Functional Categories

The function space defines desired processes in terms of possible transformations of energy, matter, information, space and time. The primary functional categories are:


Definition: Scale symmetry (self-similarity at different scales

Description: Technologies for amplification remove "strength" and "acuity" from tasks by amplifying an applied force, signal, or tolerance (accuracy). With amplification, there is a similarity mapping between an input process at one scale and an output process at a larger or smaller scale.


Action at a Distance

Definition: Translational symmetry in space

Description: Action at a distance removes "locality" in space as a prerequisite to action. Classical examples are radio and television, but more generally it applies to any technology for manipulating energy, matter, or information at a distance in space. We donít extend this to cover temporal distance, because that is covered by containment. (e.g. recording is containment of information)



Definition: Reflexive symmetry in time

Description: Re-directing causality, preserving certain states and relationships over time.


Converting Ordered Energy

Definition: Conversion of energy from one ordered form to another

Description: Any energy conversion processes that is reasonably reversible (i.e., does not involve heat energy or plasma)


Harnessing Disordered Energy

Definition: Conversion of energy from a disordered form to a more ordered form.

Description: Conversion processes strongly limited by thermodynamics, involving heat (undirected energetic matter), plasma (disordered charged particles), or turbulent fluid flow.


Information Processing

Definition: Conversion of the form or physical manifestation of information.

Description: "From my head to your head", via switches, logic, and representation. Changing the form of information


Process Initiation

Definition: Symmetry breaking (in time)

Description: Control over the initiation and termination of processes. Surmounting "chicken and egg" problems. This is sometimes an issue when designing for operating conditions (e.g. ramjet)


Releasing Potential Energy

Definition: Translational symmetry in time and space

Description: Taking energy out of equilibrium.



Definition: Translational symmetry in time and space

Description: Repeatability is the removal of "skill" and "craft" from a task through the ability to reliably repeat physical and chemical processes, measurements and experiments. Repeatability is the result of preserving certain kinds of relationships



Definition: Mirror symmetry in time

Description: Reversibility is the countering of entropy, the tendency towards disorder. In one sense, this is the problem of "putting the genie back in the bottle"