spiritual view, rather than a materialistic one.

Most modern people are so preoccupied with economic status, social ranks and cultural identities that we ignore the Universe that brought us into being, the systems of Nature that we belong to, and that sustain our lives. Because of this we get caught up in petty human dramas, militarism, nationalism, economics and global games of politics.

Our species needs to understand how we are a living part of Nature, to stop us from falling into the deluded thinking patterns and emotional dramas we create. We need to see how our compartmentalised world views create conflict (both inner and outer), limiting our ability to cooperate with those who think differently than we do, suppressing our potential for deeper peace, balance, wisdom, compassion and joy.

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Spiritual traditions (together with a more unified vision of science) can help remind us that we belong to the greater community of life. That we live in a creative Universe, and belong to the natural world.
“Who would deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?” ― D.T. Suzuki
Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching and the Dharma of the Buddha point in this direction. It’s there in the mystic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Zen and Islam as well. Abraham Isaac Kook describes this view (below) from the perspective of the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism:
“An epiphany enables you to sense creation not as something completed, but as constantly becoming, evolving, ascending. This transports you from a place where there is nothing new to a place where there is nothing old, where everything renews itself, where heaven and earth rejoice as at the moment of creation.”   
Many Indigenous cultures identify daily with the Source of Life, with Nature and the Earth community. This identification is important, understanding the greater whole (and feeling gratitude in their hearts) guides the community with problem-solving and decision making.

care earth

Indigenous cultures have practices to help them stay conscious of their Earth identity and responsibility to the planet, as well as human generations into the future. Because of this native cultures have lived more in balance and harmony with the Earth.
“Growth comes with an increasing awareness of and respect for Great Mystery in all people and things, with an awareness that this force of mystery is at work in all events. Growth comes through tolerance for the infinite variety of ways in which Great Spirit, the Infinite,may express itself in this Universe.” ~Ed McGaa, Oglala Lakota
Can civilization’s people grow wiser and more aware of our connection to the Earth, more compassionate to other creatures and fellow human beings?  We must, because the Earth really is at a crisis point. The struggle now of Native Americans trying to stop an oil pipeline at Standing Rock, is indicative of the challenge we face, as a species. We need to come together and challenge those still caught up in mindsets of fear, materialism and greed. But will be more successful if our efforts are grounded in a different way of thinking, guided by wisdom, gratitude and love.

If we don’t learn to live in harmony with Nature (and be generous with each other) all future generations will suffer. The future will be dystopian, violent, poverty stricken and sorrowful, as it already is in ghetto communities around the planet, in places like Syria, Yemen, Gaza and Iraq.
We need to understand how cultural narratives and scientific paradigms influence our world views. How beliefs shape our thinking, how thoughts influence feelings, how emotions regulate our actions, the way we view problems and experience our lives.

As we grow wiser, and learn to love more deeply, the human community will be in a better position to solve our problems. Because we’ll have identified and corrected (in our hearts and minds) the source of our difficulties, our disconnection with wisdom and love (within us), Nature, Life and the Universe (all around us).

Understanding how rare and beautiful our planet is (and how precious our lives are) can open our hearts, fill us with gratitude, guide our creativity, lead us to new ways of thinking, and more humane ways of being.
By Christopher Chase, December 2016
“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

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“Over the course of the last hundred years, Western scientists have given us a deeper view of the Universe, of Life & Nature as a creative and unified self-organizing process. Unfortunately, most modern societies are still operating with outdated ideas and assumptions, that do not reflect this new paradigm. Albert Einstein understood this, as have many others. In order to survive as a species, it is essential that we shift paradigms, developing ways of thinking (and behaving) that are more aligned with how human life and Nature’s systems actually work.” ~Paradigms are Made for Shifting

