Compassion

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Bearing in mind the recent posts here that relate to the notion of a “self“… And thinking about our strongly ingrained consumeristic tendencies in this multimedia age of memetic supremacy… Not to mention our general herd-like behavioural patterns that we all (no matter who we are) get lost in from time to time i.e. at base: if Mr. Smith has an Audi, then so should I… I found myself walking past someone in need the other day without considering to help them.

I was in hurry to get to the bank in order to pay in some cheques I’d received for a bill that had already been paid out from my family’s business account. During the 20 minute march from my front door to the bank, I was focused on getting the cheques paid in so that we wouldn’t go over-drawn. While totally focused on my goal, I dodged families in the park next door (smiling kindly to the children who we dashing down the paths on scooters), crossed traffic laden roads (thanking the drivers who waited for me to cross the road before nuzzling up to the car in front’s bumper a couple of meters away), avoided teenagers walking four abreast on the pavement with no intention to reconfigure to give fair way to other passers by… And I also missed the old lady who was having a hard time bending down after she’d dropped her credit card by the “hole in the wall”.

“Tick-tock” my wrist watch clanged in my mind as I pictured the seconds fluttering past, which drove on the minutes towards a final cascade of closing steel shutters and possible bank charges for going overdrawn. Then, at least five paces further down the road and faced with a person burdened with shopping bags, I wondered why… ?

That’s when I realised what I had done. I had completely missed what had been (and probably still was) happening directly to my right (and back a bit now). The old lady… She had been devilishly having a hard time, clutching her handbag and walking stick in one frail, white hand while trying to defeat the stiffness of her back and legs so as to pick up her card to try to make her weekly withdrawal. I had seen it all unfolding in such obvious detail and clarity and, yet, something in my mind had found reason to overlook the simple bit of aid that I could have given to someone that wouldn’t have taken more than a minute of my time.

“BANK CHARGES!” rang through my mind… So I looked at my watch before I even turned around. I had 10 minutes left to get to the bank. Briefly I spun around to glance at the lady… Someone who had been waiting by the bus stop next to the cash point had noticed and had come to her aid. “Phew,” I thought as I marched on determined to get to where I needed to be. Still, while checking along, I suddenly remembered a few other incidents I had missed in and around Brighton recently due to “pressing” appointments I had had to keep. None of these, I reasoned, would have taken more than a minute or two of my time to offer a friendly hand to help. But even more pressing was the fact that I was totally amazed at the clarity of detail I could recall about the incidents of people to help, especially as I was “somewhere” else in mind. !?

It’s almost as though my brain is hardwired towards providing altruistic behaviour… But only when “I“, my “self“, does not get in the way.

Yes, we all have businesses to run. But, with a bit more awareness about what’s going on around us each moment and a bit better planning (so we don’t leave the proverbial bank run till last thing in the day), we might well find time to offer help where (and when) it is needed.

Bearing this in mind, I remembered a TED talk that Daniel Goleman gave on compassion back in 2007… And I’d like to share it here with anyone passing by… Hoping they have a few minutes to spare.

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To find out where I sourced the above video from, please click here.

To find out more about Daniel Goleman, please visit here his website by clicking here.

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I’ve written a little bit before on what life actually is… On how ‘we’, as human beings, are beginning to figure out how life, as we know it, arose from a sea of seemingly non-living molecules… And we’ve even seen how the fine line between everyday non-living bio-chemistry mimics and resembles – with amazing analogy – the living systems that we call ecosystems… That we call our “selves”. I’ve even shown – with the help of a lecture given by Dr Bruce Lipton – how the complex interaction of molecules (all of which are made up from the numerous atomic elements, which are really nothing more than star dust) gives rise an orchestration of consciousness that allows all of us i.e. each and every type of living organism alive here on Earth today, to perceive the world around us, in some manner or another… To interact with the ever changing environment that continually shifts around our bodies and beings, so that we can survive and slowly modify ourselves and our habits – through the process of Natural Selection – to its ever changing rhythms and challenges, thus ensuring our survival.

