All posts by mothernature


Making love, the great gift of Mother Nature

Having sex is the one thing Mother Nature knows best.   She is subtle and patient, and simply loves it.   She takes deposits of “true seed” or sometimes of “magic multiplying juice” and returns multiplied bounties in return.

Making love to Mother Nature produces new generations, variations on things to produce new seed, to then perhaps deposit within her womb to return multiplied again. Those deposits of seed or magic juice get her pregnant, in actual fact.   It’s what’s going on virtually anywhere you see her womb swelling all out of proportion, as if to burst.

Her womb does then burst, no illusions, with her new offspring.  There is no such thing as being “half pregnant”, “having sex without consequences”, or for man’s worst habit, investing in nature to multiply her returns and not having responsibility for the pregnancy involved.

The gestation after sex gives her new children to release, to enrich the lives of her older children, who found having sex with her a delight and whose seed she returns multiplied.   It’s her one promise, to be fruitful and to multiply the seed planted within her, while making only one simple request:

If you plant your seed in me, I will bear your children and they can plant their seed in me too.  It’s a promise and I will keep it.  But I need you and your offspring to stick around, to care for your generations and for me.   Will you care for them?   Will you care for me, and give me rest?   It’s all I ask for these gifts.  – m.n.

(click and see)

Our great love affair with change

Love affairs begin with the thrill of an infatuation, and there’s always a risk of neglecting what’s more important.   We’ve had a long growing infatuation with technology, and reinventing our lives over and over, for example.    Such infatuations become just fond memories for how a true love began, if it’s true love that emerges from it, of course.   Whether it’s the beginning of a true love or not, is the question, as for any dream of expanding promises.

life is a love affair, a burst of investments followed by refinements

Write your own story of a love, a dream of promises either kept or not, as hasty as a smile shining light into two lives or as drawn out as the dreams of mankind and our many centuries of wandering from one wilderness to another in search of why some loves do last. but so many just don’t.

Getting lost in infatuations is one way, as with dreams of wealth, and so making the great errors of expectation and so losing it all.  Our infatuation with rearranging our planet ever more rapidly, consuming it as we go, has really gotten the best of us, and it has to do with money.  What would get us to commit to being its partner rather than its ruler?  That seems to be the question.

Continue reading Our great love affair with change

My most disturbing finding

The origin of this post, fyi, was a truly exciting insight, in the 1970’s as I started developing my new scientific methods for studying the organization of natural of systems.   I discovered how to recognize the eruption of new forms of organization in nature.   It’s a locally distributed process of contagious development, that people tend not to notice at all, or to call “growth” for the superficial changes in scale it is also associated with.  

It was quite exciting, to find that one could identify individual instances of nature’s general process of invention, from the self-patterned erupting changes identifying its internal and external relationships producing transformative changes in design.   You need to look for where there’s a distributed “falling together”, not a “pushing together”.  I had some training in improvisation that gave me a window of insight on how to open my perceptions up to observing it in the world around me.  

As it became easier and easier to identify, I began finding strong evidence of these “bursts of self-organization” seeming to be the “glue” of all transient organization and design in nature!   Then the question switched, to wondering: “Why in the world don’t other people see it??”.   Our modern world happens to be organized around sustaining its own ever more expansive self-organization… seen in our minds, as being a “constant”.    For more on the story, fyi, also see “a World SDG“, a proposed whole system balancing plan, using the first true scientific measure of sustainability  4/14/14  jlh   :-)


How to escape the mental traps causing mankind to destroy its own future and much of our living planet, is not so hard…

…but takes exceptional willingness to discover how nature works that you might have been missing.   It takes learning to observe nature making new sense of things by herself, i.e. real change .

Watching organized change develop in ways that clearly can’t be following human rules or theories, and so intricate they could never be fully explained, frees a mind to drop its assumptions and attempts explain.  It lets you just study and marvel at what you find, giving you fresh ideas unpolluted with the self-serving social conventions people mostly live by, that are the problem.

Watching nature work, beyond the limits of theory, builds fresh awareness, letting us put our own perception in perspective, to see and correct our misconceptions. Continue reading My most disturbing finding

Henshaw, King paper awarded prize

American Society of Mechanical Engineers

$500 prize for best paper, 2010 Energy Sustainability conference, paper ES2010-90414.