“What is needed to launch our societies along the humanistic path is some sort of evolutionary compass. Some way of guiding our efforts so that they are in tune with, aligned with, the general evolutionary processes of which we are a part… So rather than seek to dominate the planet, the quest becomes one of dynamic harmonization, of evolutionary consonance, in short, of syntony. The evolutionary compass, then, would be one that points our way toward syntonious pathways for future creation.” ~Alexander Laszlo

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“The greatest revolution of our time is in the way we see the world. The mechanistic paradigm underlying the Industrial Growth Society gives way to the realization that we belong to a living, self-organizing cosmos.” ~Joanna Macy

“You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Source: https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2016/12/22/ready-for-a-new-way-of-thinking/

The Global Butterfly Effect

By Christopher Chase
 
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” ―Richard Bach, Illusions
 
butterfly-on-human-hand-89644
 
We are living now during one of the most important time periods in human history. Our global species is at a turning point, the actions and decisions we take collectively over the next few decades will determine the path humanity (and all life on our planet) takes far into the future― towards either greater harmony or chaos, stability or destruction.
 
If one turns on the television, the news does not sound good. The mass media feeds our fears, warning of global warming, terrorism, racism, wealth inequality, economic instability and ecological collapse.
 
While most of these problems are real, what the media (and our leaders) do not understand is how these issues are ALL symptoms of the destructive ways so-called “advanced” civilizations see the world and behave. That the way to solve these problems requires that we grow up (as a species), cultivating a deeper level of wisdom, compassion and creativity.
 
“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels…” ~Albert Einstein
 
Our children and grandchildren’s future depends upon our species become less materialistic, fearful and violent, more generous, peaceful and caring. It requires that billions of people “wake up” to a deeper sense of unity and love for our human family and the Natural world that supports us.
 
Mother Earth needs us to mature, to transform ourselves from a selfish caterpillar-like species (that consumes resources mindlessly), to more spiritual butterfly-like beings, who behave wisely, dance among the flowers and take joy from living lightly.
 
The time has come for our species to evolve our consciousness, to open our hearts, to question the predatory behaviors and mechanistic thinking of our more technologically advanced warrior civilizations.
 
For thousands of years people in Western cultures have been wrestling with the illusions we’ve spun from our dualistic “us vs. them” mindsets and belief systems. It’s like we’ve been dreaming a shared nightmare together, grounded in the predatory and feudalistic ways our societies have been organized, rooted in how we live and think.
 
Across the centuries, the very foundation of Western civilization has been based on ideas of separation and superiority- men above, women below; kings above, peasants below; humans above, Nature below; etc. We’ve built walls of separation in our hearts and minds, a sense of sin and abandonment, believing that our entire species was “thrown out of Eden” by a sky God that lives far far away.
 
With dualistic thinking came an emphasis on linear time, our consciousnesses locked into mental projections of a feared or desired future, an imagined and idealized history.
 
When lost in these linear projections we became less aware of the magical nature of each moment, blind to the beauty, value and mystery of the HERE and NOW. This is how schools teach our children to think and feel, how our ancestors were dazed and hypnotized.
 
From this mindset grew civilized humanity’s mad circus of history, the hostile cultures of race and nationalism as identity, religion as truth, militarism as method, acquisition of wealth and power (by a ruling elite) as the organizing goals of our economic and political systems, the unquestioned materialistic paradigm guiding our way of life.
 
It manifested with the rise of wealth obsessed empires seeking power and dominance in the Middle East and Europe. Dualistic thinking led to the Witch Hunts during the Renaissance, to Europeans coming to conquer the “New World” – thinking themselves superior to the Natives, stealing their land. Then going to Africa where they kidnaped and enslaved the people, robbing their resources and dragging them across the oceans.
 
Over the centuries reductionistic and compartmentalized thinking has given rise to all our most difficult problems- to racism, sexism, nationalism, slavery, human trafficking, organized crime, alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity, prostitution, genocide and all our wars.
 
