Big Sustainability

The Big


First published on January 27, 2019

Perspective of The Big

The perspective of the big is the overall, holistic, systems perspective, typically looking from the outside inwards.

  • Represented by the pronoun “They”
  • An Outer Perspective
  • Top-down approaches.
  • An entire system that embodies all of its interrelated components.
  • A nation, a continent, a world.

The Goal of the Big

  • Global optimization
  • A global optimum is the maximum achievement of a goal for an entire system, rather than for any of its individual components or subsystems (e.g. local optima).

The Really Big

The Universe is the biggest system and perspective known by science. The age of the known universe is about 13.8 billion years. The size of the observed universe is about 90 billion light years in diameter. The distance we can observe is limited by the speed of light.

Bell-shaped structure showing universe suddenly exploding from a point, then gradually expanding until recent times, at which the expansion accelerates.

Cosmic Background Radiation (Credit: NASA)

Note that while the Universe has been expanding and cooling, it has become clumpier with structures such as nebulae and hot spots such as stars.

Bright stars agains hazy clouds of glowing gas, part-of which is blocked from view by a dark horsehide shaped nebula

Horsehead nebula and foreground stars. (Credit: Adam Block, Steinberg Family /NOAO/ AURA/NSF)


It is possible to create simulations to model and analyze the Big. Here are several useful tools for simulating the Big.

  • Xcode for OSX (a somewhat large download). This is free and it is useful for editing files.
  • Ruby language for simulations. It is really simple to start with and it is the basis for many web applications using a framework called Rails.
  • Python language for simulations and analysis. It has many useful libraries.
  • R language for plotting and more.
  • Processing language for graphics and animations.



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