Friday, December 21, 2012

Mass Flow

Heavy rain in the forecast for Boston today. As I sit here writing in the predawn light I see the trees out front swaying in the wind.

Water in a stream or lake or ocean. Every molecule attached to others so its as if the body of water were a massive molecule with its own properties and behaviors.

One behavior of water in rivers is mass flow, where in a sense the whole body of water is moving as one. Mass flow is also a phenomenon in plants also, where a column of water under great pressure is loosely attached to vessel walls and the molecules behave as one, gliding up the walls of the xylem cells.

If you have ever seen the tide go out you have observed mass flow in all its drama. Likewise the onslaught and retreat of waves along a beach.

In meditation I have visualized that mass of water flowing back into the ocean, carrying with it pebbles, bits of wood, and turning larger stones over and over as they move with the strength of the water. That water is like the flow of time.

Mass flow to the tips of plants, mass flow in a stream, mass flow of the tide. All of these are markers of, and evidence for temporal passage, the movement of time.

In fifty years my children will be well into their seventies, their children well into adulthood, their grandchildren flowing forward with the "tide" of time unaware of my years floating and flowing. This is natural. My great grandparents are unknown and unimaginable to me, who barely knew his grandparents lives.

Somehow these thoughts caused no anxiety when they came to me in the middle of the night. More of a waking dream, a meditation, a warm blanket of reality.







11 comments:

  1. The part of this short essay that most helped me visualize and understand the concept of mass flow was the bit about meditation. Your description of the tide of water on the sand, pulling back stones, pebbles, bits of wood, and sand as it retreats back into the ocean rang true to me, as I have witnessed this first hand around beaches in New England, since a young age. Not only is this a peaceful image, it illustrates to me exactly how mass flow works- every bit of water works together towards a common goal- in this case, retreating back from whence it came. I can understand why this image has been used for your personal meditation, as it is very natural and peaceful to the mind. I can almost hear the ocean's retreating pull, part of nature, mass flow in a world so complex.

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  2. The part where you describe the ocean carrying pebbles and bits of wood helped me understand what “mass flow” is. It is easy to imagine the river’s pull and pushing, it is probably the easiest example to understand as most people have seen this push and pull of the tides for themselves at some point in their lives, most likely at a beach or maybe at a nearby river.

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  3. The part of the essay where I better understood mass flow came in the second paragraph when you told us the moving of water molecules as one in a river is an example of mass flow and also in the third paragraph when you told us tides were an example of mass flow. This helped me visualize mass flow.

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  4. The part of the essay that helped me to understand "mass flow" was definitely the ocean metaphor.

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  5. The part of the essay that helped me understand mass flow was when you described the idea of a mass of water flowing back into the ocean.

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  6. The part of the essay that helped me understand mass flow is when you showed mass flow through rivers and plants.

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  7. The example of Mass Flow that made it clear for me was the ocean waves example. It's quite loud and big and hard to miss.

    Alejandra Rodriguez

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  8. Nice reflections about water as a whole. It is indeed a powerful force and it absolutely serves as a metaphor for time. Everything flows in this world, so to speak! from Tess Velasquez, MET IS 380 Group 1 Student

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  9. Very serene post – great meditation thought. The flow of water is something we all can visualize, though many see it as the particular movement in what’s happening in front of them, not seeing it as a whole moving together. The water moving into the Hudson from Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondacks is moving as one with the water spilling in the Atlantic in NYC – all parts of the whole, in concert together.

    I particularly like the visualization provided, “… mass of water flowing back into the ocean, carrying with it pebbles, bits of wood, and turning larger stones over and over as they move with the strength of the water. That water is like the flow of time.” This drove the point home for me and I particularly like the concept being associated with the flow of time, very real indeed. We are water and we flow through time as a moment of the whole.

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  10. I really began to understand the concept of mass flow when you talked about the river moving as one entity. A very powerful visual.

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  11. I'm was walking on the beach this morning; I can feel the strength of the water pulling me as the tide goes out. Even if the tide is coming in, I still feel the strength of the waves pulling the water back into the ocean. I also love the visual of the "column of water under great pressure is loosely attached to vessel walls and the molecules behave as one, gliding up the walls of the xylem cells. " This quote from above made me think deeper about the Costa Rican landscape with the beautiful green palms and other native foliage. It makes me wonder if the gravitational pull has an effect on the interior column of plants?

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