For thousands of years now, individual artists, poets, prophets and sages have been trying to help “civilized” humans to wake up from our delusions, to let love and wisdom guide us, instead of materialism and fear.
From Jesus to Buddha, from Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” to Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” Whitman & Blake’s poems, Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” Van Gogh’s paintings and forward thru time to the “Wizard of Oz,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” and James Cameron’s “Avatar”… the message of love has been clear.
 
“Yes,there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.” ―Led Zeppelin
 
There was a great creative burst of realization and vision in the 1960s, but still the spirit crushing institutions, materialistic lifestyles and unquestioned mechanistic assumptions of the past continued to exert a powerful hypnotic force.
 
With the rise of new technologies and global industrialization our consumer lifestyles have overpowered the rivers, mountains and forests that surround us. Over the last five decades we have been destroying Nature’s ecosystems at an astounding rate.
 
Why has it been so difficult for humans to change?
 
In part, I think, it is because the “Civilized” Matrix will do whatever it can to avoid a shutdown. Our dominant institutions are designed to acquire wealth for those with power, to maintain control, to defend, expand and perpetuate their existence. Like the immune system of a body, attacking these systems directly only strengthens them, leads to hostility and violence.
 
Mostly however, I believe that we have not changed as a species because too many of us are still hypnotized. Primarily identifying our sense of self with names, career, race, religion, gender, political perspective or nationality.
 
Seeking pleasurable experiences, wealth, status and material possessions; mistakenly believing that these will bring us happiness and that the only way to solve complex problems is to “defeat the opposition.”
 
What most of us have failed to see is that we are not these social and cultural roles we imagine ourselves to be. And that the historical systems that have constrained us- the darkness and creative suppression- may have been exactly what we needed, to transform our minds, let go of our fears and transcend our limited cultural ideas of identity. “You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.” ~Eckhart Tolle
 
We are Life, in human form. Descendants of the stars and galaxies, children of the oceans and forests, creative expressions of Nature. As much a part of this planet as the rivers, trees, mountains and butterflies.
 
As more and more of us wake up to that deeper sense of identity we will be more easily able to transcend old thought patterns and beliefs. Observing Nature’s Systems closely, studying her ways, we can re-write and delete old programming.
 
To truly bring an end to the destructiveness of humanity- to really transform the world- a deeper wisdom has to first arise from within. As individuals, we must each “be the change” as Gandhi put it. We have to free ourselves first, transform our ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
 
Then join with others who have awakened, taking the wisdom of our wholeness and applying it creatively to everything we say and do, to all fields of human activity. Economics, entertainment, technology, education, art, music, poetry, law, medicine, farming, politics, transportation, energy- they all can (and must) be transformed.
 
What is dawning now is the realization that we are not the solitary individuals we had believed ourselves to be. We are expressions of Universal life, Children of the Earth. We are the “leaves of grass” Walt Whitman spoke of – the Awakening voices of Eden, instruments of the great turning.
 
Nature’s Agents of Transformation- The Global Butterfly Effect.
 
~Christopher Chase~
 
“See simplicity in the complicated, Seek greatness in small things. In the Universe, the difficult things are done as if they were easy.” ~Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

Source: https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/the-global-butterfly-effect-2/

The Joy of Learning

by Christopher Chase
 
“Educating the mind without educating the heart, is no education at all.” ~Aristotle
 
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Fifteen years ago, George Bush introduced No Child Left Behind, which increased pressure on children and teachers, with nationwide standardized testing. President Obama promised to change that, but instead gave us Common Core and Race to the Top.
 
Stress, anxiety and boredom increased, many children began to dislike school even more. And nothing was done to address wealth inequality, that children from poor communities had less money and resources for their schools.
 
f99eb05b2688aa8e2e75ef017ea54f7aMeanwhile, across the Atlantic (in Finland) children were excelling. Why? Because teachers were encouraged to be innovative, money was provided for public education and students were allowed to enjoy themselves, to learn things together and independently. They have been given the freedom to learn, without excessive homework and standardized testing. Children are natural born learners- curious, sociable, skillful, joyful, compassionate and creative by nature. Their minds are open and flexible, their hearts trusting and generous. They come into the world with brains designed to learn from their local environment, to interact skillfully with the people and objects that surround them.
They enjoy experimenting with new things and investigating whatever interests them. They learn languages and gain new skills easily, as long as they are respected, assisted (when needed) and encouraged to enjoy the learning process.

