architectural big history


Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place to rest.

— Nobel Prize Winning Physiologist Albert Szent-GyÖrgyi 1937

This is an Architect’s Take on the Universe!
After many years of designing buildings and thinking about architecture, I am taking some time off to write and illustrate a science book:

A Big History of Architecture, from the Big Bang Until Now:
How Information Sculpts Energy into Form
ALL the FORMS of our universe =
Bricks (Atoms=particles including electrons)& Mortar (Information)

This book is from a lifetime of experience. When I was a very small child my father showed me a picture in an evolution book of a hairy, apish fellow and told me that was my greatx10000 grandfather. I understood totally. Ever since then, although rarely talking about it because most people found it odd,  I have looked at the world through the lens of gradual evolutionary change.

Scoring in the 90th percentile on science aptitude tests in the early 70’s (which I found in my mother’s filing cabinet in 2014, girls weren’t supposed to be scientists in my mother’s view), I have always felt a strong inclination and understanding of the scientific methodology for the organizing of well tested and reviewed information.  A huge interest in the most recent science books about the early universe, early life and early humanity was a fascinating puzzle that many smart people were examining, and I had the great good fortune to live in the free world and have access to their books. In 1985 I followed a love to draw, create and make things and studied architecture. My Architectural Masters Thesis in 1992, Museum School, was about the evolution of the schoolhouse towards optimized teaching environments. During the architectural downtime of 2010-2014 David Christian’s Big History was discovered at the Great Courses— I felt my calling and examined everything I could find on the Big History inclusive framework of organizing information.

Using the Big History framework and being interested in energy-efficient architecture,  I began researching for a book about the History of Energy. Because I had read Seth Lloyds book Programming the Universe, the concept of information as physical quickly became part of it, the yin (information) doesn’t function without the yang (energy). Finally, after working with the American Institute of Architects as Publications Co-Chair on a book about the various architectural areas of Atlanta for the 2015 AIA Convention, all the various pieces fell into place. And here it begins…

—ARCHITECTURE: “Architect” comes from the latin word architectus which comes from the Greek ἀρχιτέκτων (architéktōn). Architéktōn is composed of two parts: ἀρχι (archi: to be the first, that which commands, designs, provides the information) and τέκτων (tecton: mason, builder, energy looking for a path to build form).

THIS IS OBVIOUSLY GOING TO BE A NICHE BOOK, BUT IF YOU GOT THIS FAR PLEASE READ ON: The following concepts are actually very simple but need a pictorial illustration for clarity, which is what I will be doing in 2022-2025:
—EXPANDED DEFINITION OF ARCHITECTURAL FORM: ALL evolved and evolving form is energy sculpted by information into a form. The physical universe, the live universe and the sapient universe all express this principle at different levels of complexity .—
Several more definitions:
1. ENERGY: is electron flow and bonding between atoms.
—Information is Physical
(Chapter 4 of Programming the Universe, Seth Lloyd; 2011, page 65).
—Sustainable (meaning consistent over long periods of time) Information ALWAYS selects for electron flow.  Since the beginning of the universe, all long-term form is sculpted by available information that promotes electron flow — this allows forms to evolve, change and adjust to the information flow of our good earth and beyond. (Evolving presently because Sapien technology is ever more sensitive to utilizing it.)
3. FORM: is the result of Information sculpting Energy. There is non-living and living form, both sculpted by information and in continual interaction with each other.
Non-living form can be somewhat defined by the periodic table and physics, chemistry, cosmology, astronomy, and geology (there’s still much to be understood like dark matter and energy).
Living form is a highly organized structure promoting energy flow through itself and through other interdependent networked systems, defying entropy locally. Together living ecological systems are created that widely share and circulate the electron flow to benefit all.
Individual Life forms create and maintain their form through 3 qualities:
1) Agency  -Biologists call it teleonomy, (Young Scientists: no one truly knows why, so good thing to study!) but all the way up the food chain ANY and ALL forms of life are always on the lookout for dinner (electron flow).
2) Reproduction for extension of the form into the future.
3) Metabolization and utilization of electrons (food) to maintain their systems, thus resisting entropy (death).
Cultures, tools and the built/architectural environment are also a result of Information sculpting Energy flow. At this level of complexity, Sapient-sensed and recorded information is now (naturally!) orchestrating energy flow into Forms that make electron flow easier. The use of fire was a major step for sapients, making dinner and living in the rough MUCH easier.

