The Split-brain Universe

An extended Nowa Fantaskyka remix. The year is 1982. I read Isaac Asimov’s newly-published Foundation’s Edge with a sinking heart. Here is the one of Hard-SF’s Holy Trinity writing— with a straight face, as far as I can tell— about the “consciousness” of rocks and trees and doors, for Chrissakes. Isaac, what happened? I wonder. […]

N.K. Jemisin, Alpha Gal

…and picking right up from where we left off last week, some of you may remember an ancient post about the Lone Star Tick, whose bite can provoke a fatal hyperallergenic reaction to “alpha-gal” (galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose for the pedants in the audience), a monosaccharide found only in the meat of nonprimate mammals. You may remember cool […]

Posted in: biology, Omniscience, writing news by Peter Watts 19 Comments

The Sulfide Solution. (Also, Who Sent Me All These Wombats?)

Before we get started: does anyone know anything about these? They appeared on my doorstep a few days ago, from Australia. No card, no clue. They’re pretty awesome, but they’re also a bit suspicious: I keep remembering that giant wooden rabbit rolling up to the door of the Frawnsh Castle in Holy Grail. Who knows […]

Posted in: biology, blindsight, Omniscience by Peter Watts 23 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 […]

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 […]

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