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Point of View: It’s Nice to Know the Brain Grows

Thu, 01/19/2023 - 08:21

I wanted to say on the eve of New Year’s Eve, “Ring in the old, ring out the new,” but, despite the world’s woes, I’m not sure things were better in the old days — there were wars then too and wretchedness.

You do wonder why the desire to conquer others remains so strong even as it’s obvious that the battle to be won lies in conquering the worst instincts within ourselves and in pursuing the good that Aristotle said was our nature, evil to his mind being ignorance.

And so, let’s hear it for knowledge, knowledge that can be applied to ameliorate the world’s ills, such as the recent successful experiment with nuclear fusion promises. And let’s hear it for the broader view that can arise from broader knowledge. Maybe someday we will learn to live with each other and share the benefits derived from the furtherance of knowledge. That’s my hope for the New Year.

Interesting, though, that I say these things while I’ve just recently dipped into two fat folders, titled “Things Worth Reading,” and “More Things Worth Reading” that Mary wryly notes I’ve never read, which contain articles on subjects such as evolution, the genome, black holes, the general theory of relativity, dark energy, the End-Permian extinction, the shaping of the Milky Way, and, wonderful to tell, the finding by Marian C. Diamond, a neuroscientist who died in 2017, that the brain can grow throughout life.

To do so, or so the old rats in one of her studies attested, one requires a stimulating environment. And though such an environment, the Atlantic Ocean, is close at hand, and though I know that many here on New Year’s Day would say they were reborn, that they’d been baptized into the New Year as a result of dipping into the congealing water, I’m vowing to dip into “Things Worth Reading” and into “More Things Worth Reading” instead.

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