Walnuts, brains, computers, rockets – A short hypothesis on the future of mankind

I’m eating walnuts on a regular basis and have always been intrigued by their organic and brain-like appearance. But the walnut not only looks like a small brain it actually is a brain. A small storage unit that holds the genetic code of the walnut tree. Once it falls to the ground it has the capability to use that code in order to grow a new tree. The definition provided by Oxford Dictionary describes the walnut as “the large wrinkled edible seed of a deciduous tree, consisting of two halves contained within a hard shell which is enclosed in a green fruit”. Oxford Dictionary defines the brain as “an organ of soft nervous tissue contained in the skull of vertebrates, functioning as the coordinating center of sensation and intellectual and nervous activity”. Both the nut and the brain are structured in two halves and protected by an outer shell. Apart from its similar structural features there are further interesting connections that have already attracted the interest of scientists. Numerous studies suggest, that a diet that is rich in walnuts might slow down the progression of neurologic diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

A walnut is a small brain

According to a study carried out by the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities walnuts contain several components that reduce the level of oxidative damage and cell death caused by free radicals. These findings are underpinned by an article published in The Journal of Nutrition,which confirms that walnuts are rich in numerous phytochemicals including high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids which are capable of reducing the oxidative and inflammatory load on the brain.

Maintaining our cognitive capabilities up until old age is what most people are wishing for. Our bodies are complex entities and prone to illness and failure.  However, it might be just a matter of time that we no longer will need to fear the multiple burdens of age. Have you ever heard of whole brain emulation? According to a technical report on the subject authored by Anders Sandberg and Nick Bostrom from the University of Oxford, the basic idea is to take a particular brain, scan its structure in detail, and construct a software model of it that is so faithful to the original that, when run on appropriate hardware, it will behave in essentially the same way as the original brain. Informally speaking the process is often referred to as “uploading” or “downloading”. Once the process is completed the physical body might become superfluous and the doors to immortality will be open wide. 

Walnuts forming a rocket shape

A computer is often seen as the technological counterpart of the human brain. The definition of the Oxford Dictionary tells us that a computer is an electronic device for storing and processing data, typically in binary form, according to instructions given to it in a variable program. The human brain and the computer without any doubt are growing closer together. There already has been a lot of progress in the development of brain-computer interfaces but “uploading” a complete brain to a computer is a very theoretical approach at the moment.

However, looking back in history the same can also be said of the first telephone call, the first aircrafts or the first human space flight. All of these endeavors started out as hypothetic discussions. It is the plain imaginative power of the human spirit that makes people not only stare at the moon but dream about going for a walk up there. After all, everything you need to have a moonwalk is a rocket or a Michael Jackson song. A rocket as defined by Oxford Dictionary can be an elongated rocket-propelled missile or spacecraft but it could also be an edible Mediterranean plant of the cabbage family, whose leaves are eaten in salads. Both are very fast. The first one in speed the other in growth. To me rockets – more than anything else – describe the adventurous and creative force of mankind. Looking up into the dark sky and making plans to go there is so intimidating and yet so inspiring. Uploading a brain to a computer might be crazy but it might also be the next step in human accelerated evolution. In my view there is little doubt about the trajectory of our development as a species. My conclusion is sad and exciting at the same time: We are turning into machines.  

References

Walnut. (2020). In Lexico powered by Oxford Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/definition/walnut

Brain. (2020). In Lexico powered by Oxford Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/definition/brain

Computer. (2020). In Lexico powered by Oxford Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/definition/computer

Rocket. (2020). In Lexico powered by Oxford Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/definition/rocket

Poulose SM, Miller MG, Shukitt-Hale B. Role of walnuts in maintaining brain health with age. J Nutr. 2014

Chauhan A, Chauhan V. Beneficial effects of walnuts on cognition and brain health. Nutrients. 2020

Sandberg, A. & Bostrom, N. (2008): Whole Brain Emulation: A Roadmap, Technical Report #2008‐3, Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University