Maria Montessori understood this, and taught that the role of educators is to organize learning environments so that they facilitate self-discovery, creativity, concentration and collaborative exploration.
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Put another way, children learn best when learning is playful, social, interesting and self-directed. There is no need for constant control, monitoring, external rewards and punishments. In fact, such authoritarian efforts tend to deter children’s learning, deaden their natural motivation and curiosity.
Young people enjoy learning when it is meaningful and collaborative. They will put time and effort into mastering skills and helping one another. They have a natural desire to communicate, to be creative, competent, sociable and successful.

They will put time into learning when it is enjoyable, which is why helping every child to cultivate a love of learning should be the guiding principle of any system of education.

collaborative learning

Adults have an important role to play with this, but attempts to over-control the natural learning process will immediately begin to snuff it out. Rigid expectations, testing and comparisons are also harmful, as no two children will learn in the exact same way or at the same rate.

Adults need to be good role models and provide extra help for those who are struggling, but this should be done with love, respect and good intentions. Bottom line, children lose interest when adults are too rigid, demanding and controlling. Such learning experiences become miseducative, as John Dewey put it.

The bottom line, children need to be free to learn.


Source: https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2016/06/26/the-joy-of-learning/

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Lessons from Leonardo

Leonardo's union of art, science, and design demonstrates the thinking needed to create sustainable societies.

What We Can Learn From Leonardo

When it comes to connecting art, science, and design, there can be no better inspiration than Leonardo da Vinci.

He was the great genius of the Renaissance, who not only connected these three disciplines but fused them into a seamless whole in a unique synthesis that has not been equaled before, nor afterwards. I have studied Leonardo's synthesis for many years. I published a book, The Science of Leonardo, in 2007; and I have now written about three quarters of a second book, in which I go deeper into the various branches of his science.

Most authors who have discussed Leonardo's scientific work have looked at it through Newtonian lenses. This has often prevented them from understanding its essential nature, which is that of a science of organic forms, of qualities, that is radically different from the mechanistic science of Galileo, Descartes, and Newton. And this is precisely why Leonardo's science is so relevant today, especially for education, as we are trying to see the world as an integrated whole, making a perceptual shift from the parts to the whole, objects to relationships, quantities to qualities.

The Empirical Method

In Western intellectual history, the Renaissance marks the period of transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world. In the 1460s, when the young Leonardo received his training as painter, sculptor, and engineer in Florence, the worldview of his contemporaries was still entangled in medieval thinking.

Science in the modern sense, as a systematic empirical method for gaining knowledge about the natural world, did not exist. Knowledge about natural phenomena had been handed down by Aristotle and other philosophers of antiquity, and was fused with Christian doctrine by the Scholastic theologians who presented it as the officially authorized creed and condemned scientific experiments as subversive. Leonardo da Vinci broke with this tradition: 

"First I shall do some experiments before I proceed farther, because my intention is to cite experience first and then with reasoning show why such experience is bound to operate in such a way. And this is the true rule by which those who speculate about the effects of nature must proceed."

One hundred years before Galileo and Bacon, Leonardo single-handedly developed a new empirical approach, involving the systematic observation of nature, reasoning, and mathematics — in other words, the main characteristics of what is known today as the scientific method.

Leonardo's approach to scientific knowledge was visual; it was the approach of a painter. "Painting," he declares, "embraces within itself all the forms of nature." I believe that this statement is the key to understanding Leonardo's science. He asserts repeatedly that painting involves the study of natural forms, and he emphasizes the intimate connection between the artistic representation of those forms and the intellectual understanding of their intrinsic nature and underlying principles. For example, we read in a collection of his notes on painting, known as the "Treatise on Painting":

"[Painting] with philosophic and subtle speculation considers all the qualities of forms…. Truly this is science, the legitimate daughter of nature, because painting is born of nature."

