Nature Future Conditional

Guest post by Jeremy R Butler: the story behind the story

This month’s Futures story in Nature Physics is A brief history of human intelligence by Jeremy R Butler. Jeremy first appeared in Futures with his tale No fury like a woman cold-called, a rare piece for Futures in that it was all written as dialogue. Here Jeremy takes some time out to explain what inspired his latest story.

Writing A brief history of human intelligence

There must be cardiologists that daydream about seven-chambered hearts, or orthopaedic surgeons that long to set a fractured carapace instead of a femur. As a psychiatrist, there are many days I would love to ply my trade on something other than humans.

A brief history of human intelligence takes that wish to the extreme — consciousness and thought existing anywhere and everywhere. A universe of potential friends and philosophers and creators. What could be better? Or perhaps, worse?

The story is my homage to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the funniest book ever written. I indulged my wackiest ideas the way I imagined Douglas Adams did 35 years ago. It was all plain silliness.

That was, until three weeks ago. When Rosetta and its probe Philae approached comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, headlines declared it: Comets Sing! Suddenly a tarantella is not so far off. 

Perhaps there is a little bit of prescience in this piece.

And if that’s the case, then we are doomed.


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