Monday, December 31, 2012

Imperfection and Survival

Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini a Nobel-winning biologist, has died. I was reading her obituary in this morning's New York Times and came across this quote from her autobiography:

“It is imperfection — not perfection — that is the end result of the program written into that formidably complex engine that is the human brain..."

What an amazing remark from someone who was immersed in the biology of the brain, someone who had spent decades studying the intricacies of cellular mechanics.

We learn biological systems from handed-down models developed by scientists who we tend to see as flawless. Because so much depends upon our successful assimilation of scientific "facts" we overlook the complexities in biological systems--complexities that by nature introduce and perpetuate imperfection.

Ironically, it may be these very imperfections that permit our continued evolution. "Mistakes," variations, exceptions to the rule all are the raw ingredients that make biological systems malleable, permeable, and changeable. Without these variations, a population of organisms would be unable to survive the random environmental perturbations that occur in every generation. One of Darwin's key concepts was that variations confer "fitness," the ability to survive and reproduce. Variations generally fall outside of the "norm" and may be perceived as mistakes, extremes, or oddities. Nevertheless they fuel the engine of evolution.

I am reminded of the beautiful limestone scholar's rock outside Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. The rock is riddled with holes and irregularities, the characteristics that make it a "perfect" example of traditional Chinese art. Vulnerability, imperfection, and flow characterize its features. Unenhanced by the human hand, it represents an awkward yet elegant "ideal," an ideal that accepts nature in all its"imperfections." As a piece of art or as a piece of nature, these features reflect an aesthetic and philosophical understanding of the world that Dr. Levi-Montalcini reached from her analytical-scientific perspective.

It is this kind of unifying world view that makes the study of art and science together so rewarding. How can we encourage this odd kind of appreciation in our own scientific and artistic practices, nurturing variability and "imperfection" in ourselves and in our students?


141 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Permeability and evolution are closely related because objects in nature seem to get more permeable over time. The limestone rock that stands outside Boston's Museum of Fine Arts is a perfect example of the connection between evolution and permeability, as the rock evolved through natural processes to develop more holes, thus making it more permeable.

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  3. Evolution and permeability are connected. Through evolution so many things change. These changes have an impact on all different kinds of things. Sometimes evolution changes things to become more permeable. An example would be the rock above and perhaps the evolution of a landscape turning into a waterfall. The landscape becomes more permeable.

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  4. The rock above represents how things in nature are not always "perfect" and how through its imperfections that rock will "evolve" alongside its environment because of limestones tendency to erode after direct contact with water. Boston has a very harsh environment and there are often intense rainstorms that have/will continue to change the shape of this installment for years to come. It is through the process of erosion and permeability that the rock with "evolve" with its environment.

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  5. I see permeability and evolution closely related in the way that I just commented about in the previous blog post. As a babysitter, I see children evolve over the years having their permeable minds shaped by their environments - they learn to act, speak, and think about things differently than each time before my visits, particularly the young children who are passing milestones with each month.

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  6. Evolution is connected to permeability because mistakes or variations allow things to be permeable, malleable and changeable to continue the evolutionary process. The rocks outside the MFA show the perfect imperfections of irregularities and variations.

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  7. The concepts of evolution and permeability are connected because as things evolve they become more or less permeable depending on the selective pressure they endure and their environment. An object may have needed to become more permeable in order to absorb more water since everything on earth needs water for survival. It may have taken centuries for now permeable things to have achieved such permeability for its survival. For example leaves/plants in the desert need to be more permeable in order to absorb more water since the desert doesn't get as much water as say the rainforest.

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  8. An abstract view of how permeability and evolution are related is that permeability allows for mistakes to happen. It allows for "perfect" objects to be dissolved, disintegrated, holes to penetrate it, colors to fade, and more. Evolution was created out of permeability; things change due to outside forces. We now reject ideas of perfection and encourage evolution and changing, which are results of things being permeable.

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  9. The concepts of evolution and permeability are connected because in a way evolution is an example of the selective permeability of species. Only certain species survive their conditions because the adapt to the environment around them. The selectivity of nature shows the permeability.

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  10. Like your post in "Permeability Just For Cell Membranes," when you created the piece of art in the kiln, it did not quite turn out how you expected it would, but it was still a piece of art. This happens in evolution as well in terms of permeability. In evolution, things evolve naturally, and develop permeable characteristics, which ultimately make permeability a part of the perfection, or imperfection, of an object.

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  11. Permeability and evolution are closely related because over time after much permeability has occurred the shape will also change. The rock above is a great example. A rock is permeable. Many years ago, I'm sure, the rock did not have this many holes. Over time due to selective pressures such as wind, rain, etc., the rock evolves into a different shape and maybe gains more or bigger holes. When something is permeable, over time everything will evolve into something different than what it was because of the constant allowance for things to pass through.

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  12. Permeability and evolution are related in one way through the idea of natural selection. When a certain trait is permeated into a society that is fitting to the environment it becomes a popular trait when the population reproduces. The permeability allowed for the survival of that species.

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  13. These concepts are connected because the variations and mistakes that take place during the course of evolution allow things to be more permeable. For example leaves in the desert may need more water to permeate through so they can survive or other plants may need water to not be able to escape as easily.

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  14. The concepts of permeability and evolution are connected because imperfections and mistakes make evolution permeable or able to be changed. These imperfections fuel evolution because they make species vulnerable, which allows species to develop fitness and new variabilities to be able to survive and reproduce.

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  16. There is a direct connection between permeability and evolution. Without permeability, evolution would not exist because a variation of traits perpetuates the process of evolution forward and permeability helps with variation. Imperfection is the evolution.

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  17. The concepts of evolution and permeability are connected because it is the mistakes and imperfections that evolution is founded on that allows evolution to be so permeable and able to be changed. Nothing is ever unable to be changed; everything is permeable in evolution. We see this in the evolution of humans, plants, landscapes and other life.

