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Of Frogs and Men: Perspectives on the Principle of Gradualness
Nov 1, 2012

We humans are inclined to be hasty, and wish to do what we want in a rush. We like to doing things quickly, cheaply, and still want them the highest quality. Certain matters in life truly require speed. A breakdown in an operating system must be tackled with immediately. A cargo is expected to arrive at the destination in the shortest possible time. Lots of real life examples can be given, but even in such situations a certain gradual pattern needs to be followed. On the other hand, there is surely wisdom in reaching the target gradually in certain tasks.

In the mechanics of engineering, the force of inertia depends on the acceleration of a moving object along with its mass. Therefore, the force of inertia on an object is equal to the mass times acceleration. Accordingly, the faster an object gains speed, the greater will be the force of inertia. However, this brings along many problems in practice. In machines with pistons (compressors, pumps etc.) which are accelerating and slowing down speedily, a great force of inertia is applied to the machine's elements. This gives way to a significant amount of resistance and abrasion problems. In addition there are other such troubles inside an engine's cylinder during the four strokes (induction, compression, expansion, and exhaust). A greater force is required for brake mechanisms at the motion of elevators, banded conveyors, and automobiles. This is why brake linings wear out in a short time.

According to the principles of thermodynamics, where a piston-cylinder system is concerned and the compression or expansion of gases is slower, minimum energy is required during compression and maximum energy is obtained during expansion. On the other hand, if this process of compression and expansion is realized quickly, then the energy consumption is maximum during compression and minimum during expansion. Turning the tap too quickly to stop the flow of water causes a greater force of inertia inside, and if this continues to occur frequently, the faucet may need repair.

Things done too quickly present similar consequences. A person becomes rich as a result of working for long years has a better chance to appreciate his conditions in comparison to someone who becomes rich by winning a lottery. Decisions made in haste without consulting with others mostly yield negative results, which happens rarely in those made after consultation, since the risk of mistakes is reduced.

Living things and gradualness

For living things, adaptation to hot or cold environments is also a gradual process. If adaptation is not realized slowly, they cannot survive. For example, if a man starts by taking showers with hot water, then gradually with warmer water, and in the end with cold water, his body can develop endurance to cold water, even freezing water in winter. Some mothers wrap up their children too well even in good weather, and thereby do not let them adapt to changing weather conditions; such children catch cold easier than others.

Principle of gradualness has an obvious relation with being steadfast and patient, as in the cases of hatching chicks and silkworms in their cocoon. Human intervention to accelerate these processes will naturally have some negative effects. If the wing of a chick is forced to separate from the egg before the due time, it might hurt the animal seriously.

According to dieticians, stomach problems are more commonly found in those who eat quickly than who eat without haste. In addition, it is also known that meals cooked in low heat are more delicious and have higher nutritional value. It is essential for food quality to cool the foods gradually before they undergo freezing. Similarly, before cooking frozen food, it is advised to thaw out the food, gradually bringing it to values near room temperature.

A frog's nervous system is sensitive to sudden changes, not gradual ones. For this reason, when it is thrown in hot water, it jumps back right away. But if the water is heated gradually, the frog will show no reaction, it will even enjoy it. Despite the increasing heat, the animal feels numb more and more, to such a degree that it fails to escape before it is too late. Even though there may be no obstacle to jumping out, the frog pays a heavy price for the heedless life it led. So, it is very significant to be able to observe the gradual changes and take measures accordingly.

Human life reflects this principle in many ways. From biological development to learning new subjects, different kinds of progress depend on a gradual process. Nevertheless, human beings are too impatient to follow gradual patterns. You may have heard from people who want to learn a new subject-such as a foreign language-express how they wish there were some pills or other quick ways to realize their aim all at once.

Indeed, mankind is ever hasty. Success and joy, however, rest with patience and being in the right tune with gradualness.