THIS IS a progressive column because I am tracking my own brain flexibility over time. How far and fast my brain can progress in this endeavor, I don’t know. That will be determined by how well I do in the math I take over the next two years. This new training requires that I train my brain in abstract thinking. The speed of the progress is not important but my commitment to it is.
About nine years ago at TRU I was not able to pass a math course that shifted from algebra to calculus because I knew nothing about the flexibility of my brain. I didn’t know that I could consciously, studiously change my ability to do math problems. From my recent readings about brains and their flexibility I now understand that I am changing two brain cells at a time to think through and write down very specific number manipulation processes, that reflect the real world.
The consciousness, the studiously intentional part of this is very important. This kind of learning does not happen in a vacuum.
When this approach is taken mathematics is not scary at all. The equations I work with are concretely about the real world. I am happily looking forward to this because I expect it will mean I won’t keep running out of money before month. That’s scary. I could lose my girlfriend and starve to death.
These real world reflections of mathematics are about not adding apples to oranges to get pomegranates. Can adding apples to oranges be about getting round things? Whoa! That’s getting into logic and philosophy. I will write about that later.
This column will not be about trying to confuse or educate my readers. If you learn something beyond my questionable jokes about our brains, good on you.
Remember the discipline of Information Theory I wrote about in my earlier columns and how it has grown in scope to become a course of study that can measure almost anything. Information Theory is about the transmission of data, basically information, be it speech or text. Data is divided into noise and signal. Noise is when your wife mumbles at you, you didn’t hear what she said and you don’t care. That is, you don’t ask for a repeat and go on ignoring her.
Signal happens when she speaks a little more loudly and clearly, you get the message and follow through.
There is another way to think about this. An amorous bull moose bellows painfully in the wilderness and does not find a cow moose. If no member of the species answers the call it’s just noise. If an interested cow moose does respond, that’s signal.
I’m serious. Scientists and technicians have discovered that Information Theory, data defined in many ways, is useful in interstellar space, biology, physics, languages and how we use cell phones and the Internet.
It is this wide ranging usefulness of Information Theory as a method of understanding the natural world and ourselves that makes it so important.
The last application of Information Theory I want to mention is how it is used to study the human brain. Data, messages, are received by the brain or not. They seem to get lost in there or not. If lost they sometimes get found. If found proper and accurate action may follow. The issue is how fluidly does the brain performs these tasks.
That will be how I will use Information Theory in this column, in reference to neural biology; how it applies to my brain and brains in general. Bless my brain.
My math marks have taken a dip. Scary. On the first few chapter tests I was scoring in the 80s and 90s. Now its getting rough. Can’t blame my teacher. Damn. My last test was 67 PER CENT. Still a pass.
Steady on the tiller. Next week I will reveal how I did on the mid-term exam. Steady on the tiller, lad.
I am both the experiment and the experimenter.
Elon Newstrom is a Kamloops resident and sometime university student.