Well… If you got all of that, then your laughing and you’re well on your way to finding out what the notion of your ‘self‘ i.e. the mind/brain/body/environmental continuum, is really all about, as well as how these supposed ‘selves’ are all entangled into a long chainmail of causes and effects, a process that, ultimately, relates all of us to one another (no matter how far away everyone might seem at any given moment to our own self centred points of view), so that we come together as ‘One.’ As Kalu Rinpoche pointed out before in “Karma, Interdependence and Emptiness“, “When you hear the sound of a bell, ask yourself, ‘What makes the sound?'” And so, just as with the notion of your “self”, perhaps we should ask, “When I am conscious… What makes me conscious?” When we start to see all the details compiled into the totality of the whole picture (if we ever truly can do so in one lifetime, simply due to the sheer magnitude of parts), along with how interdependent they all are on one another, then the notion of “self” blurs into the surrounding environmental events that gave rise to everything around us, as well as us. As we are a part it all, reliant on every detail being exactly the way it was – and presently is – then perhaps we really are a part of “Nature” itself? Perhaps this is what Spinoza wrote about when he discussed the notion of “God, or Nature”?

Either way, I’d like to add one more TED Talk – to the many that have already found their way onto the many pages of this website – so as to enhance the scientific facts and findings that are slowly illuminating part of the essence of what we all really are – complex organic molecular environments that have become “self” aware… And, thus, I would like to present this talk given by the eminent biomedical animator (I know, what a kewl job title) Drew Berry, who’s scientifically accurate and aesthetically rich visualizations are elucidating cellular and molecular processes for a wide range of audiences, both in the scientific community and outside it.

But just before hand… I’d like you to ask your “self”… “Am I really a “living” being? One that is undeniably distinct and truly separate from all the other animals who reside here on planet Earth with us? Or am “I” just a complex orchestration of inter-reactive organic molecules/chemicals/’star dust’ that has evolved over time into ever increasingly complex manifestations, so as to eventually become “self” aware?”

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Drew Berry: Animations Of Unseeable Biology

We have no ways to directly observe molecules and what they do — Drew Berry wants to change that. At TEDxSydney he shows his scientifically accurate (and entertaining!) animations that help researchers see unseeable processes within our own cells.

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To find out where I sourced this video from, please click here.

And to find out more about Drew Berry, please click here.

OR to learn more about TED, please visit their website by clicking here.

Yesterday morning, while writing the blog about Ecological Buddhism, I Stumbled over this pretty inspiring TED talk. Bearing in mind the somewhat heavy vibe of the four Nature articles that I used for examples of climate change i.e. their somewhat doomy and gloomy outlook, I found Nic Marks’ talk fresh and upbeat, full of inspiring ideas that, if followed, could bring about a change in the way we think about how our actions directly relate to the Earth’s ecology and, thus, affects all Life here on Earth.

Without writing any more… I’ll leave him to weave his encouraging views into your psyche so that we might all one day wear a brighter, cleaner, and greener future for all Life here on Earth… “Were our happiness doesn’t cost the Earth.”

To see where I sourced this talk from, please click here.

To learn more about Nic Marks and the marvellously inspiring job he’s presently doing here on Earth, please click here.

Or to learn more about Nic Marks’ brains child “The New Economics Foundation”, please click here.

Well… It’s come up before, in The Human Ape, just how similar we all are to our primate brothers/cousins. However, I am still always surprised at how many of my fellow human beings seem to want to remain in denial about this striking fact.

Just the other day I was speaking to a friend about how similar we are to the great apes, and possibly even some of the small monkey species, here on Earth. However, she stopped me there, pointing out that the only real similarity was the striking resemblance of our morphologies… But that was about as far as it went. So, bearing in mind this was a lady who had worked in zoos for several years at a time, and been on several safaris too, and thus having more than several monkey experiences under her belt, I quit blabbing and listened to her point of view… The main issue that set us apart was that we were obviously a lot more clever than any monkeys were i.e. our neural nets operated in very different ways to theirs… Sure we might have some very strikingly similar behavioural patterns as one another, but wouldn’t any species that shared similar bodily structures? And I couldn’t help but agree… After all, when given two legs and two hands, a torso and a head, with the potential that their bodies could stand upright… You’d expect the being endowed with these physical attributes to utilise them and grab things, maybe even trying to stand up at some point and walk while carrying these things in their hands. But all further similarities ended there.

So sat there… With furrows of concern that what I had just heard went against what I had recently seen on a TED talk… Something that had politely pointed out that we were even more similar than this simple body parity i.e. we even shared very similar behavioural traits… So I mentioned that I had to disagree with her. To which she asked me to prove my point.

