Jul 25, 2013

Historical Fiction

In the backstory of Exode, humans who were born on other worlds have been visiting Earth for thousands of years. However, the traffic is two-way, so there have also been some natives of Earth who were taken off of our planet and sent away to other worlds.

I previously mentioned the idea that for Exode I want there to be a long and interesting history of Earthlings who have been taken off of Earth and who lived out their lives at remote locations scattered around the galaxy such as the Interventionist base at  Lendhalen.

Imagine the primitive state of technology on Earth in 1512, just 500 years before the arrival of a Buld spaceship. It is fun to imagine an Interventionist agent on Earth who might try to help King Henry advance the art of sailing ships.

The early 1500s is when the base at Lendhalen is established. When Parthney is learning the history of Earth, he discovers that Jane Grey lived many decades as a resident at Lendhalen. Parthney reads the writings Jane that were left behind in the Lendhalen computer system. For Chapter Three of Exode, I'm trying to craft her comments on the idea that the people of Earth must eventually discover that spacecraft have long visited Earth.

Miners of Earth
Thomas grows up with some telepathic ability. In particular, he is able to deduce the existence of Interventionists and Overseers from his mother's thought patterns. He writes the science fiction novel "Miners of Earth" which includes the story of its two main characters, Mary and Malin, being teleported off of Earth.

Before leaving Earth, they must investigate an historical mystery. I'm trying to craft the idea of an ancient gold mine in the Alps that is visited by Mary and Malin. They must track down some lost evidence of a struggle between two Clyte factions that have long struggled over the fate of humanity.

YouTube History
Google assimilated YouTube in 2006. I started experimenting with YouTube in 2007. This was one of the first videos that I put on YouTube:

Mnemtronium is a science fiction story set in an imagined future after dark matter is fully understood. It is discovered that dark matter provides a way to account for some forms of extra-sensory perception.

Image credits: for the fanciful cover image shown to the right on this page I used some "free to use and modify" images that came up in Google search results; The Flying Man by Mahul Milan Mukherjee,  Tacoma Glass Museum by Wonderlane.

Davuk Canadist pressed himself into the corner of the elevator and imagined that he was alone on a high ridge in the Adynyamas. Davuk fixed his gaze on featureless region of the elevator door and allowed a calming blanket of blue to dominate his visual cortex. He imagined a dry wind and the cries of a Wedge-tail as it hunted.

The door slid open and the elevator said, "Floor 45. Neurosurgical rehabilitation." An orderly pushed her patient's wheel chair out of the elevator and looked back over her shoulder at Davuk. Davuk was very familiar with "that look". Half of his ancestors were indigenous Australians and half were northern Europeans. His features were an unusual mix of the two and he often drew double takes from strangers. For a moment he let himself sink into her dark eyes. Davuk imagined that she despised him for the way he had recoiled at the sight of the patient in the wheel chair.

As the elevator doors closed he watched her guide the wheel chair down the hallway. Davuk forced himself to think of something other than his shame at his deep dislike for any hint of deformity and illness. The orderly's name came back to his thoughts. He had seen it on her ID: Katelin Escobar. He thought again of the girl he had grown up with, a brown eyed waif who was named Katyin. She had come to town to live with foster parents, then had left after a year. That girl had been the first person besides his uncle with whom Davuk had felt an immediate and natural connection. As a boy Davuk had taken his close relationship with his uncle for granted, but it was Katyin who had first opened his awareness to the idea that there might be a whole group of people who were on his "wavelength". When Katyin moved away, Davuk had learned that their connection, once established, was not disrupted by distance.

Davuk was knocked from his childhood memories and noticed that the elevator was lecturing him. "Attention! This is floor 64. You selected this floor. Please exit or make another selection. Do you need assistance? Are you lost? Floor 64, Memory Recovery Unit." Davuk silently cursed the person who had programmed this system to get rude and pushy when people did not quickly enter and exit the elevator.

