Speed of light and Speed of thought.

I had a very very interesting discussion with my buddies over which among speed of light and speed of  thought is fastest. One of my buddies felt thought was processed faster than speed of light. Voila! my curiosity increased and i thought let me go deeper into this, since Einstein’s theory of relativity exactly tells the opposite.

First i would like to say about speed of thought as per my reading from one book called MIT encyclopedia of Cognitive science. Hermann Vonn Helmholtz, a physicist and physiologist was the first person to study the speed of thought in his experiments. He tried to measure the speed at which signals are conducted through a nervous system. He first measured it with frogs in which he touched their legs with by applying current and measured the response time. Then he expanded it to humans. He found that response time increased to the distance of stimulation from the finger that pressed the button in proportion to the length of the neural path over which signal had to travel. Based on this he estimated that the speed of nerve signals is 100 m/sec for larger nerve fibers. How ever after further research, science tells that brains are composed of neurons and thoughts cannot be generated faster than the speed at which neurons communicate. Making the transmission rate surprisingly slow, vastly slower that speed of electricity through a wire.  It could be concluded that speed of thought is neither instantaneous nor immeasurable (Weber and Fechner’s great contribution to cognitive psychology) .

Another angle to aid this is, i believe we do things at a subconscious level always which get the input from neurons (our brain has lots of neurons). Now the speed is dependent on how a neuron can process that input signal and transmit to through its axon. Therefore we could say that speed is dependent on the length of the axon, the amount of myelination…. etc. It is a very complex mechanism involving neuron signal transmission and receiving the same. How fast these could travel (it is very less compared to the speed of light or sound for that matter). Another Explanation in terms of theory of relativity can be seen,- the definition says, nothing can travel faster than speed of light. The mass becomes so great that its virtually impossible for anything to reach the speed of light. This i guess will apply for a large particle weight or a tiny neuron which carries the signals.

Finally, this document gives a lot of details and references for some journal papers and experiments conducted. It is interesting. This definitely can tell us why a few people can process things faster and good at some things, while others are good in some other activities … We can’t really tell some one as intelligent or dumb, but they are that way because of the response of the signal processing of the nerves i suppose (that’s my thought)   http://hypertextbook.com/f​acts/2002/DavidParizh.shtm

Also if our thoughts could travel so much faster, then our brain could stop the imminent disease from attacking our body (may be) ? or people who have good sensory system generally don’t get any diseases?

Your thoughts and feed back on this are welcome.


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