S omething very odd and absolutely mind-expanding happened to me today...and you'll likely laugh at me for it.
I opened an engineering book.
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A Modern Day Tome of Knowledge
It was a book almost as wide as my hand and inside the writing is cram-font. That is to say, your eyesight was less important than getting all the information they could on every page.
But just browsing through this book, The Civil Engineering Handbook, which is a paraphrasing of one facet of engineering as a whole, was almost like a little odyssey. Just looking over the vast details, planning, the understanding of the materials, the principles behind the nature, operation, and cooperation of these materials, the understanding of the land and the environment down to quantifiable constants and precision calculations...it's breath-taking. It makes you really consider just how flubbing (and I use that word only to emphasize my point) awesome the human mind is. How awesome an achievement everything around you is.
And it's something we take for granted. Ever since the Hubble Deep Field Photo, we have a sort of quasi-religion out there who are insistent on saying that human beings just aren't important or not that important in regards to everything else. Truth is...we are flubbing awesome. Well...the engineers are. The people who say things like that are usually uploading or typing it into their computers to be sent over the internet to be received by the world at leisure and hoping for feedback to help them with their existence problems. These same people might not have or might not appreciate the concept of just how much work, innovation, and planning went into that computer, the internet, the lights that allow them to see, the building around them, and society itself. And then you'll go around crying about how unappreciated you are.
This is how must people see the world around them.
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A kid born into Bill Gates house may think super-villain wealth and extravagance was normal. People always bow when you walk down the halls, and having ex-marine specialists drive you to your school is mundane to the point of apathy. They're probably writing depression poems about just how boring life is. They might not really have a concept of just how hard it was to build that existence around them. The work, ingenuity, effort, and determination, or the sheer scale of the mechanisms that had to have happened in order to allow that existence to be. It is the same with everyone. You look around you at a computer and it's just too ordinary. This is because you've been in a car driving at 200mph so long that 205mph or 195mph isn't anything to cry over. This is good in a way as it allows one to keep pushing to the next level with insistent impatience, but also bad in a way.
Because imagine starting back at 1mph. Imagine not knowing or being able to draw from the vast knowledge of the people who have spent their lives and dedicated their lives to it's accumulation, communication, and recording. Sitting in the absolute darkness of primitive night when the sun sank without any understanding of fire or the thunder that shook your bones and the ground beneath you. Imagine living in a world where the wheel wasn't invented. Even the dude in hell that has to roll a boulder up a hill forever is at least happy that the flubber is round.
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"Flub you." - Sissyphus
Imagine this. That this incredible, unbelievably complex technological wonderland around you that permeates almost everything that you do in regards to electronics, electrical systems, and controls all built upon a very, very, very simplistic principle of calculating ones and zeroes. That's it. Now imagine from that very simple thing getting a computer to d everything that it can do today- both the laptop kind and the International Space Station kind. This ties in with mechanical, chemical, structural, social, and other types of engineering to help create existence as you know it. The human body...biological engineering that is really just an amalgam of the more basic forms just discussed. It doesn't matter who made it. Man...nature. The authors employ remarkable wisdom, understanding, and physical muscle and know how in order to make it happen. You might picture an engineer to be a gangly nerd in over-sized glasses, but they are more like that mixed with your burly maintenance man. Because maintenance men only maintain what engineers construct, maintain, and repair beyond the average maintenance man's know-how. They are God, the Doctor, and Mr T all in one.
The only reason why engineers don't rule the world is because they aren't generally interested in monetizing their work, or using their work to take over the world. Natural engineers like fucking with shit. They strike me more as playful monkeys who can either make or break your day with their antics but don't really mean anything personal by it.
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The complexity of engineering comes from a lack of understanding the basics. Genius comes from the ability to understand the basics. Everything around you is layers upon layers of basic principles piled up and arranged around one another, but just like when you see atoms and molecules up close, you realize that these complex structures are really just simplistic ones arranged in varying, but orderly patterns. A puzzle may be a simple word, picture, or sequence of events scattered in a seemingly random way, but still connected by principles of logic and the laws of nature when effort and determination are applied. Like a car, you have the basic structure and a series of add-on's which improve the structure relative to a purpose or series of purposes.
There is structure in all things.
Chaos is a term that signifies one's lack of understanding of those things.
One other thing is that you are also a product of engineering. Biological engineering. Thousands of years of steady recordings, observations, averaging, and improvements that have steadily improved you from a point of origin to present day. Did you ever stop and think that human beings and other forms of life may be the artificially intelligent constructs of the simpler organs inside them? That you are a machine that has gained a level of self-awareness sufficient enough to cause it to look into it's own making and make conscious changes to it and to the things that made it? If you were an iPhone, you would be iPOD 28,330.268. That's totally a made-up number but depending on how many generations there are between you and your earliest ancestors (which may not resemble humans even in the sense of being humanoid) and the variations that occur along each member of a particular generation, that number might not be far off. In fact, that number might be quite...
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I think over-appreciation tends to stifle innovation, also. After all, religion is all about over-appreciation. It wants you to bask in the glory of what is without really understanding anything about it or imagining how to improve it. There's actually nothing wrong with either way of thinking. It's not like humanity has to improve to exist. We don't need to go to the moon or the fifth planet from it. We don't need computers, nuclear power, robots, and all that. Some human beings are curious and progressive, but most human beings are powered by only three things; urgency, vice/comfort, and security. Notice that curiosity is not here. That's because not everyone is that curious. I'm not talking eating-poison-mushrooms curious. I'm talking discovering how mushrooms are made...5,000 years ago curious. Only a very small percentage of humans ever progress the human race through innovation. Those who have curiosity as a driving impulse tend to become engineers. (a musician is also a musical engineer, but I wouldn't put that on your resume) So, technically, saying humanity is awesome is a bit inaccurate.
False: Human beings are awesome, intelligent beings.
True: There are awesome, intelligent human beings.
Aside form the moralistic side of the progression of technology, the very concept is amazing. The degree of sophistication, planning, and responsibility in this multi-faceted mechanism is humbling and inspiring. I got more of an inspiring feeling holding that book than I ever did in any class I have ever been to. Something is missing from schools. So much sociality, so much work, but no inspiration. No concept of just vast, open-ended
But then again, that is a flawed view. Schools aren't there to provide inspiration. Inspiration is something you have to find yourself.
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