(Roughly) Daily

Life begins (to end) at 40…

Younger readers will be amused to learn that scientists have isolated the chronological peak of a human’s mental capacities– age 39.

During this year’s baseball playoffs, Chicago White Sox outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., 38, threw a picture-perfect strike from center field to home plate to stop an opposing player from scoring. The White Sox ultimately won the game by a single run and clinched the division title.

Had Griffey been 40, it could be argued, he might not have made the throw in time. That’s because in middle age, we begin to lose myelin — the fatty sheath of “insulation” that coats our nerve axons and allows for fast signaling bursts in our brains…

Read the report here.  (Then more aged readers should consult Malcolm Gladwell’s recent New Yorker piece for consolation…)

As we revise our expectations, we might offer a carefully-calculated birthday greeting to George Boole, the mathematician and philosopher who invented (what we now call)  Boolean Algebra, the basis of essentially all computing arithmetic.  A challenge to the principle demonstrated in the research cited above (he published his most important work in his mid-forties), Boole is retrospectively considered one of the founders of computer science.

George Boole

Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 2, 2008 at 1:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

%d bloggers like this: