15 January 2012

On being and not being astonished

...Studying patients has taught us where memories might be stored, but not what physically constitutes a memory. The answer lies in the multitude of tiny modifiable connections between neuronal cells, the information-processing units of the brain. These cells, with their wispy tree-like protrusions, hang like stars in miniature galaxies and pulse with electrical charge. Thus, your memories are patterns inscribed in the connections between the millions of neurons in your brain. Each memory has its unique pattern of activity, logged in the vast cellular network every time a memory is formed...
-- from What are memories made of? by Hugo Spiers
...Perhaps it is not surprising that we do not live more surprised. After all, we are used to unlikelihood. Being born into it, raised in it, we become acclimated to the altitude, like natives in the Andes. Moreover, we all know that the astonishment is transient, and sooner or later our particles will go back to being random...
-- from On Probability and Possibility by Lewis Thomas

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