Rotation and Other Metaphors

Today, I noticed that I seem to write a lot about rotation. It seems to come to be ‘naturally’, or at least from something far back in my past[1].

It feels like it might have originally come from discussions of Chirality, somewhere back in high school. Like the concept of Gm1m2/r^2 migrating to Cq1q2/r^2[2], or basing the Bohr model of the atom on the model of the solar system.

A lot of what I write has to do with how I ‘rotate in’ possible solutions to try to fit them with the problem I’m working on. As far as I know, the brain doesn’t actually work like this. I could see a generalized model of computing developing two sections of nerves, one which displayed a problem, one which displayed possible solutions, each in their firing patterns. I wonder if this happens.

While we’re trying to fit possible solutions to this problem, let’s consider other possible metaphors from the ‘ball and stick’ molecular model[3].

– Hinge rotations, like a pendulum, or the dangling COOH on a long-chain carboxylic acid
– Spring action, like atoms in an N2(g) molecule moving towards and away from each other.
– Triangle and higher order into and out of plane rotations/vibrations/translations

Note that all of these can change based on the conditions:
– Temperature
– Water or non-water nearby
– Salts or other charged ions near or far away
– How hydrophilic or hydrophobic parts of the adjoining environment are
– Van der Waals forces

The blog posts which inspired this one:

BOF VI: The Chemist in me:
Multidimensional Word and Sentence Rotation
Solution Rotation

[1] Perhaps this explains why I was so excited about Dinosaur Rotation!

[2]I was lucky enough to see Douglas Hofstadter speak about ‘Analogies in Physics‘. His best work is probably ‘Godel, Escher, Bach‘, which talks about natural and artificial intelligence, the incompleteness theorem, music, and art.

[3]I owe much or all of my intuition here to my time spent rotating[4] through the Ponder Lab at WashU. They work on one of the few world class molecular modeling software programs, Tinker. When I was there, Tinker worked by modeling molecules as balls & sticks, with various rotational and vibrational modes.


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