Sunday, January 14, 2007


Is it worth it, really, to be in love with something that will never love you back? To be so enchanted by something, to live every aspect of your life through it, to look at everything through its lens, to breathe because of it, to live and die by it, to work and strive and pity and fall and hope and hate and learn and cry by its will, to live out your very existence depending on it, to the point where to live it and love it are the same thing? Such is my love for neuroscience. I began my love affair with the brain when I was a child. Perhaps before that. Perhaps it began when I was a jumble of microtubules and cell-to-cell signal molecules, eleven weeks after conception, when the first waves of electrical activity began in the structures that would later become the brain. My brain. So weird. Such a bizarre concept, consciousness, one that has puzzled philosophers and scientists alike since the sentience of man. You can know everything that ever can be known about the physiology and electrochemistry of the brain, and it is possible to imagine that we still wouldn’t be any closer to answering the timeless big questions.

We’re getting there, no question, with theoretical neuroscience gathering prestige, with information technology keeping pace with computational neuroscience, and with reputable universities offering Ph.D.’s in “Consciousness Studies” (see: University of Mumbai). It just seems more likely, unfortunately, that we will keep amassing data and churning out great theories and testable hypotheses, but we won’t be able to step out of the box, to look at us from outside the system, and so we will never know.

But, damn it, that’s the point, isn’t it? The journey isn’t heroic if you know you’ll be successful. The most admirable quests are the ones with an almost guaranteed rate of failure. And none of these scientists, these wonderful scientists, know if the fruits of their labor will ever be produced; every one of them is a fighter, a scientist, a philosopher, a hero. And every one of them will probably fail. God bless them, those scientists, if I believed in God; they are an inspiration to us all. It’s a reason to stay up studying past 4am, it’s a reason to go to optional discussion classes in below-freezing weather, it’s a reason to worship caffeine, it’s a reason to never stop trying. I can’t lose this, I won’t lose this. As far as I can see, each and every one of us has only got one shot at this, one shot to do whatever we want to do within a lifetime. I want to know, I want to understand. I want this. And I will have it.



Chicks dig it when you walk them to their door, then pick their lock for them.
Warning: This may just creep them out.


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