So here I am, writing this entry with an eye to pick out something that can only be deemed to be as abstract and infuriatingly human as “economics” and then demonstrate that the similarity between bodily structure of our distant familiars – one which can only yield certain movements due the the constraints of joints and other bio-mechanical limitations i.e. we can’t bend our knees forward, etc… – also apply to our limbic system too… Well, I won’t… But Laurie Santos will. While the lemurs, capuchin monkeys and other primates that Santos has been studying are only shown to operate on a ‘one-on-one’ level, we need to be reminded that the only two things that really seem to set us apart – and not even that far apart – from our distant relatives, are our ‘ability’ to share resources fairly and work together as a team… As a unit… And build communities, cities and develop technologies… As well as effectively communicate and exchange detailed information with one another.

So, bearing this in mind, shouldn’t we expect to observe very similar traits to our primate brothers/sisters/cousins in the way that we operate within our own man made social constructs and communities… For example, similarities in the way we manage risk assessment in ‘economical’ terms… ? And, as Santos points out, we certainly do…

For those of us who still like to think that we’re really something special in comparison to our monkey see, monkey do relations, I beg they take 20 minutes out of their schedule and watch the some interesting facts that Laurie Santos has recently brought to light, demonstrating that all of ‘Us’ primates have very similar behavioural mechanisms at work – probably based on the neural net’s structural similarities – within the patterns our brain/mind continuum.

A Monkey Economy As Irrational As Ours

Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in “monkeynomics” shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.

To find out more about Laurie Santos and her interesting work, please click here.

Or to read an interview with her in Discover magazine, please click here.

And to find out where I sourced this video from, please click here.

The time has arrived… Synthetic life is no longer science fiction. It is now a ‘reality’ here on Earth… And man is its creator. In many ways this is an interesting piece of the puzzle as to how life arose here on Earth. But as we have seen in previous blogs here, it’s not that impossible to understand that self-similar patterns will end up repeating themselves i.e. man – having evolved from the primordial soup of chemicals, cells and organisms – is now trying to understand where his present ciurcumstance sprung from. While we can now play the role of a ‘creator’ – in the very modest sense of the word – we should also be wary of what this means in the greater scheme of things i.e. we are perhaps not as special as we might think AND what could this mean for future Life here on Earth!?

While I am sure many will jump on the band wagon about how this might possibly be introducing a new threat to Life, here on Earth, and so might even spell the end of our species too, by introducing a genetic machine capable of out performing the present Earth life-forms… A ‘theme’ from sci-fi movies of late… We shouldn’t be negligent that it might be able to help us with our own naive modes of living i.e. the devastation that we are all presently causing to this delicate ecosystem due to the corporate and mass consuming desire of our sensitive memetic and mental dispositions… But then again, we are at present living in an age of great denial. Even so, bearing all this in mind, the order within the chaotic flow of this Earth’s delicate and intricate ecosystem is way too hard to predict what it might yield in the near, let alone distant, future. No doubt this might spell the end for us… But then again, on our present route of habitation, are we not definitely spelling the end for ourselves soon enough?

Personally I welcome this discovery with open arms. And while I will treat it with an equal measure of caution, I will also be inclined to weigh up the positive aspects of what this new ‘technology’ might mean for mankind. After all, if it does nothing more than to show mankind just how easily reproducible Life surely is, and thus shows us that we are not really that special in the greater scheme of things – as we sometimes like to think we are… OR even if it forces many religious doctrines to understand that it does not take a ‘God’ or ‘Creator’ to implement Life as we know it, the effects of this invention will no doubt be far reaching to those of us who manage to hear about it.

My own goal, here within this blog, is to show those of us who are interested enough that Life is really nothing more than a pattern of molecules self-assimilating and self-replicating into ever advancing designs for functionality. The ultimate goal of evolution is empty of all meaning. The only meaning it has, is the meaning that we give to it. And this meaning is, at best, shaped by our present memetic drives and social circumstances i.e. in London society of medieval times the plague – a.k.a. The Black Death – that spread through London was falsely accredited to cats and dogs. Thus over 200,000 cats and 40,000 dogs were culled. This, no doubt, only served to exacerbate the problem, as the real culprit – namely the rat – now had even fewer predators to keep them in check and thus the fleas that lived on the rats, and the disease itself, spread like wild fire. The specific reason behind the culling of the dogs and cats during the plague of 1665 is still uncertain. But rumour had spread and, at best, we can be certain the Londoners made their decision based on what they believed to be true at the time.

