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Why is the shape of a cactus the ideal way to live in a habitat without water? Why do many rivers meander as they move towards their mouth?
There is a physical theory that explains it. Actually not only explains these things, but potentially explains everything: the behavior of any entity in motion, whether animate or inanimate.
It is a physical law fairly recent and still little known by the public: it is calledConstructal and formulated in 1996 the American professor of mechanical engineering Adrian Bejan of Duke University in North Carolina.
Bejan wanted to make it more accessible to the masses in his book ” The physics of life: The evolution of everything “, published in 2016.
But how can you potentially explain everything?
Everything flows under the same principle
The essence of this theory is that every process in motion, no matter if it is something alive, such as a plant, a river or something more intangible or inanimate, such as a migratory route or communication between computers, everything progresses towards greater efficiency.
In this advance there are morphological changes and adjustments that respond to the same principle of optimization , of evolution towards something better.
And that, according to Bejan wrote in his book, applies to flows as disparate as “the traffic in the city, the transport of oxygen in the lungs and the fluidity of rapid and slow thinking in the architecture of the brain”.
Bejan says that all nature is formed by systems of flows that change and evolve their configurations over time to flow better.
Thus, according to the Constructal law, the tendency is always towards an easier flow, and over time the flows become larger. And the greater the flows, the more inherently effective they are.
Law or theory?
In physics there are many theories, as many as the mind wants to imagine, but few laws.
A law must explain or summarize a universal phenomenon , such as the laws of Newton’s dynamics.
In addition, according to the engineer, a law should be “obeyed” by any imaginable system: bodies, rivers, machines.
Theories, on the other hand, are predictions about how something should be, and are based on a law.
For Bejan, the Constructal Law explains the functioning of any dynamic system and is the engine of fields as different as evolution, engineering or design .
He himself was inspired while designing the cooling system of laptops: he realized that the conduits branched like trees and from there the concept of his law was born.
Now his Constructal proposal is gaining acceptance in scientific circles, and according to Bejan told the National Geographic magazine in 2016, it has not been refuted in the specialized publications.
In fact, the American has just received the prestigious Benjamin Franklin medal, partly because of his “constructional theory, which predicts natural design and its evolution in engineering, scientific and social systems”.
According to the mechanical engineer, understanding this law better could help us anticipate changes, for example in social dynamics, in governments or in the economy.
And how can it improve your life?
If a dynamic becomes more effective the more fluid and free it is, then the moral to our lives may well be ” do not stop .”
Bejan, who was born and raised in Romania under a communist government, is recognized as an optimist.
His Constructal Law applied in a practical way to our day to day, to our work, suggests that the more free, flexible and dynamic we become, the more effective we will be.
On the contrary, inaction would interrupt the flow and stop that process of natural optimization.
According to Bejan said a few years ago in statements to Forbes magazine , his theory has countless applications “because it puts the biological design and evolution within the field of physics, along with everything else that until now had no place under the umbrella of the ‘hard science’: the economy, social dynamics, business and government. “
One of the phrases that the engineer likes to repeat in talks and interviews, which is also recurrent in his books, is “freedom is good for design”.
So the message is to flow more and better to be better.