A professor friend of mine had once asked me to read this book when I had expressed my interest in understanding how did our brain development wean away from the rest of the primates during evolution. This book by Suzana (Brazilian scientist from Argentina who now lives in Nashville, I believe) is filled with some very interesting findings and conclusions from her research. And a lot of data and graphs.
Although I have to admit that sometimes the writing is a little repetitive and at least personally, I thought the data could have been presented in a shorter and perhaps more impactful way, the end results presented are very insightful, nonetheless.
That said, it is a book where you are bound to learn some really interesting things. Including the fact that we are not the animals with the biggest brains. Actually, nowhere even close.
Or that we have as many glial cells as neurons in our brain (it was believed to be 10X). Those “trillions” of neurons we guessed our brains have? Turns out it is only 86 Billion.
The two most important events in our evolution that made us the most intelligent animals? Using fire to cook was the biggest enabler. And before that learning how to stand up!!
If you get a chance and are inclined to understand a little more about how our brains became different – this would be a book I would recommend…
“Aaye bunthun ke shehr-e-khamooshaan mein woh
Qabr dekhi jo meri to kehne lage
Aray aaj itni to iski taraqqi hui
Ek beghar ne accha sa ghar le liya”
“Now the town folk have arrived well dressed and in silence
Having seen my grave, they started saying
That finally, I have reached some success
The homeless person finally has found a good home”
I can’t even remember how many years it has been that I have been wishing people on their birthdays. It used to be mostly by emails – and that was pretty unique till Facebook came along and everybody started wishing on FB. That is when I had to up my game by moving away from email to making phone calls. Today, it is much easier for me to call and wish than email and wish.
It is a routine now – morning before going to office, I finish off the wishes to people in the eastern half of the world. After lunch or during lunch break, it is usually the folks in Europe. And after office or evening are the folks in US. Still averaging about 8 to 9 phone calls a day.
Today, I had two of the more interesting phone calls.
The first one was to a lady who I caught today in the middle of her lounging in the San Diego sun in her retirement years. She seemed genuinely thrilled to talk to me. She asked me how I had such a great memory. I admitted that I did not have a great memory – I just write birthdays down. We chatted for over fifteen minutes. She insisted that we meet two weeks from today when she would be visiting Chicago. I am going to test her and see if she remembers how we met the first time about ten years back. The truth is she was our customer and the only time I had ever seen or talked to her was when she had called me to her office to fire us!! I am sure we will get a great chuckle.
The second was a colleague that I had met once in Brazil. I had kept up with him thru my birthday calls and then one day, his numbers and emails stopped working. Later, I tracked him down to Utah – of all places!! Today, I called him. Took him two minutes to remember who I was. Then it hit him!!!
His follow up message says it all!!
Birthday wishes are about making the recipient happy. In a weird way, that happiness came back one full circle today!
Rarely do I read a book twice. Certainly never have I read a book cover to cover and then gone back immediately and read it up a second time. Not of course, unless compelled by some school teacher or an impending test.
This book was that good for me. As again, Somshekhar Bakshi came up with a winner recommendation. I knew of somebody else who would be interested in this book. Sent him a copy in India and after a couple of weeks called him to discuss the materials. We talked for over 30 minutes over the phone on topics ranging from Higgs field to Dark Matter and whether there is a possibility of a fifth force in the universe.
That was my math teacher from school days – Dr. A.N.Roychoudhury!
Where did water come from?
How come the tiniest particles are comprised of mostly nothing (waves and forces are involved) and yet when the hammer falls on our thumb, it hurts so much?
Why is it very highly likely that there is another earth which has brown camels and Starbucks coffee and somebody looking just like me writing a blog?
Why is it that there is a vast part of the cosmos that we will never ever be able to see – regardless of progress of technology?
How does light determine the total amount of knowledge we will ever have?
Does time really exist?
What is the real shape of space? Could it be warped?
If all the known forces attract, how come the universe is expanding at a rate faster than light?
These and many other intriguing questions are dealt by Germany’s popular science author Stefan Klein in this book. The one challenge is that it is a little difficult to procure. There is no digital version and you have to wait for a few weeks before you get it.
For me, it was absolutely worth the wait!
“Yeh bhi andaz-e-guftagu hai koi
Jab karo dil dukha ke baat karo
Hum tadapte rahenge yahan raat bhar
Tum to aaraam ki neend so jaaoge”
“What style of conversation is it that you have
That brings suffering to my heart whenever I hear you talk
I will toss restlessly thru the night here
And of course you will sleep restfully over there.”