On Sea Squirts, White Horses and Excellent Sheep

This is the second part of my interview with Bob Morris in which we discuss creatures that don’t use their brains, creatures that eat their brains and horses which aren’t really horses at all.

Wave Rider Sketch2




Here’s someone riding a white horse (…seen through a telescope).

And here’s where the interview resumes:

Morris: I agree with your suggestion in The Little Book of Big Thinking. that valuable lessons can sometimes be learned from, the most unlikely sources if (HUGE “if”) if we are retain an open mind and are receptive. For example, what can be learned from a sea squirt?

Newton: The life cycle of the sea squirt struck me as an excellent motif for the book. I came across it by complete serendipity, as I usually do when writing, just as I was trying to find a vivid way to illustrate the difference between using your mind to direct your life and using it to drift. I’d been thinking about a phrase a non-executive director at one of my companies often used about “busy fools”. That I think is the life of many of us. But it wasn’t striking.

And then I happened to open a biology book – which isn’t something I often do! – and came across the story of a sea squirt which was a perfect metaphor.

And a sea squirt, for those readers who like me were unaware, is a small tadpole-like creature that swims around the ocean finding things to eat. And one day it attaches itself to a rock or an old piece of coral and it never moves again. And because it will never again move it has no need for a brain. So it consumes it. It eats its own brain. And so, “use it or eat it” became the motif for the introductory chapter of the book.

The rest of the interview can be found here

and part 1 can be found here