Davuk grumbled, "Open door." After the door slid open he walked out of the elevator and was greeted by the receptionist for the Memory Recovery Unit. "Welcome to the DeMoore Memory Recovery Unit." The machine asked, "Do you have an appointment?"

Davuk replied, "You made my appointment with Dr. Morrisen. I'm Davuk Canadist." Davuk leaned over the top of the receptionist and saw the details of his appointment flash up on the data surface. The receptionist made him insert his ID into a slot and then it took his palm scan. The receptionist then rolled into a waiting room. Davuk followed the machine and made himself comfortable in a chair to wait until the scheduled appointment time.

The 64th floor seemed essentially deserted, and the receptionist waited near Davuk, trying to make small talk. Davuk was not one to adopt practices like making meaningless chit chat with machines. He ordered the receptionist to go away. He let his biofeedback controls come online and immersed himself in the internet. He was just starting an online search for Katyin, but Dr. Morrisen walked into the waiting room. Davuk guessed that she was about 50, dark hair starting to gray. She wore a stylish lab coat with plastic data screens on each forearm. Her "uniform" presented an interesting mix of messages, half a proclamation of, "I'm 24/7 on call," and half a reminder of, "I'm human, too".

"Davuk? Davuk Canadist? I'm Dr. Morrisen." She took his hand as soon as he rose from his seat and kept hold of it, warmly gripping it with both of her hands.

Rising to his feet, Davuk was surprised to see that she was as tall as he was. As his data feeds cleared from his glasses, Davuk found himself looking straight into her calm blue eyes. "Hello, Dr. Morrisen."

Davuk endured the strange sensation of Dr. Morrisen making perfectly polite small talk while she closely examined his features. He then replied to a string of questions: his trip to Faridabad had been uneventful, he had slept well and was ready to get to work on the research project, and no, he did not have a fear of needles.

While they talked, she had led him by the hand through one door, down a short hallway and into her office through another door that had her name on it. Once they were in her office she finally released his hand so that she could examine and then picked up a folder off of her desk. She turned back towards him and handed him the folder. "There are two versions of the consent form. One for oral and one for intramuscular administration of the tepfromedrapine."

Davuk was very much aware of the fact that his participation in this clinical research project would involve use of the drug tepfromedrapine. He was not comfortable with the idea of altering his brain's activity with drugs, but he had decided that participation in this research project was more important than protecting the pristine environment of his synapses.

They sat down on a couch and spent the next hour and a half going through every line of the consent form for the research study. Dr. Morrisen explained in detail the role of the drug. "Tepfromedrapine blocks the natural inhibitors of one of our key memory systems. Holmes and Nygn won the Nobel prize in '85 for their work showing that tepfromedrapine enhances the brain's ability to bring the activity of our hibaton receptors into conscious awareness."

Davuk had never studied neurobiology or particle physics and only knew as much as the average "man on the street" about brain function and dark matter. He was vaguely aware that it had been discovered that the human brain has receptor cells that can interact with and detect the hibaton form of dark matter. He asked, "Why do our brains have this ability to sense hibatons and yet not make use of it?"

Dr. Morrisen chuckled and tossed the consent form down on the coffee table next to the couch. She leaned back and stared off across the room. "That's one of the hardest things to believe about the brain. Our consciousness is trapped in a tiny part of our brain's neural circuits. Consciousness is to the unconscious part of brain activity like conventional matter is to dark matter. Just as most matter is dark matter, most brain activity takes place outside of our conscious awareness. If we were conscious of everything in our brains we would be hopelessly confused and baffled by what our brains are doing. When we grow up, we learn to ignore and filter out the parts of our brain activity that do not closely match the contents of our physical environment. As soon as babies start playing with their rattles, their brains are sorting out what to pay attention to. Our brains decide to keep information about their hibaton receptors out of our conscious awareness because none of our other senses can confirm that hibatons exist."

