Updated: Aug 4, 2021
December 2020, edited by : hind soulaimani
It’s December, the exact moment for Christmas celebrations. You can find Christmas lights everywhere around when you're headed to the supermarket to buy some chocolate for the family and blasting some cozy carols through your headphones, but deep down you’re thinking about a dozen different things. Planning for future events or even remembering something very sweet that happened a while back that makes you feel very happy or sad. While entering home you meet a man standing at your doorsteps and giving you a very generous offer. the man asks you to describe to him the feeling of any of your basics sense through the scientific way in exchange for 1 billion dollars, for example how the chocolate in your hand can be turned into happiness feelings in your brain, or how you can describe Christmas lights turning from just normal electricity into colored light beams that translate to “ Christmas lights” and for instance how they can bring the sensation of either happiness, sadness or even anger depends on your experience with Christmas. While you are questioning the man’s legitimacy he shows you a bag full of money, and that immediately made you start thinking of all the good things you can buy with your billion dollars because it’s such an easy question. knowing that you’re a bit of a book worm and you have already devoured a couple of neuroscience books and a dozen psychology guides, you would easily point to your gustatory and olfactory cortex and how it generates hormones that might work to evoke certain feelings of happiness or sadness. but the man in front of you is having one billion at stake so he responds very quietly with a smile on his face ‘ oh well, how does a certain sensation picked up by your tongue or your eye or even smell can turn in your brain to certain hormones and how it generates thoughts? and how those thoughts can generate from a piece of wrinkled meat that is your brain? ”, well now you step back and think how the info from your organs get translated, you certainly don’t see data in front of you getting analyzed like some sort of a robot, and certainly, you are no scientist or doctor to know any of this information. fight-or-flight instinct reared up wanting to grab the billion dollars makes you invite the man inside for a cup of tea since the weather of December isn’t to joke about, the man accepts and you both enter for you to sneak into the kitchen and get your mobile cell the only way to get into the open knowledge called the internet. while you put the cookies to warm in the oven to seduce his nostrils and give you more time to look for the billion-dollar answer.
While the water is boiling your brain is too, you find that on the internet many sub-questions exist and endless debates of smaller questions. However, you don’t give up and keep trying to look for that one question to get your money and have your finally ever after answer. But this time when you open your phone he pops up his head from the kitchen door and asks ‘are you done cheating little mouse?’ you quickly pop the phone back in your pocket and try to hide your little mistake. But the man gets the cookies out of the oven, gets a hot one, starts biting into it, and starts explaining ‘ the internet will do you no good, my question to you is a question that lived through history and no one has found a way but I will help you get there’.You take two steps back and start thinking this is some type of criminal in your house and now you want to grow wings and fly, but he opens a magical gate in the wall and asks you to follow him. Your logic says to stay and call the cops, but your curiosity and your eagerness need to get the answer and certainly, the billion-dollar makes you want to go. So you take a deep breath and enter, you find yourself in a black and white room with nothing but simple living equipment and futuristic material with a young lady standing there greeting you. He looks at you and says ‘May I introduce you to Mary, a super scientist living in a year in the future where the science of physics, chemistry, and neurology is at its peak and every concept you may need exists, however, Mary has never left this room and never saw color in her life. My question to you is would Mary recognize colors if she sees them or would she learn something new ?’. You look at him amazed and you realize how stupid you were taking his question and your existence for granted. He looks at you laughing hysterically because of the look on your face of a kid who just realized that Santa doesn’t exist. He grabs your hand and asks you to say goodbye to marry and takes you somewhere quieter. It’s a beach sunset where you can hear the waves crashing on the shore and the orange light reflect on the sea, but he turns at you and immediately realizes he going to ruin the simple quiet moment from your existential crisis. He says ‘ say hi to Alfred he is blind since birth and I want you to explain to him the color orange of this sunset’ you turn around and you say ‘ it’s like red but a little yellow’. The man bursts laughing while Alfred gets mad and the man says ‘ Alfred doesn’t know either red or yellow you idiot, he is blind and truly with this paste you may never get the billion’. His laughter and mockery and the existential crisis make you burst into anger and yell ‘ well it’s just existence, it is just there. How am I supposed to know? it’s the complexity of the universe, I am just a human.’ The man realizes the pressure of those questions on your brain now and decided to help you. He snaps his fingers and you immediately find yourself in a universe where you are out of your human conscience but dealing with reality without it, where colors and sounds are just waves and heat and cold are just atoms with different speed and you yell eureka as Archimedes did. ‘ qualia and all its aspects are just an illusion in the mind and none of it actually exists, but rather it’s a way for the brain to explain the universe around us” just as you finish speaking, the man snaps his finger back to your house, and you see your family picture your parents and siblings, loved ones and friends, and you see your life flashing before your eyes, and you wonder ‘ is all this just an illusion?’. He looks at you with sorrow in his eyes and says ‘ what do you think?’. You walk towards the couch as you need a seat to soak in all the information you just got, how every sense you ever got is just an illusion? and even the explanation of neurobiology and neuroscience of linking certain feelings with certain places in the brain is only a matter of pointing into a place not explaining it. It’s like asking how a computer functions and pointing to the hard drive, it’s rather showing where it happens not how. The man sits next to you trying to comfort you and then you realize ‘who are you?’ you ask, he smiles and says ‘ I thought you would never ask, I am the sense of wonder that lived generations before you and will always live as long human exists. The truth is you were never pursuing the billion-dollar, you were pursuing the flame of wanting to know the true meaning of existence and feelings are the essence of it. But it’s not the first obstacle that got in humanity’s way to knowledge, humanity always wondered about the world around it and wondered about the human itself. Now we know that the sun is not lifted by the hands of God, we certainly know that the stars are not holes in the sky, and most certainly know that we are not the center of the universe. In the same way, we will crack up the code of the wrinkled meat floating in the grey matter and we’ll know each sense and each place. Maybe not tomorrow or next year, but as long as the flame doesn’t stop, we’ll continue to be great’. Your mouth was wide open from surprise and wonder, but your heart was filled with pride for humanity and love of knowledge and feeling part of a bigger existence of thinkers, philosophers, and scientists. Now it’s your turn to get the flame going, never stop asking questions and wondering, it’s your turn to complete the journey of humanity's knowledge. while you're watching the man taking few cookies and disappearing into the flames, you realize that your feelings do exist because without them you'll no longer be a human.