The Path of Least Resistance

December 19th, 2014

How do you describe something beautiful? In nature, art, design, music, engineering, mathematics, philosophy, something beautiful simply flows. Whether it’s a concept, an artistic expression, a practical implementation or an elegant solution. A beautiful flow is achieved by means of finding a path of least resistance.

This is going to be very abstract for some readers, but try to follow my thoughts:

Flow is in nature

A river finds its way from the mountains to the sea by going around things in its way, not randomly, but by following a path of least resistance. If a rock is suddenly placed in its path, the river does what it can to go around it. Similarly, the roots of a tree will find the quickest path to water and nutrients. A lightning will find its way through the air by following the path of least resistance.

Nature is beautiful

No arguing here (I think).

Thus, flow leads to beautiful things

What’s one of the characteristics of a great electrical circuit? One that does not produce a lot of resistance and thus conserves power.

A great user interface? One that flows by helping the user in discovering and using information without interruptions.

A painting? Colors that blend without noticeable breaks. (This is not to say that other choices of colors do not lead to great paintings of course).

A composition? Notes and audio tracks that mix, leaving each other and then rejoining, seamlessly to the ears.

An algorithm? One that executes quickly, without sudden interruptions.

A proof? One that leaves no doubt and that is easily followed.

Not just beautiful creative things

Think about relationships. When you argue relentlessly with your spouse you are creating resistance. If you try to find a path of least resistance during an argument, you are more likely to find a peaceful resolution. Think about yourself. When you are mad, stressed or unhappy, are you trying to flow with the universe around you? Or are you trying to swim against it?

Think about it.

p.s. sorry I haven’t been writing a whole lot lately. I have been putting quite a bit of work toward MySkinPal, an app that will help people keep track of their moles for signs of early skin cancer. This month we will be parked in a small campground just outside of New Orleans, LA. Last month we visited the area near Orlando, FL and had a great time! I’m excited to try some Cajun food!



  1. Sounds like you’re talking about the Constructal law: 🙂

    Comment by Matti Schneider — January 3, 2015 @ 5:28 pm
  2. I didn’t know about it! Thanks for sharing. Very interesting.

    Comment by Piero Toffanin — January 3, 2015 @ 5:34 pm

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