Davuk was impressed by the sense of wonder in Dr. Morrisen's voice as she described the brain and discussed the miracle of how it creates conscious experience. It was clear that she was pasionate about her studies of the brain. "But saying we have these hibaton receptors that we are unaware of is like.....well, it seems as absurd as it would be to have eyes but not be conscious of what we can see."

Dr. Morrisen nodded. "Yes, exactly." She looked back at Davuk and smiled. "Most of what our eyes tell our brain never enters into our conscious awareness. Some people who "go blind" retain some of their unconscious vision and have what is called "blind sight". We can demonstrate that they can "see", they can respond to visual stimuli, but they are not aware of what they see."

Davuk found that hard to believe. "That's spooky."

Dr. Morrisen agreed. "The human mind is very spooky; it fools us into thinking we know what is going on. Our brains produce a virtual reality for us to live in and we never question that reality. Well, almost never. You could say that the history of neuroscience is the story of discovering how to escape from our dependence on our brains. Our instruments and probes are now allowing us to objectively measure what our brains are capable of....we no longer have to accept the misleading story that our brains tell us."

"And this drug, tepfromedrapine, it is one of these probes?"

"Yes, a very useful probe of the activity of our hibaton receptors. The reports of research subjects such as yourself are allowing us to make correlations between patterns of brain activity and conscious perception of hibatons. We can now map the neural networks that function as the hibaton sensory system."

Davuk was dubious. If everyone in the world only had blind sight, would biologists be able to make sense of the visual system? "It seems like you need to also know something about the source of the hibatons."

Dr. Morrisen smiled broadly. Most patients did not make that conceptual leap. "Yes, that is absolutely correct. And that is why this research project is in collaboration with the physics department. We depend on their ability to generate controlled hibaton signals."

Davuk asked, "But aren't the dark matter generators gigantic devices on the Moon?"

Dr. Morrisen replied, "The original ones were. The one we use is the largest one yet operational, and it is located at the asteroid 4239 Blaise. Of course, it does not matter where the hibaton source is located. Distance does not have much meaning for dark matter."

Davuk nodded. "So they say. So you have said. Still, it seems magical. Now, let me try to put this into my own words so we know that I understand. You will be using my brain as a detector of the hibaton signal coming from that asteroid. And my ability to consciously experience that signal will be induced by the tepfromedrapine. And I have to sign this release saying that I know there is a chance that the tepfromedrapine might have side effects such as hallucinations and mental illness."

Dr. Morrisen nodded. "Yes, that is the situation. Although there is no reason to suspect that the risk of induced mental illness is large. We suspect that the risk is greater than zero because drugs related to tepfromedrapine are now routinely used to treat some forms of mental illness. Those treatments use drugs that have the opposite effect on the brain compared to what tepfromedrapine does. In other words, some forms of mental illness seem to involve hyperactivity of the hibaton receptor system, and during this research project we will be inducing enhanced activity in that system."

Davuk asked, "And as far as you know, inducing hyperactivity of the hibaton receptor system is the only way to accomplish this research?"

"Yes, it is the only method we know of to make people consciously aware of the existence of their hibaton receptors. We rely on volunteers such as you to take this risk...a risk that we really have no way of estimating. Well, you could say that this research is our first chance to make such an estimate in humans. Of course, we have done similar work with laboratory animals and seen no problems."

Dr. Morrisen asked, "Are you ready to sign the consent form?"

Davuk shook his head. "I have one more question. What if there are some people who have an unusual reaction to tepfromedrapine. Or, rather, what if some people have an unusual hibaton receptor system and that means they will have an unusual reaction to the tepfromedrapine?"

Dr. Morrisen frowned. "I'm not sure what you are getting at."

Davuk tried to explain. "Dr. Morrisen, you seem to habitually talk about "the brain" as if it were a computer chip. I suspect each person has a unique brain. I like to imagine that I have a unique brain. What if my brain does not have the expected response to tepfromedrapine?"

