PHD #372: Bizarro Brains
Bizarro Brains
Summary: Cameron reports in to Bannik about his findings thus far on the captured Raider brains.
Date: 05 Mar 2042 AE
Related Logs: Late Night Collaboration
Bannik Cameron 
BioChem Lab - Deck 10 - Battlestar Cerberus
Not nearly as large as it probably should be, the Navy seems to have added this area almost as an afterthought. Various machines and testing equipment line the room’s exterior, their complex functions in various states of use throughout the day and night. In the center of the room are two islands that have broad work areas and microscopes sitting at the ready. Clean testing materials, vials, and tools stand on end in metal grates in the middle. At the rear of the room is a huge fridge, its double doors locked most of the time. Beside it is another locked steel cabinet containing a variety of chemicals and compounds used for testing and comparison.
Post-Holocaust Day: #372

"Doctor Adair?" The sound precedes the light rap on the inside wall of the BioChem Lab. It's Tyr Bannik, the Cylon Specialist (in both senses) from the Deck. He has a clipboard tucked under one arm. "I heard you had your findings on those Raider samples we sent out?" He looks hopeful.

Cameron's been working in the lab a great deal these days - almost as much as he works in Sickbay. Home away from home, as it were, but at least it's a lot quieter in here and less crowded. Traditional music from Aerilon plays softly in the background as Cameron glances up from his work, fingers pausing over the keyboard in front of him as he nods and replies, "Just Cameron is fine. I'm not all that big on formalities. Come on in." There are currently no brain slices or slides upon the table, the doctor writing up a report perhaps or maybe working out an experimental design? Turning in his seat, he gives the technician a tired smile and asks, "Where do you want me to begin?"

"At the beginning, I guess," says Bannik with a shrug, lifting his shoulders in an expansive gesture. "I mean, you're the doctor, right?" He remains standing slightly awkwardly, taking his clipboard and flipping the papers on it so he can take notes. "I like the music," he adds, idly. "Reminds me of home."

"You from Aerilon?" Cameron asks with a hint of surprise, head tilting slightly to one side before he blows out a breath and picks up one of his reports to help focus his thoughts. "Right… from the beginning. Alright. First off, the organ in question is, indeed, a brain. The Raider brain is, in fact, not dissimilar from a highly functioning animal brain. Definitely not a creature of human intelligence, but highly trainable and with a high capacity to adapt and learn. On the par with, say, a dolphin." Cameron pauses for a moment, silently mourning the loss of all the lesser creatures that no one has really given much thought to in all of this. "But the brain is enhanced in a very unusual way that is decidedly neither animal nor human. Their neural fibers are made of silica. I can only assume that this is to increase their speed in processing data and responding to stimuli." There is of course much, much more, but Cameron pauses in case Bannik wishes to ask any questions along the way.

Bannik takes a deep breath and begins to scribble furiously on his paper on his clipboard, trying to process even as he tries to take it all down. "So — it's sort of like a brain but one that's made out of computer parts?" This seems to be staggering to him.

"No, no, it's organic tissue, it just contains silica. It's still a biological brain. There are no wires or chips or anything like that. Well," Cameron corrects after a moment, "there is a chip, but that's something else entirely that I'll get to shortly." Shifting in his seat, Cameron rises and asks over his shoulder as he heads toward one corner of the room, "Would you like some tea or coffee??" He pours himself a cup and continues on his report. "The rest of the Raider has pathways that are basically 'nerves and I imagine are linked into all the various mechanical functions like the jump engines and guns, but the brain is clearly the central control system for everything. Oh," he adds, turning to glance at Bannik over his shoulder. "Both the Parietal lobe and the Temporal lobe are fairly highly developed. I would not be surprised if the Raiders have a language and can communicate with one another, much like dolphins do with sound? Except that sound isn't effective in their case, so I would say through some sort of light transmission, probably pulses of light or perhaps electronic wave pulses? That might be useful information?"

"Maybe if we can block it? Yeah. Maybe — well, I know the Raptors — like, suppress them with electronic warfare, so that might explain why it works. Or how it works." Bannik is scribbling furiously, adding, almost as an afterthought. "I'll have some tea." And then he's off again, drawing lines and marks on his paper. "And the brain — it would — it would explain why the raiders are able to jump. I mean, if you could harness the computing power of a brain and stick it on jump calculations —" His voice trails off. "And have it do it at computer speed. Wow. Yeah. It'd be amazing." This is Bannik's brain, being blown.

