29 08, 2015

Creating More Surprises and Fewer Mistakes

The past is an interesting concept. By definition the “past” refers to a time that has already happened. However, that isn’t how we experience it in our own lives. We have the ability to relive events over and over again in our minds. This ability to recall and relive is a gift that many of us fail to properly utilize. We tend to focus on the negative aspects of our lives and forget the positive. Think about your day for a moment. What happened? Were you complimented on your work? Maybe a friend drooped by unannounced for lunch? Did you find $20 on the ground? Were you pulled over for speeding? When asked to recall what happened my guess is that most people would emphasize getting stopped by the police. If we removed this one scenario then the rest of the day looks really good, maybe even great. From an evolutionary standpoint, a mistake is a threat to our survival. This makes sense given the right context.   Early humans were at the mercy of their environment and so they needed to be vigilant. At that time a slight misstep could mean the difference between life and death. Our brains are genetically wired to keep us safe and a mistake threatens our security. For most of us this reality no longer exists. Rarely do our mistakes carry with them such dire consequences. Think about it. We make multiple mistakes a day, every day and yet we’re still alive. Despite this regularity we still spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy re-living the past. […]

25 03, 2015

Telomeres: What Does a Lobster Know That You Don’t Know?

In 2009 a fisherman off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada caught a lobster. Normally, this isn’t news considering the number of crustaceans pulled from the water every year in that part of the world. What makes this lobster so interesting is that it weighed 20 pounds and was estimated to be at least 140 years old. Take a moment to really think about that last fact. In theory, this lobster hatched in 1869 – just four years after the end of the American Civil War. Most lobsters don’t live to that ripe old age because they’re eaten, injured or exposed to disease but if you removed these external forces the results would be very different. Lobsters are one of a handful of species that appear to be “biologically immortal.” These creatures don’t age in the same way that you or I do. Every time our cells divide something called a telomere is shortened. There’s a direct relation between telomere length and cell age with the oldest cells having the shortest telomeres. […]