CHANGE: one or more events that disrupt established equanimity

The cosmos presents as an incomprehensibly unbounded system of quasi-organized sub-systems in a state of chaotic instability. These system-processes leave residues which are recognizable within appropriate timescales. Thus radioactive decay processes leave subatomic particle evidence, film photography leaves silver deposits in gelatin, visual observation by living entities leaves neuron configurations called memories, paleozoic animals sometimes leave skeletal remains in geological strata...and so on... These residues themselves of course, are subjected to a wide variety of decay, weathering, geological, radiation, and biological degradation processes that all contribute to their eventual disintegration and reabsorption back into the general chaotic cosmic background. Whenever such residues are whatever means...time has elapsed between the comparisons and differences can always eventually be detected if an adequate technology is utilized and sufficient detail is examined. 'Change' is what we attribute to a system or entity or process, when two or more state residues are compared and the technology used is able to detect differences.

When being confronted without choice by such seemingly incessant mutation, dynamism and metamorphosis, it is probably not surprising that a conscious awareness might speculate as to the possibility that something or some system might perhaps be invariable. On a time-scale of about 102 years, many have assumed that the sun is an unchangeable constant presence, that the mountains have lasted forever, and that the continents and oceans are immutable evidence of a divine and eternal supreme creator. In recent human history, technological developments have been able to demonstrate that none of the above assumptions are credible, and that only a limited number of fundamental particle types might end up being deemed intrinsically changeless. The proton, for example, has never been experimentally observed to be anything but invariably stable and there are quite a few of those. However, speculative estimates of a theoretical 'half-life' of a proton as being of the order of 1032years is so far removed from the 102 lifespan of a human or even the 1010 supposed age of the universe, that credibility evaporates.

Various seemingly related aspects appear to be able to be associated in the mind and simplified into subsystems that allow biological awarenesses to successfully interact and survive and participate in the reality. Fundamentally, a living thing must consciously or unconsciously successfully interact and/or understand a food production system, and how to avoid natural environmental hazards. As 'intelligence' evolves, increasingly sophisticated systems are hypothesized and are trialled as potentially useful existential simplifications. In the present era, with a more 'scientific' perspective, we have come to imagine that there are such structures as solar systems, galactic systems, eco-systems, meteorological systems, plate tectonic systems, evolutionary systems, reproductive systems, and so on, and that their supposed reality will enable us to successfully manipulate our environment and facilitate our survival.

The idea of change presupposes some sort of substrata continuity that can make any changes observable and is directly conceptually linked to the change. A flowering plant displays a continuity of changes which are intrinsically associated with that particular plant. If the plant catastrophically ceases to exist, it seems inappropriate to consider the plant as participating any further in 'change', although on a more cosmic scale, we could still think of the universe being the continuity, and the plant disappearance as being an observable change of that entity. In an attempt to push analytical simplifications to the limit, it is perhaps tempting to suppose that the presence of a 'continuity' is not a necessary element in the establishment of change. We can identify a flower on one hand say, and a star on the other and reflect on how their differences might be interpreted as 'change'. But outside of the realms of magic and fantasy, one would not normally suppose that all of the elements of a flower could have 'changed' into those of a star. And even if I considered that my idea of a flower could change into an idea of a star, it is still not the flower that has changed but my idea that has changed. It would seem therefore that the most pragmatic use of the idea of change is in the context of a mutating continuity of form where a 'before' configuration and an 'after' configuration can be clearly identified and recorded.

The process of detecting change, where one situation is judged to be different from another situation, would appear to be inextricably implicated with time, comparison, continuity and difference. Change that is independent of time seems impossible to imagine. Comparisons cannot be done matter what the technology. Very rapidly the speed of light even...but not instantaneously. We may imagine that we can 'instantly' perceive the difference between two objects in our field of view, but even if we allow the possibility of neural parallel processing, it will still take a certain amount of time for the visual pathways to register the field of view and to process the perceptual data. The existential reality is that one situation needs to be identified definitively at one recorded time, then another situation...clearly related to the first...must be similarly identified, and then some form of difference established. A flower bud photographed at two different times will indicate both similarities and differences. There is both a continuity of form and identity of the flower well as the differences the growth process unfolds. The idea that I had on one day... about how 'change' might be described... may have to be modified on another day, when I am forced to include considerations that I had previously overlooked. My awareness is the continuity within which the change idea becomes altered and its two forms compared.

