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  • T.W. Emory

One tenth of our brain...

I’ve heard it claimed that we supposedly use only one tenth of our brain. I’ve even heard some say that it’s closer to one tenth of one percent. Whichever the case, are we safe in assuming that this percentage has apparently been determined by people ostensibly using only a fraction of their brain? So then, where exactly are we really?

While much has been learned about the brain, in many ways it remains inscrutable. As the astronomer-cosmologist-astrophysicist-astrobiologist Carl Sagan said, “The brain is a very big place in a very small space.”

Genuinely helpful or not, I find some analogies from pop culture make it easier to wrap my brain around that quote from Carl Sagan. For instance, in the comic strip Peanuts, Snoopy’s dog house was average-sized on the outside, but the interior seemed to defy physics. On one occasion, all of Charlie Brown’s friends went inside. Over the years Snoopy’s house held a pool table, bunk beds, a tennis table, a TV, a grandfather clock, a whirlpool bath and other items, as well as having a kitchen.

Or as another example, consider the Tardis, the space and time-ship of the character known as The Doctor, in the TV show Doctor Who. On the outside the Tardis appears to be a normal-sized blue London police box from the 1950s; however, its interior is much larger, which surprises anyone stepping inside for the first time. Apparently the Tardis is “dimensionally transcendental”, in that its exterior and interior exist in separate dimensions.

Ever since a physics-minded friend suggested it as a possibility to me years ago, I can’t help but wonder if our “mind” (like the interior of the Tardis) exists (at least partly) in another dimension; and that there’s something about the whole thing that compares to Snoopy’s dog house.

But, perhaps another Doctor Who reference speaks to the heart of the matter. In one episode, when trying to explain to his companions their current relationship to the universe, The Doctor tells them: “Imagine a great big soap bubble with one of those tiny little bubbles on the outside… Well, it’s nothing like that… Yeah. No. But if it helps, yes.”

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