Code to zero - WiseHealth

Friday, 25 May 2018

Code to zero

Each Sergeant motor has an igniter that consists of two electrical matches, wired in parallel, and a jelly roll of metal oxidant encased in a plastic sheath. The igniters are so sensitive that they have to be disconnected if an electrical storm comes within 12 miles of Cape
Canaveral to avoid accidental firing.
In a Georgetown menswear store, Luke bought a soft gray felt hat and a navy wool topcoat. He wore them out of the store and felt, at last, that he could look the world in the eye.
Now he was ready to attack his problems. First he had to learn something about memory. He wanted to know what caused amnesia, whether there were dif ferent kinds, and how long it might last. Most im portant, he needed information on treatment and cures.
Where did one go for information? A library. How did one find a library? Look at a map. He got a street map of Washington at the newsstand next to the menswear store. Prominently displayed was the Cen-

tral Public Library, at the intersection of New York and
Massachusetts avenues, back across town. Luke drove there.
It was a grand classical building raised above ground level like a Greek temple. On the pediment above the pillared entrance were carved the words:
Science Poetry History
Luke hesitated at the top of the steps, then remem bered that he was now a normal citizen again, and walked in.
The effect of his new appearance was immediately apparent. A gray-haired librarian behind the counter stood up and said, "May 1 help you, sir?"
Luke was pathetically grateful to be treated so cour teously "I want to look at books on memory, " he said.
"That'll be the psychology section, " she said "If you'd like to follow me, I'll show you where it is " She led him up a grand staircase to the next floor and pointed to a comer.
Luke looked along the shelf. There were plenty of books on psychoanalysis, child development, and per ception, none of which were any use. He picked out a fat tome called The Human Brain and browsed through it, but there was not much about memory, and what there was seemed highly technical. There were some equations, and a certain amount of statistical material, which he found easy enough to understand, but much of the rest assumed a knowledge of human biology he did not have.
His eye was caught by An Introduction to the Psychol ogy of Memory by Bilhah Josephson. That sounded

more promising. He pulled it out and found a chapter on disorders of the memory. He read:
The common condition in which the patient "loses his memory" is known as "global amnesia "
Luke was elated. He was not the only person to whom this had happened.
Such a patient does not know his identity and will not recognize his own parents or children. However, he remem bers a great deal else. He may be able to drive a car, speak foreign languages, strip down an engine, and name the
Prime Minister of Canada. The condition would be more ap propriately called "autobiographical amnesia "
This was exactly what had happened to him. He could still check whether he was being tailed and start a stolen car without the key.
Dr. Josephson went on to outline her theory that the brain contained several different memory banks, like sep arate filing cabinets, for different kinds of information.
The autobiographical memory records events we have ex perienced personally. These are labeled with time and place:
we generally know not only what happened, but when and where.
The long-term semanticjj^emory holds general knowledge such as the capital ofl&bmania and how to solve quadratic equations.
The short-term memory is where we keep a phone number for the few seconds in between looking it up in the phone book and dialing it.
She gave examples of patients who had lost one fil ing cabinet but retained others, as Luke had. He felt profound relief and gratitude to the author of the book, as he realized that what had happened to him was a well-studied psychological phenomenon.

Then he was struck by an inspiration. He was in his thirties, so he must have followed some occupation f0r a decade. His professional knowledge should still be in his head, lodged in his long-term semantic memory
He ought to be able to use it to figure out what line of work he did. And that would be the beginning of dis covering his identity!
Looking up from the book, he tried to think what special knowledge he had. He did not count the skills of a secret agent, for he had already decided, judging by his soft indoor skin, that he was not a cop of any kind. What other special knowledge did he have?
It was maddeningly difficult to tell. Accessing the memory was not like opening the refrigerator, where you could see the contents at a glance. It was more like using a library catalogue – you had to know what you were looking for. He felt frustrated and told himself to be patient and think this through.
If he were a lawyer, would he be able to remember thousands of laws? If a doctor, would he be able to look at someone and say, "She has appendicitis"?
This was not going to work. Thinking back over the last few minutes, the only clue he noticed was that he had easily understood the equations and sta tistics in The Human Brain, even though he had been puzzled by other aspects of psychology. Maybe he was in a profession that involved numbers: account ing or insurance, perhaps. Or he might be a math teacher.
He found the math section and looked along the shelves. A book called Number Theory caught his atten tion. He browsed through it for a while. It was clearly presented, but some years out-of-date .

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Bottom Ad

Responsive Ads Here

Pages