This post previously appeared on Happy by Design.
I’m baaaaccckkkkkk. Oh, you didn’t know I was gone? That’s alright, all is forgiven.
In a nutshell, I spent the last week on a real vacation in Florida – Disney and then Tampa. It was fun, it was magical, there was even a nap that occurred at one point. What more could an overworked and slightly looney girl ask for, am I right? More to come on that vacation. But first, let’s talk about learning something new.
Mind = Blown.
While on vacation I got in some good hearty reading. I read two books that I kept putting on the back burner over the last month and finally found the time to read them. The first was, “The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us” by Diane Ackerman. The second was, “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits and World Dominators” by Chris Brogan.
And as the section header implies, my mind was blown (figuratively) after reading these two insanely different, yet both incredibly compelling books. And I probably could write a very, VERY long review on each, but that’s not what I want to do here. What I want to do is let you in on some things I learned from “The Human Age” because, well, I think they’re interesting things.
- Sweden actually ships in garbage from other countries in order to fuel their cities…because they don’t have enough of their own garbage. They’re THAT clean.
- 3D printers will likely end many industries. Not all, but a lot of them. Oh, they’ll also be able to make organs out of actual human tissue. Creepy, right?
- 1/10 of your body is made of human cells, the rest is made of other stuff like bacteria and microbes. Gross, but fascinating, huh?
- A robot that creates another robot is not necessarily like how you would build a robot. It’s how a robot thinks a robot should be built.
- Animals may know you know something. But they don’t know you know they know something. Did you catch that?
Why am I reading up on 3D printers and the internal workings of animals? Because…
I just wanted to learn something new.
I have a question in my mind that needs to be answered for the book I’m writing. It’s a very open-ended question, but I knew I would need to fall deep into the rabbit hole if I wanted to paint a picture of the world my characters are currently living in.
The question was, “What separates humans from all other life forms?” On a scientific level I get it. I mean, well, sort of. I get it so far as what I learned in the Biology 101 class I took in college (that I barely passed). So I wanted to learn more.
Now, you might be asking, “Shouldn’t you write about what you know?” Well, I guess I’m trying to test that theory. Because I think a lot of people already know random Disney facts and the lyrics to Iggy Azalea songs so that didn’t seem all that interesting in terms of a story plot. But I digress.
While going down one rabbit hole, I stumbled on this Brain Pickings article reviewing “The Human Age” and it was this very excerpt that offered a glimmer of an answer to what I was seeking.
[Animals] possess a theory of mind, and can intuit what a rival might do in a given situation and act accordingly. They exhibit deceit, compassion, the ability to see themselves through another’s eyes…
I don’t think they fret and reason endlessly about mental states, as we do. They simply dream a different dream, probably much like the one we used to dream, before we crocheted into our neural circuitry the ability to have ideas about everything. Other animals may know you know something, but they don’t know you know they know. Other mammals may think, but we think about having thoughts. Linnaeus categorized us in the subspecies of Homo sapiens sapiens, adding the extra sapiens because we don’t just know, we know that we know.
So then I found the book and started reading it. And then I learned WAY more about the way humans are shaping the world around us than just simply how we’re different from animals.
Your mind needs a break
On any given day I probably think about the same things over and over again. So to take a break and think about the world in a different way, or to think about anything in a different way, was a nice change. It doesn’t mean you have to take action. It’s enough to just absorb it and let it keep you wandering down a couple more rabbit holes. Don’t stress out about it. Just find something new that piques your interest. Maybe dig a little deeper instead of putting it on the back burner of your mind. And heck, if you find a way to apply the new knowledge in your everyday life, all the better!
Happy Monday, fellow Erudites!