Friday, March 18, 2011

Some either sci-real or sci-fi about time perception

So here is my notion/theory that is either just silly or maybe just a little silly. I had some questions, like this: "why should things in the dark have different colors? Could the colors be functional?"

The second set of thoughts/question was "All matter on earth, living or otherwise, is constantly bombarded by solar neutrinos. Solar neutrinos are weakly interacting with matter. Could solar neutrinos, albeit invisible and weakly interacting, be somehow involved in biologial processes, particularly thought?"

I thought this because a) the brain is a different color than all the other organs in the body and b) the brain looks something like a neutrino detector and c) it can be the case that very, very, very small amounts of some substances-- nanograms-- can alter thought processes. So thought processes may be susceptible to the weak interactions of neutrinos.

I also thought this because signals, nerve signals, are actually more of a "cascade" across cell membranes. They are asynchronous, and they often have a start and an end. But if our thoughts are asynchronous, how can we perceive time? That is, without something marking 'measured temporal units', how can we perceive or experience time? In fact, we *share* temporal coordinates, so it is like our time sense is coordinated, like the clocks on cellphones are synchronized by the network.

Another thing that I thought about was neutrino detectors. Structurally, neutrino detectors look a lot like brains.

Solar neutrinos can pass through matter and we are bombarded by a constant stream of these. Again, I understand that thought/nerve signals are kind of a "domino" effect of cascading charges throughout the body, and as such it seems like these are not synchronous. My curiosity (because I've got a background in computers) is why we should perceive time if our thoughts/brain signals are asynchronous. In a computer, you have a "clock signal" that is a constant pulse. The clock signal is used to ensure instructions happen as quickly as possible, but is a separate system from the instruction interpretation/calculation components of the computer.

My thought, which I have no basis for other than kind of a self-amusing notion, is that solar neutrino collisions with key brain structures provide enough "ticking" to provide the 'temporal metronome' that allows us to perceive time. Again, the nature of neutrinos is that they are "weakly interacting", but in a system designed to respond to their interaction (like a neutrino detector) they have discernable "blips", which are called scintillation light. In other circumstances, they can induce Cherenkov radiation, another type of light.

So my more general curiosity is: does some solar neutrino interaction occur within the brain in a way that it is useful to the brain's function?


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