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Patterns in Nature and Myth

The Periodic Table of the Elements was perhaps the first time science found a pattern in nature of the kind so often previously postulated by people proposing mystical schemes for organizing the Universe:

*                                                                                         *  He                                                                                             He
Li Be                                                                         B  C  N  O  F  Ne
Na Mg                                                                         Al Si P  S  Cl Ar
K  Ca Sc                                           Ti V  Cr Mn Fe Co Ni Cu Zn Ga Ge As Se Br Kr
Rb Sr Y                                            Zr Nb Mo Tc Ru Rh Pd Ag Cd In Sn Sb Te I  Xe
Cs Ba La Ce Pr Nd Pm Sm Eu Gd Tb Dy Ho Er Tm Yb Lu Hf Ta W  Re Os Ir Pt Au Hg Tl Pb Bi Po At Rn
Fr Ra Ac Th Pa U  Np Pu Am Cm Bk Cf Es Fm Md No Lr Rf Db Sg Bh Hs Mr Ds Rg

After Lawrencium, element 103, elements 104 and 105 were called Un-nil-quadium and Un-nil-pentium, but now elements 104 through 109 are officially named Rutherfordium, Dubnium, Seaborgium, Bohrium, Hassium, and Meitnerium, and apparently the next two elements are known as Darmstadtium and Roentgenium as well.

Later on, particle physics found a symmetry in the properties of heavy short-lived particles that eventually was explained in terms of the quark model...

and the arrangement of ten items in a pyramid was considered to be the holy Tetractys by the Pythagoreans. Another famous set of ways to link ten items together is discussed in the page entitled A Peculiar Deck of Cards

The binary number sequence, now so frequently encountered in connection with computers, also forms the basis of the I Ching or Book of Changes (perhaps more literally, the Change Classic). The order in which the hexagrams are discussed in the I Ching is not the numerical binary order, but the following:

While no simple mathematical rule has been found to account for this complete sequence, it certainly does have many symmetries.

The hexagrams in this sequence are clearly grouped into 32 pairs. In each pair, the second hexagram is usually the result of reversing the sequence of solid and broken lines in the first one; only if the sequence of the first one would be the same when reversed is the second one, instead, inverted from the first one by replacing solid lines with broken lines, and broken lines with solid ones.

The first two hexagrams are all solid lines and all broken lines, and the last two both consist of alternating solid and broken lines.

A Western form of divination based on binary sequences is known as Geomancy; not the Feng Shui of China, but rather the Ilm al-Raml of the Middle East.

Copyright (c) 2005 John J. G. Savard

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