Romancing the Stone (with the Sword)

A French animation short, giving a nice ooh lala! twist to the Arthurian legend of Excalibur.

One wonders about the kind of incentive that would be offered for the Grail...

Fol'Amor, directed by Augustin Clermont, Gilles Cortella, Marthe Delaporte, Clement De Ruyter, Maïlys Garcia, Gaspard Sumeire, and Pierre Rütz. Short film released online by Gobelins L'Ècole de L'Image.

[H/T io9]

Expanding Our Reality By 'Jacking' New Data Into Our Brain Through Technological Augmentation

As I've discussed previously, we tend to fall into the trap of assuming that 'reality' consists of what we sense around us via our sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. But the truth is that we only see electromagnetic waves and hear audio waves from a tiny section of their entire spectrums. In the video above, neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman discusses this topic, noting that this tiny slice of reality that we mistake for the totality of our environment is labeled our 'umwelt'. Our umwelt is determined by the physical apparatus we have at our disposal to take in sensory data - which to this point has largely been our biological sense organs.

But Eagleman also points out that the brain is hugely adaptable in terms of interpreting signals and forming the perception of the outside world from it:

The thing to understand is that your eyes and ears aren't doing the seeing in the first place. Your brain's doing the seeing, and the thing to appreciate is that it is locked in silence and darkness in the vault of your skull. So all the brain ever 'sees', are electrical signals coursing around in giant populations of neurons...that's all the brain ever experiences. It's not seeing the light or the dark out there, or the colours. It's not hearing the conversations. This is all that the brain is experiencing and nothing more.

But the brain is so tremendously flexible that what it's really good at doing is saying "okay well, I've got these data cables coming in...I don't know what information is carried on them." I mean we call those data cables the optic nerve and the auditory nerve, but it doesn't know what it is. All it sees is this kind of stuff, but it's really good at extracting patterns, and figuring out what to do with them, and eventually - amazingly - how to have a direct perceptual experience that it constructs about the outside world.

...It turns out that the brain doesn't care what the peripheral devices are that you plug in. These organs that we know and love like eyes and ears and fingertips - these are plug and play peripheral devices, and you can put anything you want into the system and the brain will figure out how to use it.

These two factors: the limited environment (umwelt) that we perceive through our biological sense organs, and the brain's adaptability to interpreting data fed into it, leads us to an exciting area of the future - augmentation. With the continual growth in technological power - and the continual shrinking in size of that technology - we have now entered an age where we can augment our natural sense organs with new data streams, feeding these new additions to our umwelt into our brains via our current sensory channels.

Eagleman currently has a Kickstarter project running which looks at augmentation as a means to cover the gap left by the failure of a sensory channel - in this case, the hearing impaired, via a sensory substitution vest which converts audio data into tactile data. This allows the brain to gain access to an 'information channel' which normally can't reach it. And as Eagleman explains, the brain quickly learns to recognise patterns from this 'new' data source and make sense of it.

This is just the beginning however - as Eagleman explains, we could feed any data source we wanted into the vest, as long as we have access to it in some way. From invisible radiation sources to stock prices and Twitter trends, we could 'jack' these information channels directly into our brains via augmented devices - in this case a vest, but the possibilities go much further than that - in order to expand our umwelt beyond our current limitations.

Link: Kickstarter: Vest. A Sensory Substitution Neuroscience Project

Go Home Reality, You're Drunk

Horizontal Line Optical Illusion

The horizontal lines in this image are all straight, and parallel.

Go home reality, you're drunk.

(via @Sci_Phile)

News Briefs 09-09-2014

Darklore Volume 8 is now available!

Quote of the Day:

I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details.

Albert Einstein

Science and Sacraments: Documentary on Psychedelic Research and Mystical Experiences

After many decades of being a forbidden topic, research into psychedelic experiences and their possibly beneficial effects is once again blooming. For a fantastic exploration of the topic, check out the documentary Science and Sacraments (embedded above) which "surveys the history of psychedelic research and the current renaissance, focusing on the potential to enhance insight and creativity, foster psychological healing and growth, and catalyze spiritual awakening".

You can grab a hard copy of the documentary on DVD from the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

(via Neurosoup)

News Briefs 08-09-2014

Fresh Fortean freakishness and futile futurism:

Thanks to Cat, John and Rick for links

Quote of the Day:

Sad species. Poor Owl.

Noam Chomski

Believing in Fiction

This article is excerpted from Darklore Volume 8, which is now available for sale from Amazon US and Amazon UK. The Darklore anthology series features the best writing and research on paranormal, Fortean and hidden history topics, by the most respected names in the field: Robert Schoch, Nick Redfern, Loren Coleman, Robert Bauval and Daniel Pinchbeck, to name just a few. Darklore's aim is to support quality researchers, so it makes sense to support Darklore. For more information on the series (including more free sample articles), visit the Darklore website.

Stained Glass Yoda, by Chris Butler

Believing in Fiction

The Rise of Hyper-Real Religion by Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent

 


"What is real? How do you define real?" – Morpheus, in The Matrix

"Television is reality, and reality is less than television." - Dr. Brian O’Blivion, in Videodrome

Ever since the advent of modern mass communication and the resulting wide dissemination of popular culture, the nature and practice of religious belief has undergone a considerable shift. Especially over the last fifty years, there has been an increasing tendency for pop culture to directly figure into the manifestation of belief: the older religious faiths have either had to partly embrace, or strenuously oppose, the deepening influence of books, comics, cinema, television and pop music. And, beyond this, new religious beliefs have arisen that happily partake of these media – even to the point of entire belief systems arising that make no claim to any historical origin.

There are new gods in the world – and and they are being born from pure fiction.

This is something that – as a lifelong fanboy of the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres and an exponent of a often pop-culturederived occultism for nearly as long – is no shock to me. What did surprise me, however, was discovering that there is a growing area of sociological study of these beliefs... an academic realm which not only seeks to understand these developments, but also provides a useful perspective on modern belief for both the Fortean and the occult practitioner.

I first learned about this area of study from a 2007 interview on the excellent religion and pop culture focussed website Theofantastique with the Australian sociologist Dr. Adam Possamai,1 in which he talks about his research into what he has termed ‘hyper-real religion’.2 Fascinated, I acquired his introductory text to the concept, Religion And Popular Culture: A Hyper-Real Testament3 and, later, the mammoth 2012 collection of research and essays on the subject which he edited, Handbook of Hyper-Real Religions.4 The term ‘hyper-real’ itself draws on the work of ... Read More »

Obamahenge: US President Visits Stonehenge

Obama Stonehenge Illuminati

"Yep, this site is perfect for the next Bilderberg BBQ!"

Post your own satirical captions below!

Via National Geographic.

Have You Seen This Lost Wormhole?

Please notify your nearest Timelord if found.

Art by Michael Kleinman, via Laughing Squid.