“Defining a standard measure for whole system EROI combining economic “top-down” and LCA “bottom-up” accounting”

authors: Carey W. King, P. F. Henshaw, Jay Zarnika – Link to Paper

“On behalf of the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME and the Organizing Committee of the ES2010 conference I am pleased to inform you that your paper has been selected for the Best Paper Award in the ES2010 Conference.

This Award is recognized by a certificate for each author and a $500 check to be divided among you and your co-authors. This award will be given during the banquet at the ESFuelCell2011 conference in Washington, D.C., August 9, 2011. Please notify me if you plan to attend the ESFuelCell2011.

Congratulations for your excellent work and we hope you are able to join us in Washington D.C. next month.”  Mansour Zenouzi, Ph.D., P.E. ES2010 & ESFuelCell 2011 – General Conference Chair

The paper was then expanded and validated for publication with a group of related papers being edited by Charlie Hall, with the final draft currently recorded in the Cornell physics pre-publication archive as:

System Energy Assessment (SEA), Defining a Standard Measure of EROI for Energy Businesses as Whole Systems,

with a resource website for illustrating slides, notes and discussions of the subject at .

Where do you find the natural world??

That’s something of a trick question, actually, as throughout history the natural world has had a “made up” appearance, and people have struggled a lot with establishing whether any perception they have is “real” or not.

People have created a great variety of ways to say that nature is a projection from “the mind of God“, in one way or another, for example.   Modern science represents nature as a projection from the “invariant laws” that evolved from a starting point in “the big bang” beyond our view.  That’s almost as unsatisfying as the religious view, though.

Lots of people have noticed how very strongly people influence their own perception of reality, resulting in our own views at least being largely just a “human mirage” created by each observer.    The philosopher/scientist, Gottfried Liebniz pictured a complex image of nature as composed of self-defining worlds that are whole and imutable unto themselves, sometimes pictured as mirror balls, that he called “windowless monads“.

Another approach combines parts of all the others, by allowing each to have some variety of its own “built in mistakes“.   Most of what our minds are able to conceive of nature is rather imperfect, including our belief in “idealized realities“.   They could be as full of mistakes in our own thinking about them as any other, and overlook the complexities of the real natural world and reflect just going overboard in simplifying things.

A “combined view” would retain the perception of the views of individuals being naturally subjective, somewhat like mirror balls of perception which reflect their “own system’s internal logic“.   What a camera sees is always colored by its own lens.   From that starting point a learning process would let them discover some of the important gaps in the initial natural view of reality our minds create for us.

Much the same applies to mathematical models.  Once you have the view of reality a model represents, reflecting the question asked that generated it, then you can “peer into the matrix” of how nature’s far more complex and changing other ways of doing things affect it. Continue reading Where do you find the natural world??

What Happens when time runs out?

Thomas Fischbacher, in an interview by John Baez, discussed the resource problems of agriculture, and the deep conflicts caused by our endless soil depletion, as well as increasing depletion of fuel an water resources, saying

“So, we pretty much know that something will happen there.”

Giampiero Campa askedSo what will it look like when “something will happen” ? Suggesting that it might not seem like trouble for the rich world, only for the poor… Fishbacher’s answer is good too, but misses the powerful evidence that resource depletion has already caused a quite dramatic shift in how the earth responds to us, that has largely gone unnoticed.   The real question, then, is why we’re not getting nature’s signals, and not even the environmentalists are seeing what changed, — we’d have to “break some eggs” in terms of our own thinking and are hesitating, unsure what to do.

A related ReTweet by Revkin from Shoudaknown@Revkin Environmentalists also impressively ignore the actual source of demand, that overpowers their own efforts to protect the earth.”

Continue reading What Happens when time runs out?

Organic thinking and making things whole

Walter Hosack AIA posted on the AIA Environment forum to which I replied, about organic thinking as something architects could advance as a key to the survival of our place on earth, noting that design is always two things: “…The first is a gift. The second is a responsibility”, and suggesting architects have a broader responsibility to learn how to think and design organically, and help bring about a Symbiotic Period of life on earth.


