Friday, January 9, 2015

Seeing Beautiful: More Than The Sum...

A difficult concept in biology to explain is "emergent properties". This is the idea that in living systems, the separate parts interacting together bring about functions that otherwise could not happen. A simplistic explanation is the tried and true "more than the sum of its parts", which goes with a mechanistic analogy - the bicycle. Take a bicycle apart, put the pieces in a heap, and do you have transportation? (I'll bet lots of other analogies come to mind!)

In living systems, however big or tiny, there is an awesome power to this concept. The functions that emerge often are unexpected. To me, there is fascination in looking at the individually beautiful parts of life in the knowledge of the even greater beauty that will emerge when they work together. And of course there are layers upon layers of increasing complexity to examine. Oh, it's hopeless. I'm a complete nerd. I love biology!

Here are some of the complicated parts of the living system called Toby, especially the ones that frustrate my limited skill when drawing. I just can't get the pencil to capture those emergent properties, but sometimes the camera can.

This byzantine folding that leads to the floppy ears - I've tried to draw it so many times without success!

The roots of the whiskers just below the fur...

The closer you look, the more amazingly intricate a dog's nose is.

This photo is my favorite. I didn't realize his lashes were clumped and moist, as if he just applied red mascara.
All adding up to a kind of lazy grace today!


  1. So Beautiful...all those parts that equal Toby! Happy Friday!

  2. Every part of our dogs are beautiful.....well...99% ;-)

  3. Yep are dogs are amazing AND beautiful!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

  4. What an interesting idea.

    And I loved the close up photos. I also find paw pads and the folds inside the ear pretty amazing too.

  5. PAWsome presentation. LOL on the red mascara ... beautifil eye lashes. Happy Seeing Beauty. Golden Woofs

  6. taking time to see what is right before our eyes if only we go beyond our normal perception is so worth it :)

  7. I love doggie close ups! Especially of photos of the nose, paws, or eyes!

  8. Hi Y'all...

    Ah, yes, the sum of the parts is quite beautiful.

    Y'all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  9. Very interesting blog post! Taking the time to look a little closer at what we look at every day opens up a world of intrigue. Great photos!

  10. every part lovely, Im partial to my dogs ears

    retro rover


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