Nature as a whole was alive for Leonardo, and he saw the patterns and processes in the microcosm as being similar to those in the macrocosm. In particular, he frequently drew analogies between human anatomy and the structure of the Earth, as in the following beautiful passage: 

"We may say that the Earth has a vital force of growth, and that its flesh is the soil; its bones are the successive strata of the rocks which form the mountains; its cartilage is the porous rock, its blood the veins of the waters. The lake of blood that lies around the heart is the ocean. Its breathing is the increase and decrease of the blood in the pulses, just as in the Earth it is the ebb and flow of the sea."

Systemic Thinker

Leonardo was what we would call, in today's scientific parlance, a systemic thinker. Understanding a phenomenon, for him, meant connecting it with other phenomena through a similarity of patterns. When he studied the proportions of the human body, he compared them to the proportions of buildings in Renaissance architecture; his investigations of muscles and bones led him to study and draw gears and levers, thus interlinking animal physiology and engineering; patterns of turbulence in water led him to observe similar patterns in the flow of air; and from there he went on to explore the nature of sound, the theory of music, and the design of musical instruments.

This exceptional ability to interconnect observations and ideas from different disciplines lies at the very heart of Leonardo's approach to learning and research, and this is something that is very much needed today, as the problems of our world become ever more interconnected and can only be understood and solved if we learn how to think systemically — in terms of relationships, patterns, and context.

While Leonardo's manuscripts gathered dust in ancient European libraries, Galileo was celebrated as the "father of modern science." One cannot help but wonder how Western scientific thought might have developed had Leonardo's notebooks been known and widely studied soon after his death.

Leonardo's Legacy
Leonardo did not pursue science and engineering to dominate nature, as Francis Bacon would advocate a century later. He abhorred violence and had a special compassion for animals. He was a vegetarian because he did not want to cause animals pain by killing them for food. He would buy caged birds in the marketplace and set them free, and would observe their flight not only with a sharp observational eye but also with great empathy.

Instead of trying to dominate nature, Leonardo's intent was to learn from her as much as possible. He was in awe of the beauty he saw in the complexity of natural forms, patterns, and processes, and aware that nature's ingenuity was far superior to human design. "Though human ingenuity in various inventions uses different instruments for the same end," he declared, "it will never discover an invention more beautiful, easier, or more economical than nature's, because in her inventions nothing is wanting and nothing is superfluous."

This attitude of seeing nature as a model and mentor is now being rediscovered in the practices of ecological design and biomimicry. Like Leonardo, ecodesigners today study the patterns and flows in the natural world and try to incorporate the underlying principles into their design processes. This attitude of appreciation and respect of nature is based on a philosophical stance that does not view humans as standing apart from the rest of the living world but rather as being fundamentally embedded in, and dependent upon, the entire community of life in the biosphere.

Today, this philosophical stance is promoted by the school of thought known as "deep ecology." Shallow ecology views humans as above or outside the natural world, as the source of all value, and ascribes only instrumental, or "use," value to nature. Deep ecology, by contrast, does not separate humans — or anything else — from the natural environment. It sees the living world as being fundamentally interconnected and interdependent and recognizes the intrinsic value of all living beings. Amazingly, Leonardo's notebooks contain an explicit articulation of that view: 

"The virtues of grasses, stones, and trees do not exist because humans know them.… Grasses are noble in themselves without the aid of human languages or letters."

In view of this deep ecological awareness and of Leonardo's systemic way of thinking, it is not surprising that he spoke with great disdain of the so-called "abbreviators," the reductionists of his time:


"The abbreviators do harm to knowledge and to love.... Of what use is he who, in order to abridge the part of the things of which he professes to give complete knowledge, leaves out the greater part of the things of which the whole is composed?… Oh human stupidity!... Don't you see that you fall into the same error as he who strips a tree of its adornment of branches laden with leaves, intermingled with fragrant flowers or fruit, in order to demonstrate the suitability of the tree for making planks?"

