A single voice lectured underneath the glass, diamond-shaped dome, the modern add-on of a science building at Princeton, an ancient Ivy League Institution still standing in New Jersey.
“Some day we might all have the possibility of becoming president. Donald Trump, our 45th president, a lowly real estate agent climbed the ladder of success, but where does all this potential come from? The potential, students, comes from the brain, a network of circuitry so complex that our galaxy and oceans to this date have been more thoroughly charted than this mystery inside ourselves. We can unlock the potential but the question is: where does its power come from? I’m just a neuroscience professor. The other professors in the biology debate this all the time at our teacher outings, teas, and whatnots. Professor Hoggins states that this power comes from the ability in our mitochondria, a powerhouse of the cell more powerful than DNA, the atom of our energy. Professor Emilia Brunstien says this power comes from outside ourselves—living things. The philosophy professors, though centuries behind the times, reason outside these views. They believe in the universal energies which breathe in and outside ourselves, activating the mitochondria, giving us food and sustenance, unlocking our inner and outer potential. Do any of my new students have a different view?”
August Ace Augusto looked around. Not one person wanted to volunteer. He looked around, trying to stare down the other students but then the professor was gazing at him. August slowly raised his hand. With an exasperated but bemused tone, Professor Philips said, “Yes, August, you may speak.”
“I have been wondering about the other departments. Psychology, for example. They would believe our potential isn’t from energy, but from our nurturing, our environment or what Voltaire believed, our nature or whatever. But what I don’t get is why we need the rest of our brain. Surely, Professor, there must be use for that latent potential.”
“Yes, excellent, August. I’m not here to be a motivational speaker but latent potential, or what the physicist would call ‘energy at rest’ has a purpose until potential or kinetic energy is ‘thrust upon us.’”
Then about half of the one hundred-seated class went up.
“Will you give me potential, Professor, to get a higher score?” Professor Philips chuckled at the seventeen-year-old neophyte.
“Can we dissect a brain?”
“Now, class: let’s get back on track. Yes, the disciplines intersect and sometimes dissect a bit too much, but here is another question: would you try to unlock more of these synapses and complete these networks or is that a job for computers? Oh, you kids and digitizing. It can be a bit too distracting for our synapses but what are your views?”
“Professor,” August piped immediately. “If we can unlock more of these…this potential then could we…maybe…treat more diseases?”
“I’m glad you brought that up as well. There has been some research with electrolobes, what the ancients used to treat depression and it’s use in connecting more synapses and there have been links to treating dementia and Alzheimer’s and Dysautonomia, but unfortunately kids, your ancestors dedicated more money to research for ‘Save the Boobies Campaign.’ I applaud your generation in more ways than none.” He tried to suppress a giddy giggle. He smoothed out his hair which he forgot to brush. “Now moving on to glial cells and neurons.”
August walked on the ancient campus in the grassy clearing between the courtyard hall with high arches and the science building. The day was clear with a muted gold and birds were twittering and there was a slight breeze. He thought about his past—his parents said he had so much potential but it was him who threw it away all because the kids at high school didn’t understand him, but come to think it of it, he always had trouble with people understanding him.
Why must I be in this position then? Other parents demand to know what happened at school. They only cared that I try to get above my 3.5. Wasn’t mostly straight A’s good enough for them?
His parents were highly intellectual and they watched documentaries for family time, and August was saddened that they didn’t understand him though he thought his parents were the only ones he could talk to.
What Dr. Philips said about unlocking your full potential really resonated with August. He was lost in a train of thought, thinking of a place to set down his book bag and study on the lawn when a boy with shiny teeth and skater swept hair was trying to find a spot as well. His friends were ahead of him as he took off his Tom Mix hat and took a phone off which was attached to the front part of the western hat so he could take his friends' selfies.
August gained the curiosity to ask the fellow freshman, “Where did you get the hat?”
“What you like it?” The freshman replied.
August blinked in confusion. He was not prepared for an in-depth conversation over something like a hat.
“Why don’t you have one?” The boy replied before August’s brain started working. And with another silence, the boy realized “It’s called a ‘selfie hat.’”
“What does it do?” was August’s quick diversion. He needed to find out how everything worked before he could reach his full potential.
“What does it do?” Now the boy sounded more interested than him. “Well, don’t you remember those Googoo Glasses they had in olden times? Well, it’s kind of like that combined with the ancient selfie pole, but too many users were killed so instead they invented the selfie hat: it’s exactly like the ancient cameras except you don’t have to hold a thing! Like Googoo Glass in that you wear it. Like a selfie pole so that you can take pics from a distance.”
“Then if you don’t hold a thing, how do you take pictures?”
“You blink and it takes pictures of other people for them!”
“Then how is it a selfie hat?”
“Well, because you take the hat off and just hold the camera-phone! No selfie pole hassle like getting struck by storms or mauled by bears like a tourist!”
“And it’s super-duper fashionable too. It looks like you’re taking a selfie but…but…you are just wearing a hat!”
“Oh, I see. And how…wait!” There was a gear-grinding pause. “How does it know you’ve blinked?”
“You would have to ask Professor Philips. He worked on the original, I mean original, brain-activated technology. Dude was giving them away for free. Hmm, can’t understand why he wouldn’t sell them or at least give them to the campus rummage sale.”
August picked up his stuff and ran to the science building. He remembered to stop in his tracks and yell, “thanks!” He almost stumbled but why, he wondered, would Professor Philips put such powerful technology in the hands of students? He wasn’t too fond of gadgets for a neuroscience professor but the boy was right: why simply give away?