Stressors Build Strength

The following article was sent to me and I thought it well worth sharing. It complements a datum I learned a while ago: That a baby not exposed to an infection prior to a year of age does not experience enough challenge to build a fully developed immune system. The immune system is similar to a muscle, it develops in response to challenges.

Cut and pasted …

“Hi All,

A few interesting thoughts occurring this morning.

You may have heard of biosphere 2, it’s a miniature, contained, artificial ecosystem in Arizona intended to mimic Earth ecosystems so they can be studied under controlled conditions. It didn’t go well – as anyone with an experience of life could have told the scientists before they started. Nevertheless, some interesting knowledge did come from it (including the fact that natural systems are far more complex and interrelated than reductionists can understand or explain.)

One of the more interesting discoveries concerned trees. Quite a few trees were planted in biosphere 2 and they grew exceptionally quickly. But before they could mature they collapsed and died. It turned out that without wind, trees are exceptionally weak, they can’t mature properly.

Wind is what makes trees stronger, without it they can’t bear up under their own weight. In the wild, wind constantly stirs all plants, including trees. This causes a stress reaction in the wood, the tree, in response, alters the physical structure of the wood being laid down as it grows. In a sense the trees grow “muscles” in response to wind pressure which help it endure wind storms without breaking. At the simplest level, it allows them to survive their own weight as they mature.

Trees that were provided with all the nutrients they needed, in essence those that were coddled and kept safe from outside stressors, were weakened so that they could not mature; they simply never developed the inherent strength to do so. One of the interesting things about this is that even in the absence of stressful life events, when growing in safe, coddled environments, the trees were never healthy. They never reached their potential but died very early in life.

Stress is what makes a tree strong enough to sustain the wear and tear that it faces in life.

I think this is a particularly apt metaphor for people who say that words or particular topics they are exposed to in school make them feel unsafe and, in response, try to force the outside world to become, in essence, a kind of biosphere 2. It is the winds of life that develop our strengths but even more poignant a truth, without the normal stressors that occur in social and schooling situations, children fail to mature merely due to the natural growth and maturity demands that their living places on them.”

Stephen Buhner

Fermi’s other paradox

(This does not match data I have from other (very reliable) sources but is nevertheless an interesting read.) In the summer of 1950, four nuclear physicists were walking to lunch from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Their names were Emil Konopinski, Herbert York, Edward Teller, and Enrico Fermi.

One of them was not human.

Albert Einstein Quote on Imagination

Albert Einstein Quote on Imagination

“I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Albert Einstein

If one of the greatest scientific minds of last century holds imagination in such high esteem, it shows you how much we should validate it generally and in artists specifically!

In my humble opinion, the ability to create is probably second in man’s achievements only bested by his ability to help.

If, individually and as a society, we focused a lot more attention on those two things, helping and creating, the happiness of the individual members and the survival potential of the individual and this society would be immeasurably boosted.