Dr. Morrisen took a deep breath. "I assure you that you are correct: even genetically identical twins each have unique brains. It is possible that you will have an unusual reaction to the tepfromedrapine. Remember, we went through the list of known side effects-"

Davuk interrupted. "I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about something totally new. That is possible, right? I might show a reaction to this drug that you have never seen before?"

Dr. Morrisen was startled by forcefulness with which Davuk asserted this possibility. "Of course. But you suggest this possibility almost as if you expect the unexpected."

Davuk nodded and held out one hand, palm side up. "Yes, Dr. Morrisen, that is the way I go into things. In my experience, I am not like other people."

Dr. Morrisen got up from the couch and went to her desk. She sat on the edge of the desk and studied the data display on her right arm. "I recall that your medical history mentions your past participation in ESP research. Is that what you are getting at?"

Davuk also got up, a bit stiff from sitting half-turned and hunched over the consent form for so long. "Well, don't you think that is relevant doctor? What if this hibaton sensory system you are trying to study is the basis for ESP? What if a person like myself is particularly sensitive to hibatons? What if that accounts for the feeling I have had all my life, a feeling that I am somehow connected to certain other people? Maybe we should expect the possibility that I will have an unusual response to tepfromedrapine."

Dr. Morrisen was now deeply involved with her data display and briefly held up a finger towards Davuk, silently requesting a short pause in their conversation. Without looking up she said, "I'm modifying my next appointment." Then, while still working at the controls of her personal communications system, she explained, "I'm meeting two of my collaborators for dinner this evening, and they would be interested in what you just told me. As would one of the other research subjects." She looked at Davuk and asked, "Are you available to join us for dinner? We will be able to continue this discussion about ESP and hibatons with Dr. Taloqua."

The name "Taloqua" seemed familiar to Davuk. He had carefully read about the research project, but did not remember a "Dr. Taloqua" as one of the investigators. "Is Dr. Taloqua a dark matter physicist?"

Dr. Morrisen chuckled. "No, no. Dr. Taloqua is a research subject. She is a doctor of psychiatry and had done research on memory recovery."

Davuk thought he could now understand why the name "Taloqua" had seemed familiar. He asked, "Is this the Dr. Taloqua who does past life research?"

Dr. Morrisen nodded. "Yes, do you know her?"

Davuk shook his head. "No, but I know a little about her work. I think she claims to be the most published past life debunker ever. How did she come to be in this study?"

Dr. Morrisen finished working the data console on her sleeve. She took off her lab coat and hung it on hook in the corner of her office. "I did her intake interview about a week ago, so I know that she comes to this project along a path not too different from that taken by yourself. However, I never asked her any personal questions beyond those of the study intake forms. Do join us for dinner and you can ask her."

Davuk rotated his shoulders and tried to gauge the depth of his fatigue. He had been planning to return to the hotel for dinner and try to get to bed early, but the dinner invitation seemed an intriguing opportunity. "Very well, I accept your invitation."

They dined at a table for five on the upper floor of the Campus Tower Hotel. The restaurant had no windows, but the walls were video displays that showed the adjacent Dock District no matter which direction you looked. Davuk could look between Dr. Taloqua and Dr. Morrisen and watch the lights of ships on the Bay.

To Davuk's left was Dr. Famatalan, a particle physicist. To the right, Dr. Wadd, a cosmologist. After the introductions, Dr. Wadd had suggested that they drop the use of titles and have an informal chat over dinner. Dr. Wadd looked like she was old enough to be a great grandmother, but she had clear, darting eyes that burned with the fires of a curious child. She said, "Please call me Nasha."

Dr. Famatalan pretended to offer Davuk needed male camaraderie, "When Nasha speaks of informal chat you should brace for excruciatingly erudite discourses on obscure proofs of theorems in theoretical physics. Come sit next to me lad, and I'll translate. I'll spare you my first name- my friends call me Allatin."

Dr. Morrisen introduced Davuk to Dr. Taloqua, referring to her as Maataa Taloqua. Allatin took Davuk by the arm and led the way to their table. "Don't bother to ask, Dr. Morrisen has no first name. Have you looked at her publications? Even there she is just L. F. Morrisen. For a time I called her "Elf", but then I realized she likes that nickname."

