Economic Intersections and Strange Branes

Tags standards, Layer Standards, NCS, ncs 4.0, ncs 5.0

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All the talk of Civil 3D Intersections going around lately got me thinking.
That’s dangerous - very dangerous.
It’s evidenced by the obscure M-Theory reference in the post title.
Somehow my strange brain connects String Theory to Intersections, Civil 3D Point Styles, Hayek, and an economist named Peltzman. Here’s the why and how.

String Dimensions

Streets of Thought Often Collide

As usual the mental gymnastics starts with a phone call and a simple question.

Someone asked, “Why would I need the Symbol Set product if I get an InstantOn Basic?

You might not. You probably will eventually. InstantOn Basic (IOB) covers the more than basic Civil 3D Style and Set bases required for typical civil engineering and survey work almost too well.
We do tell you to thin IOB down. Lots of folks just use the heck out of InstantOn Basic.
But there are lots of other kinds of published output we have to at times produce in plan sets.

Intersections and Traffic

Best as we can tell our Symbol Set NCS product is the only place you can find all the typical intersection Traffic signaling symbols as AutoCAD Civil 3D Point Styles in one convenient and affordable place.
These include the published NCS symbols plus a pretty good standardized collection of other intersection and pavement marking stuff based on graphic analysis of a number of major State DOT standard graphic libraries.
The new Symbol Set and Blocks Only products also cover typical site features and infrastructure utilities in considerable depth and graphic variation as well.
The goal - Hit the most common 80% of the stuff everyone needs then build on that.

Makes More Sense to Me Anyhow

The Symbol Set NCS/DOT graphics are EASY to revise, tweak, and maintain. It’s basic ACAD work performed inside a standardized framework.
The Jump Platform’s NCS rule based naming conventions are EASY for users to understand, employ, and maintain while they do real engineering and survey work.
For Civil 3D users it’s as simple as connecting the dots - ‘er names - Style to Block to Layer to Linetype etc.
The Symbol Set and Blocks Only graphics are standardized in every respect and convert to other unit systems and multiple graphic standards cleanly. Ooooo.
You can convert over most of your block graphic library in a day. Why bother to do that?

Personalize Don’t Customize

Our graphic preferences are important to us. They allow us to make faster judgments and decisions.
The Symbol Set technology makes is EASY to walk away from all the arcane block names held around from our not-so-distant CAD past. That’s good.
The results of that are probably better than most people expect or even imagine.
Metaphorically speaking - cars are better than horses for transportation unless, of course, you need to jump a fence.
The 1812 London Olympics (non-existent) literally stank to Hyde Heaven, but everyone local would have been used to the stench.
The actual historic visitors at the time were utterly overwhelmed.

Make The Ordinary Extraordinary

If you employ the Jump Platform’s Symbol Set methods of maintenance and structure it also allows you to publish to clients who demand the most rigorous block and layer name compliance standards in digital submittals as well. Multiple tweaked Symbol Sets are not difficult to build. That’s an innovative trick – We can do it. You can do it.

A Veritable Twofer of Prodigious Productivity Proportions

Your people can work in the ordinary and publish their project work to the extraordinary. To accomplish this elegant from of intelligent Publish on Demand you do have to be organized and disciplined on the systems management level (create specialize templates and publish process), but NOT on the production USER level (use IOB and the Symbol Set out of the box). That is…

The Liberty to Work in Civil 3D

Friedrich Hayek you may know of or not. You should, but in either case, he’s famous for the development of concept of “spontaneous order”. This is the idea that we humans create forms of economic order together without consciously knowing why or how. For us it’s all about “value”. Haggling is human.
For you cognitive neuroscience geeks the phenomenon of spontaneous order is not such a mystery- we are hardwired to do it.
For data mining folks (the people who know and/or are learning how to USE YOUR Facebook, Twitter, cell phone call pattern data, and your recorded driving habits) this pattern formation order is everything worthy of consideration. See this post to understand my use of the term “consideration”.

The spontaneous order of our behavior at “intersections” I referenced a couple of years ago in this post. It quotes and references a delightful post by John Stossel - Scrap the Traffic Lights, Give Private Enterprise the Green Light. Trust me. You’ll enjoy it. It’s all about…

Creative Managed Civil Engineering

Those two key words up front are necessary. We forget that Creative Managed Civil Engineering been going on for a long time often in the face of and in spite of governmental order, standards and politics.

Have you noticed that all too often we truly seem to forget the real REASONS for the standards in our disciplines in the first place. Hand standards to a bureaucracy and they morph quickly into something else.

Seems to Rime with Fossil

If you root around a bit you’ll discover that most of the “standards” (probably even your own organizational ones) are the work of a creative individual or a very small group. This is NORMAL. The “standard” roadway pavement markings at intersections are a classic case in point. Innovation is all about inspiration and perspiration.