Cameron pauses and watches as Bannik starts frantically scribbling, a small wry smile touching his lips as he gives the technician a minute to take notes and ponder the ramifications, fixing his tea in the meanwhile. "I have a report for you to take with you, so no need to hurry or take notes, unless you're working out some sort of equations or whatnot…." He returns a few moments later, handing over the cup of tea before taking a sip of his own cup of coffee and resettling himself on the stool by the lab table. "There's more. The two brains? The Tauron Raider brain and the Raider that was towed in during the swarm attacks? They're different. Not hugely, but it could be important information. The Tauron Raider is, in a nutshell, smarter. My guess is that it is older, more mature. The frontal lobe is more developed. In a human, this indicates a certain level of physical age. The frontal lobe is the last thing to complete development as we become young adults. The swarm Raider is not as fully developed or linked. My guess would be that it is akin to a 'child'. That it was more recently created and is not yet fully grown and developed." He takes another sip of his coffee before noting, "Oh. And there's one more thing that I find very interesting…"

"Huh. So. Like. It's running out of veterans and they're sending the new, green raiders against us." More scribbling, but that abruptly stops when Bannik hears that Cameron has a report so that he can take with him. "That meshes with what we've been hearing about these 'Foundries' that generate new raiders." A beat. "So. What else is there?"

Picking up the report that he prepared for Bannik, Cameron passes it over and then crosses over to a locked cabinet, opening it and returning with a box. Opening it, he notes, "There was this." Bannik would recognize the small chip as being identical as one that was pulled from the captured Centurion. "I read the report from Engineering on the Centurion research they did, just to see if there were any red flags and connections to my work. In general there is little in common between the Centurion and Raiders that we have, other than they both seem to use silica pathways in their systems. But this same chip was found in both. In the Centurion it was located in an area described as the 'head'. In the Raider it was placed within cerebral cortex, specifically the insular cortex, which exists between the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe." Taking a sip, Cameron notes, "While I have no proof as to what this chip does or why it was so placed, I can hypothesize somewhat on the possibilities. That area of the brain governs such things as reasoning, emotions, and self-awareness. A sense of self. My guess? The Cylons don't want to run into the same problems that we did when we created them. I don't know how it would work, but my guess would be that the chip is to somehow prevent self-awareness and self-determination. They want their worker ants to remain worker ants. Obedient and well-trained servants, as it were. But, that is only a guess."

There's a very, very long pause at that. KABOOM continues to go Bannik's brain. "Huh." It's all he can manage at first. "Huh." Another long pause. "Does anyone else know about these findings?" he asks finally. "I mean, Command is going to be really interested in all of this, try to use it against them."

"The reports are available to anyone with the appropriate security clearance, but seeing as how you're the one in charge of Cylon research, and also the one who requested me for this assignment, I figured you should have the details first." Cameron takes another sip of his coffee, seemingly calm and casual. It's not that the information isn't astonishing…. it's just that he's had some time to assimilate it all and piece it together. "I've just started working on the Hybrid, but I wanted to talk to you about whether you could work on it with me? The biologics are already astounding enough. But the mechanical side is quite beyond me. I also thought that perhaps Ximena Alteris could assist on that front if you're too busy with other work at the moment? I would like to get to a dissection of and closer look at the biological tissue, but I'm reluctant to separate it from the mechanical until we have gleaned everything we can from how they are connected and function."

"The Hybrid? You mean — that — person? Thing? They found on the foundry?" Bannik is clearly excited at the prospect of delving into the project. "I mean, yes! Of course. I'd be happy to chip in on it. I've got lots of projects, but it shouldn't be all that bad to add another one to the pile." When he's not busy working on the Birds that get bent from the swarm, that is. "And whoever you want to add is fine. I don't think I know — Ms. Alteris, is it?" He repeats the name.

Nodnodding, Cameron replies, "Yeah, that's the one. She's in the fridge right now, mechanics and all. It's… weird stuff." Gesturing toward the report, Cameron notes, "The Hybrid makes stuff like the Raider brains look like tinker toys. It quite honestly completely baffles me. Using a brain instead of a computer I can understand. It's beyond anything we are even close to, scientifically or medically, but it at least makes sense to me. Why they chose to have a body as well? It utterly eludes me… unless she somehow is the bridge between Raiders and skinjobs…." Taking a sip of his coffee, Cameron nods and informs Bannik, "Ensign Alteris was an enlisted senior chief petty officer," his voice indicating that really he doesn't understand what that means even, "that was promoted to ensign and is the current head of Mechanical and Repair, due to the number of losses they've had in that department. You may have seen her? She's wheelchair bound. But she has a good mind. She's already given me some thoughts as to some of the medical questions that have come up in my research so far."

"Oh? Yeah? Wow." Bannik says it like he knows her and knows what he's talking about, but it's clear from his tone that he doesn't quite. "Well, I'd be happy to work with whoever else you've got on the project. I'm not sure what I'll be able to do to help, but I'm sure happy to try." He glances over at one of the clocks on the wall. "I'm due for my shift on the Deck on a couple of minutes. Can I grab your report and catch up with you about the Hybrid later."

"Of course," Cameron replies with a nod and a small smile. "You're very enthusiastic about your work. I look forward to you input and insights into this whole Hybrid thing. Personally," Cameron confesses, "it makes me feel rather inadequate. It's all guesswork and hypotheses rather than hard fact and scientific proof. What they're capable of…. it's the future of what biomechatronics only ever dreamed of being. I feel like I've just been given all the answers, but I don't even know what the questions are!" Shaking his head, Cameron places the chip back in its box and back into storage, offering the technician a wave. "Drop by any time. Generally if I'm not here you'll find me right next door in Sickbay."

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