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Duck in the bottle – Revisited


This is just my Zen thinking applied to something scientific.

Long back, I wrote about the Zen story of Duck in the bottle.

In summary, it is a simple story about a duck stuck in a bottle. Entrance of the bottle is too narrow to let the duck out. Can you get the duck out without breaking the bottle? If you ask this to a person with very high IQ, the answer is yes. If you ask this to a little kid, the answer will be unpredictable, spontaneous and most likely be rooted in a emotional response, such as compassion.

Who is right? It doesn’t matter. The moral of the story is highlighting the fact that in life we are often engaged in contradictory pursuits. Like breaking the bottle, but keeping the duck alive. In fact in every pursuit , there are two contradictory components. The right balance between these two is what makes achievement possible.

Some days back I was reading about windmill efficiency and it totally made me think about duck in the bottle story.

Windmill efficiency is a measure of how much of the received wind energy a mill can convert into electricity. Obviously we all want most of the energy converted. So we need windmills with high efficiency.

The real conversion happens when the windmill blades stop wind. Well, that means if we could stop all wind, we could convert all energy. Right?

No. If you stop all wind from flowing, the windmill will generate a lot of energy for a few seconds, then it will stop. Because the stopped wind will create a air barrier that will prevent any more wind flowing into windmill.

So we need to allow a certain percentage of the wind to flow through to make sure we keep the windmill running continuously. That is a contradictory pursuit.

So to have an efficient windmill, we need to stop as much wind as possible, yet we need to allow wind to ensure continuous operation.

Virtually every pursuit in life can be resolved in two interplay of two mutually contradicting pursuits. I think this is what the ancient sages called yin and yang.

One Response

  1. An Interesting musing.
    Perhaps thats how the proverb referring to the golden goose came about.
    Another analogous phenomenon is that of Life itself.
    Life began not just with the Idea of replicating itself that was probably a culmination of many events that evolved to that state.
    the primordial state was initiated by a few molecules that formed a ring ad decided to be selective in letting in other molecules and through the ring.
    it is called semipermeabe or selectively permeable.
    which was sensitive to the quality and the quantity of the environment outside the ‘ring’ and inside it.
    That is the basis of life itself and is called Homeostasis- Ie the process of maintaining a dynamic equilibrium with the environment.

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