An Interactive Play in Three Acts

How Water Thinks is a video play in which you are an actor and the director. You determine how the play unfolds based solely on your preferences for telling a story.

How sayeth me this?  In battle, my sword is as swift as my eye. Each of thy thrusts are met before by my blade. How doth my eye sail my message off to my armies afar in my hand? No ship travels so far – so fast.

What this unknown playwright conveys is the wonderment of the speed at which our brain communicates with our muscles.  Indeed, we know that the brain sends signals to our muscles at the speed of 100 meters per second. Imagine running across a football field in just one sec. Some nerve cells are meters long–think about the distance between the giraffe’s brain and its legs which must move swiftly to escape the lion on the savannah.  The only communication that has this speed over long distances in biology is electrical–the movement of ions in an aqueous environment through a cellular membrane. In this game you will integrate physics, chemistry, mathematics, and cell biology to understand this rapid signaling using nerve cells. To do this, you will start with the water and lipid environment, learn the behavior of molecules in these environments, the forces and dynamics of ion movement, the structure of nerve cell and end on the electrical signaling itself, which we call the action potential.

As with all stories in terrestrial biology, the story begins with water. There would be no life as we know it without water. Water and fat form cell membranes. Cell membranes provide the matrix  for holding protein sensors, pumps, and other implements of metabolism. They also provide the medium for propagating action potentials. Finally, the story climaxes in Act 3 with action potentials in all their glory.

The play is set in the land of biology and biology’s close neighbors; chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Like any work of art, the play is a metaphor for something greater than the story that is told. The basic narrative is about how thought emerges from the properties of water; how water creates the action potential, the mechanism by which our brains communicate with themselves and distant parts our bodies. This play is a metaphor for how Nature solves problems in general.

Find out more about How Water Thinks.

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