Category Archives: History

Tribology to Triboly

Society is poised to make the leap from Tribology to Triboly!

We have reduced friction for centuries & are now close to zero friction for our jump to a #FrictionLessSociety™, a lazy phrase that says what something is not! I dub that “something” Triboly: The art of living without friction.

Frictionless is a Lazy Non-Word

It is a very close 1st cousin of its root word, friction, which is the unifying subject of a broad area of science and engineering study properly named Tribology.

This is a third-generation box of mostly concrete mechanical knowledge and skill. The only box in the diagram above with a doorway to the #FrictionLessSociety™ is the abstract fourth-generation box of information knowledge and skill: Management of Knowledge.

I owe a genuine gratitude of thanks to my life-long friend and colleague, Jim Russell, a first-class technologist and businessman, who recently introduced me to this new word (new to me). He made me realize that my current field of study had no proper name. Thanks Jim!

He also made me wonder, “Am I a tribolologist who writes about frictionless experiences that I have never had; or a tribolosopher who writes about the meanings of the frictionless life I lead; or a blurred mixture of each, …nay, I am an entangled mixture of all three states of being. Thanks Jim for helping me clear this up.

If a something is important enough to be a distinction, to have a proper name and definition (i.e., its own “box”), why would we ever need or use a non-name?

(Hi, I am not a John, nor a Mary, nor anyone else but me; How’s it going?) This makes no sense to me. I am a Tribolien in Triboly, or  Triboland, if you prefer.  Non-words open a Pandora’s box to an infinity of confusing possibilities.

Friction, the antonym of frictionless, is the proper box word for rubbing derived from the Greek root word, tribos (hence, Tribology, the knowledge of rubbing, duh).” Neat and tidy, but not so fast.

The non-words problem turn out to be annoying pests. This problem even exists in the professional word-profession itself: Literature! The word fiction was made up from the French word ficcion, meaning to make up in order to categorize written works that are made-up stories (entertaining “lies?”) as opposed to re-made-up stories from memories of actual experiences (entertaining “truths?”).

This is a slippery slope; there are some lies in most truth and some truth in most lies.

This inherent fuzziness and confusion of word boxes is the problem of the excluded middle from Aristotle’s logic and the Sophist’s romanticism; blame the Greeks 1st and 2nd, then the French 3rd.

Is Freedom the proper word for Frictionless; meaning Without Restriction?

Tested against physical nature, words show their limitations once again; freedom to penetrate the smallest regions of space reveals uncertain fuzziness. Objective reality repeatedly breaks down at the smallest quantum-level of nature (10-35 meters); the observer and the observed become entangled as one bubbling reality of quantum probabilities which  produce predicted calculated results of amazing precision..

Strangely, reality at the quantum level seems to exist in both a restricted and free state at the same time! Paradoxically, science used the crisp logic of falsifiability to prove a fuzzy scientific truth based on uncertainty—quantum physics. The sculpturer can never be sure what he will find when the last few flakes of stone are chipped away.

This fantastical scientific reality of quantum physics is what allows silicon chips in all computer systems of modern society to work by allowing information to move through crystalline barriers with surprising probability, a truth which Newtonian physics says cannot be.

Here is the scary bottom line: Modern society runs on quantum probability non- box concepts that are foreign to our everyday understanding and experience with reality.  We have built systems below the nanometer level we can barely control as we are poised to create artificially intelligent quantum computer systems that will dwarf current human capabilities and intelligent potential.

If this does not freak you out, alternatively with fear and promise, nothing will. This uncertainty is probably what’s driving the world a little mad right now and will continue until (and if) we figure it all out to move on completely from our old 3rdGen Newtonian flatland to our new 4thGen Einsteinian Triboland.