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mfa MODELING page

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A model is a "stand-in" for something else. That is, it is a way of altering the represenation of something else. A common PHYYSICAL model is that often used by sculptors, where in they use a small wooden puppet (manikin) to substritute for a live model to begin blocking in the major parts of a sculpture. A common THEORETICAL model was that proposed by Neils Bohr early in the 1900c whereby a planetary (solar system) model was usefull in understanding the then new concept of the quantum nature of the atom. A common problem in using a model is to over-extend what it can tell you about the thing that it's modeling. As usual, the analogue, framework or other form of a model can only take us so far. Taking once again from the quantum world, to say that a photon of light IS a wave or IS a particle (or even is some hybrid: a wavicle or a parti-wave), is to over-extened the model. The photon is what it is, it is our own limited experience with it that forces us to try to fit it into an already familiar (and therefore *comfortable*) model. In the process of modeling, we take the model and begin hanging properities upon it. For example, let us say that we had never seen a rhinocerous before. Once of our first ideas would be to put a horn on a horse. (Many have speculated that this might be the origin of the so-called "unicorn myth".) Thus, we take two things that are familiar and glue them together. But, then we have to modify the model; eg, a rhinocerous is a rather short-legged horse (with a horn on its forehead), and has rather tougher sides that don't resemble hair of a horse so much as the shell of a tortise. If we continue in this fashion, we will aggluginate various "useful" properties and by the time we are done we will have described (to varying degrees of success) a rhinocerous. We see (in this case) the dangers and folly involved in using analogical thinking, However, it will often be the case that we over-look the limitations of the model and cling to it like it IS the thing being modeled. Ultimately, the goal (or so one would suppose) is to UNDERSTAND the thing being modeled. And of course that can really only be done by studying the object in question directly and understanding it in its own terms. That we rely on the process of modeling to bridge the gap of what we already know (or purport to know) and this thing that we do not know of; yet.