Grand Prix Racing - The Science of Fast Pinewood Cars

Virtual Reality

A model gives us a frame work to hang facts on and provides a precise language of ideas to talk about those objects in the real-world that inspired it. Without precise definitions of words used in the language, many questions about the objects can not be asked at all! Without a model, those un-asked questions become the realm of confusion, manipulation and unproveable "gut feelings".


A model must be kept as simple as possible to avoid unnecessary tenants that prevent a clear understanding of the phenomena. It must be "big" enough to capture and mirror observable behavior and predict unobserved behavior or show that no other behavior is expected. The descriptive element makes a model useful to the historian, writer, illustrater and anatomist. It is the predictive element that makes them essential to the engineer and scientist.

There is a tension in a good model. It describes nearly everything of interest, but is clean and clear. Reality quickly teaches that it is not possible to express reality too closely without increasing the complexity of the model unduly. Indeed, not everything in reality can be expressed in any written form (Kurt Godel proved it mathematically in 1931!). So, even in a good model, "we see but a poor reflection", a reality that is only virtual.

The better our model of the race is, the better we can understand how to engineer a car to win!

Just as we build mathematical models to help us engineer better vehicles, we build mental models of ourselves, others, the world and God to order our lives. These mental models help us put the puzzles of every day life in perspective. The relationships between parts of the models help us know who to go to ask different questions, what events to expect in various situations, how to deal with a special occation. When we don't know exactly where a fact or experience fits in, temporary connections to parts of these models help us ask questions to find the answers or to change the models themselves.

Our model of God determines how we relate to Him. The better our model is, the closer we can be to God. How do we build a better model of God in our minds? God's book, the Bible, is our best resource. In the Bible we find patterns for relating to our world, our neighbors, our family and God. As we try to understand these patterns in God's Word, our thought processes are "transformed" to filter out evil desires and intent from our mental models.

Prayer in response to what we read in the Bible puts us in direct contact with God. But God responds in His own "heart language" to our spirit. Like any human language, we must have a good mental model of the objects in the language to communicate. That basis for communication is part of the mental model of God that can be built from the pages of the Bible.

The better our mental model of God is, the more we are able to "hear" His responses and desires for our lives.

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Grand Prix Racing - The Science of Fast Pinewood Cars
Copyright © 1997, 2004 by Michael Lastufka, All rights reserved worldwide.