Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ontological parasitism and double-decker diffusers

It might come as something of a surprise to Ross Brawn and his colleagues at Williams and Toyota, but the double-decker diffusers used by their respective Formula 1 teams, depend for their efficacy upon ontologically parasitic immaterial particulars.

The underneath of a Formula 1 car consists of a reference plane astride the centreline of the car, and a step plane 50mm above it on either side. The upper deck of a double-decker diffuser is fed by airflow from apertures located underneath the car, in the vertical wall joining the step plane and the reference plane. The legality of these diffusers will be the subject of an FIA appeal hearing next Tuesday, and a central part of the argument concerns whether these apertures constitute fully enclosed holes in a continuous surface, or merely slots between two separate surfaces.

Thus, at next week's hearing, I suggest that the plaintiffs (Ferrari, Renault, BMW and Red Bull) should call Achille C. Varzi as an expert witness. Varzi, we might recall, is a Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, who is a world authority on the nature of holes. Varzi points out that holes are particular entities, with specific sizes and shapes, but they are made of nothing. Hence, philosophically speaking, holes are immaterial particulars. They are also ontologically parasitic, in the sense that they depend upon other, material entities, for their existence.

Whether or not the apertures used by the diffuser-gang are holes or not, is something that only Varzi can determine with authority. In a right and proper world, Achille Varzi could conceivably determine the outcome of this year's World Championship.


Unknown said...

But, what is the definition of Ontological Parasitism?

Please, expound.

It's sounds too super-awesome not to use it in dinner party conversation, and yet, I am a'feared some gentle soul may actually ask me what I am talking about.

Can you elaborate, please.
Have a few beers before you do so, if you wish.

Gordon McCabe said...

Well, ontology is simply the study of existence, in its most general sense. Thus, one type of thing is ontologically parasitic on another type of thing, if the existence of the first depends upon the existence of the second.