Pay Attention

It’s all about what we pay attention to so says the retired University of Chicago economist Sam Peltzman. He’s best known for what’s known as the “Peltzman Effect”. As for intersections…

“People tend to behave more recklessly when their sense of safety is increased. By removing signs, lights and barriers, drivers feel less safe, so they drive more carefully. They pay more attention.”

Peltzman aside, I chose to side with Nicolas Taleb when considering most economists - particularly ones from the University of Chicago. I remain skeptical of elegant mathematical theories and models that are never even close to correct. It isn’t quite science. It’s a political and religious statement. If a priestly order must insist on continuing to prove the world is flat, please let them be honest about it.

Ask an "Ignorant Idiot"

Multiple real world studies show you can ask 100 “uneducated” people on the street in any major US city and they will be more often right about the economic future than anything that’s EVER been officially published by government agencies.
Hayek, Peltzman, and Taleb wouldn’t be surprised by this fact, but most people are.
This result appears to be non-intuitive in every respect.
This fact is so disconcerting that most people won't even consider it to be true. 

Brane World

How do the uneducated and ignorant exceed the experts?

Simply put - our expertize, while useful, often results in forms of systemic blindness. Don’t like that nasty fact. You can just follow the money instead. That’s another road to the same economic intersection and crash.

If there’s One Brane there are Many

The theology of physics can be of course has sometimes been almost as religious as economics. Here predicable measurable results are honored (more of the time) over attention to THE popular theory.

The better news is there’s a whole lot of spontaneous order at work in the current marketplace of physical ideas as we pursue the Theory of Everything.
We know we don’t know.
Along the way we’ve often inadvertently managed to change everything in unexpected ways.
You couldn’t read this post without the resultant spontaneous order.
It’s that Creative Managed Engineering thing at work yet again.

What do M -Theory Branes have to do with AutoCAD Civil 3D, Point Styles and Symbol Sets?

Without the nasty mathematical detail - basically the math of M-Theory contends the universe is a multi-dimensional spacetime called a “brane”. Most of the dimensions are presently unreachable and in effect squirreled away in what we see around us down at the quantum level.
Probably you are uncertain about that. That’s to be expected. The uncertainty is built in.

If the physicist Leonard Susskind is right (lots of folks agree right now), we experience (live) in the 3D “reflection” or “image” of that multi-dimensional, spacetime brane (see the graphic above).
Like St. Paul said, “we see through the glass darkly.” Both men are far from alone in this perception.

We see, measure, and try to control what we expect not what is.

Of course, things being as they are, the M-Theory math also says if there’s one brane there must be more than one. This is what we get for asking mathematicians. Multi-branes are either way cool or significantly disturbing. Maybe it was the Big Brane Bump not the Big Bang?

Multiple d-Branes

What Separates the Branes?

Perhaps it is the “temperature” of our brane’s Higgs field. Yes. That’s the particulate carrier particle result that everyone’s spending billions to find at CERN.
I’m using the temperature metaphor here because it alludes to the physical fact that stuff changes form at different states – ice, water, steam.
A Brane spacetime in effect crystalizes or gels at a Higgs field level at or near birth.
A different Higgs field “temperature” produces an entirely dimensionally different brane with a different set of “laws of physics”.

Matter Like Jello?

This idea brings up the uncomfortable reality that the Higgs “temperature” isn’t necessarily constant. Although we might expect or assume a constant Higgs field once things have gelled, it’s not at all necessarily the case.

None of this M-Theory stuff is currently measurable or even testable in a classical physics way. It does produce some predictable results. Oh my! This is unnerving to some and exciting to others.

If you’re completely lost, I don’t blame you at all. You have good company. Some of the brightest minds on the planet are. Modern physics and economics are mind-numbing often non-intuitive stuff.
Mostly the esoteric arguments also don’t seem to matter to anyone’s daily life.
Why talk about it here?

Are We There Yet?

Recognizing that we may be lost is essential in the real world.
Believing you are not often gets us into serious trouble.  This is the leading cause of death after all.
We don’t pay attention and continue to run on autopilot when what worked there and then no longer applies. After the accident (there are tons of nouns for this in English) we wonder where the tree or truck came from.  
Probably not from another brane – trust me on that.

Our human drive to deconstruct and understand (or not) the unexpected and the often personal consequences aptly explains our fascination with forensics, legal proceedings, Olympic contests, et al. We lust for the judge’s decision even if we disagree.

We Create Order from Chaos

Do you need a Symbol Set?
Do you already have an AutoCAD Civil 3D brane (a working production environment), is it all set up? Could it stand a few more missing pieces?  Probably.
Maybe it gelled initially with an inadequate set of laws from another time and space?
There’s no shame in that. Our first time prototypes rarely work.
Buggies didn’t translate particularly well into cars either.
That’s what Continuous Improvement (Creative Managed Engineering) is all about.
The real world is Science AND Engineering and more than significant matter of faith.
In any case…

Two Branes Are Better Than One

Do the simple math and you’ll discover they’re a necessity eventually.