SYNOPSIS: From the beginning of the universe (14 billions years or so ago) energy (100% flexible “labor” waiting for information) is sculpted by available information, creating all form. Universes are built upon Universes as they stabilize.

UNIVERSE #I: The Physical UniverseThe study of this universe compose physics, chemistry, cosmology, astronomy, geology and ovelaps (astrophysics,  geophysics,  biophysics) and specialties like , atomic physics,  nuclear physics.
1. ENERGY: After the Big Bang particles are the most basic form of energy waiting to be sculpted.
2. INFORMATION: The 4 (or 5, they keep discovering more) fundamental information forces sculpting in the physical universe: the strong force, the weak force, the electromagnetic force, and the gravitational force.
3. FORM: Particles are sculpted by available information into the simple atoms of hydrogen (1 electron) and helium (2 electrons), then crushed by gravity into stars, then exploded by super novas into space, to form the complex atoms with many electrons, of the periotic table.

UNIVERSE #II:  The Live Universe (See TED Ed here) The study of this universe compose biology and its many overlaps (Biochemistry, Biophysics) and specialized disciplines: Cell Biology, Histology, Genetics, Anatomy, Physiology, Nutrition, Microbiology, Mycology, Botany, Zoology and the list goes on! This is a complex universe!
Life reverses entropy (the loss of energy) locally and enables accellerated electron flow. Under temperate “goldilocks” conditions like on Earth, atoms share electrons and combine into molecules creating conditions favorible to organization that creates sustainable, accelerated electron flow. The earliest life occured at chemical gradients (which are electron exchanges) producing free electrons (energy). As millions of years are required for life to happen, heat vents on the tectonic plates on the ocean floor would provide a stable environment. Then one of these early life organizations drifted to the waters surface and an electron was snapped off by a suns photon. This magic spark of sustainable flowing energy began slowly organizing the chain of life on earth.
2. INFORMATION:  Earths complex physical information sculpts paths for electrons to follow. Energy flow is selected for, as energy flow powers the self-organization of life.
3. FORM: All forms of life, powered by electrons and sculpted by the earths environmental information, began to gain energy flow, complexity and function. Witness early life evolving eyes, ears and legs then crawling onto a beach to munch some plants. These evolving creatures develop GREAT electron flow ! Then we get dinasaurs crashing about 250–65 million years ago until a big rock hurling from space eradicates their environment. Then, slightly more adapted to changing environmental information, mammals take over. One species, by surviving and constantly adapting to changing energy flow and it’s information for millions of years —in the trees, on the savanna, by the sea —develops an ultimate architecture for electron flow.

UNIVERSE #III: The Sapient Universe→ The ever-evolving information of this universe composes ALL disiciplines and in Big History: paleontology, archeology, anthropology, traditional history.
1. ENERGY: Electrons fly off the fingertips of the Sapients, this is the essense of technology — creating systems that exploit natures laws in a benefitial manner to sapients  (Pross, Addy What is Life, 11) .
2. INFORMATION: Surrounded and sculpted by accumulated working information for electron paths, Sapients take over the world. As in Darwinian Classical Evolution, the working information enabling electron travel survives as cultures organize and share information for further electron flow.
3. FORM: All form created by sapients, (EX: art, tools, technology and architecture) is designed to enhance sapiant electron flow in some manner.

This is why things are slowly improving→ 100K years ago we were hunter-gatherers sitting around open fires, watching our backs for wolves and other predators. Now, in nations that have efficiently organized their cultures to free their information resources, all we have to do is push a button for heat or cool air and we have evolved the wolves into our most loyal friends! This is why the free world, exposed to all incoming information and naturally honing the very human ability to pick, choose and understand other human energy flows, will always be more energetic  than societies that filter their information flow through a few people at the top. In the free world information travels freely from the bottom to the top, and visa versa, creating a “central nervous system” of very alive and responsive societies and cultures.