What is Runs and Tumbles?

I’m glad you asked! To answer your question, let’s take a peek at the life of a certain humble bacterium.

E.coli (only her mother calls her Escherichia) is one of the simplest organisms in the world. Standing at a mighty 2mm in length, a single E.coli consists of a bunch of spindly fibres called flagella that are attached to a single tube-like cell body.

The noble bacterium goes about its days in a series of runs and tumbles. By default, its flagella are set to manically rotate in utter pandemonium and the bacterium flops about like a deranged Magikarp — a tumble. However, upon sensing the presence of nutrients, the flagella synchronise like pranksters on a school-bus1 and begin rotating in unison, propelling the bacterium forward at an impressive 30 mm/sec — a run. Once the food trail peters out, the tumbling begins again in earnest and eventually sets off a new run, and on and on, the E.coli waltzing about in what mathematicians would call a random walk.

The E.coli’s running and tumbling form a rudimentary albeit elegant solution to the basic problem all self-organizing systems must solve — effectively gathering information in order to navigate and make sense of the world. And by virtue of their simplicity, runs and tumbles offer a striking illustration of the trade-off all such entropic mutineers must make - balancing the ease of sticking to a trusty path with the necessity of shaking things up in pursuit of greener trails.

Clamber right up the evolution tree to the complicated homo sapiens — with their twiddling tweeting thumbs and their strange ability to imbibe abstract meaning to thrums of their vocal chords — and the same trade-off appears in different forms.

As babies, humans are the ultimate wizards at tumbling, as we go about childhood constantly revving our inbuilt engine of curiosity to learn at a rate that makes algorithm designers seethe with envy. As we grow up, we start trading our magical lantern for an anodyne spotlight and begin transforming our babbles and crawls into monologues and marathons, a direct result of the sprawling dendritic jungle in our brains being systematically pruned into decipherable arbors.

While this is happening, we can be ensnared by gnarly weeds and entrenched in paths we are unable to get out of. By introducing high levels of neural entropy through their agonism at 5HTA receptors, psychedelics can rocket us out of maladaptive deep seated runs, gifting us to neuronal frolic once again as we tumble our way into healing.

And finally, some humans may grow up to be computer scientists and decide to embark on a quest to design an algorithm that will be the very best like no one ever was2 at playing chess. If so, they will probably end up thinking a lot about runs and tumbles, although they might end up calling it by the rather drab ‘explore-exploit’ trade-off. Who said runs and tumbles were restricted to the carbon-based?

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less tumbled on,

And that has made all the difference.

Okay, that’s all very fascinating but what is this Substack about?

This blog/newsletter (blogoletter?) will be a place where I hope to embody the spirit of R&T as I voyage onwards in my intellectual journey of attempting to make sense of our strange and wonderful world. This may manifest through -

Runs - Deep dives into topics that fascinate me, that may oscillate between Journal Club/Book Review esque pieces and free-flow essays.

Tumbles - Drawing connections between seemingly disparate topics, a general ethos of epistemic humility and cognitive flexibility.

I anticipate writing on a wide variety of topics though they will likely revolve around dogs, drugs, 4E approaches to cognition, effective altruism, and India.

What can you expect?

If you choose to subscribe (and I do hope you will, just plug in your email in the red button below), you will likely almost never receive an email from me. Emails just tend to have this aura of ‘ugh I need to either read it now or forget about it forever’ and no one wants that. I will occasionally (like a CGPGrey upload) send an email summarising my work but don’t count on it.

If you use Substack regularly (and they’re so many great writers on here that you really should), you’ll be able to discover my posts ‘in real time’ and you can always visit the site directly.

And you can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@akadogluk) where I’ll share stuff from here on the regular.

Who am I?

In Vedantic philosophy, Akash (from the Sanskrit आकाश) represents ‘an ethereal fluid imagined as pervading the cosmos’. Some New Age writers used it to refer to “the spiritual force that Earth, Air, Fire, and Water descend from". 3 Fancy stuff, right? Kulgod, on the other hand, is a small hamlet in the district of Belagavi, the place from where my dad draws his Lingayat lineage from.

I like to frame the juxtaposition of my names in the light of something my dad said when I asked him for some good ol’ sage dad advice - about how it’s important to have strong wings and deep roots.

I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2022 where I studied Cognitive Science, did research in clinical and computational psychology and cognitive linguistics, lead the undergraduate club Psychedelic Science at Berkeley (psysci.love), facilitated the credited class Introduction to Psychedelic Science, and drank too much expensive coffee.

I am currently working on actualizing Dognosis (dognosis.tech).

Share Runs and Tumbles


If this reference evades you, I have the joy of recommending Tom Wolfe’s highly enjoyable book ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’


Yes, I know, two pokemon references already. What can I say, I’m a 2000’s kid and grew up with a gameboy.


Intense stuff, I know. If I was like Carl Jung and subscribed to normative determinism, I’d have no choice but to devote my life to asceticism and the attainment of samadhi.

Subscribe to Runs and tumbles

Chemotaxis as meaning-making


21st century psychonaut