Thursday, October 27, 2005

Simplified Thermodynamics

The first lesson of thermodynamics I learnt is about work done. The work process is as follows:

Q---------> Delta U ---------> W

In layman terms, heat is provided as input (Q). Heat goes through a conditional and some energy exchange is going on (Delta U). As a result of the condition change, work produced in a form of output (W). The theory looks rather simple to me today. But in those days, Q, Delta U and W were very abstract. I couldn’t see heat energy, couldn’t feel energy exchange, how could work be done?

When dealing with a business contract, the process leading to contract signing is as follows:

Offer -------> Consideration -------> Acceptance

In this case, the Offer forms the input, Consideration is the condition, and Acceptance is the output. Whether in engineering, in physics or in commerce, the phenomenon is universal and may be shown as:

Input ------> Process ------->Output

In my article “a flower in the universe”, I articulated that flower does not exist by itself. There are causes and conditions which make a flower appears as a flower. Cause is the input, condition is the process, flower is the output.

This theory is universal: cause – condition – effect; offer – consideration – acceptance; Q – Delta U – W; INPUT – PROCESS – OUTPUT. While the theory is universal, real matters take different forms. No matter what form it takes, the principle still stands. Is Q-Delta U-W really that abstract and couldn’t be understood? When I distant myself and read the three letters QUW through a 3rd party’s eye, they become apparent to me. Energy takes various forms. Energy transfers from one form to another. Energy does not dissipate. Energy only transforms.

Therefore, with the presence of causes and conditions, you are what you are, what goes up will come down, dawn will come after dusk, a year in the temperate climate will go through four seasons, living things will go through a cycle of live and death, all suffering will have a way to end. The output hinges on the inputs and the processes that we all have gone through, just like a flower in the universe.

In the course of works, I deal with people of all levels. I interact with people of various characters. With the thinking of a flower in the universe, it strikes me that “I am what I am, you are what you are”. What so great about this verse? Looking back at how a person is developed and nurtured, we receive various influences at very young age. Through the external influences, we form a mental map in our mind subconsciously. Over the years, we reinforce our mental domain through a knowledge acquisition and filtering process to suit our own mental model. We all have different behaviour, we believe in different gods, we love different culture and music. We generalise them by saying that we have different chemistry. Now you see, I am what I am, you are what you are.

Professional researches show that we actually formulated our own mental models as early as seven years old. The influences we received before seven years old actually shaped our characters and possibly our future, our life. Sound scary?

Then what about the influences after the age of seven? They change our behaviour, attitude, social value and conduct. But our characters have been shaped, inborn.

I regret that I only thought of “a flower in the universe” after all these years. Otherwise I would have changed my parenting style and have done something different to my children when bringing them up. On a second thought, we are all human. I am learning to try to make myself more perfect than the day before. So past mistakes are just the outputs of causes and conditions. Why should I feel regret?

I do a stock take of what I have done to my children. Four paths have been taken:

(1) Decision making path – they learn to make decision, learn to face consequences with their own acts

(2) Affiliation path – they learn that my shoulders are still there for them to lean on, enable them to take a break and to press on. They also learn to immerse in a social circle, learn to love, to care and to share.

(3) Intense knowledge gaining path – they learn through school curriculum, internet, books, play and physical training.

(4) Life skill development path – they learn to be self-disciplined, managing time, identifying right from wrong, give and take, exploration and discovery. They develop the mental model of HOPE.

Am I giving them too much freedom to pursue the four paths? I think they have the flexibility and at this age, they can afford failure. They will learn through failure. I begin to see signs on my son especially about learning through failure. But having saying all these, they have way past the age of seven. Directly or indirectly, I contributed to the causes and conditions of their upbringing, hence what they are.

That’s life.

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