look, here’s how it works: we are all molecules and together, we form a large volume of fluid. this is the theme of modern western civilization: we have become a mass fluidity formed by millions of individual molecules. all of humanity is similar to a massive volume of fluid. we consume ever increasing amounts of energy in “seeking our own level,” just as water does.
as the populations in our cities grow, the vessels and pathways we have developed for ourselves are generations old and insufficient for the new volume levels of our human fluid. the most classic example of this insufficiency is automobile traffic congestion.
nobody who lives or works in the one of the west’s cultural centers is unaware of the monumental nuisance of traffic congestion. this plague robs us of thousands of hours of our lives, reducing the quality of the time we spend on the planet.
it is proving impossible for our cities to build enough infrastructure to support delay-free transportation for its citizens. removal of the automobile or a declination in its popularity isn’t in the cards until crude oil becomes extinct from the planet. the problem is quite without a practical solution, so the general consnsus goes.
luckily, the general consensus is often wrong. there is something we can do when we’re behind the wheel. we can become smarter molecules.
unlike water, the human fluid is made up of millions of people all of whom have, one supposes, a capacity for thinking. it turns out that when we drive, we each have a small potential to apply our minds to traffic congestion we encounter and actually counteract it. in fact, a few people in a traffic jam, driving appropriately, can have long-reaching effects on traffic behind them and in fact can imbue a conciousness to the fluid channel that is a expressway and thereby get the traffic moving again.
william beatty is a geek who gets stuck in traffic a lot. and since he’s a geek, he noticed a pattern in the noise one day. the noise was highway congestion. the pattern was that stop-and-start traffic moves in waves. waves in fluid; that’s what traffic jams usually are.
it turns out you can drive in such a way as to “break up” the waves of congestion. in short, you always maintain a big space in front of you no matter what your speed. the effect is profound and a lot of fun to try out there. you can actually affect your surroundings to a point where traffic congestion can be overcome and elevated speed for all returns. it actually works and you need to read about it.