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  18. The connection between evolution and permeability is that evolution permeates all natural things. If evolution didn't occur then things could not evolve. The rock at the MFA shows that evolution and permeability are connected by the holes that were permeated into it.

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  19. Permeability and evolution are connected because without variations in permeability organisms would not be able to survive random conditions. For instance, increased permeability may be necessary more for a plant in the desert while decreased permeability may be necessary for a plant in the rainforest. The more "fit" the plant is, the more likely they will be to reproduce and survive. So, the plant living in the desert that allows as much water as possible to cross its membrane will be the most fit, causing it to survive, and evolve over time.

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  20. Evolution and permeability seem to always be interconnected. As organisms survive and reproduce, they encounter selective pressures which allow certain characteristics to be permeated which comes in the form of evolution. The rock shown above illustrates how some of these characteristics can permeate the gene pool and make organisms evolve from generation to generation.

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  21. Evolution is connected to permeability because permeability is about vulnerability and allowing change, which is the same concept of evolution. Evolution allows for chance based on vulnerability: week organisms do not survive, and changes are made over time to made organisms stronger.

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  22. Evolution and permeability are connected because they both allow change in a particular situation. Furthermore, the change is revealed as evolution and permeability both depict the vulnerability in an organisms potential to develop, interact, and share in an environment.

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  23. Evolution and permeability are closely related. Evolution results in biological change within a given species. Although it takes awhile, evolution changes our anatomy. This is similar to the rock because, as time goes on, they both experience change. For the rock, change is due to erosion from weather permeating its outer layer.

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  24. Doug Lewis
    Evolution is often the result of certain physical and biological traits developing over time in a species and it continuously being passed down. This is only possible of the genetic variations permeate biologically over the course of generations. Ultimately not all traits will develop into certain traits of a species which is exact what defines permeability.

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  25. Permeability and evolution are closely linked. In fact, I find that evolution is the study of how permeable our natural world can be. One could observe a smaller aspect of evolution by using the rock as an example of permeability/porosity as well. I think that it is more interesting to look at the evolution of species and the permeability shown through natural selection. Permeability is extremely present when studying evolution!

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  26. Evolution and permeability are closely linked. Over time, objects begin to change based on their surroundings and through natural events. The wearing down of objects is able to be seen with time and imperfections begin to become visible.

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  27. Yina Cordero
    Evolution and permeability are closely related because the imperfections and mistakes involved in evolution in biological systems are what permit substances to be permeable and changeable. The imperfections create new variations that allow for new organisms to survive. The ability for these to organisms to be permeable confers “fitness” and allows them to survive for longer and fuel evolution. The rock in the article has been vulnerable to many changes because its permeability which makes it so unique and able to continue to evolve suggesting permeability is good and necessary.

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  28. Evolution and permeability are connected because they both involve change based on one's surroundings. The sponge that I mentioned in the last post changes when it absorbs water. By permeating with the water, the sponge grows and becomes softer and can therefore serve its purpose as a sponge. Evolution serves the same purpose. Humans began to stand up when geography changed so that we could serve our purpose in our new environment.

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  29. I think permeability is a way that evolution can be described. Species are in a slow but constant change, in which boundaries are evolved and different cultures interact and overlap with one another. Some cultures or species that are more vulnerable than others can be overtaken by another, and combined into a new species through permeability.

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  30. There are many examples of how evolution and permeability are connected in nature. The rock pictured in this article, illustrates the way that objects may become more permeable over time due to their environment. As weather conditions cause the limestone to erode, it evolves into a piece of art that is highly valued in today's society. Another more direct example is of the scientific shift from the Davson-Danielli Model (in which proteins were believed to be outside the membrane), to the Singer-Nicholson Model (in which proteins are embedded in the membrane and are able to move) which allows the membrane to be semi-permeable. This example shows that the concept of permeability itself has evolved over time in the scientific world.

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  31. The concepts of evolution and permeability are connected because biological systems that are permeable allow for things to evolve and adapt. It is because of variations that organisms survive and reproduce in our continuously changing environment.

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  32. After reading this blog post, permeability is definitely one aspect of evolution. We can see the evolution of this rock, and can assume that with time more holes and texture changes came about through a weathering process; time changed the permeability of the rock.

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  33. The picture of the rock above is a perfect example of how Permeability is connected to evolution. First, its clearly permeable because water and gases can clearly flow through all the holes in the rock. Second, things get old begin to deteriorate. When things deteriorate, they have weaker resistance to water or gas, allowing the transfer of the two. The same thing happens when other substances age as well (like wood, as I explained in my comment in the other article for this lab).

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  34. Isabel Vera

    Permeability is essential to evolution. Organisms must be permeable in order to be able to take on random variations that will eventually lead them to survival and reproduction that constitute evolution. We now understand that imperfections and mistakes are crucial to the progress of our world, and with this we are also able to see the vitality of permeability.

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  35. Permeability and evolution are connected because species allow change to "permeate" their surroundings and lifestyles which force adaption towards evolution or extinction. Without permeability, nothing would ever be capable of change.

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  36. I think that permeability and evolution are very closely related. Just like with material objects that over time are permeated by different things either weather, chemicals, humans, etc, organisms have to permeable in terms of being open to imperfections and change. They need to be open or permeable to these changes because that is what drives evolution and if organisms were not vulnerable to change then evolution could not continue.

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  37. It is pretty "mindblowing" to realize that all this time, the one characteristic of life that has allowed us (as a the human race) to advance ourselves and survive, is "imperfection". I suppose that it is through imperfection that we come to realize our flaws and proceed to attempt to "achieve" perfection (even though perfection is never attained because we are just so flawed). It is maybe the imperfections that make us human, and that, in itself, is a type of beauty. The "permeability" of our nature, or permissiveness (for imperfection) is what makes us flexible, and not entirely "mechanic" (like a robot), which is good.

