Archive for neuroscience

Bowerbird #30: Soft Robot Dope Magnet

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , on 12/19/2011 by alex c

We can’t help but think about what other people are thinking about. It seems the more boring our lives become, the more we seek the flat yet palpable experience of film. The fact is: We won’t free ourselves from a dysfunctional and unfair economic order until we begin to see ourselves as communities, not commodities. If one embraces an atheist worldview, it necessarily requires embracing, even celebrating, one’s insignificance. Independent thought, originality, has to be its own reward, because normative history offers revolutionaries the reward of oblivion or villainy. Our distant ancestors were explorers and inventors, and we owe it to them to continue their legacy, not wallow in the mundane minutia of post-industrial life, trapped under the heel of bureaucrats bereft of any vision or sense of wonder. So often we wake up at 25 and realize ‘adults’ really have no idea what they are doing, no matter how confident they seem when preaching tenuously built ideologies which seem infallible to a child and dull their willingness to be awed and inspired by the discoveries of science. It’s just the idea of the thing that puts people off. A lot of people thought the sense of self was hard-wired, but it’s not at all. Even with a map, some people manage to get lost. Nature generally goes for the simplest and most robust solution. We’re still scanning the skies, and may yet see another event like this.

Bowerbird #29: Twenty Hertz Thousand Hurts

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 11/29/2011 by alex c

20 Hz from Semiconductor on Vimeo.


Sometimes it is difficult to ask a question when the reward of silence has just commenced. La douleur exquise gets at the emotional heartache, specifically, of being the one whose love is unreciprocated. We can take a punch. We might have a sensation of a unified integrated consciousness, but it’s actually individual sensations popping up with whatever you’re particularly conscious of in one moment. Value’s just what relationships are built through sequence, through temporal distribution. Yet there is a timelessness to this event. And it’s interesting to think that somewhere out there, light years away, a lonely, dark, and slowly freezing planet may be bulleting through the galaxy. A good theory rules explanations in and out, and if it rules out the wrong explanation that will become clear over time as you pursue your theory guided research. The larger lesson is that the brain is a neural tangle of near infinite possibility, which means that it spends a lot of time and energy choosing what not to notice. It’s not a perfect measure, but it gives you an idea.

(h/t to Sciencepunk for that video, which should be watched full screen)

Bowerbird #28: Continuous Sensible Party Time

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , on 11/10/2011 by alex c

We humans have evolved inside a complex, fractal, structurally hierarchical environment, so that our neurophysiology responds positively to and receives sensory pleasure from natural environments. That is, our cognition is influenced, perhaps determined by, our experiences in the physical world. The exact same parts of the brain that light up when we’re in physical pain go haywire when we experience rejection. Ennui is a cognitive gift, but it must be properly unlocked. Only intelligent animals play—animals like crows and chimps, dogs and humans. If I had been living somewhere else, I could have been someone else. And thus began a tiny rebellion. Nature loves chaos when it pushes systems toward equilibrium, and geeks call this universal property entropy. There are causes we will never know about and sometimes it’s better to live with the ambiguity. They’ve also withstood the test of time.

Bowerbird #27: Glints Collide Does Time

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , , on 11/01/2011 by alex c

Because we are social animals, our memory of the past is constantly being revised to fit social pressures. Humans can’t help having their preconceived beliefs take precedence over the facts. When people face an uncertain situation, they don’t carefully evaluate the information or look up relevant statistics. I’m not sure what kind of conventionality is being invoked, but I don’t want any part of it.

Our brain continuously constructs our sense of self using information from our eyes, skin and joints. Like I said, insanely cool. But the story does not end here. We need a way to try to access emotions in comatose and vegetative states. Confidence is a strange thing, and once you’re fed on a decent dose of it, lots of unusual things can happen. It will expose everything you’ve mastered and everything you’re scared of. The only way to survive is to believe that you really are good enough. What makes you so special?

Bowerbird #24: Constant Velocity Invisible Control

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 10/05/2011 by alex c

Road accidents are a prime source of organs because they’re one of the few times that young, healthy people die leaving most of the body intact. We want to see into each other’s hearts. Words are not always optimal, and there’s often something left out. There has never been a shortage of new inventions, what ‘shapes us’ is what we choose to pick up on. But the challenge is to extend these approaches to increasingly complex cases. We enjoy sprawling, complex pieces of art. Poetry is that which cannot be contained by the page or for that matter some ridiculous glass and steel mausoleum. Poetry is pretty much whatever you want to call a poem. Perhaps this will seem somewhat less far-fetched when one considers that, only two centuries ago, wigs designated social hierarchy, and comprised specific, unmistakable markers of caste, occupation, and position. Creative people make piles of things. The fabled “winter blues” are more due to fewer positive feelings than more negative ones. There is virtually no evidence that artworks activate emotion areas distinct from those involved in appraising everyday objects important for survival. We would not be here, of course, if our ancestors had not kept swimming. The real problem is therefore not mistakes. The problem is how to remain a scientist once we grow up. Science is a process not of affirming ideas but of attempting to falsify ideas in the search for truth. Keep washing your hands, for sure, but a whole-body sterilization would do more harm than good.

