The Yogurt Revolution.

(Another Nowa Fantaskyka remix) Pick something you hate. A government, maybe, or a church. Some multinational that treats its customers like shit. Any institution powerful enough to keep people under its thumb, to crush its competition (or at least fix prices with them) so you have nowhere else to go. Something you’d really like to […]

Posted in: biology, neuro by Peter Watts 63 Comments

No Brainer.

For decades now, I have been haunted by the grainy, black-and-white x-ray of a human skull. It is alive but empty, with a cavernous fluid-filled space where the brain should be. A thin layer of brain tissue lines that cavity like an amniotic sac. The image hails from a 1980 review article in Science: Roger […]

Dr. Fox and the Borg Collective

Take someone’s EEG as they squint really hard and think Hello. Email that brainwave off to a machine that’s been programmed to respond to it by tickling someone else’s brain with a flicker of blue light. Call the papers. Tell them you’ve invented telepathy. Or: teach one rat to press a lever when she feels […]

Posted in: neuro, relevant tech by Peter Watts 15 Comments

By & About

Me, that is. In reference to a couple of essays that have gone live over the past 24 hours. * I haven’t had a lot contact with the good folks over at The Canadian Science Fiction Review— I don’t even know why they call themselves “Æ”, now that I think of it— but over the […]

Aurora Campbell Panoptopus.

Some of you may have noticed that Echopraxia made it onto the longest short list in SF a few weeks back: the ballot for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. On the plus side (for me), it’s one of those jury-selected deals, so it’s not a popularity contest like the […]

Posted in: art on ink, biology, marine, neuro, writing news by Peter Watts 20 Comments

The Gene Genies, Part 1: The Squids of Lamarck.

You know the drill. DNA holds the source code; RNA carries it to the ribosomes; ribosomes build stuff for the cell. Of course, the details of cellular operation are a million times more intricate than this— some RNA acts not to courier code but to switch genes on and off, for example— but it’s this […]

Desperately Seeking Citation.

Can anyone point me to an anecdote about an introvert who manifested a sudden extrovertian personality change (cracking jokes, hitting on the nurses) when one of his cerebral hemispheres was anesthetized prior to brain surgery? I’m almost certain it hails from one of Ramachandran’s books, but I can’t find the damn thing and it’s relevant […]

Posted in: misc, neuro, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 15 Comments

Squids With Tasers.

A simple experiment, a famous fish. Electric eels, shocking their prey. Nothing to see here, right? “The mechanism of the eel’s attack is unknown”, Kenneth Catania states right off the top in his new paper in Science, and I admit I shrugged and thought What’s to know? What’s so mysterious about electrocution? But it turns […]

Your Brain on Gore.

Some of you have seen this already.  It’s a few days old, this revelation of yet another difference between liberals and conservatives. In addition to the usual polarities on abortion, gun control, climate change, evolution— you know the list— here comes another wedge issue some of you may not have been expecting: Animal mutilation. Turns […]

Posted in: evolution, neuro, scilitics by Peter Watts 79 Comments

Psychotic Dreams and Strange Extremes

Where do you start with dreams? People say you’re asleep when you dream, but you’re not really; it’s just that the input you’re consciously processing is generated internally, instead of coming from outside. It’s a kind of consciousness that believes the most ridiculous things, though. Your best friend doesn’t look anything like your best friend […]

Posted in: neuro, Omniscience, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 53 Comments