Down and up in a cat, dried plasma, animalistic us, snot useful

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has four segments. Here are bits of each of them: A sick experiment —The phrase “what goes up must come down” isn’t obviously relevant to the insides of a cat. The countervailing “what goes down must come up” is, when that cat has swallowed something of dubious […]

The cat-flap as a psychoanalytic metaphor

Stefano Bolognini, who is president of the International Psychoanalytical Association explores the usefulness of the cat-flap as a psychoanalytic metaphor in his book ‘Secret Passages : The Theory and Technique of Interpsychic Relations’ (2011 – Routledge). The book is reviewed by Professor Cordelia Schmidt Hellerau in an essay entitled ‘SECRET PASSAGES:SOPHISTICATING THE CAT-FLAP’ (in: Psychoanalytic […]

Cosmologists and their metaphors: Follicly-Challenged Stars

People who theorize about the physics of the cosmos looooove, some of them, to come up with metaphors that extend the metaphors that other cosmologists came up with. This new paper shows how that’s done: “Relating Follicly-Challenged Compact Stars to Bald Black Holes,” Kent Yagi and Nicolas Yunes, arXiv:1502.04131, February 13, 2015. (Thanks to Simon Morris […]

A metaphor for fMRI studies of thought?

A new study contains a poetical phrase that maybe, just maybe, is a metaphor for the severe difficulty and beauty of a great scientific quest: learning how the heck the brain manages to think. Many brain scientists use a complex technology called  “fMRI” (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to make rough pictures of activity (many sorts of […]

What is theoretical research? A perplexing read.

Read this passage from “Two Lines of Sight and An Unexpected Connection: The Art of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison” by Arlene Raven (published in High Performance magazine, Winter 1987). Maybe you won’t find it confusing, maybe: The work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison [pictured here] consists of deceptively simple solutions to complex ecological problems. Their […]