The Mind


Physics Is Erasing Your Memory

You might store your most precious memories in diary passages or in photos backed up on a hard drive. But thanks to physics, no memory can last forever—not in a diary, not in a hard drive, not even in your brain. If you could live forever, you would eventually forget everything.

This happens because every possible structure for storing memories has to hold something in place. That thing could be ink or little magnets or special molecules called neurotransmitters. But no matter what that thing is, it’s getting bombarded by molecules around it. After enough time, those molecules will eventually dislodge whatever is holding memories in place.

Find out more in the latest episode of What the Physics?!

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Greg Kestin

    Greg Kestin holds a faculty position at Harvard University, where he conducts theoretical physics research, teaches, and produces educational online content. He earned his physics Ph.D. from Harvard, as a member of The Center for the Fundamental Laws of Nature, focusing on theoretical particle physics and quantum field theory. Over his career, he has also conducted research in nuclear physics, fusion energy, and gravitational wave physics. For over a decade he has been involved with innovative educational outreach endeavors, bringing science to both students and members of the public through his writings, videos, lectures, and multimedia.

    Samia Bouzid

    Samia Bouzid is a multimedia storyteller with a passion for science, especially physics. She is a production assistant for NOVA’s YouTube series “What the Physics?!”