When we look at Life today… We have some idea as to what its essence is derived from. Back in medieval times, God certainly would have figured somewhere in the spirit and soul what Life is. Today, science has shown us that Life is nothing more than a process of highly complex chemical interactions which occur within bodies of organic structures. These bodies, with their ability to understand and modify their behavioural patterns, have – along the way – attained many delusions, mainly via modes of self-realisation and self-importance. And this means that, on the whole, Life is liable to act from this place of delusion – which is centered on attachment to the idea of self – rather than from a place of compassion and non-attachment. If it wasn’t for the delusion, then all those cats and dogs would have been spared during the London plague of 1665.

Saying that… The key to our existence, and to evolution on the whole, is not to get too bogged down in the finer details of what our existence means… Rather it is to remove this self-desiring attachment and open our hearts and minds up to the world around us through a process of developing compassion through a keen understanding about all living beings here on Earth, noting, seeing and understanding how interconnected we all really are to one another.

If we reflect honestly enough with ourselves and others, we will hopefully arrive at similar understandings to one another… None of us own this experience that we call Life. Life is a natural pattern of unfolding that chemicals do when given half the chance, regardless of what solar-system they arise in. And We i.e. all Life, are nothing more than a result of this pattern. Call it “God,” call it “Nature,” call it what-ever you want… The patterns are there – they have been there forever – and nothing is certain within them, mainly as they are so sensitive to initial conditions. This is the way with nonlinear dynamical systems. Why talk about “what-ifs” when we understand so little about the system itself? Just as with all nonlinear systems, our lives are full of uncertainties, and we can never make any prediction with absolute certainty and keep an honest mind. In my humble opinion, this technology that Venter has created is nothing more than the fractal essence of our Life’s system recreating – or rather, reiterating – itself into ever more defined and refined aspects of understanding itself. Once we understand this pattern better, I believe we can begin to make moral decisions based on an interconnected understanding. This understanding – while it will only be the best possible mode of understanding for the present moment – will still afford us great insight into what we are… And, thus, give us all a better realisation as to how we should live and behave i.e. without over consuming the Earth’s resources, not polluting and producing beyond levels of what the environment might be able to handle, to limit our population growth to prevent over consumption, to understand our instinctual drives and, thus, to notice what we are doing to the planet that we call “home,” etc… I believe Venter’s work is part of developing this understanding further.

So, with that out of the way, let’s look at what Venter once was planning to set out to do…

And after all that Venter and his team have now arrived here…

Craig Venter Unveils “Synthetic Life”

Craig Venter and team make a historic announcement: they’ve created the first fully functioning, reproducing cell controlled by synthetic DNA. He explains how they did it and why the achievement marks the beginning of a new era for science.

More about Craig Venter:

Craig Venter, the man who led the private effort to sequence the human genome, is hard at work now on even more potentially world-changing projects.

First, there’s his mission aboard the Sorcerer II, a 92-foot yacht, which, in 2006, finished its voyage around the globe to sample, catalouge and decode the genes of the ocean’s unknown microorganisms. Quite a task, when you consider that there are tens of millions of microbes in a single drop of sea water. Then there’s the J. Craig Venter Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to researching genomics and exploring its societal implications.

In 2005, Venter founded Synthetic Genomics, a private company with a provocative mission: to engineer new life forms. Its goal is to design, synthesize and assemble synthetic microorganisms that will produce alternative fuels, such as ethanol or hydrogen. He was on Time magzine’s 2007 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

In early 2008, scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute announced that they had manufactured the entire genome of a bacterium by painstakingly stitching together its chemical components. By sequencing a genome, scientists can begin to custom-design bootable organisms, creating biological robots that can produce from scratch chemicals humans can use, such as biofuel. And in 2010, they announced, they had created “synthetic life” — DNA created digitally, inserted into a living bacterium, and remaining alive.

To find out more about Craig Venter and his institute dedicated to understanding the social impact of his scientific work, please click here.

Or to read more about this discovery and what it might mean in the eyes of the media, please click here to read this ‘modest’ Guardian review… And/or click here to read this BBC review.

What a great TED talk! Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can — and should — be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life.

