Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I'm Not in Singapore

For some reason, my work computer always sends me to the Singapore homepages for email, Blogger, Wordpress, etc. I keep up a blog about medical things for my customers, although I don't think they ever read it. I was hoping they would read the news articles carefully selected for neurologists and psychiatrists and discuss them with their colleagues as a way of improving their English. Korean doctors are keen on improving their English because they want to communicate more easily at overseas conferences and with foreign patients.

But, my home computer always sends me to the Korean sites. I wonder why this is?

I realized that I don't know anything about how the internet works except that it's a lot like a brain. Electrical signals are transmitted from computer (neuron) to computer (neuron) to receive and respond to stimuli. But where do these signals start? Where do they stop? Where are things actually stored? If we turned off (starved) every computer (neuron) in the world at the same time, would the data (memories) be lost or preserved?

That's always a question I wondered about in the brain. In high school and university, I learned the neurochemical intricacies of electrical transmission in the brain and spinal cord (CNS, or central nervous system). Basically, an electrochemical impulse is picked up from another neuron and, if enough of these impulses are picked up by the same neuron at the same time, that neuron transmits a signal to other neurons.

The origin of an impulse is a sense: we have pressure, heat, and cold sensors, pain sensors, taste buds, etc. to help us see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Then our neuronal activity responds to this external input.

So then, what about creative thought? Is there no original thought that starts in the brain, born of nothing? Is everything we think just a response to external stimuli? It's somewhat depressing to think that all art is just something that the artist sensed and recreated through a filter or code, like encoding a message for someone with the same way of thinking to decode.

But then, I suppose it's just a law of nature. You can't create or destroy matter or energy. To create an original thought, you'd have to convert something else to a neuronal impulse, and that would likely result in severe brain damage over time. Or immediate brain death. Spontaneous brain combustion for one original thought.

Which brings me back to my original thought- why does my computer think I'm in Singapore? I don't understand, just like I don't understand my brain, and that's okay. Sometimes things just are the way they are and no matter how much we think about it we just can't figure it out.

Of course I'm sure someone out there could explain to me exactly why my work computer thinks I'm in Singapore when I'm really in Seoul. But honestly, I'd rather not know.

No comments:

Post a Comment