The Smartest Thing I Ever Saw

I was sitting on the back porch of Peter Miranda’s house in Queensland, Australia, having a few beers as we peered out towards Alice Springs a thousand miles away, across land only an Aborigine could understand.

The stars were a smear of tiny sequins across a moonless sky, but the air so crisp that new meaning was given “starlight.”

The only interruption was the area lamp that would come on for a few minutes and then turn off again, right through the evening. Each time it came on I would expect some creature to wander around the corner of the house, wondering what caused that light to come on!

Nothing ever showed up, and I finally suggested to Peter that we make our time more constructive by actually repairing his lamp.

“Seems to wurk oll raight to mye, mait. Whot makes you theenk it’s buggud?”

“Well, it comes on and nothing appears, and then it shuts off.  I would call it a short circuit except it’s too regular. You reckon it’s OK?”

He smiled. “Cum with me, mait.”

We got up and went around the corner, beer in hand, and commenced upon what came to be one of the more interesting safaris of my life.

Half way down the length of the roof and hanging from the rain gutter was the lamp in question, fully illuminating the back yard and what parts of the Outback it could reach. Nothing moved there but us.

We walked up and stood under it, out in the yard. It was a bright bulb about 4 inches in diamater with a shade that directed it’s beam. Under the lamp was a huge spider web that had somehow fixed itself in midair with anchor points to the edge of the roof and to the supporting wall underneath. It was the size of a small trampoline and looked to be positioned to capture anything falling from or flying around that light.

To one side of the web a sentinel was lurking – a brown spider the size of my palm.

Peter said, “Hold real still and don’t look at the light.  When it shuts off, watch that spider.”

Minutes passed. The lamp turned off. The spider went in to action. It climbed the web to the roof and then, as a shadow in the night, made its way down to the corner Peter and I had come around a few minutes earlier. Easily 60 feet, which for a spider must be a mile or so.

On the corner of the house and projecting out from the edge of the roof was the motion sensor which I only now noticed for the first time. The spider walked down the length of this sensor and rappelled from its tip on the web spinning from his backside to a point a foot below the end of the sensor.  He began to swing.

I swear to God.

The lamp came back on. The spider climbed his short web and back up the sensor to the roof, down the length of the gutter and back in to his web, now armed again from the attractive light of the lamp.

I was a bit creeped out by the notion that this spider was smarter than I. I have always fancied that man is the most intelligent creature on the planet, when in fact he is the third.


Categories: General | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “The Smartest Thing I Ever Saw

  1. What’s the forth?

  2. aotc

    Yeah its fascinating. If you consider the size of the spiders brain, does it seem plausible it could learn to do this if the only intelligence it had was from a brain? Reminds me of the Japanese bees that swarm all over the much larger Japanese wasp and vibrate their bodies to raise the wasps temperature just so high that it dies; hardly any bees die as they can tolerate slightly higher temperatures. Maybe evolutionary trial and error could account for this but I believe these bees first encountered the wasps only 200 years ago. Absolutely incredible when you consider their brain size..

    • My own theory, after much reflection on this, is that it actually has nothing to do with brains and bodies. It has to do with a spiritual intelligence that operates the physical aspects of an organism. I watched a friend approach a hive of bees once with a handful of sugar. The bees swarmed down and around him, covering his body with a blanket of bees – except for his nose and eyes and ears. They covered the sugar in his hand, and while they consumed it he offered me – with a smile of bees – the remainder of the sugar in the bag.

      I approached him and his bee-arm extended the bag, pouring it’s content in to my extended hand. The swarm expanded to include my body in the most amazing spiritual caress, each bee a cell in this BEE BODY that was clearly run by one central intelligence. I actually felt, as the sugar was gone and the bees – as one – released from my body, a “Thank You! from this BEE being. Astonishing.

      Be it ants or bees or spiders or whatever form of life, intelligence does not require an enclosure – and the bodies controlled by one being do not have to define the parameters of only one structure. One brain, one being is not necessarily a correct evaluation when the spirit comes in to play!

      Like a chess game, one intelligence directs all the pieces on one side of the board. And when you get REALLY good – like Fischer – you can control both sides!

      That’s my take on it, anyway!

      • aotc

        Another great story, thanks! And I think you’re right, It’s apparently impossible to reduce mind to a brain in humans; atheist neuroscientist Raymond Tallis has argued this as well as others. Philosophically there are aspects of the mind that just cannot be material (though you often get the opposite impression from the media these days). I think too that spirit is probably the answer.

      • Sapere Aude

        Mark – Your story above was a delight to read. Then the comment here on the bee swarm. I would agree with your summation. Animals and plants don’t try to “think” for an answer. They can natively send and receive communication. I have watched cattle in a field and if a cow is slightly ill you will see them go to certain areas and eat certain grasses. They have not diluted their physical sense of vibrations. Those plants with the vibratory frequency they needed are what they would eat and leave the rest.

        Much like the bee swarm. Our human bodies are made up of 50 to 70 trillion cells and they are all in tune and in communication with each other. We merely need to peel away all of the accumulation of decisions, thoughts and data which has been piled on. Then we can have a body that will naturally want to be healthy and function. Maintain some pan-determinism in the game and all of us would be walking around with giant grin’s and smiles.

        I enjoy your blog, thanks!

      • Thank you very much for your contribution here. We certainly agree that there is more going on here than meets the eye! My experience leads me to the conclusion that life is an extension of spirits at play. Some can tune in to levels of this game that lay bare whole new vistas of perception and awareness.

        One of my favorite graphic representations of this was the tail end of the movie Men in Black where generations within generations were represented consecutively, and the relative nature of existence itself was thereby exposed. Fantastic!

        I hope you have watched the THRIVE video on this blog. The first segment gets in to this notion a bit, and it’s quite fascinating.

        Thanks again for stopping by! Mark

  3. enccas

    Very, very interesting story and I am in awe.

    BTW, were you with Peter recently or long time ago? I happened to know him 6~7 years ago when I was in Brisbane. I am just curious.

  4. A great story! Thanks Mark.

    By the way, when the spider lowered himself down to get within range of the motion sensor, the verb for that is “rappelled”, not repelled as you spelt it.



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