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  38. Evolution to some extent is permeable. Certain things get passed down from generation to generation, which is similar to the process of permeability. The things that are suppose to get passed on are things that permeate from one generation to generation. We can say that this means that evolution is vulnerable because some of the things that permeate from generation to generation can be negative things. But this permeability also means that certain aspects and characteristics don't get passed down from generation to generation.

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  39. I think permeability and evolution coexist. With one, it would be difficult to accomplish the other. For organisms, they must become permeable, meaning they "confer" fitness to survive and reproduce as well as to adapt to their ever changing surroundings and therefore allow evolution to occur.

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  40. Permeability and evolution are closely connected as we see in the structure that stands outside the MFA. The imperfection of this structure stands for the imperfection in our society, with the process of evolution happening simultaneously. Darwin’s idea of “fitness” proves that our society is not perfect, just as the structure outside the MFA does. As we can see imperfection exists in our society, and coincides with evolution. But permeability comes into play because it allows for these imperfections, which everyone sees and is aware of. But as evolution goes on the permeability of humans and the environment disintegrates, and moves onto something else which is less permeable. For example, giraffe have evolved over the years to have larger necks, and the giraffe with the largest necks service. This trait is what permits the giraffes in the environment with this characteristic to survive.

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  41. If we consider vulnerability and permeability to be synonymous, then we must consider both to be a basis of evolution. Permeability and vulnerability allow for change and anything that can be changed can be considered imperfect. If something is perfect, why change it? However, no perfect things exist in the world, which is why things evolve, reproduce, and strive to reach perfection. Permeability allows evolution to occur and to showcase the imperfections that bring about change in order for organisms to become more perfect.

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  42. Evolution and permeability are connected by time. Both require a significant amount of time and external conditions to occur. The limestone rock outside of the MFA is a great example of permeability through evolution and time. Over a long extended period of time, the rock was made more permeable by external conditions which created the holes that we see in it today.

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  43. Evolution and permeability are related because organisms are constantly permeated with the forces surrounding them. These forces that permeate into the life of an organism, like predators and temperature, determine the organism's survival. Those that survive these permeated forces due to their random traits, continue on to pass on their genes.
    Gabrielle Kanellos

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  44. Evolution and permeability are both connected because they both bring about a change. When something permeates a boundary a change is created and that object or item or organism that was permeated changes. What organisms go through evolution, there is also a boundary being crossed and new boundaries and changes that come about and are created. This is a cycle that continues so that things can progress in the future whether it be in science or everyday life.

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  45. When we think permeable we think holes, we think a material that allows things to pass through it, we think vulnerable. Now when we think of evolution we think about the imperfections and "holes" within an individual organism that is the reason evolution even exists. So without a permeable set of phenotypes we would have no eveolution.

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  46. Evolution and permeability have in common that they both take and reject. In evolution, natural selection teaches that biological traits become either more or less permeated in a given society or environment due to their benefit in said environment. An organism's survival is completely dependent on the ability of certain traits to permeate into its evolutionary plan.

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  47. The rock in the picture above, is a perfect example of how permeability and evolution are connected. I'm sure when the rock was first placed there, it had less holes than it does now. In the future, due to various weather conditions it will most likely continue to become more permeable and constantly evolve into a new form.

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  48. Permeability is the reason for evolution. The instance in which a "mistake" or variation in our genetics occur is a instance where permeability has taken place and evolution has begun to occur.

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  49. Evolution and permeability are related because different features carry through, or permeate, different generations to make a species more able to survive. A trait that is beneficial to a species will permeate throughout evolution until a better trait comes along.

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  50. Permeability and evolution are connected because in order for something to evolve, it must be able to change. And for that it must be permeable. The environment, other organisms, and many different factors all permeate the thing that is evolving.

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  51. Permeability is crucial to evolution. The imperfections of the biological systems throughout time helped develop variation in organisms, which fuels evolution.

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  52. Evolution and permeability are connected because, any organism that will survive must change over time and adapt to new circumstances. For it to adapt to knew circumstances its genes, its characteristics, its behavior have to be permeable to the changes that occur overtime in an environment or situation. On a genetic level, the variations, "mistakes", need to be accepted so that it can survive the new environment. Therefore the "raw ingredients that make biological systems malleable, permeable, and changeable," can come into fruition so that this organism can survive.

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  53. Permeability allows organisms to transform over time and adapt to a given environment. Various variations guide evolution. While they may be considered mistakes, these variations are a continuation of a given species as they survive and reproduce. If organisms were not able adapt over time, they would cease to exist. Therefore permeability is key to growth, adaptation, and development through evolutionary processes.

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  54. Evolution and permeability seem to be connected with one another in the sense that an object will change and evolve just as its permeability may do the same. The “imperfection” of an object is what seems to be the cause of the drive of evolution for an object. It is trying to perfect its imperfections so that it can easily adapt to the environment in which it resides. I guess the permeability of an object can be seen as an imperfection as well. I feel this way for quite a few reasons; the begin, the allowing of other items to pass through may be seen as an imperfection because the item is not of 100% perfect structure and composition. It can also be seen as an imperfection because what is passing through the object may even be seen as potentially dangerous the object, causing harm to it – for example, a bacteria passing through and attacking cells in a living creature.

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  55. Speaking on a macro scale, evolution is actually a process, continuation of endless permeability. Organisms permeate new ages, make breakthroughs in new technology and learning. If time, ages were impermeable, if no one had made those breakthroughs, we would still be stuck in the stone age.

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  56. Evolution allowed for complexities to be introduced into the environment. Permeability is an example of one of these complexities.

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  57. I believe that evolution and permeability are closely related because as plants and animals evolve over the years, their characteristics always change due to their permeability to the environment around them. They are able to evolve in a way that allows them to adapt to the changing environment around them and keep the features that help them survive. Permeability for plants and animals is very present in the way in which they evolve due to selective pressures.

