Asynsis: How Φ Flows in Time To Synergise Simplexity into SynPlexity, Most Easily


“Hidden harmonies are more than obvious.”


“The constructal law is the statement that for a flow system to persist in time it must evolve in such a way that it provides easier access to its currents.
This is the law of configuration generation, or the law of design.”

Adrian Bejan

The … ultimate purpose of life, mind, and human striving: to deploy energy and information to fight back the tide of entropy and carve out (island) refuges of beneficial order.”

Steven Pinker

The #Asynsis principle?

The #GoldenRatio is #Entropy Kryptonite (& #SynPlexity Superman)

Nigel Reading

How does Nature Self-Organise her Designs Most Easily?

How does Nature, despite the global trend towards a sea of increasing entropy & disorder, still allow for local islands of exquisite beauty and order?

And for “Synergise Simplexity,” let’s instead call it “SynPlexity”.

SynPlexity is a neologism that merges “synthesis”, “synergy”, “simplicity”, “plexus” and “complexity” into the one new synergising, evocative word that describes the way nature can enfold intricate complexity and connection in extremely simple, elegant ways.

All this while inexorably being subject to the 2nd law of thermodynamics (the uniquely time-irreversible law of physics that correspond to Plato’s transient, ephemeral low-dimensional shadows on the wall of his Cave allegory), to the universal tendency to disorder; also, seeming paradoxically, leverages energy and information via optimal, self-referential geometry, that allows computation and memory while traversing a scale-free mathematical landscape of possibility-spaces; to self-organise, create, and design extended transient islands of order (that correspond to, but cannot possibly attain - Plato’s εἶδοςeidos — those eternal, ideal forms that via energy and information, cast those flickering cave shadows - in a mere simulacrum of the true higher-dimensional reality of the world outside the cave — in an interesting semi-parallel with the Holographic principle), within that flux.

It also alludes to the emergent temporal-spatial geometry that we frequently observe in these behaviours, a geometry that in human culture, is often associated with the aesthetics of beauty and efficiency and in the physical, chemical and biological sciences, with optimisation and elegance; with energy-minimisation and the principle of least action.

So let’s talk about Nature’s archetypal fractal form and how it best represents and optimises, energy and information flows in Space and in Time, to create transient islands of Order in a sea of surging entropy tides, inexorably drawn towards Chaos.

Φ — Phi, the Golden Ratio has been a Spatial icon of arts, design and architectural beauty and proportion since first references to it in the works of Pythagoras, Plato & Euclid.

But really, looking exclusively at only Spatial interpretations are so last century anyway.
Thanks to the advent of the sciences of Complexity and Dynamical Systems (colloquially knows as Chaos theory), now we really need to look much more at what nature is doing in Time.

So what’s the original “no prior art” contribution that the Asynsis paradigm makes to our understanding of the golden ratio?

  1. Beyond the spatial and statics — how it also behaves in time and dynamics, in both inanimate and animate systems
  2. How it acts as an emergent geometric signature of the principles of least action and least energy
  3. How it also reveals ideal geometric (information relational), forms from optimal Constructal thermodynamic, irreversible energy and resource flows
  4. How it yields Complexity most Simply via Synplexity: leveraging Computational Complexity Universality
  5. How it behaves, via leveraging entropy, the 2nd law of thermodynamics (the only physics law that is not time-reversible, but which can be transiently defied); as an elementary source code for Emergence itself.

Walking the Talk, taking the Theory into Practice

Nigel Reading ARB-UK LEED RIBA
TEDx Wanchai Hong Kong 2014

The Asynsis-Constructal Theory in Practice as Next Generation Renewables-powered Urban Rapid Transit

What we’re describing here is an elementary feedback, memory, error-correcting, flow system that displays resilience and adaptivity while skirting and leveraging the edge of chaos; not just a fossil form deposited by those flows; and it’s an effective constant of nature, a source-code for emergence at all scales, including the stellar and planetary-celestial mechanical.

For (a botanical) example, is the entire repertoire of plant phyllotaxis an illusion?

Plants are telling us something, that we need to think harder about the Temporal; about thermodynamics and morphogenesis, as Alan Turning did in his last research on the Fibonacci series, phyllotaxis and morphogenesis before he tragically died at an early age.