They spoke drink orders into the table and then Dr. Morrisen commented, "Allatin goes out of his way to antagonize people. My first name is very silly and it would delight a misanthrope like Allatin to learn my name and make fun of it. I realized this danger at an early age and never published my name. Allatin is frustrated by my secrecy and he hates calling me "Morrisen". Really, the one name is adequate."

Dr. Wadd put a hand over Davuk's hand. "Ignore them, they are like a foolish married couple. We had dinner with Maataa Taloqua last week and learned all of her secrets. Her first name is Berta, but she prefers to be called "Maataa". So, now, this week we will learn your secrets. Already you favorably impress me by not playing any of these silly games with your name."

Davuk let his fingers interdigitate with Nasha's and for a moment felt that he may have found in her another person who was on his mental "wavelength". But then the sensation faded and he thought again of his childhood friend, Katyin. Memories from his youth flooded back, but he forced them away and concentrated on saying something before his silence grew too long and uncomfortable. "I suppose I've always been puzzled enough by the basic facts of my life that I have not had to turn simple names into games."

Allatin chuckled. "Nasha does not accept that lying is a popular language game. Its a normal social interaction to test what you can lie about and get away with. Some of us lie about our names because it allows us to get in a quick lie even while being introduced to strangers."

Maataa Taloqua spoke quietly, but with force, "Davuk is lucky. He leads a life that is mysterious enough not to need the kinds of silly games others turn to in attempts to fight boredom."

Allatin shook his head, "What do you mean? Belief in ESP is not new, not mysterious. Read Dr. Morrisen's mind and tell us her first name, then I might listen to your stories about ESP. And you, Maataa Taloqua, die and come back from the dead....then I might believe in your past-lives nonsense."

Nasha squeezed Davuk's hand. "Ignore him. He denies the reality of anything not published in a physics journal. Morrisen says your ESP beliefs led you to participate in our little science project. Do you read minds?"

Davuk shrugged. "Today when Dr. Morrisen was talking about the unconscious, I had the thought that maybe everyone has ESP, but it remains in the unconscious. Maybe some of us find it easier to bring the ESP part of brain activity into consciousness."

Allatin skoffed. "Maybe some find it easier to play games with self-deception rather than lying to others."

Maataa Taloqua assured Davuk, "He was just as rude to me last week. Allatin is a skeptic. He is afraid to admit that the world might be more complicated than the mechanical system his science of physics studies."

Allatin defended himself. "I'm ready to believe evidence."

Dr. Morrisen said, "Davuk seems to think that maybe our research on hibatons can provide evidence that the brain powers a communication channel beyond the usual senses."

Allatin shrugged. "We know that is the case. Most large brained animals use the Sun's stream of hibatons as a source of orienting information, a beacon. Human worship of the Sun may be coupled to emotional responses triggered by hibaton receptors in the brain."

Maataa Taloqua began to ask a question but a pair of robots arrived with their drinks. After they were done serving, she said, "What about the soul? Could hibatons propagate our thoughts into a future without our carbon-based bodies, the future time after our deaths? Could hibatons bring us information and knowledge of past lives?"

"Bah!" Allatin threw up his hands in disgust. "How about some evidence? It is far easier for me to imagine that you just think you are experiencing past lives. What if Davuk just imagines that he experiences extra-sensory communication when in reality his own brain is playing tricks on him?"

Dr. Morrisen suggested, "But what if hibatons are what causes some people to believe in life after death and communication between minds by channels beyond the usual senses? Then maybe it is to be expected that participants in our study of how brains detect hibatons will be more likely to report contact with other minds."

Nasha asked, "But how would that work? How could anything as complex as memories and thoughts be sent between two brains in the form of hibatons? And what could send a signal of any kind after a brain dies?"

