[Magazine] Scientific American. Vol. 298. No 3

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The ultimate future of the observable universe is to collapse into a black hole, precisely what will in fact occur to our galaxy in the distant future. Alone in the Void Is there no way at all for our descendants to perceive an expanding universe? One telltale effect of acceleration would indeed remain within our observational horizon, at least according to our current understanding of general relativity. Just as the event horizon of a black hole emits radiation, so, too, does our cosmological event horizon.

Without performing an autopsy, the question remains open. The discovery is important, however, because it shows that when learning a complex skill, noticeable changes occur in white matter— a brain structure that contains no neuronal cell bodies or synapses, only axons and glia. Studies on animals, in which brains can be physically examined, show myelin can change in response to mental experience and a creature’s developmental environment. Recently neurobiologist William T. Greenough of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign confirmed that rats raised in “enriched” environments (with access to abundant toys and social interaction) had more myelinated fibers in the corpus callosum— the hefty bundle of axons that connects the brain’s two hemispheres.

Fred C. Adams and Greg Laughlin. Free Press, 2000. Atom: A Single Oxygen Atom’s Journey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth … and Beyond. Lawrence M. Krauss. Back Bay Books, 2002. The Return of a Static Universe and the End of Cosmology. Lawrence M. Krauss and Robert J. Scherrer in Journal of General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 39, No. 10, pages 1545–1550; October 2007. 0221 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 53 BRAIN SCIENCE White Matter Although scientists have long regarded the brain’s white matter as passive infrastructure, new work shows that it actively affects learning and mental illness • • • By R.

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