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This is from the blog Dreams of Space, which collects non-fiction children’s books about spaceflight from mid last century.

Look, there’s a cosmic ray room. Cosmic rays are super high energy particles from space hitting the earth. When they hit the atmosphere, they explode into other smaller particles and release light.

So when the astronauts went to the moon, they saw flashes of light. And it’s a problem for astronauts on the space station because it prevents them sleeping. Now I always thought that this was cosmic rays hitting the retina at the back of the eye.

But it’s not! It turns out that it’s cosmic rays hitting the visual cortex, the bit of your brain responsible for interpreting visual signals. Direct stimulation of the brain from space! [Read more about retinal flashes.]_

That’s pretty cool. Truth is stranger than fiction, and all that.

[Image source: Adventures in Space (1955), Dreams of Space.]

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March 28, 2012

Botworld is a talk on domestic artificial intelligence, from February 2011.