The Amazing Powers of the Brain

This afternoon, Butch and I were watching a great college football game. There were a couple of times where the ball was thrown (once by one of the receivers in a snazzy play!) and caught in what could be considered a beautiful interplay between a team of people, and all those brains and bodies working smoothly together.

Every time I watch sports, I am overcome by a sense of awe over these amazing powers of the human brain and body.

Another example was the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix recently. This race is different than the rest of the schedule because it starts out in the late afternoon and finishes at night after the sun sets. There is a stage where the drivers are racing in the gloaming. They had a new camera on one of the cars and it was focused on the driver's helmet so at this one stage, you could see his eyes. The driver was Sebastian Vettel (the guy who won the championship this year) and it was amazing to watch him. In the minute and a half that it took him to drive around the circuit, he only blinked about 3 times! The other striking thing was how relaxed he seemed. Here he is, averaging about 130 mph, going around corners, each one needing his full concentration, all the while making about 120 adjustments on various knobs and switches on his steering wheel each lap, dealing with traffic, weather, changing conditions, etc, etc... ad infinitum, and he looks like he's going on a Sunday drive in the country. It's astounding.

There are 80-120 Billion neurons in the human brain. I would love to see an MRI of the brain of an athlete while they are doing their sport (yes I know that's impossible, but I can dream, can't I?).

Not only are many of those neurons working together to let a tennis player hit a little ball with a racket and get the ball to go where she wants it to,  but think of how the nerves, muscles, tendons and everything else all work in harmony.

And to revisit the tennis player, her racket has been shown to become an extension of her arm. So when you use a tool, it becomes part of you, in your brain, which explains how we can swing a hammer and have it hit a tiny nail head.

Have you ever watched great ping pong players? Bruce Lee played ping pong with his nunchucks once, for Nokia:

It's so easy to take this for granted, but watching people who are masters at sport is an excellent way to be reminded of the fine concert going on in our heads and bodies.

I, for one, am a klutz, so I guess when I see other people excelling at something like motor racing, I'm acutely aware of the awesomeness of it. If only bumping into things and forgetting what I came into a room for were also amazing. :P

Oh, and by the way, apparently there was a study done that shows that people really do forget whatever was in their short term memory when they go through a doorway. Science is so damned cool!

No comments:

Post a Comment