Brainless Slime Molds Learn & Teach!

tanyalattyDr Tanya Latty, PhD, insect ecology at the University of Calgary said: “I think we’re beginning to realize that brains are not prerequisites for complex and interesting behavior. The majority of life-forms on Earth are brainless, but we know very little about how this brainless majority are able to adapt their behavior in changing environments.

This discovery comes in a study published last week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Scientists at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France taught some 2,000 slime molds to avoid nasty-tasting substances (nasty to slime molds) while searching for food — and found that the molds could then transmit this behavior to their compatriots simply by fusing with them. In essence, when the slime mold learned to cross a bridge to a petri dish full of food it liked they then put repellant chemicals on the bridge and the slime_mold_on_deadwood-google-reuse-permitslime mold learned  to ignore these repellents to seek food.  It did so by carefully testing the bridge with a fine tentacle of slime as a scouting party.  When the tentacle could cross, eat and return,  the whole blob knew it was safe to do the same and did so.  It did so faster and faster as it established the safety of the crossing.  Even more astounding was that the learned slime mold was able to teach this to new slime molds in came in physical contact with.

In my story character,  Janr Ssor’s,  sci-fi adventures, he discovers that his experience of the universe does not often depend upon the physical structures we commonly associate with our world.  He frequently discovers communications we do not experience but more and more are learning to recognize as in this article on slime molds or my essay, “Is Intelligence In Your Brain? Or Are Scientists Stupid?”, which finds this behaviour in almost equally brainless tiny insects.

Science is fascinating in its ongoing  attempts to discover new concepts of truth and reality. The longer I live the more convinced I am that there is less and less difference between scientific proof and theory.  This is not to say that we can not “prove” a theory by methods. smartphone-image-truth It is just puzzling what we are proving? Is it all of reality or just a convenient fragment that suits our needs much as the slime molds discover did its?  Sometimes I wonder, are we the image outside or inside the cell phone? Can we really know?

It would be illogical to deny the success of science when you see a spaceship, whose design is based on millions of years or learning scientific “proven rules”  successfully launch a satellite into orbit. On the other hand, it is one thing to have ultimate knowledge and another to grasp just enough to get through the day.  I believe we are at the latter point in our evolution but often sensing the light of a bigger tomorrow through the one thing science truly tries to teach well, “keep the window to learning open and know that we have no ultimate truths.”  Enjoy the trip, the destination is not our purpose.

Advertisements

Different Styles Of Thought Or Consciousness At Birth And Beyond.

What if you were amongst the few who are born truly telepathic,  what would your birth experience be like? Would you survive after birth at all and if so for how long?  If you did survive what would you see without your eyes and how might that affect who you are and what you do with your remaining life time?  In essence, upon achieving consciousness, you would be one with the entire universe finding yourself part of something infinitely large and yet knowing that you were physically small by contrast. It is something that you might ponder if you are predisposed to the lengthy thought process that is  the particular disease of creative writers.  It is something I lie in bed thinking about at 5:00 am when I would like to be asleep blissfully as you are.

On the other hand what if you were not born telepathic,  what would your experience be like? What would it be like in a world of singular aloneness?  In your small space your mind would struggle  like a sponge to telelepahty-laeld-for-reuse-by-google-searchabsorb every bit of sensory data possible so you could become one with the terrifying vastness  around you. In so doing you would hope to not be frightened by your painful smallness in the now suddenly unaccountably large and unpredictable universe.

Do either of these contrapuntal scenarios exist?  It is my contention that they both exist and all the time, at each human parturition.  I believe that at each child’s genesis they are infinitely large, and connected cosmically with every other living thing, call it telepathy if you choose. At the same time they are focused on their physical smallness and struggling to incorporate all sensory data possible so that they can make sense of and take control of that which is their new physical environment.  It is truly terrifying even without the slap on the ass from the supposedly wise gynecologists. It is terrifying because, since they became sentient, many months ago, their environment has been consistently warm, cozy and full of love and nurture both mental and physical; but, now it has suddenly transformed with the psychological impact of a car crash!

Have you not noticed, as a parent, that children are “sponges” for knowledge?  Everything they see and hear becomes part of them, as if they were a movie studio’s camera.  They all appear to have total recall (and may infact have this trait).  On the other hand, not long after they become able to communicate, in some meaningful manner, we discover that they, at times, play with “imaginary” friends. They do this in our culture, at least until we become concerned.  They do this until we tell them that there is no such thing as imaginary friends and that it is time to “grow up” and stop this nonsense.

The sponge like behavior also becomes less and less, for many, as the experience a child possibly absorbs becomes more and more contaminated with doses of bitters and pain.  After all, all of existence is a sign wave. There is nothing that does not run like hot and cold that we can perceive, probably because that is all there is to our universe. Our nerves only respond to opposites, change!  After you splash into a totalrecall_2012_logowarm bathtub,  in a few minutes,  the initial sensation of heat transforms itself, in your perception, to a  constant temperature,  hardly noticeable. You need change to be conscious.  For the neonatal, the fun and security of becoming one with the universe by learning all it has to offer becomes far less joyful with negative experience.  Experiences such as those punctuated with the pain of an angry, frustrated parent’s hand slap or that caused by less friendly bacteria trying to eat us from the inside out after spoiled food is consumed.  So we don’t really want to remember this pain and we may learn to dissociate from it, since we cannot turn senses on or off at will.

As for being one with the universe by “telepathy,” if we should call it that, it too has its pain. Consider the disturbing confusion of  connecting with a being that has no eyes.  This being is called a Spheron.  This spherical being  connects with the universe by sonar like transmissions, much like a bat, but in the radio wave frequency range.  It senses its position too by the shifts in gravitational and magnetic fields coming from its planetary home, much like a bird or bees do.  It has almost no physical structure because it is mostly energy. It is spherical as that is the natural form that energy takes as it radiates (at least in this quadrant or our universe where the physics we try to comprehend is mostly prevalent).  This being does not interact with many of its like others, there is no value.  No, in fact its created purpose is like that of honey bees, it gathers information (like pollen) from that thought process and experiences of planets and shares that with other planets much as a bee shares pollen. If you thought that planets are not sentient, just for the moment imagine they might be; it will help with the concepts we are discussing.   The Spheron shares that “experience” by warping space and traveling across the universe instantaneously (at least this is how we would describe it).  From its perspective, there is no time, no space and no distance.  These are the delusions of physical beings like us.

A telepathic connection with this alien mind would be literally Earth shattering.  It could be far worse than a trip on LSD!  Those with acute telepathy, to maintain their sanity, would quickly withdraw to the comfort of their small, warm, cozy physical space.  So perhaps the genesis of that which we call people, derives from the balancing act of  sanity trying to maintain its integrity by figuring out how much total recall or total communication makes sense for the environment into which it, the newly created being, has been flower-1360468_960_720-pixbayunceremoniously dumped.

Out of every black sky filled with frightening lightning and torrentuous storms comes the birth of new plant life,  the flowers of a sunshine filled morning.  Perhaps in a similar manner so do we.

Janr Ssor