10 February, 2013

Opposable Thumbs

Human have opposable thumbs. I had no idea what that meant. I mean I knew that it meant we were better at things requiring precision motor skills (read arts & crafts). I still didn't know what the term actually meant. The biological definition of opposability reads thus -  "A movement by which the pulp surface of the thumb is placed squarely in contact with - or diametrically opposite to - the terminal pads of one or all of the remaining digits.".  No help. At all.

And that got me thinking, why is scientific literature so dense? And then I realized its not just the literature that's dense - its us. While density of words is good, for us, not so much. We have lost the ability to write/understand words with density. Go back a few decades and the regular writer had the use of paper and a pen to put his thoughts down. Both of which are much more expensive than the enormous number of backspaces that I had to press while typing this. Go back even further and he had to write it on palm leaves if they merited semi-permanent recording and don't even get me started on stone tablets. Words were always at a premium and ideas had to be crisp and concise.

Something for you to think about, the next time you are at home twiddling your opposable thumbs.

Oh and opposable thumbs mean exactly what they sound like. They let your thumbs oppose against something when you wish to pick it up. Trying picking up stuff with any of your other two fingers, and you'll know what I mean.

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