Lighting up the Brain

How about a Beam of Light That Flips a Switch That Turns on the Brain? How’s that for a new way to get turned on? But what’s it like? Take a look?

See the neuron synapses in red? See the photosensitive protein on the cell membrane in green? For a layman’s discussion of the physics and chemistry and experiments with light check the link above.

But what’s it like? you ask. You mean you want to know what it feels like? Ha Ha Who knows? Ask a zebrafish? Or why not read Thomas Nagel’s article, What Is It Like To Be A Bat?

  1. barbara’s avatar

    Hi Mardé,
    COOL !
    I have only a layman’s very basic knowwledge of biology.
    But,I almost regret not seeing the blinking on and off that goes on inside. That must be anincredible sight.
    It’s another world in there…

    You have a nice day.

  2. Mardé’s avatar

    Hi Barbara,

    That’s all I have too: a layman’s very basic knowledge of biology.

    And yes, you’re right! It must be another world in there, inside that three-pound mass of squishy stuff called the brain. Imagine all the signals flying around in the form of chemical reactions and electrical impulses and blinking lights. And out of all that vibrating matter comes consciousness?


    You have a nice day too over there in France.

  3. SleepyLaKate’s avatar

    A bat flew into our house the other night.. it just flew around in circles for what, to my brain, seemed to be a long minute, until we managed to get the door open and it flew back outside. That’ll learn me not to leave the door open at night! 😆

  4. Mardé’s avatar

    Verrrrrrrry interestink!

    Perhaps the bat was trying to convey to you through ultrasonic or other communication forms what it is like to be a bat? Of course, interspecies communication is hard enough let alone trying to convey qualia such as “what it is like to be”.

    But the old bat perhaps was giving it a try. Who knows.

    Our brains, not just your brain, SleepyLa, are probably not up to the task at this stage of evolution. But why not leave the door open again sometime and see if the old bat will give it another try?

    😯 😕 😆

  5. SleepyLaKate’s avatar

    Um, no, I don’t think so, but thanks for the confidence anyway.. Haha.
    Heck, my little brain is still trying to wrap itseslf around that word “qualia!”

  6. Mardé’s avatar

    Yah, I know. Some of these old bats are just batty. 😆

    Hey, qualia is is just a fancy philosophical term for “the ways things seem to us”. “Qualia can be defined as qualities or feelings, like redness or pain.”

    I got the above from

    But it can get pretty hairy too. The philosophers of mind, those concerned with the mind-body problem, can argue at length over the proper definition and use of qualia.

  7. nash’s avatar

    Did you see on Keith Obermann’s (sp) show on MSNBC that some philosifers believe there is a 20% chance the world as we know it is actually a science experiment being conducted by some alien intelligence?

    This concept is much like the movie trilogy the Matrix.

    An interesting question related to faith that was brought up was; could this be the reason why it seems God doesn’t appear to love all mankind all the time (ie: Huricane Katrina, the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, AIDS, cancer) and that this is a function of this alien intelligence taking a nap or forgetting about us or having a technical difficulty of some kind.

    It’s pretty wacky stuff but interesting just the same.


  8. Mardé’s avatar

    Hey, Nash, thanks for your interesting comment. I just looked up the interview of Keith Olbermann with that philosophy professor about Nick Bostrom’s theory. I found it here under “Living in a Simulation”. Also, Nick Bostrom has a discussion about it here.

    Verrrrrrry Interrrestink!

    I had heard of this about a week ago in another interview. This one is an interview by the science writer John Horgan with the philosopher David Chalmers who wrote the book The Conscious Mind, a copy of which I have. This interview goes on for over an hour but toward the end they get to discussing the matrix and gigantic computer simulations, including the “brain in a vat” idea.

    What to say about it! I’m not sure at this point, but the idea is interestingly fantastic or fantastically interesting!

    Thanks, Nash.

  9. missy’s avatar

    Marde, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you and God bless you.
    I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
    xo Missy

  10. Mardé’s avatar

    Missy, it’s the least I could do since it’s you. Thanks for your thanks. I’m on vaction now up in PEI and lack internet access except for this remote Internet Cafe. Will check later. Thanks again.


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