It’s quite something to start off a blog exclaiming how incredible I am, but there you go. Sometimes you have to just hold your hands up . . . and then simply marvel at how that happens: signals travelling millionths of a second from your brain down the spine, through shoulders to your arms, translating into actions where muscles, tendons and bones all seamlessly combine to perform the action. If you still have your hands up, maybe take the chance to sing ‘oooooh-ohh-oh, oh-oh-oooooh-oh . . . all the single ladies . . .’ whilst you’re there? No? Just a thought.
I spent the week reading Bill Bryson’s The Body – A Guide for Occupant, a tour de force of self-admiration. We are evolutionary wonder machines, true forces of nature. Every few pages inherently ends up in me messaging someone (usually an unsuspecting Regi) with another fascinating piece of knowledge. The genetic codes spanning millennia, the choices our ancestors made for you to even exist are ridiculous - for a glimpse of that, you can’t go wrong with Stephen Baxter’s Evolution. Through this evolutionary process we walk upright, communicate, developed opposable thumbs, have developed acute senses to interpret the world around us, can anticipate seconds or years in advance, can learn and adapt, sing and dance (oooooh-ohh-oh, oh-oh-oooooh-oh . . .), all controlled by using our big brains. To draw from the unparalleled Bill Bryson, everything you know about the world is from an organ that has never seen the light of day. Astonishingly, sitting quietly doing nothing i.e. everyone in lockdown, your brain churns through more information in thirty seconds than the Hubble Telescope can process in thirty years. It’s estimated the human brain is capable of holding two hundred exabytes of information, or looking at it another way, ‘the entire digital content of today’s world’. Makes you feel pretty damned silly though when you misplace your keys, doesn’t it?
Take another look at that jellified, pink body of yours, even that pot belly. You’re a goddamn disgrace! But also, you’re staring at probably the most biologically advanced species in the entire universe. When I was a kid, I was often shocked visiting friends’ houses – all right, all right, friend, imaginary – that their parents didn’t discuss the past 13.8 billion years and how we came to now. My Dad did, and does, constantly mention the infinitesimally small chances of alien life. Evolution takes time, and the universe is still young. For example, if you stretch your arms out wide (lots of exercise today!), let’s imagine your arm-span is the timeline from the birth of the universe on your left middle-finger to when all stars in the universe die on your right. Now, if the Big Bang started on the left, at the tip of the nail, how far do you think the universe has aged in that time i.e. where are we now? The answer is we’re about a width of a very slender human hair along. We may not only be force of nature, but freaks too. Some more than others.
I haphazardly picked up the Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo in the last fortnight, not expecting much, but came out with a whole new perspective. To found one multi-million-dollar company is enough for a lifetime, to manage it thrice (Pixar, Next and Apple) is alien. His sheer drive and leadership were simply astonishing. Could he have changed his clothes more? Probably. With his apparent adversity to washing, perhaps he was more of a ‘actually, you can leave your hands down’ kind of guy.
What am I listening to? ‘Science Vs’ Podcasts hosted by some insightful and funny women from America and Australia. The episodes on 5G and Sleep are excellent, only run for half an hour, and have enough bad jokes to make me guffaw as I get my steps in.
What am I reading? Bill’s book is a chunky one, that’ll keep me going a while
What has piqued my interest? 5G use-cases and how this could transform our world. A US $4.3 trillion industry awaits.
Writing and writing...