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  58. Permeability (openness) is conducive to evolution because it allows us to roll with the punches. Conversely, rigidity does not help anyone or anything in the event of unforeseen circumstances because of its inability to adapt or improvise. One of the tenets of resilience is the ability to bounce back after an abnormal or even catastrophic event- to survive the event without being permanently crippled. Those who are able to improvise during or after the event are clearly the ones that survive, which is evolution in motion. Then, we (hopefully) learn from those events and are more prepared for the next time it happens. We're refining our game plan.

    This can be translate to smaller scale events too. Like having to learn how to use Twitter for class. Or adjusting to a new family member or a work environment that is totally foreign to your experience. A certain willingness to try it out, see how it goes, learn from it, and change yourself or your opinions accordingly is crucial if you want to thrive.

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  59. Permeability can be seen as passing through or working with the flow. Every opening/opportunity leads through trial and error, allowing each time to adapt or improve. The first thing that comes to mind as an example is Architecture. We went through a timeline of: Medieval -> Gothic -> Renaissance -> Baroque -> Neoclassical -> Modern -> and so on until today, Sustainability. Each one at the time, dealt with difference circumstances and surrounding factors that shaped their architectural concepts and design. Through the years and experience, they learned successful techniques and noticed what features were functional. As well as recognizing failures and drastic need for change, evolving and refining in the process. With change, we’ve create an environment that people can endure and set the new ‘norm’.

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  60. Permeability allows for interconnections to occur. It allows for infiltration of new ideas that allow new connections and paths to be realized. Just like when the brain is constantly creating new connections, so does a permeable and empathetic approach to ideas.

    It seems like talking about the idea of permeability can really create deep philosophical conversations which would be great to have while sitting around a table with a glass of wine. Below is an experience I had that was eye opening to the idea of being open-minded:

    Title: Me as a Stubborn Brick Wall

    I can be stubborn more than I would like to admit. I haven't been able to get to the root of my stubborn problem yet, but I hope I can soon to allow for more progressive learning and collaboration. I do feel like I am learning though. ☺

    When I was in undergrad at Iowa State University, I was involved in various design collaboration projects. One in particular, I found myself in a group dynamic that was based on everyone one wanting it their way. I was very stubborn and impermeable myself during this ‘collaboration’. This dynamic created a project that was sub-par with many contradicting solutions. During the final review we were shot down. It was clear that we were impermeable and rigid. Our project had much more potential.

    My conclusion from this experience is there are more opportunities to be creative and grow an idea when all collaborators allow for an idea to be taken in and 'filtered'. In contrast, when there is an impermeable surface, too many great ideas just bounce off the surface without even being explored and 'filtered' of their true potential.

    Perhaps that is what Water thinks when it bounces off impermeable surfaces and is unable to enter the realm of greater existence - being pure and providing valuable ecological services. Water knows the true potential of its existence, but many of the impermeable roads don’t. The roads just shoves it down the drain.

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  61. As I read I remembered clearly how we focused on celebrating floods in East Boston. In fact I believe that was one of our main statements.

    Instead of reacting to it we are acting with it, focusing on.. exactly, permeability. Vulnerability, imperfection and flow are the main characteristics of this limestone: perfect piece of art and nature.
    We as designers are working as artists, so it was inevitable for me to use this as a fundamental design topic? or design inspiration? where nature and art work together to create spaces, buildings, sculptures.
    Embracing climate change, working together with nature and design makes the designers and very importantly, the users, become a part of nature.. a part of our surroundings.

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  62. I very much think that permeability and vulnerability lead to evolution or changes. I see evolution as an adaptive force that decides to add or subtract something based on current ecological or biological factors. If nothing on earth evolved or changed, than where would humanity be right now? I think that permeability/vulnerability lead to evolution in that it acts as a sort of sponge, it absorbs outsider factors/influences to then adapt to whats needed. I always think of the idea that some scientist ( I don't remember what source) claim that humans will probably lose their pinky finger because we don't use it like our far-away ancestors did. I also remember a professor telling us jokingly that New Yorkers will soon develop gills in order to adapt to rising sea-levels. Permeability or being open /vulnerable to our environment and so forth is what makes life and science so interesting. =)

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  63. The word that stands out most to me is “mistakes.” Ever since we were little we were taught the phrase to “learn from our mistakes.” We were told this by everybody and anybody, teachers, parents, mentors. Learning from our mistakes is what made us into who we are today. But not just us as individuals, as a species as a whole we can learn from our mistakes. With historical records, we’re able to look back into history and see what worked and what didn’t. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t make the same mistake twice and instead move forward with new ideas. But mankind tends to have an issue with making history repeat itself.
    Nevertheless, mistakes are what allow us to grow and evolve. Mistakes are what cause us to adapt to different situations. Mistakes are inevitable, but it is up to us as individuals and as a species as a whole to acknowledge those mistakes and to learn from them.

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  64. I think one way to introduce the concept of imperfection can and should be found more often in the generic english classes of high school and college. Creative writing should be encouraged so much more than it currently is. The freedom of expression, freedom from boundaries and research structure can greatly influence and encourage imagination to flow for many, I believe.

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  65. Evolution and permeability are related because in order for a species to evolve the "code" that makes them up must be permeable to mistakes or variation. Not all things are perfectly created (unless made in a factory) and we can see in ourselves that everybody is different. However, it should be something that is celebrated and not ostracized because with different people comes different ways of thinking. Similar to art, everything should be considered with a free, imaginative mind, instead of a rigid methodical one because that goes against the laws of nature.

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  66. Evolution and permeability are two closely related concepts. In order for a particular species to evolve, it must permeate certain boundaries. These boundaries could be adapting to environment, adapting to particular circumstances such as lack of food or a drought. This is somewhat similar to the concept of 'survival of the fittest'. Only species that are 'fit' and manage to permeate different biological boundaries will evolve.

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  67. Evolution and permeability are connected because things change. As a result of things changing or evolving organisms have to be permeable to these changes in order to survive.

