Thursday, October 29, 2009

the human machine

I typed this out during my lectures this morning, was fun:


The human body is a machine. Think about it. We are a wonderfully constructed, multi-purpose machine. We travel, fast or slow, we lift, we think, we do delicate work, we write, produce art, we can do practically anything. It’s amazing how many things any one can do.

Something even more amazing, is how one person can then turn the machine into a more specific one.

There are people who become faster than others, and I mean fast! There are those that can jump more than 9m in length. Do you know how long 9m is? Take a three story modern building and flip it on its side: that’s 9m. There are people that can pull another machine apart, and put it back together in a few minutes, there are people that can keep ten or more objects flying through the air in a dance against gravity. How can a brain cope with that amount of information? How can a body produce such forces?

I mean think about it, anyone can train their body to become better at anything. ANYTHING!

Besides the fact that each person, each machine, can be trained to make itself more efficient as some things, it does not loose it’s initial basic functions, keeping it a multi-purpose machine.

Fair enough, these people spend most of their time training in the chosen activity, so in a way, it’s less surprising how they manage to do this things. (Although they still are incredible, I mean 9m!). So, let’s move away from the extraordinary.

Our bodies, these machines, and more importantly, our brains, the computer running our machines, perform amazing actions everyday. Let’s ignore the functions of the body such as breathing, and blood circulation, and digestion and so on I might talk about that another time, and lets leave aside the whole wonderful process of learning.

I’m talking about the simple tasks we do everyday, and do not even think about. Writing, for example is simply amazing. We think up something in our heads, and produce is on paper for others to read. In the process, we’re holding a pen or pencil and moving that around on a piece of paper.

Let’s go bigger. Catch a ball. The amount of maths and physics going on in that simple movement would take me the best part of an hour to calculate on paper, and our brains, our computers, do it in split seconds. It tells us where to put our hand, how fast we have to do it, we usually won’t be looking at the point of contact when we actually catch the ball, think about it, and it even tells us if we have to jump. That’s all that calculation, followed by the control of practically the whole body. In less than a second! And we don’t even do it consciously!

For those of you who drive: you control a fraking vehicle, using… wait for it, all four limbs in synchronization with your eyes and ears, AT THE SAME TIME! I’m getting excited! While driving you’re seeing the road in front of you, using your hands and arms to direct the vehicle, pressing the gas and brake when needed with one foot, the clutch with the other, while at the same time changing gear. All this is being processed by your computer, which is also, processing the route where you are going, spatial awareness of the rest of the vehicle, the mental image of the other vehicles on the road and if you’re having a conversation, it’s processing the communication! ARE YOU AWARE?

Many of the examples are obviously learnt, and like I said earlier that’s another amazing thing we manage to do, but something I’ll leave alone for now.

What’s my point? Well, if we’re machines and our brains are computers, we have one amazing programmer and engineer. Do we not?

5 comments:

Rachel said...

I'm now too worried to attempt driving a car in the foreseeable future.

Steve Diacono said...

8.95 m (29.4 ft) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_jump )


Huzzah :P

nice blog tho

Dan said...

we certainly do :) (have one amazing programmer and engineer ie) nice post Sim :D

Matt said...

I mean 9m! haha XD

About the driving, you can't blame people for driving to places they don't intend to when they're having a detailed conversation at the same time. That's also an amusing point, how our brain maps routes to places we go regularly so we take them without realising. Especially if's charlene's chatting away in the passenger seat :)

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