The Lizard of Oz: The Mayhem of Monsters from the Id
Friday/September/25 2009 Filed in: Science / Technology
The Brain Within the Brain
Dr. David Diamond, professor of molecular physiology at the University of South Carolina, suggests that within our brain, beneath our cerebellum and medula oblongata, there exists the basal ganglia, a lizard brain barely evolved from its Jurassic beginnings.
Who's Zoomin' Who?
The Washington Post reports that this lizard brain may be responsible for heart-wrenching and horrific tragedies of judgement and behavior. But maybe the workings of the basal ganglia are something that we experience on a regular basis.
And perhaps many of what we've come to call senior moments are actually very darkly different from what we've been led to believe. The Lizard Brain, scientists believe, actually takes control when the conscious parts of our brain are stressed and overstimulated.
It's the Lizard that's actually driving the car while you're chatting on your cellphone in rush hour traffic. And it's the Lizard that puts your keys where you can't find them.
This all gets very complicated when you take into account the work that scientist Bin He is doing at the University of Minnesota. Scientist He believes that he's mapped the brain in such a way that he can identify the sub-atomic volt signals that are the manifestations of thoughts.
Consider that for a moment. He (proper name or pronoun) has discovered a quantum terra nova that exists somewhere between the qualitative consciousness and the quantitative nervous system that animates us.
He has gone so far as to concoct a brain interface that allows your thoughts to control the computer-simulated flight of a helicopter. And we thought Project Natal was amazing!
The bioengineering possibilites of Bin He's work are staggering. He and others in this field are exploring the frontiers of the unimaginable. Since the dawn of humankind, the brain has had dominion over only the musculature of the body itself. Tools and machinery were always a step removed.
But if our thoughts could guide the flight of real helicopters, not just computerized versions, then man and machine bond as never before.
This is all well and good when we think about that conscious, deliberate, hard-working, industrious part of the brain. But what about that pesky Lizard part? What happens if, or better said when, the autonomic Lizard Brain gets the keys to Bin He's magic machine?
Monsters From the Id
The 1956 sci-fi film Forbidden Planet was all about that. The movie -- one all Star Trek fans should see -- tells the story of what happens when Earth astronauts discover, among the ruins of an alien civilization on an uninhabited planet, the next generation of Bin He's mind machine.
When the astronauts experiment with the device they find themselves under attack from a creature they horrifyingly learn is the manifestation of their own fears and jealousies.
Sometimes you get the Lizard and sometimes the Lizard gets you...
Apocalypzia Bonus: Forbidden Planet Clip
Forbidden Planet was inspired by Shakespeare's play The Tempest. It stars Walter Pidgeon and a very young, and very serious, Leslie Nielsen.
Learn more information about the alien Krell version of the Bin He's innovation at timecode 4:30.