Matthew Parris – the nature of the laws of nature


The Times Saturday October 8 2011

Matthew Parris on the laws of nature and wrong expectations:

‘To the child’s mind – and in much of this science most of us are still stuck with a child’s mind – there is a harmony about this levelling-out that is almost soothing, like a mild swell on the ocean’s surface: a constant, steady impetus to the centre. it should be, surely, a gentle process because the instant a disparity arises, a countervailing movement shoud correct it. One thinks of those lava lamps in which big smooth-sided blobs of coloured oils rise and fall in soft, slow, peaceful motion. Shouldn’t the weather, shouldn’t capital and labour, shouldn’t the movement of the continental plates, shouldn’t global free trade, shouldn’t the currency markets, shouldn’t the tides, shouldn’t the stock exchange, be like that?

Shouldn’t the smallest difference in air pressure be resolved by the softest of breezes?’

Thought so.

At least this is what happiness looks like if you look at things through the rosy lens.

But he follows:

‘And then we leave school and enter the wider world’

And a beautiful series of examples of what reality is made of:

‘It’s the friction in things; it’s the stickiness in the system; it’s the inertias, the resistances; it’s the blockages in one place and eruptions in another; the resistance to the movement; the pockets that don’t disperse; the well-primed engines that won’t fire; the blocked ears and buried heads; the underreaction,then overreaction; the airlocks that seem to resist gravity; the brakes that stick and doors that jam; the undershoot and overrun; the complacency then panic…that make the world such a violent place.

Everything proceeds in jolts and jerks and unexpected turbulence, in eerie calm then sudden storm’


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