Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The Pang

It has been said that humans have five senses - touch, taste, smell, hearing and seeing. A recent episode of QI (actually its probably 10 years old as I saw it on Dave) informed me that we had many more. Some estimate that we have up to 21 senses. I won't list them all because I can't.

Here are a few I do remember, hopefully not so many that you get bored, loose interest, look out the window, chew your finger nails and finally begin to gnaw at your own fleshy bits just to see what it feels like.....

'Proprioception' refers to the ability to know the position of your limbs when your eyes are shut. Some think that more abstract senses exist - like hunger. There are senses that human physiology utilises but are not thought of in the classic, original five. Like heat or thermoception as it is known. Or balance.

Then it occurred to me that the brain is part of the body and capable of some very strange things. Do emotions count as senses? They guide our actions like smells and colours.

It has since occurred to me that most but not all the senses I can think of can be explained or described mathematically. E.g. hearing - sound has the Decibel unit; touch - pressure has the Pascal and PSI, vectors to describe movement, calories quantify hunger (tenuous as this really describes the cause of hunger but go with it).

This is heading somewhere. Promise. I think it is time we decimalise the sense of guilt. The unit I propose to achieve this completely irrelevant goal is the 'Pang'. We need to invent a sort of sliding scale. Possibly an exponential one like the Richter scale that describes earthquakes, where 2 is ten times as big as 1, 3 is ten times as big as 2 and a hundred times as big as 1, etc, etc.

Here goes:

1 Pang; would describe the general background guilt involved with living this far into the 21st century. It is an interesting fact that some people deal with this with ease and others don't. In fact some people deal with it too well and buy Hummers to pose in.

2 Pangs; try and think of you own now that I've got you started. I find being creative very time consuming and tiring. You could probably get some good 'your mum' stuff going on.

3 Pangs; see above

10 Pangs; ending up at something like how the blue whale felt at the end of its life when it discovered in its dying moments that contrary to widespread popular belief plankton are actually conscious sentient beings and did not think being digested along side hundreds of thousands of their close relatives was a favourable or satisfying way to spend an afternoon.

1 comment:

han said...

3 pangs - stepping on a snail