The world is so full of natural miracles and little pockets of magic, but we often don’t have the eyes to see them. Only a couple of days ago, my 17-year-old daughter mused why these humble clams have geometric patterns on their shells?
If markings have evolved for the purpose of camouflage (and hence protection from predator), then why geometric patterns? My friend from Borneo tells me that certain shells, chosen for their markings, are soaked in babies’ bathwater to soothe skin rash. The natural world is indeed miraculous and wondrous.
But we often don’t see beyond the first three spatial dimensions. As PW, the protagonist in Catching Infinity said, human beings cannot see higher dimensions because of a fault in evolution. As predators do not leapt out at our early ancestors from higher dimensions, we have not evolved the capabilities to see higher dimensions.
But that capability is there. It is in our brains. Researchers from the Blue Brain Project, a Swiss research initiative devoted to building a supercomputer-powered reconstruction of the human brain, using algebraic topology have discovered groups of neurons connect into ‘cliques’, and that the number of neurons in a clique would lead to its size as a high-dimensional geometric object.
According to the researchers, algebraic topology provides mathematical tools for discerning details of the neural network both in a close-up view at the level of individual neurons, and a grander scale of the brain structure as a whole.
By connecting these two levels, the researchers could discern high-dimensional geometric structures in the brain, formed by collections of tightly connected neurons (cliques) and the empty spaces (cavities) between them.
The full article can be accessed here.
In his inaugural lecture on the 26th dimension, PW talked about being free from the cages that restrict us. Only today, I was talking to a friend who was lamenting about the restrictions of her life. She is in her thirties, tired, weighed down and demoralised by her dead-end job and living in a grey high-rise. But as she is single and well-qualified, there are many other exciting options out there that she could pursue instead of being stuck. But she could not see any one of those options.
“Look up Teach Georgia!” I urged her. Go to Tbilisi and beyond, to the magical land in the remote Caucus mountains, live in the pure culture, discover a new world and find the unknown world within yourself. Be alive again. Georgia is the most magical country I know.
But perhaps we are too scared to let go of the known, safe world to look beyond the limiting confines of our everyday life. Here’s a beautiful call to opening ourselves up to live fully from Pema Chödrön. See the higher dimensions. Know that WE CAN.
If we knew that tonight we were going to go blind, we would take a longing, last real look at every blade of grass, every cloud formation, every speck of dust, every rainbow, raindrop—everything. Pema Chödrön
I dedicate this to my late friend Eva. Dear, I see you x