About Sam Harris:

Sam Harris has been identified as one of the “Four Horsemen of Atheism” — company he shares with Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett and Christopher Hitchens. An outspoken proponent of skepticism and science, his two books — The End of Faith and its follow-up Letter to a Christian Nation — have become best-sellers.

In The End of Faith, Harris showed “a harrowing glimpse of mankind’s willingness to suspend reason in favor of religious beliefs, even when these beliefs inspire the worst of human atrocities.” After receiving thousands of angry letters in response, he wrote Letter to a Christian Nation, which centered on religious controversies in the United States: stem cell research, “intelligent design,” and links between religion and violence.

Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. He is the co-founder and CEO of Project Reason, a nonprofit devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society.

“Read Sam Harris and wake up.” Richard Dawkins

To find out more about Sam Harris, please visit his home page by clicking here.

OR to find out where I originally sourced this TED Talk from, please click here.

AND to find out more about “Project Reason” please click here.

In a world populated by meme machines… Meme machines who are a lot more susceptible to being indoctrinated with rather bizarre ideals than most of them care to ever believe, let alone admit i.e. see Millgrams experiments, we are all exposed to and influenced by biased opinions on a daily basis… These biased opions, all corporate advertizing, stereotypical ideals and one sided stories all seem to captivate and blind us to the diverse and complex reality that we were born into. And because of this, we need to remember the importance of remaining open, so as not to become oblivious to real and obvious truths… But probably more importantly, we should be aware of these issues, so that we do NOT become a slave to a system that takes advantage of the natural processes that ultimately make us behave in the ways that we do. Otherwise the people with the knowledge of how to do this will give into the corporate system’s promise of great rewards, who in turn will manipulate our minds, telling us what we should give, and not give, consent for. This is when we “honestly” stop thinking for ourselves and become nothing more than part of the “herd.” WE MUST SEE THE COMPLETE PICTURE TO BE ABLE TO MAKE UP OUR MINDS ABOUT TRUE FREE CHOICE!!!

Chimamanda Adichie

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger Of A Single Story

About Chimamanda Adichie:

In Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Half of a Yellow Sun has helped inspire new, cross-generational communication about the Biafran war. In this and in her other works, she seeks to instill dignity into the finest details of each character, whether poor, middle class or rich, exposing along the way the deep scars of colonialism in the African landscape.

Adichie’s newest book, The Thing Around Your Neck, is a brilliant collection of stories about Nigerians struggling to cope with a corrupted context in their home country, and about the Nigerian immigrant experience.

Adichie builds on the literary tradition of Igbo literary giant Chinua Achebe—and when she found out that Achebe liked Half of a Yellow Sun, she says she cried for a whole day. What he said about her rings true: “We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers.”

For more information about Chimamanda Adichie, please click here.

circles.cube5

While the subject of “illusion” has been broached several times before within the pages of this blog – see “The Illusory Atom” and “Probably The Best Optical Illusion I’ve Seen In A While… And The Idea Of Priming!“… This is still a very important idea that I will come back to time and again… For it will allow us all to further develop a better understanding about the way in which we perceive our surrounding environment, the world current affairs and the way we perceive the actions of others i.e. family, friends, work colleagues, strangers, public figures and politicians… And it will even show us that what We sometimes “See” going on in nature is actually a result of the way in which we perceive the world around us, something that Werner Heisenberg beautifully demonstrated to us all with his “Uncertainty Principle.”

Here Lotto presents to us an idea that is not simply just about colors… It is also a powerful analogy that can be superimposed onto the multifarious ways in which we see the world around us i.e. the way in which we perceive our country, our “enemies” and our friends, all of which affects our ability to live and make changes in our daily lives, as well as changes in the vast interconnected network of Life here on planet Earth. Our perceptions drive our actions and dictate how we act in the world at large. And yet, as we have seen in some of the previous blogs here, perceptions are sometimes arbitrary and conditioned. Context is often defined by others… We continually use “memes” that have been passed down the line to us via our parents, media, hearsay and everyday social interaction, to act with and guide us through current situations… And why shouldn’t we? After all, they worked for those of whom we learnt these actions from… As they are hear today telling us of their “beneficial” use. But… What I want to ask here, is are they relevant to the present moment? Because to follow blindly, is simply to be lead into actions that serve no real purpose within the present, as we saw in the blog entitled “Evidence For Humans Being ‘Meme Machines’?

