September 25, 2023
Ongoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 955: Amazing facts about music, the brain, and the body

The most powerful and strangest lump of organic material in the known universe sits inside your skull. The human brain weighs about three pounds, give or take–call it about 1400 grams if you’re feeling metric–and contains about 10 billion neurons. A piece the size of a grain of sand contains at least 100,000 neurons and over a billion synapses. At the same time, the brain needs only about 10 watts of power to function. That’s at least ten times more efficient than the best laptop. And one brain (we think) is equivalent to at least 100,000 laptops when it comes to computing power.

Even then the human brain can do things no computer can do, no matter how big and how powerful. That thing in your head runs multiple operating systems and could have a storage capacity of perhaps up to 2.5 petabytes, although no one is completely sure about that. In fact, the storage capacity of the brain might be unlimited. Not bad for something that’s 60% fat.

And while there is no obvious biological or evolutionary reason for out, our brains seem to come hardwired for music. There are special areas of the brain devoted just to dealing with music. Maybe this is the result of our ancient ancestors trying to imitate birdsong. It could be related to the development of language. Maybe it has something to do with storytelling. After all, details of myths and legends are sometimes easier to remember if they’re put to music. Or maybe music developed along with religious rituals and chants.

Because of the way music is wired into the brain, it’s a very useful tool when it comes to figuring out how that three-pound, 10-watt lump of fat in our skulls works. And sometimes we learn things that are completely unexpected and almost always totally wonderful.

Let me show you. Here are some mind-blowing facts about music, the brain, and the body.

Songs heard on this show:

  • Odds, Eat My Brain
  • Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • RHCP, Under the Bridge
  • Muse, Uprising
  • Arcade Fire feat. David Bowie, Wake U
  • Oasis, Wonderwall
  • Gorillaz, Feel Good Inc.
  • Linkin Park, In the Edge.

Here’s Eric Wilhite’s playlist.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37102 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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