Last week I wrote about the awesomeness of the neuvous system in its ability to generate such a diverse set of behavior as that of human behavior. It seemed amazing to me that the only reason I can type this message is that there are some unfathomable number of neurons firing in a specific frequency. I will never repeat these same motions in the same order > again.
And now, what continues to fascinate me are the processes that allow for the neurons to fire as they do, in addition to those that allow the neurons to fire at all. For instance, embedded in the membrane of a typical neuron are "perhaps a million sodium pumps with a capacity to move about 200 million sodium ions per second" (The Neuron; 5). The membrane proteins that constitute these million sodium-potassium pumps change configuration for each transferral of ions. The sophistication of these membrane proteins, as seen in their involvement in transporting ions across a membrane and thus generating the concentration gradient crucial to the generation of action potentials, allows for the creation of human behavior.
It seems odd that particles of such minute size could be at least partly responsible for human history--for the construction of the Egyptian pyramids, for the existence of the computer, for the development of the electron micropscope. Great things are necessary a result of innumerable small, seemingly unimportant events.
Nice thought. Maybe there's an important general lesson in that, huh? PG