We, being capable of probing thought, should go deeper than this… We should ask why certain memes are more infectious than others, in much the same way as being able to understand why a particular virus might be more infectious than others – see the blog entitled “‘Infectious’ People Spread Memes Across The Web“. Because when we understand this, we have the potential to become the “humble” custodians of this oasis suspended in an inky black void of space and time… Why? Well the answer is simple… As we are beginning to see, by searching the stars for other Earth like planets, Life really is a rarity in this universe. And once it gets a foot hold, it needs to be cared for and nurtured into a state healthy being… If one Life form becomes too arrogant, forgetting this interconnectedness of all things i.e. the vast array of strange attractors which interact in a dance of complexity over the surface of this planet… And in forgetting this, decides to take over most of the planet’s resources, using them blindly without a thought for the future of the planet… Then is surely like a cancerous cell that over replicates and dominates a body… And we all know how this ends.

To truly See this, we need to understand and challenge the “context” i.e. that “light”, in which we view things. We need to become completely aware of the moment in which we are in… Because once we do so, we leave by the way-side a limited preconditioned array and basis for our actions that serve no purpose other than to dredge up irrelevant past actions… And – perhaps it relates ourselves to the avarian “copy-cat” parrot… Not very hopeful thought really – to be compared to a “bird-brain”. As if we continue to live like this, we can only ever hope act within parameters of old, continuing conflicts of yore (war, prejudice, hate, etc…) that bring the pain of the past back into the present i.e. we carry these old hurts on chains of a “tit-for-tat” mentality that we learnt in the school playground. We need to understand the subtlety and sensitivity of our perceptive stance – see the blog “Another Take On Reality – Meme, Myself and I.”

When we truly understand the context in which we view things, and become humble enough to question the validity of our own perceptions… And therefore, the validity of our resulting actions that arise from these perceptions… Then perhaps we might be able to change how we act in the world… And possibly… Even hopefully… Change the world around us! And do so for the better of all Life here on Earth, preserving that delicate balance that supports us all… In a way that allows us to come from a place of Love and understanding. If you haven’t done already, I would highly recommend that you see Peter Russell’s video entitled “The Global Brain.”

Greed and need are two totally different things. And when we understand all of this, one day we will actually be able separate the two ideals, harboring a cautious mindfulness for the former, and a healthy understanding and open embracing for the latter – whereby we will start giving to people/animals/eco-systems in “need”… And not place anymore strain by simply acting on media-portrayed-memes based solely on “greed”.

Anyway… On with Lotto’s enthralling lecture… Given at TED.

Beau Lotto

Beau Lotto’s color games puzzle your vision, but they also spotlight what you can’t normally see: how your brain works. This fun, first-hand look at your own versatile sense of sight reveals how evolution tints your perception of what’s really out there.

About Beau Lotto:

Beau Lotto is founder of Lottolab (nothing to do with the lottery game of the same name, might we add), a hybrid art studio and science lab. With glowing, interactive sculpture — and good, old-fashioned peer-reviewed research — he’s illuminating the mysteries of the brain’s visual system.

“Let there be perception,” was evolution’s proclamation, and so it was that all creatures, from honeybees to humans, came to see the world not as it is, but as was most useful. This uncomfortable place — where what an organism’s brain sees diverges from what is actually out there — is what Beau Lotto and his team at Lottolab are exploring through their dazzling art-sci experiments and public illusions. Their Bee Matrix installation, for example, places a live bee in a transparent enclosure where gallerygoers may watch it seek nectar in a virtual meadow of luminous Plexiglas flowers. (Bees, Lotto will tell you, see colors much like we humans do.) The data captured isn’t just discarded, either: it’s put to good use in probing scientific papers, and sometimes in more exhibits.

Outside the studio work, the brain-like (that is, multidisciplinary) organization is also branching out to bigger public engagement works. It’s holding regular “synesthetic workshops” where kids and adults make “color scores” — abstract paintings that computers interpret into music, as with scrolls fed to a player piano. And lately they’re planning an outdoor walkway of color-lit, pressure-sensitive John Conway-esque tiles that react and evolve according to foot traffic. These and Lotto’s other conjurings are slowly, charmingly bending the science of perception — and our perceptions of what science can be.

Lotto teaches at University College London.

To find out more about Beau’s important work in these troubled times of varied perceptive stances, please visit his Lotto Lab website here.

And to find out where I originally sourced this video from, please click here.

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