Xinyue Qu

Living in a complex and ever-changing society, everyone is exposed to different contingencies and unpredictable situations, some of which can cause psychological stress of varying degrees of severity for each individual. Because we are forced to face pressure, understanding the stress response is a must. The stress response, or “fight or flight” response is the emergency reaction system of the body (Hunter et al., 2013). It is designed to keep you safe in an emergency. The stress response consists of a physical and mental reaction to your perception of the situation. In the face of stress, the amygdala and hypothalamus begin a kind of cascade of functioning even before the brain’s visual centres have a chance to fully process what is happening (Harvard Health Publishing, 2011). This is why people are able to jump out of the path of an oncoming car, even before they have any idea what they are doing. 

Just as there are no two identical leaves in the world, the social environment in which we grow up, the family environment and other factors that exist in each person’s life lead to the fact that the things we encounter and the people we know are different.This is why individual differences arise. This kind of difference exits in everything especially in stress-response. After encountering various stress situation, there is a tremendous diversity in how individuals react as a physical and psychological changes. The Alan Baker’s classical cognitive model of depression suggests that physiological and psychological factors such as genetic susceptibility and personality are likely to make some people more vulnerable to stressful when facing with emergency and more likely to trigger negative emotional bias processing in the brain (Werner & Covenas, 2010). According to Robert (1994), individual’s experience in the hierarchy and the perception of external events can generate a huge influence on stress response. As psychosexual stress is a state when an individual’s internal homeostasis is threatened by psychosocial factors, the level of response may be influenced by individual differences in self-concept. In short, different levels of education, personality factors, cognitive levels, social support and personal experiences all influence the development of stress responses in individuals.

Throughout the project, I was fascinated by the individual’s diverse reactions and decided to document them in an art form after understanding why they occurred, trying to build a bridge between objectivity and art.

Reference: 

Hunter, C. L., Goodie, J. L., Oordt, M. S., & Dobmeyer, A. C. (2013). Integrated behavioral health in primary care: Step-by-step guidance for assessment and intervention. 3rd edn. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Harvard Health Publishing (2011). Understanding the stress response:

Chronic activation of this survival mechanism impairs health. Availiable at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response (accessed at: 2 December 2020)

Sapolsky, R. M. (1994). Individual differences and the stress response. In Seminars in Neuroscience (Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 261-269). Academic Press.

Werner, F. M., & Covenas, R. (2010). Classical neurotransmitters and neuropeptides involved in major depression: a review. International Journal of Neuroscience, 120(7), 455-470.

Zhexi Xu

The use of different textures on ceramics and the relationship between painting and ceramics

A work through the point, line, surface, color, texture and other basic elements of a combination of a certain form and form relations, arouse people’s aesthetic feelings, motivation, refers to the texture of the image surface. Mechanism calls sense of quality again, because the material of the object is different, the constituent permutation structure of the surface each are not identical, produce coarseness feeling, smooth feeling soft and hard feeling consequently, the base is ideal surface feature, the feeling that people is pair of airframe is with tactile sense commonly of a foundation, but as a result of the long-term experience that people tactile sense object is not easy to touch, what feel quality of a material on the vision is different so we call it visual texture.

The skin texture has the vision skin texture and the sense of touch skin texture’s division, the skin texture gives the human by each kind of feeling, and can strengthen the image the function and the power, the vision drive is one kind feels with the eye the mechanism, like the screen demonstration decorative pattern, concave and convex and so on, but these are two-dimensional plane’s mechanism, the sense of touch skin texture generally through, splices, cuts the mould carving and so on processing way obtains, is three-dimensional stereoscopic skin texture it can be felt by hand and generally in art we complete a visual communication with positive effect. 

Texture of the performance of the way, painting, spraying, smoking, collage, rubbing, Dye, shake off and so on. 

There is a layer of skin on the surface of the object, in the natural creation, it has a variety of organizational structure, or flat smooth or rough mottled.

The mechanism is not all beautiful, only when it is in a specific space, a specific environment, a specific light, can it present some kind of aesthetic feeling belonging to it. 

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