On Relativity

“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it’s only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity.”

– Albert Einstein

On Body and Brain

Batiatus: A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself.

– Lewis. E. (Producer), Kubric. S. (Director). (1960). Spartacus [Motion Picture]. United States: Universal Studios

Brain Usage Myth?

“We only use 10% of our brains.”

False. Misunderstood metaphor.

Our brains consist of cells which conduct nerve impulses through electrical and chemical signals, these are called neurons. Neurons do not fire at all times; however, that does not mean that inactive neurons are useless, nor that 90% of the 86 billion neurons that make up the human nervous system are permanently inactive.

See other: Mythconceptions?

Brain Myth?

“The left and right side of the brain have different capabilities.”

False. Common misconception.

The brain has no solid functional division; some functions activate some areas more than others, but that’s about it. The left side of the brain can learn functions which were previously solely present in the right side of the brain and vice-versa.

See other: Mythconceptions?

Universal Mental Structures

Osiatynski: Do you mean that we may be, by virtue of this accidental origin of science, capable of development of some disciplines of science and incapable of others? And that we are not conscious of that?

Chomsky: Yes, as human beings we are not too conscious of that because we naturally assume that our mental structures are universal. But I suppose an outside biologist looking at us would see something very different. He would see that, like other organisms, we have a narrow sphere within which we are very good, but that sphere is very limited. And that, in fact, the very achievements we can have within that sphere are related to lack of achievements in other spheres.

To construct a scientific theory from the data and to be able to recognize that it is a reasonable theory is possible only if there are some very sharp restrictive principles that lead you to go in one direction and not in another direction. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have science at all, merely randomly chosen hypotheses. Then, human genius may have limitless opportunities to develop in one direction, but at the same time this genius will not go in other directions. And those two considerations are related. The very properties of the human mind that provide an enormous scope for human genius in some domains will serve as barriers to progress in other domains, just as the properties that enable each child to acquire a complex and highly articulated human language block the acquisition of other imaginable linguistic systems.

– Wiktor Osiatynski (ed.), Contrasts: Soviet and American Thinkers Discuss the Future (MacMillan, 1984), pp. 95-101

Difficult Birth

Too large a head
2.5 million – 200,000 years ago

For humans, childbirth is difficult and dangerous. Unlike other primates, mothers almost always need help. This is because walking on two legs means a narrow pelvic canal for the baby to pass through, while our heads have grown. To compensate for harder births, human babies are born small and more helpless.

See other: What Makes Humans Human?