February 21, 2002
I'm visiting a company that is marketing a revolutionary means of solving critical thinking problems, such as crimes or other mysteries where a conclusion is required on the basis of seemingly incomplete snippets of information. Guided by a written specification, I am following the real-time process of reaching a logical hypothesis through use of their facility on the basis of certain pieces of information I have at my disposal.
The facility consists of a seemingly endless series of rooms interconnected, each with every other, by slides or slide tubes. Rooms, or theaters, and tubes are strategically arranged to provide gravity feed from one to the next simply by sliding oneself into a tube -- providing the illusion that any and all choices lead to a next lower level.
Each theater is about fourteen feet square with floor consisting of stair-stepped concrete seating, each step 2.3 feet in depth and designed to sit on with feet placed on the next lower step, and each step about 14" lower than the previous one. In my perspective and for purposes of this description this arrangement drops away from the back, or upper wall, to the lower near wall to my immediate right at an angle of at least 30 degrees. A stairway of standard dimension and about 2.5 feet wide runs upward from font to rear along the wall on my left, with slides opening at the wall all along the stairway. On the wall opposite the stairway is a series of enclosed chambers, aligned one per step, with glass pull-down covers. These chambers can be crawled into for temporary safety from the bear while still monitoring his movements. At the bottom of the room, on my right, is a small stage built into the wall, which can be used for presentation of any additional facts introduced at this point in the evaluation process. The entire theater is austerely finished in a light shade of gray paint on smooth plaster and concrete so as to prevent distraction of any sort.
The evaluator may be introduced at any level. A slide is chosen on the basis of available information, and the evaluator arrives at the next level, where another slide is chosen on the basis of information available at that point. New information may become available at any time throughout the process, and theaters may be revisited without the evaluator's awareness due to the drab similarity of each. The evaluator continues this slide, choice, slide, choice process until a final conclusion is reached.
The specification explains that this evolutionary solution to solving difficult problems of logic is based on the principle of separating pairs of basic facts into separate mini-problems to facilitate the reaching of elementary mini-solutions, countless numbers of which are built up to present a total final solution. The physical aspect of sliding provides the degree of separation essential to the successful combining of mini-solutions into a total final solution.
"But watch out for the bear," the specification warns. "The bear represents the random nature of some occurrences. If you encounter the bear, take whatever path is necessary to escape; then continue with the evaluation until you have reached a solution. Even your mother can solve your difficult problems via this simple methodology."
I jot down a comparison in my notebook between this method of analysis and the normal method, then proceed with the evaluation.
I find the process easy and strangely satisfying. I particularly enjoy the slides, which provide an emotional thrill and an equilibrium buzz in addition to a distinct physical release. After a number of levels the bear does in fact appear. He is quite obviously dangerous. I plunge down the closest slide to get away. Somehow, he is still coming when I reach the next level, so I scramble into one of the glass-covered chambers about mid-room and watch quietly until he passes. I ultimately conclude the process with a successful result.
"On my next visit remember to pick up mom," I jot in my notebook; "We'll see if she manages to do equally well."
February 21, 2002
Copyright (c) 2002-2011
Larry K. Fox
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