In principle I couldn’t agree with you more, but to escape long standing habits of linear thinking in our culture we would need lots of true examples of organic thinking, and develop an awareness, motivation and technique.   The surprise answer I come to is that architects are already quite good at it, but have not quite understood how their approach to design could widely apply. Continue reading Organic thinking and making things whole

Natural organization, giving things s.c.a.l.e

John Fullerton posted “Hell hath no limits” on how Wendell Berry’s poetry  clearly speaks of the great error of economics, also discussed by Herman Daly, in overlooking the issue of “scale” as having natural effects far different than numbers do.   My comment was:


The different effects of scale in the natural world is indeed one of the more important but oddly overlooked realities.   The subject could be powerful in helping communicate what we need to, if people give it some study.  It’s very good that you picked that out!

It’s not just the quite curious omission of the subject from economics.   It’s also a quite curious omission from physics.   Physics represents nature as only composed of “number” on limitless scales, with no grain or scale of any kind except as assigned or reassigned at will.   Even natural units of measure derived from physical quantities lose all the constraints of natural scale in how they’re used.

It’s only physical things and processes, and the relationships between them, that have inherent scale as a part of their nature. Having not generally considered the concept of scale as a subject when describing nature, we shouldn’t underestimate the enormous effect on shaping modern science and our present image of the natural world. Continue reading Natural organization, giving things s.c.a.l.e

Transition to New Blog Site

Posts on this site preceding this one were transferred from my oldest blog, I called “Alongshot“, from its site.   My main archive of blog posts is still at my original “Reading Nature’s Signals” blog, perhaps to be transferred at some point, and quite worth site searching for key words like this one for mentions of Keynes.

The move is really from one directory to another, on, needed to upgrad the format to WordPress 3.1.3.  The old blog site just got to be a problem.

My original systems physics research is still at The physics of happening, and scattered around, along with my collections of images, reference libraries, introductions and writing .

My subjects and writing style, of course, will remain just as “primitive” (whether you saw that as a liability or benefit I leave to you) so the software upgrade won’t really change anything but the look and feel.   ;-)

Complexity too great to follow what’s happening… ??

I’ve been discussing since the 70’d how and why growth creates growing complexity and so growing difficulty of problem solving, as a natural physical limit of growth for systems with physical working parts of any kind.  A a discussion of the signs to look)  It’s both a real concern as a threat to the health of an economic growth system, and good proof that the natural world functions very differently than a conceptual model.  It led to my proposing a whole new set of scientific methods for how science can study natural systems in their own form, as forms of natural organization not concepts.

1970 marked the sudden end of steadily growing  US wages, and the start of ever growing wealth inequity. “Information overload” as a threat to societal resilience was becoming a key topic of discussion as computers emerged as our premiere business tools

Was that how the economy changed behavior, as humans began to be replaced by technology as things got too complex?

Below this discussion of the general problem is the blog comment from 9/3/2012 observing the strangely logical connection of the emergence of computers as a (false) solution for the ever more numbing complexity of our lives.

A follow-up Sept 7 2012 post Computers taking over our jobs and our pay? explores a fairly reasonable cause for the systemic decline in demand for the products people produce, that the computers making them don’t buy them…


Here’s a graph of the use of the word “complex“, as found in books scanned by Google. It seems to show a distinct end to the long historic growth of interest in complexity, apparently in pace with the increasing complexity of the economy.   The complexity of all our life issues, as well as demands of education, etc. have similarly increased with the growth of the economy, but only up to ~1963.

growing complexity, then shrinking interest

Google’s Ngram tool shows steady exponential growth in the use “complex” beginning in ~1840 and continuing to ~1963, where there’s a distinct growth “inflection point” (curvature reversal) in the trend.  The clear end of increasing use of the word is a little mysterious.

The 1960’s, of course, coincided with the actual time when the complexity of the economy’s environmental conflicts, the emergence of computer use, and the rise of true globalization were noticeably exploding the complexity of things…  That is also directly implied by the continuing explosive growth in real GDP, as shown in the combined graph below.

That divergence between the two trends would seem to imply that a very large gap, between the real complexity of our experience and our cultural awareness of it, began for some reason to grow faster and faster at that time.  It seems to have starting in the early 1960’s and to continue!

Is that really “the mark” of information overload?

The combined data implies a subculture developed increasingly intense awareness of what was going on, as the rest of the culture stopped being able to focus on it. Continue reading Complexity too great to follow what’s happening… ??