Convincing evidence for change resides primarily in the direct use of biological senses and memory structures and technologies that involve the measurement of physical parameters. An individual remembers the state of a flower-bud on one day, and then observes that the same bud has opened further on the next day. One notes that the rain gauge is empty in the evening, and then measures 5mm of water in the morning. Such evidence is far from indisputable of course, because biological memories are fallible reconstructions and a malicious garden gnome may have urinated in the rain gauge during the night to make it look like it must have rained. Never-the-less, a consensus of multiple observations and/or a diverse range of alternative technologies, can accumulate a corroboration about a specific change. Attempting to determine the extent and nature of change in a complex structure/system is much more difficult, because the intellectual model that is used to describe the system is a simplification and thus deficient in numerous aspects. A model that purports to describe 'an ecosystem' or 'the climate' or a 'personality', 'political', 'legal', or 'economic' system , is often imbued with the bias and agendas of the awarenesses creating it. Determining or postulating relevant or significant change in such hypothetical structures is impossible to divorce from controversy and disputation. Thus, since any conjectured change in a complex system relies on the interpretations of the records and measurements of the elemental participants of the system, considerations of the nature of change should initially be constrained to those elements. Excluding complex systems for the moment therefore, one must first decide how to identify a supposedly simple generic entity or continuity that may be changing. This would seem to be relatively easy for flowers, clocks, stars and skin moles, but perhaps needing a little more care when considering winds and tides. Although therefore, it is often difficult or impossible to absolutely identify a 'oneness' using criteria that are universally acceptable, in most everyday circumstances, we can often proceed quite unconcernedly as if it poses no problem.

No matter what the speeds or complexity of the processes being considered, the detection of change in a 'simple' entity passes thru a series of phases in a specific order.
Firstly, the entity that may possibly be implicated in change must be identified. In everyday the garden say... one could just point to an apple and think no more about it, but in extra-ordinary circumstances... identifying a particular electron say... it is not a trivial matter, and we would have to think about it carefully.
Next, a method must be chosen and used to create a record of a state of the entity as a 'before' reference. In the garden we might just chose to 'remember' what the apple looked like, but deciding on a technology to record the state of an electron might challenge even the most ingenious. In more 'scientific' circumstances then, a method would have to be devised to carefully label the entity unambiguously, and use a recording technology like film photography, numerical data written on paper with pen and ink, semi-conductor memory devices, or some specific technique invented to cope with the circumstances. Of course, independently of humans, the cosmos may have already recorded situations that existed before humans by such processes as sedimentation, fossilization, magnetization and freezing.
Now... time must pass. It may only be nanoseconds, or it may be millions of years, but some repetitions of a countable periodicity must elapse, and they must be countable and recorded.
Following this, a record of the state must now be formed as an 'after' reference. Using the same technology is probably the most desirable, but this is often far from pragmatic or possible.
Finally a comparison procedure must be unambiguously codified, whereby the 'before' and 'after' records can be compared, and criteria implemented to formulate a decision , as to whether a difference is detectable and thus whether change has occurred or not.

Biological systems have evolved to detect environmental change and react to it. Prey evolve the ability to detect change that signals a predator presence. Predators evolve the ability to detect change that indicates possible prey. Many...if not organisms have developed sensory systems that can monitor change in the surroundings, and subsequent behavioral strategies that attempt to counter the change by moving away or neutralizing it. It might perhaps be supposed that for living entities without 'memories' an amoeba for example...the suggested phases of change detection would not strictly apply. However, the actual biochemical state of the animal prior to any interaction is in fact the 'before' state. The 'after' biochemical state is that which results from a reaction to light or acid or alkali, and this same state itself is the 'comparison' and 'criteria' phase all in one. Whether such considerations are relevant or pointless or not, the over-riding pragmatic factor is probably that as robots and machines are increasingly used to detect and react to change, the series of phases outlined above seem unavoidable.

Human engineering systems must also obviously be able to cope with change, and over the centuries this has become increasingly sophisticated. Much early engineering concentrated on creating structures and machinery that adequately performed a function and were strong enough to survive all but the most extreme of environmental changes. Churches and bridges and defense walls all had to withstand average storms and floods and assaults, and bows and trebuchet and windmills all had to be clever enough and utilize materials in such a manner that they could withstand the stress changes that they were subjected to. Any mathematics used in the design and construction would have been geometric and 'static' and concerned primarily with layout and positioning and magnitudes. Modern engineering now applies the modeling power of integral and differential calculus... where the behavior of 'infinitesimally' small elements and their ratios and sums are investigated... and utilizes the technological power of computing hardware to control the changes of dynamical systems in real time. Changes which are orders of magnitude different in speed and fractional duration are now detected, modeled, and used to trigger responses. Television data is filtered, weaponry telecommunications are monitored, autonomous vehicles are guided... all now in a realm which is outside direct human experience

Sociologically, change is never either universally resisted or universally welcomed. Whether it is climate change, technology change, or a change in personal relationships, some individuals will benefit and some will be disadvantaged. Whether such change is deemed 'good' or 'bad' will in all probability revolve around such propositions as 'the greatest good for the most people' or 'because it is harmful to the environment', or perhaps because it represents 'progress'. The stark uncompromising reality however, is that such changes will happen whether humans pass judgment on them or not, because processes like climatic, technological, sociological, economic and political change are in fact beyond human control, even though they imagine they can significantly influence them. The fact that so very,very few human individuals appreciate the total existential complex of environment, population growth, technological innovation, society conflict and psychotic religious influence, means that the overwhelming majority will continue their convergent focus on money-making, pop-culture, exploitation, sport, imperialism, et al, and ensure that natural evolutionary forces will continue to define the consequences.