Just a little oddity I wanted to share: Whenever I look at my blog stats, somebody almost invariably got to my blog by Googling about how the atoms of our bodies get replaced over time. I wrote a post about this a long time ago and it’s still one of the most popular posts, but WHY do so many people want to know this??? Only yesterday, FOUR people found this blog using search terms like “human body atom replaced every year”. Is this some kind of national exam question, do you think?

Would the next person who gets here that way let me know why, please?


About stevegrand
I'm an independent AI and artificial life researcher, interested in oodles and oodles of things but especially the brain. And chocolate. I like chocolate too.

10 Responses to Curious

  1. cc laan says:

    i think it’s a meme. i see random people quoting you on it fairly often.

    • stevegrand says:

      That may be a very apposite word, now that I think about it! Richard Dawkins quoted me in one of his books and a TED talk, and he’s discussed the subject with me a couple of times. So it may well be that the Google searches come about because people have read his book and were intrigued. It would be very appropriate if it became a meme because of Richard Dawkins, of all people.


  2. Jason Holm says:

    It’s also a big Deepak Chopra thing… I remember hearing it first in the “What the BLEEP Do We Know?” movie. New Age Spiritualism and all that.

    • stevegrand says:

      Yeah, it’s definitely not just me. But it seems such an odd thing for so many people to google on. Maybe I’m just guilty of forgetting how massive the internet community is – there are probably a dozen people a day who google “liver san francisco monk”, or “famous whetstones of the world”…

  3. Jason Holm says:

    Results 1 – 10 of about 92,100 for liver san francisco monk

    Results 1 – 10 of about 71,100 for famous whetstones of the world

  4. Matt Griffith says:

    If I remember correctly, I do believe you are quoted saying that in Ray Kurzweil’s “The Singularity Is Near”, but I could be wrong. 🙂
    ive read a fair share of books where I’ve heard your quote. I seem to remember his explaination having to do with nanobots being able to replace our current supply of atoms. 🙂

  5. Steve, the nature of a thing being a “thing” is a ancient, persistant and perenial problem troubling mankind.

    Heraclitus concern is quoted in 500 BCE, “You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing”.

    The problem comes from anatomical brain formation as you have already identified in “Lucy” Ch. 16, in that the V2 area is radially aligned, so as to eliminate scale variance, and, missing premises in the language which lack concepts allowing accurate description of such processes. With out appropriate words to frame the two incompatible problems there are no words to think about the problem.

    Essentially, to separate a visual field into object and non-object, we are built to “draw a circle” on our map around it. Put another way, we must first put a bounding line around any object, dividing definitively 1) what is object and 2) what is not object, before we can recognize it as something identifiable.

    Once we have our “circle” in place, we want what is inside to stay inside, and what is outside to stay outside, or our sense of identification becomes uncomfortably unstable.

    So with Heraclitus river, no such bounds are possible. You may see a scene with a river in it, but you can never see the whole river. You can’t both see the source and the mouth. And even then if you could, you can’t see the evaportation, the winds, the clouds, the rain, the surface waters, the tributaries, et. al. as well. Heraclitus was unable to draw a circle around his river, so he could not imagine it being a “thing”, or at least not the same thing twice.

    Likewise, anything that is a pcroess, also troubles thinkers who wish to identify things by matter or material contained. Things that don’t conform become mind troubling and a constant source of disrest and wonder to those who do not have the ability to abstract “process” as opposed to contained matter. (Clouds, flows, shimmers, flames, smoke, reflections, bling, etc. (In particular such things are abstracted as the class “smoke and mirros”!)

    You yorrself comment on the thing and the intangible problem in “Creation” Ch 2,3 pgs 24-38. The closest language construct for such an abstration I have found is “process” as I’ve used it above to describe the percistance of phenomena you address.

    The picture in “Creation” Fig. 5 pg 34 has “objects” described on it as “great pyramids and columns and glassy domes”. Note all these are descriptions of objects that can be considered free and independent of the pond surface. You did not attempt to describe the whole continuous pool with bumps on it. The druid priest din’t pushed down on the rest of the pond (not easily circled), and pull out of the way the air (not even considred, and certainly not circled, or locally circleable) so some of the pressurized water would rise up into the additionally voided space. So the “mould” is ignored, and only the shapes which can be circled are described as an “glittering edifaces”.

    We are limited by our perception process, and the language developed based on those limitations.

    So the original problem of the atoms of our bodies being replaced is one of self-identity. People are unnerved when they realize, like a river, they are not an object of well defined matter. They do not consider they are a process location instead of a contrained-matter-only “thing”. When it creeps into their subconscious they are therefore “no thing” they can identify, they are unnerved. No longer clearly identifiable by any language description they can frame, they are desparate for answers.

    You should not wonder why so many ask. You should be proud you’ve provided answers to what so many have sought.

    • stevegrand says:

      > You should not wonder why so many ask. You should be proud you’ve provided answers to what so many have sought.

      🙂 Thanks Randy!

      It still surprises me that so many people google for it though. Maybe there are more of us actively seeking answers to existential questions than it seems! I wonder what prompts that specific query. Perhaps I should add a note to my blog post and ask, because if people find it when searching then there’s no reason to suppose they’ll read this post too. I’ll do that.

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