The human brain is composed of around 88 billion neurons, with each neuron connecting to about 10,000 other neurons. Consciousness, as psychologist Axel Cleeremans puts it, is one of the most significant problems of the 21st century. “It really remains a mystery how the biological activity of the brain produces minds,” explains Cleermans.
In episode three of The Most Unknown, dark matter physicist Davide D’Angelo travels to Belgium to explore unusual consciousness experiments at Axel Cleeremans’s lab. In the lab, researchers use thought-controlled robotic limbs—similar to the prosthetic limbs used by amputees—as a window into answering the enduring, perhaps unanswerable human question: What is Consciousness?
In the over two-decades-long search for dark matter, scientists so far have come up short. In recent years though, construction of new experiments and upgrades to already existing detectors are giving new hope that we’re closer than ever to understanding dark matter.
One of those new efforts is SABRE, an international collaboration that will house multiple detectors working in tandem in the southern and northern hemispheres: two at Italy’s Gran Sasso National Laboratory, and another at an underground lab in an Australian gold mine.
In episode two of The Most Unknown, Motherboard travels to Gran Sasso National Laboratory with physicist Davide D’Angelo and geomicrobiologist Jennifer Macalady to get an early look at SABRE’s latest phase of development.
In episode one of The Most Unknown, microbiologist Jennifer Macalady, along with a team of divers, spelunk through Italy’s water-rich Frasassi Caves to search for mysterious microbes that could hold clues to the origins of life on Earth.
For the past 20 years, Macalady and her team have rappelled through Frasassi’s immense chambers to solve what’s perplexed scientists since the caves were discovered: How does life thrive in Frasassi’s depths, and where does it come from?
“We’re slowly creeping toward understanding,” Macalady explains. “But we’re sort of toward the beginning.”