Monday, September 24, 2012

Humans are less human than we thought. | MetaFilter

Humans are less human than we thought. | MetaFilter:
Each of the Earth's 7 billion-plus human bodies contains about ten times more microorganism cells than human cells.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Inside the mind of the octopus | Orion Magazine

Inside the mind of the octopus | Orion Magazine:
Only recently have scientists accorded chimpanzees, so closely related to humans we can share blood transfusions, the dignity of having a mind. But now, increasingly, researchers who study octopuses are convinced that these boneless, alien animals—creatures whose ancestors diverged from the lineage that would lead to ours roughly 500 to 700 million years ago—have developed intelligence, emotions, and individual personalities. Their findings are challenging our understanding of consciousness itself.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Consciousness science and ethics: Abortion, animal rights, and vegetative-state debates. - Slate Magazine

Consciousness science and ethics: Abortion, animal rights, and vegetative-state debates. - Slate Magazine:
The most prominent scientific theories of consciousness are converging on the idea that it is related to a certain kind of information processing, in which multiple strands of data are drawn together, and that it is dependent on a certain kind of network architecture. Arguably the most popular theory along these lines, information integration theory by Giulio Tononi, effectively assumes that consciousness is a continuum across the animal kingdom. If so, even the lowly nematode worm, with a few hundred neurons, will have some, albeit minimal, level of consciousness. If something approximating this theory proves correct, it has huge implications for our relationship to all animals on the planet.

Friday, September 7, 2012