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  69. Permeability is related to evolution in how cells interact with permeability and outside influences. What influences they allow into their system can be helpful or harmful and through years of trial and error the cell has, and continues to, allow solutions to permeate its walls based off of evolutionary design that allows certain things in and keeps certain things out.

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  70. There is a connection between permeability and evolution because evolution could not have happened without permeability. Evolution of living things happen because of permeability in cells and the “mistakes” that are made in day to day functions. The permeability allows for variation which leads to evolution

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  71. Permeability and evolution are connected. An example that shows this the limestone that stands outside of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. As the limestone stands overtime, it evolves and develops more and more holes in it through natural processes, making it more permeable. Also another example of this is with people. In the time people are born, mistakes or the way people are taught to be is an example of permeability. People’s minds, especially children, can be shaped to think a certain way, so if they are taught to act a certain way, good or bad, this idea permeates through their brain and they start to act the way you teach them. This idea that is permeated through the child’s brain is now passed down through evolution.

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  72. Evolution and permeability are related because for something to evolve it needs to adapt and this adaptation is the organism permeating through the boundaries that were previously containing it and keeping it from adapting before.

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  73. There is a strong connection between permeability and evolution because without diversity and variation, there would be no evolution. Without permeability, evolution would also cease to exist. This connection parallels to that of human nature because not every person is made to be constructed towards an ideal of formulaic being. Everyone is made differently for a reason and it should not be frowned upon, but celebrated.

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  74. Evolution and permeability are connected in the sense that humans are constantly bombarded by both physical, emotional, and cultural stimuli and must unconsciously decide what to let through. Like the rock at the MFA, humans also become more permeable over time. As we age we seem to be more accepting and willing to let more stimuli through and that affects how we develop as individuals and as a species.

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  75. I think that evolution and permeability are very closely linked. Whether it is living or a man made thing, (example; air conditioning model), things evolve by adapting to their past. If a former model of an air conditioning unit allows do much bacteria to pass through its filters, than the company will most likely produce a newer model with a better filter making it less permeable.

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  76. Whenever I hear the word "imperfection," I automatically think "unique." I believe that everyone's personal imperfections adds to their uniqueness and allows them to be their own. This also allows us to see what ways work for others and what doesn't. Through this variety, we can draw general conclusions. If we did not have people try to complete the same thing but in different ways, we would not be able to learn from our "mistakes" and grow. This is why evolution is key in the growth of a population. Being able to be a unique individual allows yourself to have other ways of completing things and not rely on the "correct" way

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  77. One reason we as a species (as well as all other living organisms) evolve is because we adapt to our surroundings in order to survive. This means that with each new generation, and thousands of years, we evolve because of our new vulnerable state (for example, a species would adapt over time to a drastic change in temperature). This vulnerability allows for us to make permeable changes. By evolving, we create new paths for our species to follow.

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  78. Though human species hardly change over generations, certain aspects do evolve slightly. For example, people even three generations ago didn’t have diseases such as celiac disease. This is because of the “imperfections” we cause to the corn and flour we have consumed for generations, not the fault of our genes. In this case, the genetically tainted food products have permeated our genetics to cause these diseases as we evolve.

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  79. "One of Darwin's key concepts was that variations confer "fitness," the ability to survive and reproduce. Variations generally fall outside of the "norm" and may be perceived as mistakes, extremes, or oddities. Nevertheless they fuel the engine of evolution"
    I think this statement accurately describes the revolution between evolution and permeability because permeability allows for mistakes and its these mistakes that progress evolution. Evolution moves forward thanks to change, and permeability feeds this change. In terms of species, species adapt to their environment and it's the environment that allows permeability of the species to advance.

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  80. Negin Taleb
    NS 201
    The concept of evolution and permeability are closely related because, as things evolve, they have to possibility of becoming more or less permeable. The limestone rock outside of the MFA is a great example of this. As time went on, the holes in the rock evolved naturally, causing sculpture to become more and more permeable. Also, as species evolve, they can become selectively permeable depending on the natural environment they are living in.

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  81. Permeability and evolution are related because there would be no evolution without permeability. In order for cells to function, permeability must take place. Therefore without proper functioning cells there would no organisms, or evolution.

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  82. Permeability and evolution are related. They relate at the microscopic level. The cells of an organism have solutes that permeate the cell and the cells that do not allow permeation will not survive and or keep out bad solutes. The cells that allow the permeation will survive and continue to reproduce while the others will not reproduce.

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  83. Evolution and permeability are related because as some things evolve they have potential to become more permeable over time. An example of this is the limestone at the MFA because it became permeable over time.

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  84. Permeability is complex and possesses many definitions. Hence, because of its complexity and dynamic nature, it may inflict imperfections and inconsistent, varied characteristics. However, these variations and flaws support populations of organisms “to survive random environmental perturbations that occur in every generation.” Moreover, mistakes, excesses, and abnormalities electrify the evolutionary process.

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  85. Permeability and evolution are closely related because permeability describe the characteristic of an object and the characteristics of an object are what affect the way they grow and develop. Just like the quote “It is imperfection — not perfection — that is the end result of the program written into that formidably complex engine that is the human brain…” It is the characteristics of an object that determine what role they play in evolution.

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  86. If we think about evolution, it is very related to permeability. A trait that allows a species to evolve is really just a “new and improved” characteristic that permeates the species. The new characteristic is passed on from generation to generation and this (permeation). Darwin succeeded in renaming permeation..."Evolution"

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  87. Evolution and permeability are related because as time progresses, the permeability of something can change in shape. That shows that the change of an object is a matter of time and it can eventually evolve into something else; therefore, allowing substances to pass through. As evolution is a change in something, and only certain species can survive to certain conditions and adapt to their surroundings, their surroundings show permeability as well because of the selective changes in their environment.

