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Andrew Tam

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What makes an idea spread? Duration? Quality? Loudness?

In my Bioelectricity class this week, we talked about the propagation of electrical signals in the body. In the body, cells transmit action potentials (or "spikes") which propogate along the cell membranes of electrically excitable cells like neurons and muscles. However, these action potentials are only produced if the stimulus is of long enough duration, or of high enough amplitude. If signals are too weak, they instead dissipate as they decay in time and space. I was wondering: is the same true of the real world? If news spreads rapidly, is this reason to believe that the news is of of good quality? Is the spread of news proportional to the quality of it?

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  • Feb 28 2012: I do like to believe that loudness and quality are relative. If it isn't intended for that particular neuron or muscle, then I doubt it would be loud or high quality enough.

    I believe this to be true in the real world also. If news hits me and I don't care about it or I can't do anything about it from where I am, then it wouldn't be as loud to me as it would be to someone who is nearer or someone who can do anything about it.

    If I were to move my finger, signals are sent to those particular muscles and even if they reach my muscles for moving my toes, it wouldn't move them because the signal wouldn't be loud enough.

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