This statement is not only revealing testimony of Leonardo's way of thinking, but is also ominously prophetic. Reducing the beauty of life to mechanical parts and valuing trees only for making planks is an eerily accurate characterization of the mindset that dominates our world today. This, in my view, is the main reason why Leonardo's legacy is immensely relevant to our time.

As we recognize that our sciences and technologies have become increasingly narrow in their focus, unable to understand our multi-faceted problems from an interdisciplinary perspective, and dominated by corporations more interested in financial rewards than in the well-being of humanity, we urgently need a science that honors and respects the unity of all life, recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all natural phenomena, and reconnects us with the living Earth. What we need today is exactly the kind of science Leonardo da Vinci anticipated and outlined 500 years ago.

This essay is adapted from lectures delivered by Fritjof Capra at the Center for Ecoliteracy's seminar "Sustainability Education: Connecting Art, Science, and Design," August 16–18, 2010.

New Lessons from Leonardo

In order to reconnect to the natural world today, Fritjof Capra suggests we need to embrace the same elements Leonardo outlined 500 years ago.

New Lessons from Leonardo
This essay is adapted from a talk in which Fritjof Capra discusses some of the findings described in his latest book, Learning from Leonardo: Decoding the Notebooks of a Genius (2013: Berrett-Koehler Publishers).

Leonardo da Vinci, the great genius of the Renaissance, developed and practiced a unique synthesis of art, science, and technology, which is not only extremely interesting in its conception but also very relevant to our time.

As we recognize that our sciences and technologies have become increasingly narrow in their focus, unable to understand our multi-faceted problems from an interdisciplinary perspective, we urgently need a science and technology that honor and respect the unity of all life, recognize the fundamental interdependence of all natural phenomena, and reconnect us with the living Earth. What we need today is exactly the kind of synthesis Leonardo outlined 500 years ago.

A science of living forms
At the core of Leonardo's synthesis lies his life-long quest for understanding the nature of the living forms of nature. He asserts repeatedly that painting involves the study of natural forms, of qualities, and he emphasizes the intimate connection between the artistic representation of those forms and the intellectual understanding of their intrinsic nature and underlying principles. In order to paint nature's living forms, Leonardo felt that he needed a scientific understanding of their intrinsic nature and underlying principles, and in order to analyze the forms of nature, he needed the artistic ability to draw them. His science cannot be understood without his art, nor his art without the science.

The quest for the secret of life
I have been fascinated by the genius of Leonardo Lea Vinci and have spent the last ten years studying his scientific writings in facsimile editions of his famous notebooks. In my new book, I present an in-depth discussion of the main branches of Leonardo's scientific work — his fluid dynamics, geology, botany, mechanics, science of flight, and anatomy. Most of his astonishing discoveries and achievements in these fields are virtually unknown to the general public.

What emerged from my explorations of all the branches of Leonardo's science was the realization that, at the most fundamental level, Leonardo always sought to understand the nature of life. My main thesis is that the science of Leonardo da Vinci is a science of living forms, radically different from the mechanistic science of Galileo, Descartes, and Newton that emerged 200 years later.    

This has often escaped earlier commentators, because until recently the nature of life was defined by biologists only in terms of cells and molecules, to which Leonardo, living two centuries before the invention of the microscope, had no access. But today, a new systemic understanding of life is emerging at the forefront of science — an understanding in terms of metabolic processes and their patterns of organization; and those are precisely the phenomena which Leonardo explored throughout his life, both in the macrocosm of the Earth and in the microcosm of the human body.

In the macrocosm, the main themes of Leonardo's science were the movements of water, the geological forms and transformations of the Earth, and the botanical diversity and growth patterns of plants. In the microcosm, his main focus was on the human body — its beauty and proportions, the mechanics of its movements, and the understanding of the nature and origin of life. Let me give you a very brief summary of his achievements in these diverse scientific fields.

