Sex, Death, and the Appalachian Trail

I’ve always had a fondness for Toxoplasma, to the point of featuring it prominently in one of my novels. It’s a protozoan after my metaphorical heart and my literal brain (specifically the part that synthesizes dopamine), and many of yours as well; in past installments (scroll down to May 6 on the right-hand side) I’ve […]

Posted in: biology, neuro by Peter Watts 37 Comments

Coincidence? I Think Not.

So, I see that some of you have noticed the endearing footage of the kleptopus making off with some hapless diver’s video camera. (For those who don’t follow the endlessly proliferating comment threads from previous posts, the smoking-gun is here.1) Oh yes, how cute. But how many of you have noticed how closely this act […]

Posted in: biology, marine, misc, writing news by Peter Watts 42 Comments

Time Considered as a Helix of Semiprecious Tones: or, an Rx for World Peace

Fascinating popsci piece on synaesthesia over at the BBC.  It turns out that your common garden-variety hearing-colors/seeing-music synaesthete is only the tip of the iceberg. There are people out there who can literally see time, as a multicolored ribbon winding about them in mid-air. There are folks who perceive letters or numbers as personality types, […]

Posted in: biology, neuro by Peter Watts 29 Comments

A Romance to make Seth Brundle Weep

Haven’t been posting the past few days.  I really should have written something to commemorate Darwin’s 200th birthday, but how can you celebrate when the latest Gallup poll shows that over 60% of the US population is too blinkered, too misled, or too downright stupid to grasp the reality of natural selection? And I would […]

Posted in: biology, evolution, science by Peter Watts 11 Comments

Deep Sea = Deep Space

A few bits of personally-relevant science have slid down the pike the past few days:  yet another step along the road to functioning head cheeses, and a development in graphene tech that might — if you squint really hard and give me way more credit than I deserve — seem a bit reminiscent of Rorschach‘s computational […]

Posted in: biology, extraterrestrial life, marine by Peter Watts 6 Comments

Iterating Towards Bethlehem

Most of you probably know about Turing machines: hypothetical gizmos built of paper punch-tape, read-write heads, and imagination, which can — step by laborious step — emulate the operation of any computer. And some of you may be old enough to remember the Sinclair ZX-80— a sad little personal computer so primitive that it couldn’t […]

Posted in: biology, neuro, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 31 Comments

The Living Dead

Meet Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator, the bacterium that does it all: fix carbon, fix nitrogen, synthesize all essential amino acids, locomote — an organism that can exist totally independent of other life. It doesn’t even need the sun. This fucker basically lives on sulfur, rock, and electrons*. It’s an obligate anaerobe, without even the most rudimentary […]

Avast! Here Be a Blindsightinator for Ye!

Aye me hearties, be ye rememberin’ that time in Blindsight when Rorschach, she be putting the sun in scurvy Szpindel’s eyes? “Argh, I be seein’ naught,” Szpindel be sayin’, his timbers a’shiver. “It be the EM fields,” James be barking. “That be how they signal. The briney deep, she be fulla words, she be—” “I […]

Posted in: biology, blindsight, neuro, science by Peter Watts 5 Comments

In Praise of MPD

This month’s New Scientist carries an opinion piece by Rita Carter, author of the imminent Multiplicity: The New Science of Personality. She’s not the first to argue that multiple personalities may be adaptive (the whole backbone of the eighties’ MPD fad was that they served to protect the primary persona from the stress of extreme […]

Posted in: biology, blindsight, neuro by Peter Watts 12 Comments

Mind Reading Technology…

…has been a staple of every low-budget piece of celluloid skiffy going back at least to that early-sixties Gerry-Anderson puppet show Stingray (which no one with any dignity will admit to having watched, although I clearly remember the episode with the mind-reading chair). The Prisoner also featured an episode in which No. 6′s dreams could […]

Posted in: biology, neuro, relevant tech by Peter Watts 7 Comments