Consciousness out there

FOLLOW this link to the first of a series of articles I’ve written about FEEL, a new project being run by experimental psychologist Kevin O’Regan in Paris, to explore the possibility that consciousness is not locked inside our brains, but emerges when we interact with the world. The implications are exciting and sometimes disturbing – for example, that babies are born without consciousness and acquire it gradually, in piecemeal fashion, as they move and receive sensory feedback, and gradually learn more sophisticated ways of manipulating the world.

 

Courtesy of Jacqueline Fagard
Courtesy of Jacqueline Fagard

 

Upside down world

ns_logoA MAN walks confidently towards an open gate but instead of going straight through he raises his knee very high as if he were stepping over a low wall. He strides forward, reaching out to shake a friend’s hand. But again he misjudges, and his friend draws back in alarm to avoid being punched in the nose…

This article was first published in New Scientist on 11 October 2014. To continue reading, click here.

 

Swiss canton braces for tsunami

 

page11-nature_logoTHE land of chocolate and clocks could soon be known for something quite different: tsunamis. Authorities in Nidwalden, a canton in landlocked Switzerland, are factoring the risk of a tsunami in Lake Lucerne into their hazard plans. It is the first official acknowledgement of such a threat in Europe’s Alpine region — and comes in step with findings that the risk of tsunamis in the area, which is home to around 13 million people, is much higher than previously thought…

This article was first published in Nature on 4 September 2014. To continue reading, click here.

view-of-riggie-mountain-meadows-and-lake-lucerne

 

Wonder food

ns_logoIN April 1789, Lieutenant William Bligh set off from the Pacific island of Tahiti to sail halfway round the world to Jamaica. Twenty-three days into the voyage, his crew mutinied. They set him adrift in the Bounty’s launch, along with 18 men who were loyal to him, and dumped the ship’s cargo overboard. That cargo included 1000 breadfruit plants destined for the Jamaican sugar plantations, whose owners were clamouring for a cheap and reliable source of food for their slaves…

This article was first published in New Scientist on 28 June 2014. To continue reading, click here.