We need to look at both the animate and inanimate, at the dynamical and space-time, not just the frozen and static.
It seems the way nature works is to manifest the golden ratio not just as a spatial fossil, but rather as an optimal, emergent temporal, energy flow signature and facilitator of ideally resilient and adaptive recursive feedback loops.
We need to discern that it reveals (as a frequently emergent geometric pattern — or again, signature), how in nature it behaves as an energy and resource efficiency (& beauty) constant; with profound implications for promoting a more sustainable, circular, feedback-led civilisational path in the face of the unfolding climate (biosphere, economic and so political), crisis that we increasingly face.

Much of current debate in the design industries is only over the residue or sedimentary forms of these dynamical flows — so we are missing half the picture (as I’ve been advocating since first publication in AD Magazine, in 1994, based on Masters studies in Architecture & Computer Science at the University of Westminster, London, followed by an Architectural Association School seminar at the invitation of Tom Verebes and Michael Hensel).

Entropy begets Design — QED

What the sciences of complexity and dynamical systems have been sharing recently is that the golden ratio is one of several optimal, analogical geometric signatures of how nature evolves emergent complexity — how she synplexitises most playfully (but adaptively and resiliently), most easily, most frugally and rapidly— over time.

It’s a dynamical behaviour, a verb not a noun.

It’s not the phone number, but the very action of dialing.

Here’s how I Tweet it:

#Asynsis #DaoOfDesign on #TED at #TEDxWanchai #HongKong.

A New, Extremely Lean, Mean (#Design) #TheoryOfEverything that applies to the human scale, which makes it both pretty and useful too.

Watch “Form follows flow | Nigel Reading | TEDxWanChai” Video at TEDxTalks

TED: Asynsis@TEDx Wanchai Aug 23 2014

Nigel Anthony Reading RIBA LEED GA (asynsis) on


The very latest examples of this Asynsis principle (including E8 & ER=EPR, Quantum (Self-Organised) Criticality/Edge of Chaos-Strange NonChaotic Attractors/Poised Realm/Phi-OrchOR/Benford’s Law/Nash-Correlated Equilibrium/KAM Golden Tori, Constructal law and Dynamical Systems Universality), are shared here (enjoy!):


So φ: is a geometric relationship that finds expressions in many fields, including: physics, chemistry, biology, ecology, economics and art, not to mention my own field of architecture and design.

In a cosmological-scale irony, the 2nd law of thermodynamics describes how the universe is winding down to a heat death of thermal equilibrium and ever-increasing entropy (also described as hidden information).
This is paradoxically, while it’s incessantly creating local entropy-dissipative structures and systems (extended-transient islands of Carnot cycle time-reversible sustainable order in a sea of Clausius time-irreversible increasing disorder), where, the more complex (and locally less disordered), they are, they actually increase global, universal disorder all the more, by exporting it out of their open, resource and energy processing systems.
So their local fleeting life (examples being a galaxy, a solar system, a planet, a geochemical cycle, a biosphere, an ecosystem, or an organism); actually speeds us to global universal thermal equilibrium ever-faster, because they create and export more entropy into their environments than less complex structures and systems.

One of the key geometric signatures of that optimally complex and time-emergy-resource sustainable entropy-dissipation process, via the principle of least action; is the golden ratio in time, which after 30 years of published, peer-reviewed, Arup engineering consultancy all day symposium and Constructal science conference-presented research, beginning at the architecture and computer science faculties of Kingston university, Westminster university and University College London; I call the Asynsis principle.

It’s therefore a new iconic, historically resonant paradigm for sustainable, regenerative design and development, that applies at all scales (from E8 to Celestial Mechanics and the Cosmological), but which is most directly relevant at the classical-physics, planetary and human scale, where our current biosphere, resource, climate, pandemic and political-economic crises reside.

Therefore, it seems what we have here is an effective new optimal design ToE with a long and storied cultural, historical, biology and physics-based pedigree.

It compels us in that to better preserve nature (and ourselves as a civilisation), we urgently need to better emulate her.

A practical example of how we at Asynsis walk that TED conferences-shared talk (of how we translate the Asynsis ideal forms theory into Constructal optimal flow practice), is MetaLoop - our #FormFollowsFlow biomimetic, city de-carbonising and de-congesting, zero-emissions, people and green electrons-moving rapid transit urban-optimising network proposal to the cities of the world, starting in Hong Kong, Melbourne & Sydney.

Falling for Φ

Illustrations by Sam Chivers

“The principle of the universe will be simple and beautiful.”
Albert Einstein

Architect+Designer, Complexity geometer, Sustainability advocate, TEDx speaker, Asynsis principle: More for Less, Form follows Flow

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