You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
On July 17th, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite completed its first survey of the entire sky viewable from Earth. After just seven months in orbit, WISE -- a precursor to the planned James Webb Space Telescope -- has returned more than a million images that provide a close look at celestial objects ranging from distant galaxies to asteroids. The first release of WISE data, covering about 80 percent of the sky, will be delivered to the astronomical community in May of next year, but in the meantime we can see some of the images and animations that NASA has released to date: Galleries (containing just a small selection of images): 1, 2, 3, 4. Videos and Animations: 1, 2 [more inside]
"My web site will encourage kindness among those who support it, and creative punishment for those who do not." Mefi's own Shepherd "got a little carried away" creating his blog's under construction placeholder page. The result is a terrifying dystopic epic. [via mefi projects]
Consciousness Timeline ll : 1970 - Present (summer reading) Here's a wee summer reading list - on human consciousness and more. A few from the list : Stanislav Grof (altered state/transpersonal consciousness), Charles Tart (altered state/consciousness research), Chogyam Trungpa (Buddhism), Jean Houston, James Hillman, Ralph Abraham (Chaos, Gaia, and Eros), Howard Rheingold (being himself), Mihaly Csikszentmihaly (On "flow"), Joanna Macy, John Lilly (Dolphins, LSD, and more!), James Gleick (Chaos Theory), Thomas Berry, Rianne Eisler, Howard Gardner, Stephen Laberge (Lucid dreaming), Sam Keen (on the manufacture of the "enemy"), James Lovelock (Gaia Theory), Eugene Gendlin ("Focusing"), Hazel Henderson (An alternative economics - for human beings), Jeffrey Mishlove ("The Roots of Consciousness"), Michael Harner (leading world authority on Shamanism), Amory Lovins (on alternative energy), Elaine Pagels ("The Gnostic Gospels"), Huston Smith (on World religions), Ilya Prigogine ("dissipative structures")....now, to the beach.