Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Brains . . .

WHILE WE WAIT ON THE US AND ISRAEL TO SCREW-UP, here's a fine little article from the New Scientist by David Robson, "A brief history of the brain". It's a good overview of how the brain evolved from single-cell creatures.

IT IS 30,000 years ago. A man enters a narrow cave in what is now the south of France. By the flickering light of a tallow lamp, he eases his way through to the furthest chamber. On one of the stone overhangs, he sketches in charcoal a picture of the head of a bison looming above a woman's naked body.

In 1933, Pablo Picasso creates a strikingly similar image, called Minotaur Assaulting Girl.

That two artists, separated by 30 millennia, should produce such similar work seems astonishing. But perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised. Anatomically at least, our brains differ little from those of the people who painted the walls of the Chauvet cave all those years ago. Their art, part of the "creative explosion" of that time, is further evidence that they had brains just like ours.

How did we acquire our beautiful brains? How did the savage struggle for survival produce such an extraordinary object? This is a difficult question to answer, not least because brains do not fossilise. Thanks to the latest technologies, though, we can now trace the brain's evolution in unprecedented detail, from a time before the very first nerve cells right up to the age of cave art and cubism.

Ah, cave art to Cubism. A fine start on the path to Starfleet graphics. As Buzz would say, "To infinity ... and beyond!"

1 comment:

Steve said...

Frightening blog, instead of blowing smoke at the UN Canada should be preparing to welcome a few million Japanese refuges.