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|SNS Subscriber Edition ||Volume 15, Issue 28 ||Week of July 16, 2012 |
A New Model Linking
Energy and Materials
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A New Model Linking Energy and Materials
In the Beginning, there were Squiggles, and God saw the Squiggles, and they were good.
On Planet Earth, there were squiggles, dots, and soup.
Over time, some of the molecules in the soup developed the remarkable ability to use the wiggling of the squiggles from the sun to turn the dots into strings. Strings were long and strong, and these allowed molecular groups to gain structure. On land, these groups used the strings to reach higher and higher toward the sun, gathering more squiggles, making more strings. In the soup, they spread across the surface, until all of the planet was populated by string life of one kind or another.
Another form of life appeared to take the energy from the strings and turn it back into dots. This led to a balance – a perfect circle of dots and strings – which continued for several billion years.
The string-eaters got bigger, and took over the land. They consumed so many strings that the string-makers couldn't keep up. Then the string-eaters started consuming the string-makers, and there were too many dots, and not enough strings.
A few years ago, I had the honor of keynoting a Warburg Pincus conference on energy in Houston, Texas. I told this group of oil and gas executives that they had to re-assess what business they were in: not drilling and selling petroleum products, which was a mid-term game at best. Rather, I suggested they were in the business of selling carbon's covalent bonds.
I don't think they fully appreciated this idea, despite its absolute truth. They were String People, and I was talking about dots.