Friday, April 4, 2014

The Rewards Of Reboot.

How much do you know about something as simple as a transistor? What about a neuron? The two things are more similar than you might realize. In fact, our brains share a comparable quality to an electronic device is some aspects. Let's consider this for a moment, shall we?

A transistor is a basic device that that in its most primitive form only allows things to flow through it in one direction. Depending on how it is implemented it can act as a switch or as an amplifier of sorts. Taken together in large groups transistors are actually what make up the memory component an electronic device uses to store all the things it needs to remember.

Starting to sound familiar? Without trying to teach you an entire class on the subject, let's just establish that it is in transistors that all those ones and zeroes exist as either off or on. It is the most basic building block of any electronic device we have ever devised.

So, how does that compare to neurons then? Neurons are the biological equivalent of the transistor. Within our minds, billions of neurons mimic the way billions of transistors work in a device. Signals are transmitted through them, things are stored and the overall collective result is a complex array of neural activity that we call intelligent thought or memory.

And just like in an electronic device something has to keep cycling through all those tiny transistor-like things to keep them all alive and active. If you turn the power off from an array of transistors they can 'forget' any information that they had stored inside them. Take the memory inside your computer for instance or the radio in your car. Disconnect the battery or unplug it from the wall and anything that was stored there is gone.

Now, that doesn't mean that other forms of storage doesn't exist to keep up with things that are needed for long term retention. If we go to sleep we do not forget our names or how to walk. Just like every time we turn our car off it doesn't forget what time was on the clock. That stuff stays stored ( in the car's case that bit is true as long as the battery isn't drained).

But let's say for instance there is some damage to transistors or our neurons for instance. Perhaps something get's loaded into them in the wrong order or, due to a hiccup isn't stored at all. What could happen then? There are any number of resulting effects that could come from it. It could be from us having a stroke that damages a segment of our neurons. We might have something 'misfire' so to speak. Whatever the cause it can leave us - much like an electronic piece of technology to become best described as malfunctioning.

So what do we do?

The answer is so simple that we generally overlook it. We reboot.

When we shut a machine down, we empty it of all those temporary stored values. We dump out every transistor of any electric current flowing in it and let it all return to its base state. As it comes back on it is them reloaded with the right values to begin anew. If anything was mixed up before it has by the very process of rebooting become reset.

Every single night when we close our eyes and go to sleep we give our brains that very chance of doing the same thing. It can in essence reboot itself, resetting a whole array of abnormal neurons, resting overworked areas and allowing things to renew itself. Too tired to remember clearly? Get some rest. Everything feeling foggy as you try to concentrate or think about something? Perhaps some sleep is in order.

For me I have a unique outlook on which to grant me perspective. Sometimes my own internal transistors get all twisted up - often by the very act of sleeping. Its as if instead of storing the right values things get shorted out. In time even my mind can sort it all back out but often enough the best thing for me to do is to simply allow myself to reboot. We take so much for granted about the magical marvels our bodies are capable of - much like we do technology.

Next time there is trouble give rebooting a try and then enjoy its rewards. Just try and appreciate some of what is going on behind the scenes to make those wonders work for you.