A recent broadcast on NPR featured a French geo-physicist, who applied his knowledge of plate tectonics to social questions. The entire broadcast is worth hearing. For those of you who don’t have the time, here is my attempt to capture the gist:
Deep below the surface of the earth, where the temperatures are very high, the structure of the rock is weak, allowing the lava to pass through without destroying the existing structure. Closer to the surface, where the structures are stronger, they are unable to allow for the lava, with the result that the lava breaks up the existing structure in order to make a path for itself.
His application to society is that we should value the weaker members of our society. They are the ones who keep us malleable enough to survive stresses on our societal structure.