This month’s issue of National Geographic magazine has a very interesting article about new high-tech ways that scientists are delving into the very mechanics of how the human brain works.
Without getting into deep details, using powerful computers to analyze data, scientists have sliced off microscopic slivers of brain tissue and looked at them under an electron microscope. They’ve taken 3-D pictures of brain cells (neurons) and the dendrites and the axions that transmit the brain’s chemical/electrical messages from one cell to another by “jumping” through a gap between axions called synapses.
Although what they’ve found is rudimentary to the brain’s total operation, they have estimated that there are 100,000 miles of “message channels” in the human brain — enough to encircle Earth four times. Folks, that’s a lot of “brain wiring.”
Even more amazing, scientists have taken photographs of the instant a message goes from one transmitter to another and it shows as a tiny dot of light on the computer screen, sort of like a firefly’s light. Those messages fly between cells with every conscious and unconscious thought and action we humans make.
One amazing final note from the NG article, scientist estimate that to completely analyze a total map of the human brain and store the information would require computing power and data storage equal to one-half of all the computer memory that now exists on Earth. Folks, that’s a lot of computer memory.
So, it’s a comfort to me that, even in my declining age and diminishing mental capacity, I’ve still got enuf brainpower to baffle the best scientists in the world.
After reading the NG article, I got to thinking what kind of agricultural activity would cause the most discombobulated “dot light picture” on a computer screen if we were able to take such a picture while the action wuz going on. The top of my list would be bull riding. An 8-second bull ride would light up the fear part of the brain on the computer screen like the stars in the heavens.
And, what aggie things would make the pleasure part of the brain go off like Fourth of July fireworks. I nominate selling $180/cwt feeder calves in the auction, or delivering a truck load of $17/bushel soybeans to the grain elevator, or seeing the successful delivery of a potential grand champion foal, calf, lamb or Border Collie.
And, I think slicing off a bite of a medium-rare filet mignon and feeling those tasty juices trickle over your taste buds and down your throat would just have to make the brain’s pleasure center light up like the Strip in Las Vegas.
I’m sure you can think of ag activities that would make your own brain work overtime. In short, let’s not ever forget what marvelous critters we humans are with such stupendous brain power.
As an afterthought, if those brain scientists are looking for simple brains to analyze, they could just take their pick from those who self-serve in the executive, judicial or legislative branches of our government.
And, while I’m on the topic of brains, try this funny story on for size.
In the hospital where an old farmer from Kansas lay gravely ill, the relatives gathered in the waiting room. Finally, the doctor came in looking tired and somber.
“I’m afraid I’m the bearer of bad news,” he said as he surveyed the worried faces. “The only hope left for your loved one at this time is a brain transplant. It’s an experimental procedure, very risky, but it is the only hope. Insurance will cover the procedure, but you will have to pay for the brain.”
The family members sat silent as they absorbed the news. After a time, someone asked, “How much will a brain cost?”
The doctor quickly responded, “$5,000 for a brain from the urban centers on east coast, west coast or around the Great Lakes and $200 for a brain from any of the rural fly-over states.”
The moment turned awkward. Some of the east and west coast relatives actually had to try not to smile, avoiding eye contact with those relatives from fly-over country.
Finally, a man unable to control his curiosity finally blurted out the question everyone wanted to ask, “Why such a price differential for brains from the four regions of the country?”
The doctor smiled and explained to the entire group, “It’s just standard pricing procedure. We have to price the rural fly-over country brains a lot lower because they’ve been used.”
Folks, don’t take it personally. Smile. It’s just a story.
It’s danged chilly here at Damphewmore Acres today. Wind chills around 15-20 below zero and that’s on top of 6-7 inches of blowing snow that fell yesterday and last night. I emptied my warm clothes closet bundling up to do chores today.
Wise words overheard at the coffee shop. “There’s a secret Tea Party conspiracy going on. They want to take over the government, stop stealing our money, restore our liberty, and then leave everybody the heck alone.”
Have a good ’un. ❖