Mental Floss

Ode to the Brain

Chris Higgins
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"The brain is a very big place, in a very small space" -Carl Sagan, in the latest Symphony of Science song. More geeky scientific awe, communicated via music and imagery, from composer John Boswell.

"Here is this mass of jelly you can hold in the palm of your hands. And it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space." -Vilayanur Ramachandran.

Lyrics after the jump.

[Robert Winston] It's amazing to consider that I'm holding in my hands The place where someone once felt, thought, and loved For centuries, scientists have been battling to understand What this unappealing object is all about [Vilayanur Ramachandran] Here is this mass of jelly You can hold in the palm of your hands And it can contemplate the vastness of interstellar space [Carl Sagan] The brain has evolved from the inside out It's structure reflects all the stages through which it has passed [Jill Bolte Taylor] Information in the form of energy Streams in simultaneously Through all of our sensory systems And then it explodes into this enormous collage Of what this present moment looks like What it feels like And what it sounds like And then it explodes into this enormous collage And in this moment we are perfect We are whole and we are beautiful [Robert Winston] It appears rather gruesome Wrinkled like a walnut, and with the consistency of mushroom [Carl Sagan] What we know is encoded in cells called neurons And there are something like a hundred trillion neural connections This intricate and marvelous network of neurons has been called An enchanted loom The neurons store sounds too, and snatches of music Whole orchestras play inside our heads 20 million volumes worth of information Is inside the heads of every one of us The brain is a very big place In a very small space No longer at the mercy of the reptile brain We can change ourselves Think of the possibilities [Bill Nye] Think of your brain as a newspaper Think of all the information it can store But it doesn't take up too much room Because it's folded [Oliver Sacks] We see with the eyes But we see with the brain as well And seeing with the brain Is often called imagination [Various] [Robert Winston] It is the most mysterious part of the human body And yet it dominates the way we live our adult lives It is the brain

This is the ninth installment in Boswell's series. For more _floss coverage, search the site. I still think the first song, "A Glorious Dawn," is the best.

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