Einstein’s Brain and Cisco’s Human Network
NPR did a great story last week on Einstein’s brain which was “borrowed” for research purposes without permission as the pathologist thought that it might be able to unlock the secrets of genius.
For me, the net of the story is:
“in 1990, a Stanford University researcher named Stephen J. Smith published a paper in the journal Science that would change everything.
Smith knew that neurons communicate using a combination of electrical charges and chemical signals. Scientists had figured that out a long time ago because the electrical charges are hard to miss.
Smith suspected that astrocytes (or glial cells…or glue cells) might also have the ability to communicate, but were doing so using only chemical signals, which are easy to miss if you’re not looking for them.
And Smith had an even wilder idea: Maybe astrocytes were actually eavesdropping on the chemical conversations between neurons, and rebroadcasting them to distant areas of the brain.
If Smith was right, it would mean that astrocytes could be involved in learning, memory and even genius.”
If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking…okay, what does this have to do with Cisco?
It has to do with Cisco because it made me actually think of the HUMAN network…which is what the brain and our nerves are, right? And how they work sometimes may be beyond comprehension (except for neurologists and CCIEs!), but they are sophisticated and intricate systems.
Sometimes networks are diminished by others who say that networks are just “dumb” pipes with no intelligence in them. Research as a result of Einstein’s brain made me think that just because we don’t know how something works doesn’t mean that it isn’t intelligent…or even genius.
Also, see the amazing video (ahem, non-embeddable) on NPR’s website of “astrocytes communicating” in the beautiful human network.