A model is only as good as its working
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a model is worth a thousand pictures.”
What an interesting image that presents for me, a writer, who seeks to paint pictures with her words and a scientist, who seeks to put everything together as a working model.
The man who shared this with me, it turns out, was an electrical engineer. Reminded me very much of my father who loves projects and puzzles and calculations. But what he loves most of all is thinking about things – with someone else.
I didn’t realize until recent years that we are alike, Dad and me. We love a challenge (God help me, I can never do something the easy way.) that we can work out. And I mean that literally. A project with confounding parts that we can try this way and that to see what fits. The solution is not like a model airplane where Part A is glued to Part B, though that might be a step in the process. No, the solution is in the working.
Does it fly? Does it run? Does it produce?
And that’s meant to be held up so everyone can decide. Yes, we may measure it differently. We may evaluate its efficiency. We may listen to its noise. We may watch its motion. But the beauty is, a model allows us all to take a look. To try out our hypotheses, perturb the systems and then see what happens.
It makes words and pictures into a living thing. A communal project.
In this we can contend with each other and tear down or we can work together to understand and to build. Hands on. Everyone gets a turn at trying. The things that work become part of the model. It grows. And better explains some complexity that before befuddled us all.
Perhaps the earth is such a model. A place to try what seems right to us and see how it works. And to let others try. If we worked together to build a model that provided for everyone, that would look very much like loving each other.