The movements of water
Leonardo was fascinated by water in all its manifestations. He recognized its fundamental role as life's medium and vital fluid, as the matrix of all organic forms: "It is the expansion and humor of all living bodies," he wrote. "Without it nothing retains its original form." This view of the essential role of water in biological life is fully borne out by modern science. Today we know not only that all living organisms need water for transporting nutrients to their tissues, but also that life on Earth began in water, and that for billions of years, all the cells that compose living organisms have continued to flourish and evolve in watery environments. So, Leonardo was completely correct in viewing water as the carrier and matrix of life.

Throughout his life, Leonardo studied its movements and flows, drew and analyzed its waves and vortices. He experimented not only with water but also investigated the flows of blood, wine, oil, and even those of sand and grains. He was the first to formulate the basic principles of flow, and he recognized that they are the same for all fluids. These observations establish Leonardo da Vinci as a pioneer in the discipline known today as fluid dynamics.

Leonardo's manuscripts are full of exquisite drawings of spiraling vortices and other patterns of turbulence in water and air, which until now have never been analyzed in detail, because the physics of turbulent flows is notoriously difficult. In this book, I present an in-depth analysis of Leonardo's drawings of turbulent flows, based on extensive discussions with Ugo Piomelli, professor of fluid dynamics at Queen's University in Canada, who very generously helped me to analyze all of Leonardo's drawings and descriptions of turbulent flows.

The living Earth
Leonardo saw water as the chief agent in the formation of the Earth's surface. This awareness of the continual interaction of water and rocks impelled him to undertake extensive studies in geology, which informed the fantastic rock formations that appear so often in the shadowy backgrounds of his paintings. His geological observations are stunning not only by their great accuracy, but also because they led him to formulate general principles that were rediscovered only centuries later and are still used by geologists today.

Leonardo was the first to postulate that the forms of the Earth are the result of slow processes taking place over long epochs of what we now call geological time.

With this view, Leonardo was centuries ahead of his time. Geologists became aware of the great duration of geological time only in the early 19th century with the work of Charles Lyell, who is often considered the father of modern geology.

Leonardo was also the first to identify folds of rock strata. His descriptions of how rocks are formed over enormously long periods of time in layers of sedimentation and are subsequently shaped and folded by powerful geological forces come close to an evolutionary perspective. He arrived at this perspective 300 years before Charles Darwin, who also found inspiration for evolutionary thought in geology.
  
The growth of plants
Leonardo's notebooks contain numerous drawings of trees and flowering plants, many of them masterpieces of detailed botanical imagery. These drawings were at first made as studies for paintings, but soon turned into genuine scientific inquiries about the patterns of metabolism and growth that underlie all botanical forms. Leonardo paid special attention to the nourishment of plants by sunlight and water, and to the transport of the sap through the plants' tissues.

He correctly distinguished between the dead outer layer of a tree's bark and the living inner bark, known to botanists as the phloem, which he called very aptly "the shirt that lies between the bark and the wood." He was also the first to recognize that the age of a tree corresponds to the number of rings in the cross-section of its trunk, and — even more remarkably — that the width of a growth ring is an indication of the climate during the corresponding year. As in so many other fields, Leonardo carried his botanical thinking far beyond that of his peers, establishing himself as the first great theorist in botany.

The human body in motion
Whenever Leonardo explored the forms of nature in the macrocosm, he also looked for similarities of patterns and processes in the human body. In order to study the body's organic forms, he dissected numerous corpses of humans and animals, and examined their bones, joints, muscles, and nerves, drawing them with an accuracy and clarity never seen before. Leonardo demonstrated in countless elaborate and stunning drawings how nerves, muscles, tendons and bones work together to move the body.