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  88. Imperfection is perfection because nothing can be perfect. The sculpture outside the museum represents this because it is beautiful yet it is filled with holes and ridges. Perfection is something that everyone strives for, but it can't be reached. If we try to instill the idea that being imperfect is perfect into kids, is what is going to have society accept the imperfections that are evident in our everyday lives.

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  89. Permeability and evolution seem to be related. Evolution is a change in an object over time, making less complex. By this, evolution could make things become more permeable over time in order to make the system less complex as a whole. It's these changes that make the idea of imperfection, perfect.

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  90. Evolution and permeability are connected through time. As time goes on, things become more permeable to their environment. Envision the early ancestors of humans--I highly doubt that they were really taking in their environment--more or less they were most likely trying to stay alive and survive. Skip ahead to today--humans have allowed the environment to touch then and flow through them, which in return haas allowed us to come up with all kinds of sciences based on our observations and things of the like.

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  91. Permeability and evolution are connected because as organisms go through life, they need to adapt to their environments. This process does take a long time, but it led to Darwin's discovery of evolution. These organisms will evolve based on how they let their environment permeate into their lives or themselves.

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  92. The connection between evolution and permeability is simple - The best way I see it is that as we learn facts, whether about biology and the sciences or not, each of our brains are permeable with what we allow in. It's no mystery that we are brought up and raised 'knowing' much from our parents and that seems to be golden truth. Evolution, the change, can take over and repeat this process over time and change the amount of permeability in our minds, in turn opening us up to different perspectives and knowledge that we might have disregarded and purged before.

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  93. Permeability, according to the article, can be a product of ‘mistakes’ in a system. These mistakes, however, allow for evolution. If everything were perfect and the same, nothing would evolve because there would be nothing to correct. We would all be the same, which could harm evolution and a species: if everything was the same, one random occurrence in nature could eliminate an entire species. It’s our imperfections that allow us to survive and grow.

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  94. Permeability and evolution are connected because variations allow for permeability and without variations there would be no evolution. Variations allow contribute to an organism's fitness, which allows it to survive and reproduce and thus evolve. And variations also allow for permeability in biological systems.

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  95. Evolution and permeability are seemingly non-related but actually has a relation. Over time through evolution, natural selections, and selective pressures, things in nature are able to change either to become more permeable or less permeable depending on how much they need to adapt to survive.

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  96. Every so often, a mutation or oddity permeates the evolutionary track, and we get strange things like the spookfish and aardvarks. These creatures don't make much sense, honestly, but somewhere along the line, an unusual gene permeated the standard genetic make and something new was created.

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  97. I think evolution and permeability are linked because they are both based on change. When a molecule or protein permeates the cell, it evolves, it changes. Evolution is based on development and progression and change. Isn't permeability based on similar, if not the same, values?

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  98. Evolution and permeability are connected in biological systems. As evolution occurs, their permeability in biological systems determines how well they can survive. An organism that can survive in and out of many systems is an ideal organism and helps lead the path of evolution.

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  99. Permeation allows our bodies to evolve through imperfections and natural selections. Due to these factors entering our bodies overtime, we have become the beings we are today. This is ultimately what Darwin was describing when he wrote about the survival of the fittest.

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  100. The connection between evolution and permeability is openness. As we age into adolescence, our brains become permeable to new information and attitudes around us and we are impressionable. Because our brains are permeable and allow new information to come in, we are able to learn a lot about the world around us if we are open to this rewarding experience. College is a perfect time for this, as we are in a new and constantly changing environment that requires our brains to be plastic and flexible. Because we are adolescents, our brains haven't fully developed, so they are more permeable, or open to new things, as opposed to when we're older and our brains become less plastic and our ideas and beliefs become crystallized and we become rigid in our ways of life- Grace Alessi

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  101. The concepts of permeability and evolution are connected because evolution wouldn’t be possible without permeability. Permeability is a broad term that can be applied to many situations, and this is no different for evolution. As the article explains with Darwin’s concept of “fitness,” variations are needed for a species to adapt to new environmental changes and survive.

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  102. Permeability and evolution are very closely related and work together. Permeability allows the object to change and adapt, just as evolution causes organisms to change to adapt to their environments.

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  103. Evolution and permeability are very closely related. I think that everything around us is constantly changing through evolution. And through change things become more or less permeable. Or more or less selectively permeable. The "imperfections" that come with evolution are exactly what can cause that change in permeability. The holes in the rock, for example, are what have made it more permeable.

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  104. Evolution and permeability are connected in two ways. The first way is that certain organisms evolve to become physically more permeable. The second way is a more conceptual view of permeability applied to general evolutionary idea. Some organisms are allowed to evolve and some were not strong enough to evolve and their species died out.

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  105. The concept of evolution and permeability are relate because as things evolve they become more permeable over time. Like the rock becoming more porous as it evolved, newly evolved animals permeate the environment after they evolve. In the process of natural selection details how after an animal evolved it either is suited to its environment and permeates it, or dies because the evolutionairy trait it developed was ineffective.

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  106. Evolution and permeability are interconnected. Both are under the influence of outside forces and both change gradually over time. In evolution, everything is permeable. Certain traits are let in and others are left out of the genetic ladder. An organism's environment permeates the creature. The two are intrinsically related in an imperfect way as the blog shows.

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  107. There's a fairly obvious relation between evolution and biological permeability -- that is that the cell membrane has to be permeable in order for us to survive, or even for us or almost any life that comes to mind to have ever existed. However, the link between evolution and non-biological permeability, e.g. permeating smells, permeating cultures, etc, is a bit less obvious. I suppose in a non-biological context, civilization could not have "evolved" to its current point if it wasn't for the permeability of many cultures.

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  108. First glance at this rock and it is clear it is permeable. There are so many large holes which substances could easily flow through. What is significant is the fact that there are other tiny holes throughout that are also permeable that get more permeable as time goes on. Therefore evolution effects permeability because as time goes on permeability can change: in this example the permeability of this specific rock changes but there are countless variations to permeability in general that are possible through evolution.

