Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Recent studies suggest that older is better if wisdom is your game. In a Newsweek January 16, 2006 health article, I came across the following two passages:

“The neurons themselves may lose some processing speed with age, but they become ever more richly intertwined. Magnified tremendously, the brain of a mentally active 50-year-old looks like a dense forest of interlocking branches, and this density reflects both deeper knowledge and better judgment. . .

“No one knows exactly what this all means, but the finding suggests that healthy brains compensate for the depredations of age by expanding their neural networks across the bilateral divide. My own work suggests that, besides keeping us sharp, this neural integration makes it easier to reconcile our thoughts with our feelings.”

I call the photo "Geometry in Gray, Green and Blue".


I’ve included the following passages, again from Newsweek (Jan. 16, 2006), because in reading Dawkins’s The Ancestor’s Tale, I remember vaguely how far back in time it was when the “archaea”, mentioned in passing in this passage, came into existence. Yes, we’re carrying around some mighty old ancestors in our guts. Do you get a gut feeling about evolution, thinking about it?

“You may use antibacterial dish soap and wash your hands every time you sneeze, hut Jeffrey Gordon wants you to know that you're crawling with germs. Gordon, the director of the Center for Genome Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, studies bacteria and ancient forms of single-celled life called archaea—and no matter how clean you think you are, your gut would make him a pretty good laboratory. It's oozing with 750 trillion bacteria and archaea, and there's very little you can do about it.

“Then again, you probably wouldn't want to do anything about it, because those little guys are good for you. The microbes in your gut have genes of their own, and, as scientists are now learning, those genes are essential to the body's functioning. Gut flora help the immune system ward off more-dangerous bugs; they break down nutrients; they may even manipulate how the body stores fat. If doctors could control the flora, they might be able to ward off disease with a completely new toolbox. Meanwhile, maintaining a good balance of microorganisms through diet turns out to be an easy way to strengthen your overall health.”

“We are here on earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don’t know.” —W. H. Auden, poet (1907-1973)

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