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 11 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

Sleepwalk to Enlightenment

Judging by the number of links I’ve received, a lot of you are already familiar with this paper on consciousness and the claustrum. Or at least you’re familiar with the tsunami of popsci coverage it’s received. For the rest of you, the tale goes something like this:  54-year old female epileptic, seizure-free for four years […]

Posted in: neuro, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 21 Comments

The Heinlein Hormone

You all remember Starship Troopers, right? That slim little YA contained a number of beer-worthy ideas, but the one that really stuck with me was the idea of earned citizenship— that the only people allowed to vote, or hold public office, were those who’d proven they could put society’s interests ahead of their own. Heinlein’s […]

Posted in: biology, neuro, sociobiology by Peter Watts 33 Comments

Anybody Out There Know Anything About Military Law?

No, I’m not in trouble again. I haven’t been talking much lately because I’m facing down four pretty major deadlines that all stomp their big Monty Python Feet down over the next few weeks. Five if you included the deadline I met a few days back, in which I labored to finish a short story […]

Posted in: legal, misc, neuro by Peter Watts 38 Comments

Mind Hives Remastered

So.  The 2013 Aurora Ballot came out a few days ago. Once again, I hadn’t been paying much attention because I didn’t actually publish anything last year.  Once again, I got a phone call telling me that whatever I talked about at last fall’s SpecFic Colloquium got me onto the ballot anyway, under “Best Fan […]