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  109. At home, I live by the beach in California. It is always cool to come across rocks and shells that have been permeated by the water over time. It's easy to tell they're permeated because there are holes, grooves, and shapes in them and they wash up when the waves crash on shore. As a selective pressure, the waves permeate the rocks and significantly affect their physical structure.

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  110. Evolution and permeability are definitely connected. Without permeability we would not have been able to evolve into the humans and society that is today. I mean this literally in the fact that we are alive because of the permeability in the membranes of our cells, as this is how they function. I also mean this figuratively, as for things to change and develop (or evolve) there must be "permeability" in the developing things that allow outside pressures to change them gradually over time.

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  111. Evolution has to require permeability, the world is full of selective pressures and with something that cannot be permeated, it cannot be influenced by those pressure per se. The evolutionary trait that allows us to be vulnerable and yet strong when dealing with these permeating things could be a main source of growth. It could perhaps, in our age of knowledge, lead to deeper and more critical learning.

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  112. Evolution and permeability are connected. This is because over time something can become more or less permeable depending on their environment around them. The rock that is outside the Boston Museum of Fine Arts evolved to become more permeable over time, creating more holes in it. The environment permeates the object and over time, allows it to evolve.

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  113. If there were no imperfections, there would be no humans. Evolution needs imperfection to occur. The flaw in some organism might allowed it to survive and then that trait will be passed on. The selectivity of evolution is permeable. It lets some flaws by.

    Alejandra Rodriguez

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  114. Evolution and permeability are connected in many ways. Because evolution is a multi-step process, there is room for error. This error allows for permeability in the species. Species can be changed because of this degree of error.

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  115. Permeability and evolution are dependent on each other. Permeability does not only have to be water or a gas, it can be any kind of challenge one comes across and has to push through. Evolving is evolving through permeability. You change because of an obstacle, try to pass through that obstacle, thats permeability.

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  116. evolution and permeability are closely related because objects become more permeable over the course of time. evolution represents a gradual change over time. When looking at the rock discussed in the post, it is evident that the rock became more permeable over time as evolution caused it to develop more holes, resulting in a more permeable rock.

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  117. Permeability in evolution is what allows for survival or lack of surival. The changes that occur over time allowing for evolution in themselves are permeable in a sense because they may be positive or negative. Evolution needs permeability in order to occur because it allows for changes, thrival, or failure.

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  118. There is a link between permeability and evolution. Evolution causes thing to change over time in order to enhance their survival skills. sometimes things will evolve to become more permeable or less permeable, depending on what environment it is in.

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  119. Evolution and permeability are closely related. Permeability allows certain things to pass through a layer, and what it selectively allows through can affect the form and structure of the object. Just as the protein channel allows for the concentration of solutes to pass through.

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  120. Evolution and permeability are strongly connected because I believe evolution has happened thanks to permeability. Our brains and genes are permeable to changes in our surroundings, which is what proves Darwin's idea of "survival of the fittest." Those species who were able to adapt and allow changes to permeate their lives, are the ones surviving now.

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  121. Evolution is like permeability in the way that evolution is something that goes through phases. Evolution is permeable because it changes over time and it become more receptive to other things. It essentially becomes permeable to more characteristics.

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  123. Evolution and permeability are related. Organisms evolved overtime because of imperfections that allowed some to survive and reproduce and pass on their traits. Therefore, this selectivity about what organisms will survive and reproduce and pass on their traits or which will die is permeable.

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  124. It seems that evolution and permeability are related because they both are things that cause change. Evolution in itself is the concept that beings genetically change over time and this allows for the organism to adapt and thrive in their environment. Permeability is also a value of change because as substances flow in and out of a membrane the content of the object changes. For instance when the membrane of a plant cell allows for more water to flow into the cell the inside of the cell changes salinity.

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  125. Evolution and permeability are connected because over time, objects in nature evolve and get permeable due to many aspects in their environment. They learn how to adapt to their environment, further causing an object to become more permeable. The rock outside of the Fine Arts Museum is a perfect example of a permeable object evolving within its environment. Since Boston’s climate is constantly ever changing, (i.e. rainfall and snow almost everyday during the winter) the Limestone rock has eroded creating holes and forming a new shape. Through this process, the rock will continue to evolve and become permeable in its environment.

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  126. Evolution and permeability are connected, because all organisms are somewhat permeable to their environments, and evolution is all about how organisms adapt to their environments. Both evolution and permeability are about creating the "fittest" of every organism.

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  127. Permeability causes variation and change in objects and materials, much like evolution does. Imperfections and change are properties of both permeability and evolution. Moreover, the older things get, they have a tendency to become more permeable, so the two work together.

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  128. Evolution and permeability are related because without permeability there would be little change. Change is a key part in evolution because species evolve by making adaptive changes to help them survive. Permeability allows for species to make changes to evolve.

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  129. Evolution and permeability are related because permeability allows for materials to change, transform, "evolve". Permeability, then, is an agent of evolution. Perhaps permeability is essential to evolution.

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  130. I view permeability, in this scenario, as the ability to go with the flow of environmental changes or imperfections. I am thinking of the water level rise that we spoke so frequently about over the Intensive Week. It is definitely not ideal or perfect that the water will rise higher than the developed land of Boston, but we must adjust and learn to live a different way in order to survive. I don't know I would view this as evolution, in the traditional sense, but it is a necessary for humans to continue living in this area.

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  131. I think that just as much as our designs need to be permeable, the people within those designs need to be permeable as well. We talked a lot about this in Margarita's class last week - the human element sometimes hinders "scientific" permeability. How can we meld science and art and design in particular if the people appreciating or living with it can't open their minds to let it take them somewhere. Two sides to this sword and without a shift on both sides we may ALL be at a loss. (pessimism I know)

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  132. I am constantly thinking about art and my personal art practice in all the readings and deliverable we do. evolution and permeability are necessary when making artwork. It very rarely turns out the way you expect it to be. Just recently a piece of mine shattered, however after I put it back together the art took on a more interesting form and meaning. This absolutely relates to design and sustainability. Out of the unexpected comes ingenuity, beauty and resilience.

