Who's in the Driver's Seat?

Copyright 2000 Richard Katz

Suppose you drop in from outer space, and have a look around. You notice a lot of cars. Trucks and buses too.

You take a few hundred thousand of them apart, totally disassemble them. You want to know how they work. You, and a few thousand of your coworkers, develop an incredibly detailed body of knowledge about these vehicles. You amass an immense corpus of literature about their habits and behavior, their metabolism, and their composition, and the functioning of just about all their parts. There are researchers in this field, for example, who have analyzed in minute detail the structure, function, and distribution of the orange/yellow plastic turn signal lens on BMW's, with an extensive study of the stereoisometry of the lens of the 325i in particular. One particularly elegant paper characterized the apparently anomalous presence of an extra intermediate lens in certain classes of BMW specimens found only in one limited geographic area.

By the way, every time anybody has ever fractionated one of these organisms, there has always been a minor contaminant that has always been universally tossed away by all investigators. It resembled in composition the fender dirt that always appears in the aged specimens.

Recently, advances in imaging have allowed you, and your thousands of colleagues, to analyze these structures in four dimensions. It would appear that the minor contaminant that resembled the fender dirt in composition is concentrated in a single area approximately in the center of the majority of specimens. This contaminant furthermore seems to be of approximately constant volume regardless of the size, by weight or volume, of the class of vehicle. Further research is necessary to rationalize the anomalous distribution of the (mostly organic) contaminant in the larger vehicles: A limited concentration by weight in the trucks and a much larger concentration by weight in the buses.


Enough. These vehicles are made almost entirely of metal or plastic, but that glop that visualizes so badly is in fact what's running the show. The glop, in fact, even made the vehicle, so to speak. The point here is that you'll just never grasp the mysterious, multifaceted and impossible to predict relationship between the weird stuff in the driver's seat, and the ton (or many tons) of stuff that make up each vehicle.


Someday, a brilliant person like Frances Crick will hit upon that relationship, the way Crick stared at foggy x-ray crystallographic images of nucleic acid preparations and hit upon a molecular basis of inheritance.


What a leap that will be! That Crick-like genius will just stare at the system long enough, and the visual reasoning system will spit out a truly headsplitting piece of ideation. Richard Katz 2000

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