Dr. Morrisen added, "And how could we produce evidence for such signals if they did exist"?

Davuk tasted his drink and wondered about hibatons and the sense of connectedness he continued to feel. He let go of Nasha's hand and looked out at the Bay. His gaze shifted to Maataa Taloqua and he suddenly felt sure that he was feeling a link to her. Maataa Taloqua stared at him and a small grin appeared on her face.

Davuk had long imagined the possibility of finding someone else who not only was on his mental "wavelength" but also was able to sense that linkage in the same way. Davuk restrained his desire to confirm that Dr. Taloqua also felt the connection between them, but with a skeptic like Dr. Famatalan present, it just was not worth getting into.

Davuk turned his attention to the menu and placed an order for his dinner.

Dr. Wadd and Dr. Morrisen described a study they had once done together attempting to demonstrate that human thoughts could influence the activity of a quantum computer. The results were all negative, but that research had been done before the brain's hibaton receptor system was charted.

The robots returned and served them their meals. Dr. Morrisen ate a few bites then asked Davuk, "You did not answer Nasha's question; is what you experience a reading of another person's mind?"

Davuk shook his head. "I never said that I can read minds. It is not a matter of information exchange over a data channel. It is a sensation of connectedness."

Dr. Famatalan suggested, "Then we should be able to design a test that would allow us to demonstrate the existence of this connection."

Davuk shrugged. "If it were easy, I would have made such a demonstration long ago."

Dr. Famatalan noisily slammed down his fork, frowned and asked sarcastically, "And this is where you claim that you cannot make such a demonstration to skeptics because of their negative energy?"

Davuk chuckled. "No, I've never thought that there is any way to interfere with this mysterious sense of connectedness. Walls do not stop it and distance seems irrelevant. However, there is a phenomenon that I would call 'misdirection'. Sometimes when the sensation is awakened for the first time-"

Dr. Wadd interrupted, "Awakened? What does that mean? This extrasensory perception comes and goes? It is not reproducible?"

Davuk was all too familiar with the difficulty of trying to explain the "color" of an experience that others could not experience for themselves. "That's not what I said. If anything, it is a problem that the sensation is too constant. It is always there."

Dr. Taloqua asked, "Like a sound or odor that is always there? Your mind stops paying attention to it?"

Davuk asked a question of his own. "Does someone suffering from chronic pain stop feeling the pain? I suppose they just learn to live with the constant sensation of pain. For me, when this sensation of connectedness "awakens" I mean that I begin to associate it with a particular person. Imagine entering a noisy room. From outside you hear a mix of many voices. You enter the room and you can begin to associate individuals with particular voices."

Dr. Morrisen asked, "So do all of us have a unique "voice" that you can hear?"

Davuk frowned. "That was just an analogy. What I experience is not at all like a sound and it is not a matter of each person I feel connected to having a unique signal. I use the phrase 'my wavelength' because the connectedness comes to me in the same way for multiple people, like a single featureless carrier wave. I suppose you might have your own 'unique voice', but I cannot tune into your 'wavelength'. There is only a small subset of people that I feel connected to and I connect to them all in the same way."

Dr. Wadd asked, "How small is 'small'? How many people are you in contact with right now?"

Davuk replied, "I do not know. I think I have always been connected to the same small subset of humanity, but through my life I have found more and more of these people who are on my 'wavelength'. With each such contact I become more sophisticated in making 'the link", that is, identifying new acquaintances who are on my 'wavelength'. That is a learned skill, but the basic ability to feel the sensation is innate."

Dr. Morrisen began to speak, "It happen-", but then fell silent.

Dr. Famatalan was also speaking at the same time and did not even notice Dr. Morrisen. "So if we marched test subjects behind a curtain, you should be able to reproducibly tell us when one of your soul mates is on the other side, even if you cannot see or hear them."

Davuk shook his head. "Sorry, but it does not work like that. There is no directionality to this sensation of connectedness. It is just there. Everywhere."

