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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Holiday @ Genting.
Day Two - Evolution of Genting

Genting is different from sea-level resorts in many ways. Since it is situated on a mountain, the growth of Genting is constrained by the topography of the site. In addition, the resort today was not fully planned right at the beginning. Instead, when Genting began making money, it had to grow building by building.

But because each new facility must be built at a different height, numerous walkways, escalators and lifts had to be added to link them into a conherent whole.

The result is has a very organic feel to it, with some interesting resemblances to biological evolution.

Take this patch of nature in the middle of a carpark, for example. It wasn't planted there - it was just a piece of the original forest left untouched by development. The multistorey carpark on the left is connected to a ground carpark where I took this photo.

Thus the roof of that building is linked to the bottom of another building. Many times I noticed that the ground I am walking on is really the top of some building.

Of course if you had infinite money and infinite technology you could demolish everything, bulldoze the entire mountaintop flat and rebuild the resort with components all at the same height. It would be much more convenient. Also, it would resemble Intelligent Design.

However, this extreme measure is not necessary for the continued growth and survival of Genting. In fact, most of Genting should continue to function and generate revenue while other parts grow, shrink or are remodeled. Otherwise Genting would have gone extinct.

That old patch of forest doesn't affect the function of Genting, so it stays there. Similar to most parts of our DNA that are neutral with respect to our survival.

Did I mention remodeling? Here is video arcade for kids!

It wasn't designed for this function.

Actually it was once a cable car station, a part of the outdoor theme park. Perhaps this joyride wasn't making any money. Whatever happened, the cable cars and equipment were removed, the station sealed with windows and redecorated as a video arcade.

This happens in biology too. Fins that become limbs that become wings.

How about this derelict-looking helipad? Once it was a gateway for the rich and famous to arrive in style. Now, it doesn't look functional anymore.

The office is empty. All the steel parts of the helipad have rusted and the whole structure looks abandoned.

In biology, organisms have this feature too. We call them vestigial structures.

I have no idea how long this helipad stays abandoned. It can probably be remodeled into a restaurant or something. Or it may be demolished.

Next, the growth of the resort. New buildings are still being constructed at Genting, but space at the top is rapidly depleted. If I can make an analogy that Genting is like a single-cell organism, then I would predict that due to constraints on cell-size, the next growth stage will require multicellularity. Genting must grow a new resort offsite.

And what a coincidence! We are seeing this happen right now.

You might be wondering why this picture of a boring electrical substation is here.

Check out the grille design. Maybe this entire device was made by Mercedes Benz. Or maybe it's convergent evolution!

Ok it isn't.

Smarty pants.