THE REAL SCIENCE BEHIND:
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
"You are not understanding our nature."
The voice is gentle. I feel an immediate twinge of guilt, a desire to reconcile. Maybe I’m jumping at shadows. Maybe it’s telling the truth.
But maybe not. I’m dealing with a symbiote unlike any in the biological world: One with the power to persuade. To communicate with its host, make rational arguments, physically share emotions and feelings. Even now, I want to believe it’s sincere. But is that because I’m actually convinced, or because it’s so good at persuasion? Even the sensual warmth I’ve been feeling could be just another manipulation, a covert hijacking of my neurotransmitters.
I shouldn’t trust it, I think coldly, pushing away from my desk.
Anything that can talk to you can also lie to you.
~ an excerpt from Sleep of Reason
THE REAL SCIENCE:
The presence of parasites in such deep parts of pre-history, shaping the animal genome at its most basic level, is why Del Giudice feels they could be forgotten drivers of early, fundamental evolution.
“Many aspects of neurobiology are destined to remain mysterious or poorly understood until parasites—the brain’s invisible designers—are finally included in the picture,” he writes.
At every turn, we tend to make assumptions against the possibility of life.
We’ve said life can’t survive boiling, clearly false. We’ve said life needs sunlight to make food, obviously wrong. We’ve believed life can’t survive freezing, then met species of Arctic flies whose larvae can survive their bodies hitting -76°F. We’ve said life needs to be part of a food chain; enter Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator which lives 2 miles deep in a South African gold mine, fixing nitrogen, eating sulfate, in utter isolation.
~An excerpt from Sleep of Reason
THE REAL SCIENCE:
Sherwood Lollar is excited not only because of the peculiar the mine’s rock-eating life seems, but also because of the growing realization that strange forms of life might not be so peculiar after all. Scientists are starting to find similar microbes in other deep spots, including boreholes, volcanic vents on the bottom of the ocean and buried sediments far beneath the seafloor.
“The deep microbial realm reveals a biosphere that’s more extensive, resilient, varied and strange than we had realized,” said Robert Hazen, a mineralogist at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory in Washington, and co-founder of Deep Carbon Observatory, a global project to study the deep biosphere.
Margaret Riley is a wordsmith, slow-kayaker, slow-skiier, photographer of strange realities, and a deep believer in the magic of story time.