The feeling of being may be just that — a feeling

“I seem, like everything else, to be a center, a sort of vortex, at which the whole energy of the universe realizes itself… A sort of aperture, through which the whole universe is conscious of itself.”
— Alan Watts

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Lia Koltyrina/Shutterstock

For too long consciousness has been contemplated by philosophers in a domain disconnected from physical reality. Over the last century or two biology has gotten closer and closer to the study of consciousness. With the rise of neuroscience and the discovery of genetics it has become more important than ever for scientists to be philosophers and vice versa. But philosophy and…


As any neuroscientist will tell you, the brain is way more complicated than Elon Musk claims it is

When I first heard about Neuralink, Elon Musk’s brain-to-computer interface company, I was immediately skeptical. Even the most powerful computers come nowhere near the miraculous complexity of the brain. And the most brilliant neuroscientists lack a full picture of precisely how a neuron fires or what all those other brain cells are really doing. Since Musk doesn’t seem to have a handle on biology, I seriously doubted that Neuralink could amount to anything substantive.

Image for post
Image for post
This tweet aged well. Does he not understand statistics, biology, or both?

Well, it turns out my hunch was right. In late August 2020, the company revealed a working prototype of its… uh… brain-to-computer interface? In the following…


The relationship between biology and environments creates the problems in society

Image for post
Image for post
Image Credit: Sunday Post

In 2020, the rallying cry of Black Lives Matter is resounding around the world, and conversations about systemic racism are happening everywhere. But there’s one topic that is still considered taboo when it comes to race: nature versus nurture.


“Only that which changes remains true” — Carl Jung

Image for post
Image for post
Image Credit: Imgur

A ray of light streams through a partially concealed window as I stare intently. Inside the sunbeam swims a virtual sea of minuscule objects — dust particles meandering haphazardly through the air; millions of tiny motes guided by invisible currents that create a choreographed dance. Collective motion emerges from a mass of individual ebbs and flows, and even the slightest movement on my part imposes a perceptible influence over the course of the dance. I swing my hand through the light beam, a movement that creates a larger disruption of the currents. My disturbance quickly subsides and the congregation of…


Can unrestricted cell growth help our neurons regenerate after traumatic damage?

Image for post
Image for post
Image Credit: pxfuel

As a graduate student, I chose a mentor who was very passionate about curing spinal cord injury. He had been in a terrible car accident when he was a kid in which he was thrown from the car, miraculously unharmed. The rest of his family wasn’t so lucky — his sister was killed and his mom was permanently crippled. From that day forward he made it his life’s mission to cure his mother’s impairment. He became a world-class researcher, dedicated to understanding the molecular mechanisms of spinal cord regeneration.

He wanted to discover everything about the way that brain cells…


Prion-like features may contribute to the transmissibility of COVID-19

Summary

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is significantly more contagious than the seasonal flu, and a preprint from the Human Microbiology Institute of New York may explain why. In this unpublished study, the authors examined the proteomic structure of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with computer modeling. They discovered that, unlike other closely related coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-2 contains prion-like domains in its receptor-binding spike proteins. These prion-like domains may contribute to a nearly 20-fold increase in affinity for the protein receptor found in human cells, ACE2. This unique structural element may contribute to the human-to-human communicability of COVID-19. So what are prions…


Advice on how to deal with forced homeschooling

Image for post
Image for post
Image Credit: Unsplash

How can parents leverage the positive outcomes of non-traditional school in a world of forced homeschooling?

The traditional method of mandatory school attendance in the United States is no more than 150 years old. The options before that were private tutoring or homeschooling. Today, public schools have become so entrenched in our culture that the majority of parents don’t think there are viable alternatives to conventional schools. But school closures caused by Coronavirus Disease threaten to change that perception. Whether they realize it or not, parents the world over are now forced to run makeshift homeschools. And, given the unpredictable…


His tenure as mayor of a city with black residents is his only weakness

Image for post
Image for post
Image Credit: Lucy Hewitt, NPR

Up until recently, (former) Mayor Pete Buttigieg was a practically unknown figure in national politics. But the bungled Iowa Caucuses of 2020 have catapulted him to the forefront of the Democratic primary. For that reason, Buttigieg was suddenly a threat to the other candidates at the 2020 Democratic debate in New Hampshire. For those of us who have been paying attention to him since early 2019, his rise to the top is not surprising. But everyone else seems to be taken off-guard by the brilliant young newcomer.

Buttigieg has faced his fair share of criticism in previous debates, and he…


We are tiny and massive in the grand scheme of the universe

There is always a bigger view. Whatever the situations and challenges we are facing, there is always a frame of reference that can provide us with some perspective. In a mindfulness practice, the always accessible bigger view is our ability to just be aware, to know. Next time you find a difficult emotion arising in your mind, bring your awareness to that experience. The part of yourself that knows the difficult emotion is not itself difficult. If you practice taking the bigger view, the more space you’ll give yourself to deal with challenges as they arise.
Mindfulness Everywhere

Take A Bigger View

Use this principle of mindfulness to find awareness.

Image for post
Image for post
Image Credit: The Conversation

I’ve…


A video derived from the content of this article.

Your body requires viruses, but viruses don’t always require a body

Image for post
Image for post
Viruses use cellular mechanisms of transcription and translation (turning DNA to RNA and RNA to proteins) to replicate themselves and infect all kinds of living things. Image Credit: Arizona State University

Viruses are amazing molecular machines that are much tinier than even the smallest cells. We often think of viruses like the flu, chickenpox, or herpes as “external” invaders, but viruses are more inherently associated with human life than we often realize. Even after recovering from an infection there will always be a piece of that virus encoded within your DNA (depending on the type of virus). Approximately 8% of the human genome is made up of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), which are viral gene sequences that have become a permanent part of…

Ben Callif

Author of Organumics: An Epigenetic Re-Framing of Consciousness, Life, and Evolution.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store