Daddy Longlegs Vehicles & Maths as Concrete Languages

Dan, neat that you can announce your own new post inside a comment to another post somewhere else.

So far, all experimental flight vehicles remain experimental and too adventurous for me.  Sorry, but I flashed on this as another type of drone – as I did on the small copter I bought for my grandson this Xmas.

This triggers me to tell of my “ideal vehicle”.  It is a Daddy Longlegs. The body could hold one person, or a few, in different configurations depending how it is mobile.  The eight legs can  telescope from a few feet to maybe 20 feet. My dream is to “hike” up very steep mountains in a swivel seat, 10-15 feet above the surface. Collapse the legs down to get a closer view, or park to get out and walk. Somehow I see this quite different from copter hovering. They could also speed down the highway, and in traffic 10 vehicles deep – swarming along in safety. Various arrangements could enable it to navigate smooth or rough waters.  When pairs of legs come together they can bring out a strong film that serves as wings, and maybe fly more like a butterfly than like a bird.  Just realized, I don’t know how a butterfly flies.

Will be nice to live in a world where considering such innovations are not contrasted with other tasks of greater significance, such as survival. Yet, who can forecast what synergy of seemingly independent innovations can lead to.  It would be interesting to read about a study on the history of invention and innovation in search of such synergies. I think we would find many in the discipline of mathematics, where notational innovations open up new domains for exploration.

In teaching my course, LEARNING TO LEARN AND LOVE MATH, to math phobes, I presented maths as a family of CONCRETE languages – having utility in sharing the abstract. Maths are the MOST concrete of all languages! All math is rooted in concrete symbolism, visual patterns. Math genius can build on what they see in imagery. All algebra and calculus can be viewed as formal transformations on concrete symbolism.  Having symbol components on “Scrabble” pieces, math operations could be made tangible and comprehensible. I once taught a summer course in physics with calculus to high school students who had only one year of algebra. They learned to read math symbolism without having to compose or perform transformations.  My insights on SEMS emerged from this work.

Re-reading the above I am reminded of my Brownian Motion, Random-Walk style of sharing. My students eventually got used to it and liked it; but I also know it can be quite frustrating to others trying to follow my thinking.

Author: nuet

01/24/1935. BS-physics RPI 1956; MS-physics UofChicago 1958; PhD-physics Yale 1965; PhD-Edu Psy Uof MInnesota 1970. Auroral Research Byrd Station, Antarctica 11/1960-02/1962. MINNEMAST curriculum dev 1964-68. Woodstock. faculty Pima Community College, Tucson 1974-1997. Transdisciplinary scientist, philosopher, educator, futurist, activist. PC user since 1982. "Wife". daughter, 2 grandsons. 5 dogs & 7 cats. Lacks mental imagery in all sensory domains.


Inspired by the Daddy Longlegs vehicle, and very much approve of biomimicry in design.  I find it a bit daughting to imagine swarms of such vehicles trampling around traffic in a city, but imagine that with enough sensors and 'forcefields' they could avoid the automated cars on the road.  There is much discussion of 'sharing' transportation, and vehicles become part of a commons infrastructure accessed via the net.  Some are calling it an Internet of Cars :  I could imagine how such Daddy Longlegs, flying vehicles, or gondolas could fit right into such a picture.  


Glad that you've found success teaching maths, and that SEMS insights emerged from games and symbols you engaged in the process.  I've recently learned of the importance of gauging one's feelings in the solving of mathematical problems, because often feelings are gateways to our assumptions.  (See post from a good friend and mentor Dibyendu De: )


 @ddrrnt Internets of cars and gondolas. & the color of bears.  Today, on NPR heard of demand by rising developing nations for every person with a car.  Human survival requires eventual abandonment of consumption/shopping and personal vehicles. The transitions will be interesting to watch, for those alive at the time.


Our future can have each person go to where they want to go when they want to go and take reasonable things with them coming and going - but they will need to be part of a human system and not an arrogant individual demanding RIGHTS that never existed.  The same can apply to access to reasonable demands on good and services, but not as RIGHTS, but as part of their gain for their participation in a viable Humanity.


The fundamentals of Civilization are flawed. Once we abandon our primary FIX-IT mode and attend to "fractal" level details re organization, region, and time we can create a path out of this mess.  In some ways, human ingenuity in fixing contributes to the perpetuation of our messes.