One of the major developments in computer development has been the reuse of components.
By reusing hardware parts such as chips or peripheral sub-assemblies, new improved versions of the hardware can be brought to market more quickly. Furthermore, those new versions are likely to be more reliable as although they may incorporate new parts and perhaps new ways of putting the parts together, each of the parts is, in itself, tested and tried and reliable. Time is saved in design, assembly and in testing as all that needs designing is the new assembly of parts plus any new parts that are needed to increase functionality. It is also possible that new functions can be added simply by assembling the parts differently. A little like a Meccano set, it is the final assembly that has the extra function and with the same set of parts you are able to build a crane or a bus or a lorry or a hoist and so on.
Reuse in nature
There is no 'market' in nature, but it is clear that a major part of the strategy of evolution and creation has been to reuse parts. Anything from small parts like the molecule or cell, to much larger assemblies.
One of the most intriguing facets of this aspect of the strategy is the reuse of quite elaborate design patterns, but where relatively small changes have been made. Whole sub-assemblies and design forms are reused, but a new different sub-assembly may be added to support only one function.
The marsupial gerbil in Australia for example, has an almost twin species in America which is a placental gerbil. Similarly, the flying squirrel in Australia is marsupial, whilst its 'twin' in America is a placental flying squirrel. Australia has its Tasmanian wolf, whereas America has its wolf and so on. Very very many similarities in design can be found, but one design aspect differs.
There is the slightest feeling that this is not just major reuse to gain function, but that the design difference – that which makes them separate - is also being tested out to see which is the better functionally in order that it can become the basis for further perhaps more elaborate designs. Very often these different species occur on physically separate land masses, as if they were being kept deliberately separate in order to ensure the test of their functionality was not compromised by having them compete for the same resources.
Placental mammals, for example, have been 'carried forward' as the basis for many subsequent designs, but placental mammals have not further evolved. Very often we see the evolutionary cul-de-sac produced by a trial design in the form of a branch of the tree of life with no further off-shoots. The species continues to survive and reproduce, but it becomes a dead end in evolutionary terms. The kangaroo, wallaby, koala and so on survive and continue, but have not evolved into anything else, have not been functionally elaborated.
Why should 'Nature' reuse parts? Nature is not in a competitive market [as far as we know!] nor is time a particularly important consideration [again as far as we know]. Or perhaps in some sense it is.
If only novelties had been produced from the start of creation, where a thing of unique functionality and design was created each time from the 'primeval soup', creation would not have produced anywhere near the number of forms it has now.
Arthur Koestler - Janus
The 4,000 million years of the earth's history would not have been long enough to produce even an amoeba.
By reusing parts, some major new designs have been possible bringing with them the opportunity for a considerable increase in function. Reuse is also practised of course when any variant is created, here the increase in function may only be minor, but this is not always true, a small variation in design can sometimes produce significantly increased function.
The first reusable component was the atom and from the atom a myriad of forms has resulted.
In effect, the same very small number of elements have been reused both in forming life and in sustaining life.
Molecules were reused in numerous sub-assemblies, either in the form of loose agglomerations or as tightly formed physical agglomerations. Two molecules which have been reused in an enormous number of sub-assemblies are water and salt.
Water is part of numerous assemblies and living forms. We are supposed to be be about 70% water, a water melon is 90% water, potatoes 80%, cows 74%, bacterium 75%, and tomatoes 95%. Water has a number of quite unique properties [and hence functions] which are thus all inherited by creating an assembly with water as one of its component parts.
It may be argued, however, that the greatest success in reusable components has been the cell. This fact was recognised as long ago as 1805.
The rules for gravitational attraction are known, but rarely do we think of them as though they had to 'exist' somewhere to operate. Think of this rule as a computer program, the rules for it are mathematically precise, as such it would be a prime candidate for a very easy program. The rules state that every particle in the universe attracts every other particle with a force that depends on their masses and the distances between them. Every particle is affected by this rule, so every particle must inherit this software. In effect every one of the lowest level components of matter has this little piece of software. And it is this software that will operate on everything.
We see the effects, of course in tides and the planets – the large things, but the large is simply the agglomeration of the rule being executed for all the small. Thus the tides are simply the mass effect of all the particles of water being attracted to each other and to the particles in the moon. You may not realise it, but every particle in us will also respond in the same way, it will bind us together, but there will also be attraction to the earth particles and the moon particles. Gravity is in reality an agglomerating force/function.
see also Templates and simulacra
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- Agassiz, Louis – Essay on Classification – The argument for the existence of an intelligent Creator
- Agassiz, Louis – Essay on Classification – The unity of plan in otherwise highly diversified types
- Babbage, Charles - The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise
- Bryson, Bill - On cells
- Bryson, Bill - On genes
- Bryson, Bill - On increments, reuse and functions
- Bryson, Bill - On man as a configuration
- Bryson, Bill - On Minerals
- Bryson, Bill - On the achievements of George Cuvier
- David Foster – On aggregates and reuse
- Descartes, Rene - The concept of shared function
- Emerson, Ralph Waldo - History - Reuse
- Hawking, Stephen - A Brief History of Time - The Great Work
- Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire - Philosophe Anatomique - Vertebrates are built upon one uniform plan
- Juan Luis Arsuaga - The Neanderthal's Necklace - The Neogaean Realm
- Koestler, Arthur - Janus - Holons
- Koestler, Arthur - Janus - On Nature's subassemblies
- Koestler, Arthur - Janus - The impossibility of chance in evolution
- North Whitehead, Alfred – 16 Aggregates as bills of materials and the limitations of the Cartesian model
- Sir Julian Huxley – New Battles for New Wine
- Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre - Phenomenon of Man - Brains
- Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre - Phenomenon of Man - Cells
- Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre - Phenomenon of Man - Reuse
- Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre - Phenomenon of Man - Reuse
- Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre - Phenomenon of Man - Reuse of designs
- Watson, Lyall - Desert Locusts
- Watson, Lyall - The marvellous design of insect wings
- Watson, Lyall - The Nature of things - Reuse and templates