2015-09-06

We are using just 10% of the brain, aren't we?

Well, I broke a bone the other day and wondered, wouldn't it have been nice to have an extra pair of arms. It surely would help opening a bottle - the one arm is up to no use. Luckily I have like 90% spare brain capacity, switched that on and started thinking.

Evolution gave us only two arms, why? When did that happened? Of course, some million years ago. But then, our ancestors didn't walked upright, so we had 4 feets more or less. It would have been nice if we had insects as ancestors, but reptiles are just fine. Reptiles like alligators have this fine art of moving. One paws goes down on each side, the other one goes up by a twist of the torso. Another twist of the body and the whole animal has moved forward. One can image how evolution had pity with a wriggling worm, adding some more tissue here and there.

Ok, evolution didn't foresee my accident and didn't anticipate my dilemma with my broken bone. Maybe I'm not that important after all. It would have been nice having a kevlar skin and a skeleton out of adamantium. Wouldn't that be nice, having an accident, getting up, locking down on the smashed concrete and go on with life? No, humans have to break bones. What they told me on the emergency room seems to be true - I'm not the only one. Apparently, humans break bones all the time. Whoever designed the human body should be fired, at least it is not an intelligent design.

Luckily I have 90% spare brain capacity, so I can think about that too. What kind of calculation did evolution resort to when it calculated the bone thickness. As it turned out, it didn't used Excel - this time no blame on Microsoft. But it makes no sense, if we have intelligence in abundance, then we should have enough bone tissue too.

Everything in nature is there for a reason, right? But evolution does not reason, it is not an entity that has a PhD in structural design. Evolution does not exist! Surprised? It is nothing more than a set of laws that dictate what survives and what not. The magic ingredients are variations. Some guy gets bigger bones. I would loved to have been that guy with twice the bone thickness. Although it would have required much more energy to escape those bullies during childhood. But I guess I'm on the thin bone side. That is how evolution selected the right bone size for humans, simply by trial and error.

added 2015-09-11: Actually bones grow according to their usually exposed pressure. If the experienced pressure exceeds a certain amount, the bone growth. This is how weightlifters end up with a body that really can lift 100 kg, while my bones would break.

As it turns out, evolution uses this simple method for everything. Everything? Haven't I just used spare brain capacity? Isn't the brain an exception? As a matter of fact, there is a very good reason for not being an exception. The human brain uses twenty percent of the oxygen. This is so much that we need to cook our meals in order to get enough nutrition. Everybody with a smaller brain would have to eat much less. Did I really used spare brain capacity? No, we humans have brains about the right size for the job.

What does right size mean? The more brain we have, the less frequent are the breakdowns. The less brain we have, the less nutrition we need. At some point the costs of breakdowns offsets the additional costs of nutritions. Like broken bones, insufficient brain sizes (breakdowns) are part of the evolutionary game.

So what happens when I do not have enough brain? Not winning a Nobel-prize is not enough. It must be so severe that I either don't have offspring, or my offspring does not reproduce.

Something has to go wrong, really wrong.


1 comment :

  1. >" It would have been nice having a kevlar skin and a skeleton out of adamantium."

    I think if we did we'd still have accidents - I think accidents are a function of how far we venture out a 'safe zone' vis à vis our physiological capacities. If we had super-strong bodies we'd be in A&E with bumps, bruises, blisters and snaps, but from things like 100 ton boulders falling on us and from falling out of planes or from sitting in fire for too long.

    Hope your arm heals rapidly and painlessly.

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