The Ant Hill
by Anthony Jovinelli
De Brain, boss, De brain! If Fantasy Island actually exists anywhere it is in de brain. From science to fiction to science fiction every conceivable notion originates from inside this marvelous organ. Without it: we would never have discovered Mars or conjured up the idea of John Carter going there. There would be no planes, trains or automobiles. Wilbur and Orville would never have gotten of the ground. There would be no space program. There would be no actual potential of going to Mars.
Taking up a mere 2% of our body weight, the Human Brain uses more than 20% of our energy to operate. During normal thinking processes, it can consume roughly the equivalent amount of energy it takes to keep a 25 watt light bulb illuminated. Made up of 75% water, it is the part of the body that allows us to make sense of the world around us as well as to provide the information that it takes to let us navigate around in it. All the information gathered by our five senses is processed through the brain so that we can experience it as pictures, sounds, taste, smells and sensations. It then quickly converts that information to produce the accurate response, emotion or movement. So, if you see fire and feel the burn you will quickly run like hell in the opposite direction.
The brain is made up from about 100 billion Neurons. These are a special type of cell that interconnect and communicate with each other. It is believed that one Neuron can be linked to as many as 10,000 others. This network of connections allows for massive parallel processing capabilities. It is estimated that the human brain has the raw computational power of performing roughly 100,000,000,000,000 operations each second.
Made up of three main parts; The Cerebrum, The Cerebellum and The Brain stem, collectively they control everything from our ability to reason to how many times we blink. The Brain stem tells us when we are hungry, when to sneeze, breathe and how fast our heart needs to beat. The Cerebellum controls all the muscles so that they can work together and allow you to run like hell without falling on your face.
All the really fun stuff happens in the Cerebrum, it allows us to learn and remember, understand and communicate, experience and react as well as to reason and to create. This is where we feel emotion, chose between love and hate, right and wrong. It allows us to appreciate the beautiful things in the world as well as to discern what should be considered ugly. It is where Science Fiction was born and the same place where it turns from fiction to reality. This is also the part of the brain that can lie to us. Pick up a book of brain teasers, those two colors that are side by side in unusual pattern are not really moving, vibrating or pulsating but yet your Cerebral Cortex has translated it that way.
It is usually accepted that humans only use 10% of their brain, though this is a common belief it is not factual. Although many of the people you may meet will feed into this misconception, every part of the brain has been mapped and has an actual known function. Perhaps it is our lack of proper use that fuels this ideal or it may even be that we think this way as a hope for better things to come. One day we’ll be able to open the pop-top of that beer by simply concentrating on it.
Some people believe that what makes humans so smart is the large volume of our brains. However, there is no evidence of a relationship between brain quantity and intelligence. Dolphins and whales have similar brain structures and the Blue Whale has a much heavier brain than a human being but it is certainly not more intelligent. Also, Albert Einstein’s brain weighed a mere 1,230 grams which is about 170 grams less than the 1,400 gram average of the adult human male brain.
So if you’ve had your full of cranial intake, concentrate hard and I will close with this brainy joke.
“The Noblest question in the world is: What good can I do in it?”