What is Structure LO25614

From: Leo Minnigh (l.d.minnigh@library.tudelft.nl)
Date: 11/10/00

Replying to LO25604 of At de Lange

Dear At, dear LO'ers,

At, you talked about the holes in soil. Actually, I had also these holes
in mind when writing the contribution towhich you replied. I had
particularly the capillary characteristics of these holes as result of
their size in mind.

But your main message is now "How becomes a structure" and what are the
dynamics between this becoming and its being. And trying to get some views
on the first question, insurmountably the surroundings/environment will

However, before trying to bring my thoughts in a word structure, I must
get some other thing straight:

> Leo, even more important is the complementarity (rather than viewed
> as a dialecticism) between "symmetry" and "symmetry breaking" which
> goes far beyond physics into chemistry and biology. (We have to thank
> physicists like Herman Weyl for using the word "breaking" together
> with "symmetry". Do not scold me. I would rather have refered "creative
> collapse" and for that you can scold me if it will make you feel better ;-)
> Both have to be kept in mind to understand "dynamical structure". I
> prefer to call it "organisation" rather than "dynamical structure". When
> we seek both the statics and dynamics of structure, we end up with
> organisation rather than merely structure.


This paragraph damaged in some way the organisation of my mind, due to the
arrow of the word 'scolding'. Dear At, how could you have written this?!
It was never in my mind, but you introduced it. Like a sudden blow of wind
which set the quiet heap of dry autemn leaves into a swirling cloud. I was
not prepared, things became chaotically rearranged for a moment. The
organised structure disappeared. I was glad that due to some organising
attractor soon brought structure again in my mind. Is this called
'self-organisation'? Antibodies killed the body-strange scold-virus.

Let me go back to your main question.

> I have never before thought on this one issue. But what I do know is that
> the seven essentialities make every "symmetry breaking" of a "symmetry"
> a constructive rather than destructive event.
> Leo, a question just as crucial for me as "What is structure?" is the
> complementary question "How structure becomes?" I am today pretty
> sure that answering the one question will not provide, not even indirectly,
> the answer to the other question. As for myself the sheer beauty of
> "dynamical structure" began to reveal itself when I began to seek
> answers on both questions. I will be surprised if it was different for
> you with your studies into geology.

No, it was the same. As a matter of fact, my specialisations were
'structural geology' and 'metamorphism'. It is the study of rocks that
underwent during a long history several and different kinds of deformation
under various pressures (P) and temperatures (T). I started this
specialisation, when it was so natural to describe not only the present
forms, structures and minerals of the rock (petrography), but also to
figure out the explanation of the origin of these elements (petrology;
this has nothing to do with petroleum). The word 'petrogenesis' is mainly
restricted to the study of magmatic rocks, rocks that originated from a
molten substance. However both, petrology and petrogenesis cover the study
of the history of the rock - the dynamical processes in the past which
caused the present state and position of the rock. Since the data
available for this type of study are very limited, the young geologist is
trained to use as much data as possible. That means mineralogy,
crystallography, chemistry, physics, biology, statistics and mathematical
modelling, etc. should be taken into account, but not only from the very
object in study, but also the surroundings. He is trained to recognise
associations that frequently occur, he is trained to understand that some
associations never or seldomly occur. And he is trained to think in 4
dimensions: what happens in one place at a certain time will happen later
or happened earlier at an other place. And not seldomly the final results
in different places are the same. And only the final results is what he
observes. Thus, dynamics is such an integral part of geology, that a
geologist automatically thinks of the dynamics. The modern geoscientists
are also trained to extend their knowledge into the future: predicting
earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mudflows along mountain slopes, stable
areas for power dams, etc.

In short, the geologist tries to unravel the dynamics of history. He also
tries to predict which forms and which rocks are present underneath our
feet at places we could not directly observe. And sometimes these
predictions will tell us new gold deposits or fossil hydrocarbons.

Often the present form of a geological object could tell us something
about the content. While working on this contribution, you wrote a very
interesting mail on "Personal Mastery -- Sand or Rock. LO25608". The form
of volcanoes is a good example. There are many volcanoes on the earth's
surface. We all have seen pictures of them. In Japan there is the famous
Fuji mountain. Very characteristic form and specific slope angles. The
isle of Hawaii is another example of a volcano, very different in form
from the Fuji. Hawaii is very flat, its slope angles are much smaller then

The slope angles of volcanoes are a direct indication of the rheology of
the molten magma and lava flows. The more fluid, the flatter the slope.And
the rheology is not so much defined by the temperature of the magma, but
far more defined by its mineralogical composition. It is the presence of
the pyramidal tetrahedres of quartz that impair seriously the rate of
fluency. These tetrahedres make the magma stiff, so the slope angle of the
volcano becomes steep. Volcanoes like Fuji, Mount St. Helens, Pinatubo,
the volcanoes in the Andes and on island arcs as Japan, Aleoutes,
Caraibian, etc. show rather steep slopes because some continental material
is involved in the magma. That means that free quartz will be part of the
magma. Purely oceanic volcanoes, or better - volcanoes directly connected
with the Earth's mantle (like Hawaii) - do not contain the light-weighted
quartz and are thus much more fluid. These volcanoes consist mainly of the
well-known black basalt. The other types of (continetal and island arc)
volcanoes are composed of much lighter-coloured (and quartz rich)
extrusive rocks. Due to the presence of quartz and thus the greater
stiffness, these volcanoes are much more dangerous, because of the
explosive character of their eruptions.

But before writing a complete book on geology, let me go back to the
dynamics of structures.

Any structure - or better, organisation with a structure - has a becoming
history, a present (dynamic) state, and a future. What can I add to all
the past dialogues on this list? It is so often told that even a present
structure, seemingly dead, should permanently be active (dynamic) to
maintain its structure. That is the part of energy used for its own. It
was the Digestor that explained us that large structures have much more
'difficulty' to keep the organisation of the internal structure in shape,
thus a lot of energy is used for this purpose. And that means that less
free energy is available for the future organisation. Smaller, and often
much better structured organisations have much more free energy available,
for instance to grow (and thus approaching the destiny of the large
structure). The combat between keeping the internal structure in good
order, and the desire to grow - that is the dynamics of an organisation. A
large organisation falls easily apart.

And the amount of free energy is a good indicator for these dynamics.
While writing this, it also becomes clear that (because of free energy)
the interplay with the surroundings is part of the whole dynamic processes
that are active inside AND outside the organisation.

All the best,

dr. Leo D. Minnigh
Library Technical University Delft
PO BOX 98, 2600 MG Delft, The Netherlands
Tel.: 31 15 2782226
        Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas.


Leo Minnigh <l.d.minnigh@library.tudelft.nl>

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