Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Environment Creates the Organ

Lamarck Elaborated

The Greeks were wrong who said our eyes have rays;
Not from these sockets or these sparkling poles
Comes the illumination of our days.
It was the sun that bored these two blue holes.

It was the song of doves begot the ear
And not the ear that first conceived of sound:
That organ bloomed in vibrant atmosphere,
As music conjured Ilium from the ground.

The yielding water, the repugnant stone,
The poisoned berry and the flaring rose
Attired in sense the tactless finger-bone
And set the taste-buds and inspired the nose.

Out of our vivid ambiance came unsought
All sense but that most formidably dim.
The shell of balance rolls in seas of thought.
It was the mind that taught the head to swim.

Newtonian numbers set to cosmic lyres
Whelmed us in whirling worlds we could not know,
And by the imagined floods of our desires
The voices of Sirens gave us vertigo.

-Richard Wilbur. [thanks]


"Olfactory systems, unlike the visual, auditory, and somatosensory systems, encode stimuli with discontinuous features. Odorants are discriminated not by spatial wavelength, temporal frequency, or the topography of the receptors they activate, but primarily by discrete molecular attributes, such as carbon chain length and the presence and orientation of specific side-groups. This is reflected in the typically discontinuous, modular nature of the primary olfactory neuropils in both vertebrates and higher invertebrates"

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