Month: August 2017

In The Blink Of An Eye

I was always confused by the speed of light expressed in miles per second. Well, not confused, more that I can’t picture how far that is. I know light travels more than halfway to the moon in a second, but I don’t have a picture of how far away the moon is. It’s just that thing in the sky. Light travels at 186,282 miles per second, which is 186 miles per millisecond. It take about 300 milliseconds to blink. The circumference of the Earth at the equator is 24,874 miles. So in the time it takes to blink, light travels more than twice around the Earth. That’s something I can picture.

Their Eyes Skipped Over

I love it when somebody misplaces something that I can see is right in front of them. I see the way their eyes scan the table or whatever to find the missing possession. The best bit, and the reason I love it when somebody loses something is that I see their eyes do a clever loop, an evasion, a circuit, as the direction of their gaze gets near where the object is. They skip over the object, they go mentally blind, they even close their eyes for a second when they get ‘too near’. Sometimes they look as though they are going to bump into the object in their line of sight and their eyes jump and veer away. It’s like they are deliberately sabotaging their efforts. And they are unaware of it. I don’t know why people do it, but it happens. There is no way to manufacture the circumstances when it happens, which is another reason I love when it happens. It is another rare opportunity to see something that I rarely get …

Brains On TV, or The Spinning Kitchen

There was a programme about the brain on TV last night. The program was essentially talking about how the autonomic system in the brain covers nearly all of what we do. And it asked what the role of consciousness and self awareness is. In one part of the programme, they wired up the presenter and a young boy as they stood side by side and stacked cups. The boy was the world champion cup stacker and the presenter was a newbie at it. When the team looked at the brain activity of the two of them they saw that the the presenter’s brain was lighting up. But boy’s brain was more or less at rest. Nothing very much was happening because he had hardwired the technique. He practised – and that is how much of what we do goes from conscious effort to automatic. The programme was a repeat of a screening about a year ago, but something must have interrupted my viewing the first time, because there were a couple of things on last …