Bowerbird #19: Coyote Eyes Practice Wilderness

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 09/06/2011 by alex c

We learn what to want, to desire, until we are taught something better. I’ve taken a few drugs in my time. Be careful what you eat at work, because you don’t know exactly what’s in that batch of delicious brownies. There’s fucking, there’s fetishes, and there’s jail time – it’s a spectrum. However, when it comes to the brain, the science is still in its early days. And, so you exaggerate, and put it through that porn-lens. If your calculations are correct, you should find the outcome satisfying. What it is, is pure joy. Since this galaxy was right under our noses by cosmic standards, it makes us wonder how many of these black hole pairs we’ve been missing. We see a humbling yet beautiful view of ourselves. We’re not really sure how often something like this happens, or how it affects the galactic environment. But, of course, that would be another generation’s problem. Experiments have shown that the lag between things happening and us experiencing them is about 80 milliseconds. And so we wait, expectantly, for the resolution of E major, for Beethoven’s established pattern to be completed.

Bowerbird #18: Wind Water Doubt History

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , on 08/30/2011 by alex c

The computer you are using to read this article is already involved in a global war. And having a restless planet is a consequence of having a habitable one. This shift in thinking is really quite liberating. It’s not a new or novel concept, the idea of multiple identities for multiple occasions, but it’s also not something you talk about often. Remember when the internet was referred to as the information superhighway? Money, youth, and formerly robust good health were no protection. We’ve just found more efficient ways today of fouling our own nests. Rather like how sound is useful for communication, but stand next to a pneumatic drill for an hour, and you’ll go deaf. Seeing, by contrast, happens when something causes you to look again, and to regard a thing as though for the first time. If you’re talking about a structure that owes its properties to 1,000 or more of these structures, interacting in complicated ways, that’s asking more than we can do now. What seems right about the absurd is both its representation of the crushing pain of existence but also the silliness of the case. You can’t make such maps if you still believe in the heroic, autonomous individual.

Bowerbird #13: Guitarkestra Iceburn Pareidolia

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , on 08/16/2011 by alex c

The hyperauthors to come will make your ho-hum folderol part of their shimmering wax-museum canons, where information is written down, filed away, and then brought back when it’s needed (or lost in some dusty shelf). When every answer and its opposite appears equally obvious then their purpose, in these cases, may be to subdue and tranquilize rather than to treat any genuine psychosis. If we can learn to interpret these brain oscillations, it may be possible to successfully produce not a peer-reviewed paper in Science but rather a new race of subhuman killers, a sucking wormhole in space-time, or a profusion of malevolent goo. In this sense, those bridges to nowhere are a sort of benevolent inefficiency, most of the surviving examples generally consist of a pencil-thick primary cord, from which hang multiple “pendant” cords. Maybe this is a way to confirm that being human and necessarily isolated in your own body and mind is ok. If zoophiles can ejaculate into their wives only by imagining that their spouse’s vagina is actually a horse’s vulva, a man’s anus must certainly be within mind’s reach of the average married homosexual. So while his body is still technically alive, he will never wake up again. That’s ok though, you’ve gotta start somewhere. Obviously there are plenty of things we don’t understand. “Anybody who isn’t confused doesn’t know what’s going on,” he said. My urine has been tested for many things.

Bowerbird #12: Curious Pain Composer Voice

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , , on 08/15/2011 by alex c

Here we all sit gazing at our screens, our little brains and hands pawing at the pixels and keys. In a sense, the air is acting like a periscope, allowing you see around a corner. It seems to want to keep going. It’s a tenuous and chaotic process, but it’s the first time anyone has observed moon making in action. We see ourselves seeing the world.

At first we thought the spatial analysis must be wrong. Nothing in life is that simple and powerful and easy. We no longer know how to work and fight together as we once did. We create people we love, and then we torture them. Continue reading

Bowerbird #9: Transparent Seas Nine Years Later

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 08/12/2011 by alex c

There is something else odd about this picture. Just when you think you’re getting a handle on it, you realize that you haven’t even scratched the surface. To think things are so simple is tempting, but probably erroneous. It’s a sad state of affairs but probably not an unpredictable one. This all suggests that the capacity of mental time travel is firmly grounded in physical representations of space, and that the relationship between the two is reciprocal and bi-directional. Yeah, you might want to sit for a moment and soak that in. Throw it all in the sea, and the sea’ll keep on rolling along toward shore and crashing and booming back into itself again.

Whatever exists in the infinitely small always has repercussions in the infinitely big. They can therefore be practically indistinguishable, and can oscillate back and forth between each other. At first glance, this experimental observation seems incongruous. Our minds are constantly lit up with activity as we process the barrages of stimuli coming through our senses. When you step outside, outdoors, into the wide open upness (if urbanly not side-to-side), your crazy expands immediately to fill the immense space and almost none of it is left in your head. There is something deliberate about this practice of control by the conscious.

Where did the signal come from? It can come in from space, travel though the Earth’s atmosphere, and then actually escape back into interplanetary space. It cannot be reasoned with. The particles that constitute it do not have built-in properties such as spatial position. As the core changes, that information does leak to the surface, but it takes centuries. In the process, the physical forces that govern it should become apparent.