Aquaponics and the Meaning of Life

With the first Winter rains now falling in the Western Cape of South Africa and the grapevines almost bare of their Summer plumage, ones thoughts turn to more philosophical directions. I enjoy Winter in the Cape. It offers a time for introspection; re-visiting the successes and failures of the previous growing season and planning for what lies ahead.

Aquaponics (AP) really is a scale model of the workings of the earth and provides a great platform to explain how everything hangs together. I have taken many school groups through my various AP builds over the years and I have found it extremely heartening to see the “light-bulb” moment as a child suddenly sees the point of it all. When he/she realizes that every system (whether organic or mechanical) works exactly the same and that it is infinitely scalable, the impact is huge.

Nature has no waste. Every output from one system is an input for another. Our artificially created, urban living areas “appear” to generate massive waste and seem, on the face of it, to be unbalanced, but in reality nature mops up the waste over time and uses it as an input in another system. What we must realize is that it doesn’t all happen immediately and it may be many, many years before the next system even needs the output from the earlier system.

There are many examples of this. Gold mining is one. The goldfields of South Africa and other gold producing countries are littered with “mine dumps”. These discarded mountains of earth are the by-product of the mining and extraction process. At the time, the cost and availability of technology and the price of gold didn’t make it feasible to process these dumps any further. Now, many years later, it provides a lucrative new source of gold which is extracted from these “dumps”.

Landfills are another example. I predict that in the future these hidden dumps of a civilizations waste will power cities with easily-extractable methane and the solid matter recycled in a multitude of ways.

There is no waste in the long-term.

AP has often been described as a “closed-loop” system; a perpetual motion, organic machine that, once in balance, will sustain itself indefinitely.  In theory this is true, but in practice it is not very long before some or other input is required, the most obvious being food for the fish. Another is an AP systems rapid depletion of iron and other trace elements needed in only small doses, but without which, the system comes crashing down.

The secret of AP and Life itself, is thus BALANCE. Balance is often not apparent in a snapshot, but if you look at the system, in whatever form, over a period of time, it seems to smooth out and settle into a balanced state.

Our lives, in a seemingly meaningless, headlong rush to the grave, also seem out of balance, but below the surface of this raging river is a calm, balanced, REASON for it all.  Sometimes we just have to step back, lift our eyes from our iPhones and other distracting gadgets and realize that this is all part of a bigger plan.

We are just so bogged down by detail and noise and confusion. To truly appreciate the meaning of it all, maybe we should just go out into our gardens and truly OBSERVE the miracle of nature, be it only in a tiny patch of green that we call our own.

Henry David Thoreau, the finest American philosopher who ever lived, said, “Our life is frittered away by detail.

Get out there and appreciate it.

Walden1

Later

Synaptoman

Words of Wisdom

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Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955

Albert Einstein was an amazing physicist. He figured out so many universal principles and equations that he was way ahead of his fellow scientists at any point of time. But he is also remembered for another thing; a quality which made people call him a genius: his words.

Prof. Einstein was a philosopher who clearly understood the laws of success and explained them like the way he did with his equations. Here is a list of 10 things out of the numerously wonderful things he had said; 10 golden lessons that you can put to use in your everyday life.

1. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

Most people don’t try new things because of their fear of failure. Failing is not something to be afraid of. It is often the losers who learn more about winning than the winners. Our mistakes always give us opportunities to learn and grow.

2. Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

30 years from now, you won’t possible remember what chapters you had in your science book; you’d only remember what you learn on your way. Life lessons stay with you forever. Real education starts from within.

3. I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

When you reflect on how far we humans have come from the prehistoric caves to mind-blowing technological advancements, you would feel the power of imagination. What we have now was built from the imagination of our forefathers. What we will have in future will be built from our imagination.

4. The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

Creativity and uniqueness often depends on how well you hide your sources. You can get inspired and influenced by other great people; but when you are on stage with the whole world watching, you must become a unique, individual force that learnt different values from different people.

5. The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive. Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.

If you think of all the top people in the world, they would have added something of value to the world. You must give in order to take. When your purpose is contributing or adding value to the world, you will be elevated to a higher level of living.

6. There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.

When nothing is a miracle, you gain the power of doing anything you want and you have no limits. And when everything is a miracle, you stop by to appreciate even the smallest of beautiful things in the world. Thinking both ways will give you a productive and happy life.

7. When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.

Dreaming about all the great things that you can achieve is the key to a life filled with positivity. Let your imagination run amuck and create the world that you would wish to be in.

8. In order to be an immaculate member of a flock of sheep, one must above all be a sheep oneself.

If you want to become a very successful entrepreneur, you must start a business right away. Wishing to become one, but fearing the consequences will not help. The same applies to everything – in order to win a game, one must above all play the game.

9. You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.

Learn the rules of your game and start playing it best. Keep competing like your life depended on it. And after a while you will have no one else but you to compete against. At that point, better your best.

10. The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving” – Albert Einstein

* This was unashamedly copied and pasted directly from an email received. I found it most inspiring, and hope you do to.

Inspired

Synaptoman