/ Machines

The following story captures a small portion of my current thought process or world view. More than anything, it’s something that I wanted to write down to document the values I derive from it.

an apparatus using mechanical power and having several parts, each with a definite function and together performing a particular task.

The definition of machine.

In a very simplified way, a machine takes something and gives something. Applied to the definition, it takes the mechanical power and gives back the result of the task.

In my math infested mind I see Q × Σ → Q. An automaton, where Q is a set of all possible states of the machine and its results, and Σ, a set of all possible inputs.

But what are the parts that give the machines their function? And what are the inputs? Maybe that depends on the machine and scale it operates on.

A single neutron hardly looks like one, does it? But it does consist of several parts, each with a definite function, and together they perform a particular task, all depending on the input. And even if the input is just the passing of time, it’ll react accordingly.

What if we take multiple neutrons and some other particles? We get an atom, with a core of protons and neutrons, surrounded by nothing and some moving electrons. And its inputs? Could be time, photons hitting it, or even another atom crashing into it.

For the last one, we might end up with something even larger, not just one or two atoms on their own, but a molecule—a construct of multiple atoms. Large enough to form entire structures that interlock with one another, or fold into a different form. A subset of molecules does this especially well, the proteins. The building blocks of life.

Eventually, with the use of these building blocks, we cross an arbitrary border that defines life. A single cell might be the beginning. It’s function and purpose defined by all it’s made of. But whatever will become of it depends all the same on everything around it.

At one point, there might be a human. An everchanging machine that adapts to its surroundings, maybe adjustable in many ways. Magnitudes more complex than the neutron from the beginning or whatever came before it. Equally fascinating.

This tale might continue for a while, even forever.