Man-Made versus Natural


An object that I found in my garden this morning. ‘Man-made’ or ‘natural’?

As an undergraduate I attended a lecture by the inspirational Eric Laithwaite. He began by asking the audience to imagine a device which could pump water from 30 metres below ground to 30 metres above ground, but which was completely solar-powered. We pondered… and he then showed us a picture of a tree.

He then spoke about the difference between ‘natural’ and ‘man-made’ solutions. As I recall the talk through the haze of age, I seem to remember that he just asked questions: one question after another with no answers. And I was enthralled.

One question I remember in particular was:

“How was it that we could instantly recognise objects as having been either ‘man-made’ or ‘naturally’ produced?”

I was reminded of this when I viewed a video of a 4 gram domino knocking over a 16 kilogram domino.

This system is obviously made by humans. And it struck me keenly that I was witnessing the physical embodiment of the financial system, created entirely by humans and which is currently ‘looking after’ my pension investment.

And the ‘natural’ pension investment? Well they are in bed now 🙂

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