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The Natural World

Biology

The Sun Interview

Wrong Turn

Biologist Rupert Sheldrake On How Science Lost Its Way

I suggest that morphogenetic fields work by imposing patterns on otherwise random or indeterminate activity. Morphogenetic fields are not fixed forever, but evolve. The fields of Afghan hounds and poodles have become different from those of their common ancestors, wolves. How are these fields inherited? I propose that they are transmitted from past members of the species through a kind of nonlocal resonance, which I call “morphic resonance.”

The Sun Interview

Countertop Culture

Something Is Fermenting In Sandor Katz’s Kitchen

The revolution I would like to see is a devolution of agriculture. We have to let go of the notion of mass-producing food. It just doesn’t work. Cars and computers may lend themselves to mass production, but with food it has been a disaster. We have to revive small-scale food production and relearn the art of food processing, including fermentation, so we can stop relying on these huge and vulnerable food infrastructures.

The Sun Interview

The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Janine Benyus On The Virtues Of Imitating Nature

Our mission, in both our business and our nonprofit, is to increase respect for the natural world. Creating more-sustainable products and processes is just an extension of that. To learn from nature, you have to become involved with what Wes Jackson calls the “deep conversation.” To learn how to take carbohydrates and water and turn them into a fiber as strong as steel, as a spider does, you go to a spider and respectfully ask, “How are you doing that?” Then you go and try to do it yourself. And when you fail — it’s very hard to do! — you go back to the organism and ask again.

The Sun Interview

Going Underground

Paul Stamets On The Vast, Intelligent Network Beneath Our Feet

A mycelial “mat,” which scientists think of as one entity, can be thousands of acres in size. The largest organism in the world is a mycelial mat in eastern Oregon that covers 2,200 acres and is more than two thousand years old. Its survival strategy is somewhat mysterious. We have five or six layers of skin to protect us from infection; the mycelium has one cell wall. How is it that this vast mycelial network, which is surrounded by hundreds of millions of microbes all trying to eat it, is protected by one cell wall? I believe it’s because the mycelium is in constant biochemical communication with its ecosystem.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Stupid Design

Fundamentalist Christians are leading a movement to teach “intelligent design” in our public schools, as an alternative to evolution. According to National Geographic News, the theory of intelligent design states that “certain features of the natural world are of such complexity that the most plausible explanation is that they are products of an intelligent cause rather than . . . natural selection.”

The Sun Interview

Experiencing Deep Time

Brian Swimme On The Story Of The Universe

The universe story isn’t just about human beings, but also about trees, for example. You can’t fully understand trees if you understand only their hundred-year life cycle. You’ve got to go back to the very beginning of the universe. Now, that’s what I mean by cosmology as empowerment. When we realize that the world we live in today is a creation of an energy and power that is that deep and that old, it helps us get away from the idea that we’re the managers of the planet and know all about what’s going on here.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Erased Edges

When, by some act of grace, the lines we think are there dissolve, something else appears, something timeless and rich, an intermediate zone, languid and latent, the lushness of something about to be and in no particular hurry to make it happen. The boundary between physical and spiritual melts, and we see that one is always infused with the other.

The Sun Interview

Enemy Of The State

An Interview With John Zerzan

I’m talking about time not existing. Time as a continuing thread that unravels in an endless progression, linking all events together while remaining independent of them — that doesn’t exist. Sequence exists. Rhythm exists. But not time. This reification of time is related to the notion of mass production and division of labor. Tick, tick, tick, as you said: Identical seconds. Identical people. Identical chores repeated endlessly. But when you realize that no two occurrences are identical, and that each moment is different from the moment before, time simply disappears. If events are always novel, then not only is routine impossible, but the notion of time is meaningless.

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