Riding the Tiger: or, Flirting with the Antivaxxers.

[PreProda: Yeah, after some really enlightening discussion in the Comments section, I’m walking back about 90% of this post. But I’m leaving it posted both because the comments are so interesting, and as a kind of historical artefact to remind me of what happens when I don’t take the time to think things through.] [Proda: […]

Posted in: biology, evolution, In praise of biocide by Peter Watts 100 Comments

Arc Weld

“Language is a virus from outer space” —William S. Borroughs   Chest-thump to start off the year: Last year’s “ZeroS”, appearing in Jonathan Strahan’s Infinity Wars, made it into a couple of (late-breaking update: into three!) Year’s Best collections: Neil Clarke’s Best Science Fiction of the Year (Vol. 3), and another couple I hesitate to […]

Posted in: biology, neuro by Peter Watts 63 Comments

Dolphinese

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, and keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the speech from the screams. —Blindsight Believe it or not, the above quote was inspired by some real-world research on language and dolphins. Admittedly the real-life inspiration was somewhat less grotesque: scientists taught a […]

Posted in: biology, marine, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 29 Comments

I, for One, Welcome Our New…

I’d just like to say that, when you read Annalee Newitz writing “If trends continue, cephalopods may be among the species who are poised to survive a mass extinction in the oceans, leading to a future marine ecosystem ruled by tentacles.” —or Cory Doctorow warning that— “To imagine the ocean of the future: picture a […]

Posted in: biology, marine, rifters by Peter Watts 35 Comments

Viva Zika!

There’s this guy I knew, Dan Brooks. Retired now, an eminent parasitologist and evolutionary biologist back in the day. He did a lot of work on emerging infectious diseases (EIDs, for you acronym fetishists) down in Latin America. A few years back I wrote some introductory text for an online database he was compiling. Part […]

Posted in: biology, just putting it out there... by Peter Watts 51 Comments

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

Predatory Practices.

Oh, we are so fucking bad-ass. Even Science says so. The paper’s called “The Unique Ecology of Human Predators” (commentary here), and it’s been getting a lot of press since it came out last week. “People Are Deadliest Predators”, trumpets Discovery News; “Humans Are Super Predators”, IFL Science breathlessly repeats. Even Canada’s staid old CBC, […]

Posted in: biology, eco, marine, science by Peter Watts 30 Comments

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

Gendering Nemo.

With Special Opening Act, Tony Smith! What do Dune, The Road, Blindsight, Anathem, and I Am Legend all have in common? Together, they comprise The Five Worst SF Books EVER, as compiled by my buddy, Tony Smith over at Starship Sofa. Of course, this is hardly the first time Blindsight has been so honored— but […]

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 […]