The Combined Power of ‘Weak Forces’

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An abstract representation of an amino acid sequence.

One of the most powerful lessons I’ve ever experienced was in a lecture on Immunology. My professor asked for volunteers for a demonstration. So I, and fellow students, stepped up.

My professor held out a cane, and told us to each hold the cane with one hand. She then instructed us to each briefly let go every few seconds. We all expected the cane to fall. We keep letting go, how could the cane not fall?

The cane never fell.

And so I came to a profound understanding of the power of combining ‘weak forces’ .

The key to this? There were so many hands holding the cane, that there was always at least one hand holding on. Actually, most hands were holding the cane at any moment.

Our holds were ‘weak’ and sporadic. But combined with others, the cane was always held. No single ‘force’ held the whole weight.

The unexpected side-lesson? I discovered that when I step up and participate, I learn so much more than if I just watch.

Written by

Data Visualization Consultant. Generative and Data Artist. Creative Coder. Founder of GalaxyGoo. http://kristinhenry.github.io/

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