An inside look at the 1979 display project at MIT

MIT lobby 7 at
77 Mass. Avenue

1979 Display Project titled, What is Life? 

Over 100 living scholars were initially selected by a group of academics from Boston University, Harvard, MIT, and Boston College. That list was narrowed down to 77 by the scholars.  Books, articles and works-in-progress were made available. The project was inspired by visiting with David Bohm in 1977 at Birkbeck College in London where we examined fragmentation (the parts) and wholeness.  There was a long discussion about basic structures, particularly the tetrahedron and octahedron. At Boston University, primarily with Harry Oliver, there was an extensive discussion about the ontology, epistemology and cosmology of structure with a particular focus to discern analogues between the small-scale structures, human-scale structures and large-scale structures within the universe.

More about the display project (a little brochure for that endeavor is pictured at the bottom of the overview page)

The Tetrahedrons Within A Tetrahedron

The simple tetrahedron. There are four half-sized tetrahedrons in each corner and the octahedron in the middle. That center face (yellow) is one of four exterior faces of the octahedron. The four other faces are interior.  This image was in the television series back in 1997 when we were trying to model “People-Products-Processes” in business.  For more…

Students:  High School

The first lesson for high school students and one class of sixth graders also known as Scientific Savants. This page will be updated until it is part of the STEM curriculum with those high schools open to exploration.

The Octahedron With Eight Tetrahedrons

There are six half-sized octahedrons, one in each corner, and eight tetrahedrons, one in each face, sharing a common center vertex  These two faces of the octahedron show the enclosed four crisscrossing hexagonal plates outlined with red, white, blue and yellow tape.  Students:  High School

The TOT line or chain

 one octahedron, two tetrahedrons…

The tetrahedral-octahedral layer is found naturally in nature within phyllosilicates. Yet, that simple structure in nature is rendered here in clear plastic.  It is easier to study and analyze and to ask a few “What if?” questions.

For example,  the yellow and green tape of  a chain of two tetrahedrons-one octahedron render a more basic form of  a double-helix.  Could it be a deeper domain, a simpler structure, that gives rise to the even richer complexity of the RNA-DNA sequencing that is observed?

I would be the first to acknowledge that it is a stretch.

Notwithstanding, in March 2007,  I contacted several biologists to test that  rather undeveloped thought. I started with Dr. Francis Collins, at that time the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Collins had written a book and his publisher had  asked me to provide her with some feedback.

When approached by email and then by telephone, Collins was never available. I suspect he believes it is overly simplistic. However,  in time, I may be vindicated in some manner of speaking.