Dr. Famatalan raised an eyebrow, "Then how do you single out individuals as being on your 'wavelength'?"

Davuk chuckled. "How do you 'single out' the people you fall in love with? It is through interacting with them. You associate a sensation of love with their being...with the patterns of behavior of particular individuals. Can you explain why you love one person and not another? I suppose these things are a matter of complex unconscious brain activity. It just happens." Davuk looked back at Dr. Morrisen. "You were saying something, Dr. Morrisen?"

Dr. Morrisen shrugged. "I have a rather personal question. I thought better of asking it in such a public conversation."

Dr. Wadd said, "I know Morrisen well enough that I think I can guess what is on her mind. She has the bad habit of getting personally involved with study participants and then remembering that she has a doctor-patient relationship to protect."

Davuk nodded. "Look, I came here -to join this study- because I want answers. I agreed to come here tonight with the hope that this could be the start of an adventure in which we will all cooperate to make discoveries. In particular, I want the honest views of each of you," he looked at Dr. Famatalan, "Even if you think I'm crazy. I do not think of myself as a patient. I'd be honored if you could all think of me as a research colleague." He looked back at Dr. Morrisen, "So please, tell me what is on your mind."

Dr. Morrisen still hesitated. Dr. Wadd said, "When we first got here, we held hands for a while, then you pulled you hand away. Then you started breathing fast and looked at Maataa Taloqua."

Dr. Morrisen added, "Davuk, you said, 'It just happens.' It happened here tonight didn't it?"

Davuk looked at Dr. Taloqua and wondered if she cared that this topic was being discussed. Dr. Taloqua said, "I've never experienced the feeling of 'connectedness' that Davuk described, but I do have what might be related experiences....usually when I dream. But what can happen to me when I am awake is.....well....a form of déjà vu in which I feel that I have known someone before.....even though we just met."

Davuk explained, "When we sat down here tonight I experienced a rapid 'awakening' of my sense of connectedness. Maataa Taloqua is 'on my wavelength' and I sensed that she also felt some kind of connection to me. I'm a bit disappointed to hear that she does not experience the connection in the same way I do. But still, this is exciting....I've never had anyone tell me that they felt some..." Not sure what word to use, Davuk paused.

Dr. Taloqua suggested, "Paranormal connection?"

Davuk nodded. "But I would not call déjà vu 'paranormal'. It has been studied by neurologists."

Dr. Taloqua shrugged. "I suppose it is a matter of degree. Most people would not call 'feeling connectedness' a paranormal phenomenon. All normal people have feelings of connectedness to others."

Dr. Famatalan added, "And it is easy for me to imagine that Davuk just fails to process these feelings of connectedness in the same way that most people do."

Dr. Morrisen held up her hands. "Here is the question we must address. How do we conduct this research project so as to maximize the chance that we might recognize connections between the brain's hibaton receptor system and any unusual sensations or paranormal experiences reported by study participants? We are using the study participants as sensitive instruments....we are relying on them to provide us with reports of their subjective experiences so that we can look for correlations between those experiences and our objective measures of brain activity. But the problem is, we," She looked at Dr. Famatalan and Dr. Wadd, "The study designers, are blind to these paranormal experiences. We have to rely on you," She looked at Davuk and Dr. Taloqua, "To make sure that we do not miss important data just because we are blind to it. You are our 'eyes'. We need you to be colleagues and help us make sure that this research is done correctly, so as not to miss anything important."

Dr. Famatalan protested, "We'll never get our results published if we include a bunch of irreproducible "feelings" and fantasies."

Davuk suggested, "If we are going to discover something new, something dramatically new in the world of science, we need to keep open minds, but not so open that we abandon proper skepticism and standards of testing evidence."

Dr. Wadd cautioned, "If we start down this road you must keep your expectations under control. If we do not manage to collect more than anectodal first-hand reports, those anecdotes will not pass peer review. You have to be prepared to walk away unsatisfied."

Davuk nodded, "Fair enough."

.....the story is under construction.....