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  133. I understand the concept in terms of darwin but I am strugling to apply it to my personal experiences. two years ago my firm was given a task to design an ambulatory care center that was flexible that each practice could extract or expand into adjacent exam rooms as the patient load demanded. Ironically manyof the medicine practices required special equipment or setups of one kind or another. the design eventually evolved into making rooms vaguely similar but including all the special equipment. It was rather challenging to evolve the program for each practice into one cohesive building but it is done. I guess all my projects have to allow my clients inputs and they always change their mind. I have always been on teams that feel the client knows how best touse their space andit is our responsibility to do it well for them and help them see oppurtunities to do things better that we have found on other projects. With every project you learn how to do something better but on the next project you learn how to do it better or morph it to apply to a different use.

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  134. Imagine a "perfect" social system and then ask "how could anything be better than perfect?" The answer is that it could be open and vulnerable and adaptable. The idea of perfect implies a particular time and place, because a social system is perfect only in the context in which it is perfect. If the context changes, then it's not perfect any more. So how can long-term survivability of various social systems be made more likely? By opening up whatever it is (the "perfect" system) to its environment, by letting ideas, resources, people, whatever...flow in and out. As that happens, things are changed. What was perfect in one context would become obsolete and dysfunctional without open boundaries that permit exchanges with the environment and thus allow systems to adapt and evolve to fit their changing contexts. Looking at organizations, those that have rigidly designed systems of interaction and hierarchy may work beautifully when they are are first created. As the world changes, as people change, as technology changes, etc, only those organizations that allow the inflow of people, ideas, and resources to prompt system changes will evolve to survive (thrive?) under new conditions.

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  135. Vulnerability/ permability can be applied to a topic I'm currently writing about. It involves the construction of resilient buildings in our north point project. I have come to realize more and more that the people of a community are what make the structures truly resilient. People have to be coexisting with these buildings and essentially deciding the important components of the building, especially when it comes to a natural disaster. These buildings are the 'variation' in the population that will be able to survive and it will be because they are able to adapt to whatever comes at them. They are also the factor that will help to preserve the human population essentially.

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  136. Well, this is my second attempt to post a comment, lost the first one in the ether. Therefore you are getting a shortened version. I essentially said that this idea of permeability is analogous to systems engineering in my world. We do not build and implement any kind of plan without first performing a needs assessment with our clients and from that we develop a prioritized set of requirements. We then develop work schedules and deliverables and track them as we perform our work transitioning scientific research into operational environments for societal benefit. This was not done in our Intensive week and in our design for NorthPoint, We had no interaction with any client(s), had no requirements, and our design team of 7 diverse individuals essentially became the stakeholders and owners. We were forced to compromise and change our minds on things in this approach. That (change and compromise) happens in systems engineering as well and therefore it analogues to permeability.

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  137. I remember from my childhood walking into a church probably in Rome and someone pointing out the master's column and the apprentice's column. The apprentice's was very simple, naturally, where as the master's was absolutely covered in ornate patterning. When you talked about the 'scholar's rock' being a kind of ideal, I thought compared it to this memory. Where the apprentice's rock would be a big, perfectly beveled chunk of marble. Something big and impressive. Where as the master's rock would be the scholar's rock, something big and porous, with shapes and shadows and unevenness and discoloration.
    Vulnerability means something can improve. As the Thomas the Tinker said from 'Into the Land of the Unicorns' (another fond childhood memory) "Sometimes when you mend a chain, the place where you fix it is strongest of all... Never was a chain that couldn't be broken. Sometimes its even a good idea.” You can't get better unless you admit there's a place to improve.

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  138. Variation is a necessary part of living in our environment. Evolution is the natural extension of entropy.

    I would like to emphasize that evolution only occurs with living organisms whereas change/entropy/erosion impacts the non-living. Something to keep in mind is that matter and energy are always preserved regardless of reactions/death/births.

    Within the building environment permeability is termed as access and pathways are all about incorporating natural way finding systems. Built environments by non-human organisms meets their basic needs. If we think back to the termite mounds, they build their shelter based upon where the pheromones have been laid down and are actively changed dependent upon the needs of the colony. Built environments for humans have been designed in ways which are much less flexible and the needs of the clients are not always fully understood (or met). A good sustainable design system must incorporate a natural way finding system that as you move through the building in no way impedes your basic needs, variations are expected to develop as your base needs change.

    PS: I think you might want to add an emphasis in this prompt to consider how permeability and evolution are revealed in the built environment. :)

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  139. Living organisms are all composed of permeable membranes, this quality establishes their ever changing composition. Evolution is precisely this, a non-static state in which living things have endless possibilities of change. The openness and vulnerability of human life (as well as all living things), lead to evolution because there is always new configurations happening at a cellular level and no model is ever equal to another, even with identical twins. The key to this concept is diversity. We as humans must be vulnerable and open to change, having this permeable attitude towards life will make us resilient to evolution.

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  141. Reflecting the concept of vulnerability and imperfection to evolution, by making mistakes, we are forced to disect and gain a deeper understanding of the subject st hand. This allows evolution of ideas, design, motive, and follow through. As we proceed in any given area, we must delve into our mistakes for greater understanding. When something. Doesn't work, the pause, reelection, and attempts at embarking again are the evolutionary process that all designs and ideas go through to become greater. No athlete is born a winner...it's through the process that greater awareness and clarity becomes defines. This applies to any scientist, inventor, designer, or most any profession or skill.
    Without vulnerability, there are no opportunities for enhanced learning. Humans and living creatures are in a constant state of vulnerability, just by merely existing. We are open to the circumstances of our surroundings and experiences. This is all catalyst for evolution. The more conscious we can become of this, maybe the more clarity we can gain, and expidite the process of evolution

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