Monday, March 12, 2012

On Human Adaptability

Every now and again, I find myself rather impressed at just how adaptable the human body is.

A great example of this is jet lag. This is a phenomenon that is essentially unique to the last hundred years of human existence, out of the god knows how long period that we've been evolving. The body's circadian rhythm is designed to work with fairly evenly spaced days. While the period of day and night changes with the seasons, these changes are very smooth.

Hopping on a plane from New York to Brisbane, however, is an incredibly abrupt change that evolution didn't design us for. There's no particular reason to think that this might not result in you taking months to get back to a proper schedule, if ever.

And yet, it takes a couple of days and things are pretty much back to normal. The systems designed to deal with gradual changes to the seasons are able to deal with a random 36 hour day thrown in without skipping much of a beat.

Evolution may be the blind idiot god, but it makes some pretty damn fine optimisation procedures nonetheless.

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