Unlike Descartes, Leonardo never thought of the body as a machine, even though he was a brilliant engineer who designed countless machines and mechanical devices. He clearly recognized that the anatomies of animals and humans involve mechanical functions. "Nature cannot give movement to animals without mechanical instruments," he explained, but that did not imply for him that living organisms were machines. It only implied that, in order to understand the movements of the animal body, he needed to explore the principles of mechanics. Indeed, he saw this as the most "noble" role of this branch of science.

Elements of mechanics
To understand in detail how nature's "mechanical instruments" work together to move the body, Leonardo immersed himself in prolonged studies of problems involving weights, forces, and movements — the branches of mechanics known today as statics, dynamics, and kinematics. While he studied the elementary principles of mechanics in relation to the movements of the human body, he also applied them to the design of numerous new machines, and as his fascination with the science of mechanics grew, he explored ever more complex topics, anticipating abstract principles that were centuries ahead of his time.

These include his understanding of the relativity of motion, his discovery of the principle now known as Newton's third law of motion, his intuitive grasp of the conservation of energy, and — perhaps most remarkably — his anticipation of the law of energy dissipation, the second law of thermodynamics. Although there are many books on Leonardo's mechanical engineering, there is as yet none on his theoretical mechanics. In the longest chapter of this book, I provide an in-depth analysis of this important branch of Leonardo's science.

The science of flight
From the texts that accompany Leonardo's anatomical drawings we know that he considered the human body as an animal body, as biologists do today; and thus it is not surprising that he compared human movements with the movements of various animals. What fascinated him more than any other animal movement was the flight of birds. It was the inspiration for one of the great passions in his life — the dream of flying.

The dream of flying like a bird is as old as humanity itself. But nobody pursued it with more intensity, perseverance, and commitment to meticulous research than Leonardo da Vinci. His science of flight involved numerous disciplines — from aerodynamics to human anatomy, the anatomy of birds, and mechanical engineering.

In my chapter on Leonardo's science of flight, I analyze his drawings and writings on this subject in some detail, and I come to the conclusion that he had a clear understanding of the origin of aerodynamic lift, that he fully understood the essential features of both soaring and flapping flight, and that he was the first to recognize the principle of the wind tunnel — that a body moving through stationary air is equivalent to air flowing over a stationary body. This establishes Leonardo da Vinci as one of the great pioneers of aerodynamics.

In his numerous designs of flying machines, Leonardo attempted to imitate the complex flapping and gliding movements of birds. Many of these designs were based on sound aerodynamic principles, and it was only the weight of the materials available in the Renaissance that prevented him from building viable models.

The mystery of life
As I have mentioned, the grand unifying theme of Leonardo's explorations of the macro- and microcosm was his persistent quest to understand the nature of life. This quest reached its climax in the anatomical studies he carried out in Milan and Rome when he was over sixty, especially in his investigations of the heart — the bodily organ that has served as the foremost symbol of human existence and emotional life throughout the ages. He not only understood and pictured the heart in ways no one had before him; he also observed subtleties in its actions that would elude medical researchers for centuries.

During the last decade of his life, Leonardo became intensely interested in another aspect of the mystery of life — its origin in the processes of reproduction and embryonic development. In his embryological studies, he described the life processes of the fetus in the womb, including its nourishment through the umbilical cord, in astonishing detail. Leonardo's embryological drawings are graceful and touching revelations of the mysteries surrounding the origins of life. 

Leonardo knew very well that, ultimately, the nature and origin of life would remain a mystery, no matter how brilliant his scientific mind. "Nature is full of infinite causes that have never occurred in experience," he declared in his late forties, and as he got older, his sense of mystery deepened. Nearly all the figures in his last paintings have that smile that expresses the ineffable, often combined with a pointing finger. "Mystery to Leonardo," wrote the famous art historian Kenneth Clark, "was a shadow, a smile, and a finger pointing into darkness."

Links: https://www.ecoliteracy.org/article/what-we-can-learn-leonardo
https://www.ecoliteracy.org/article/new-lessons-leonardo