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The Red Pill
by Nikos Zorzos
Neo has the ability to overcome Matrix by changing it. This ability comes with the design uniqueness of his brain. But where did it all begin? We have to go back to the very beginning; all the way to where things started to happen. And the timeline starts with the Exit, the detachment from the Matrix and the system it forms. The disconnection from both its inner and outer time-spacial regions. By exiting the Matrix he is releasing himself from his coccoon, initiating the process that would transform Neo to the One he was meant to be. After all, that's what he was designed for.
The body is part of the system. That is its extension, bidirectional. Since the Neural System is plugged in, this connection makes it possible for the signal of the Matrix reality to pass through. The generated reality is perceived by being transmitted directly to the brain area responsible for such perception.
The Central Neural System includes the brain and the spinal cord. The Peripheral includes the neural tissue throughout the body. Nerves are either branching off the brain (brain nerves) or the spine (spinal nerves). Actually the spine is considered to be the communication channel of the brain with the body since thirty one pairs of nerves branch off from it, nerving all the body. The Neural System is a network inside the body, consisting of signals and information pathways, responsible for connecting man with the environment, the world.
A little research on the world wide web and this is what we find: The brain might be compared to a computer and its memory banks, the spinal cord to the conducting cable for the computer's input and output - thus providing Connection(s) -, and the nerves to a circuit supplying input information to the cable and transmitting the output to muscles and organs.
In these terms, as a computer, there should be an explorer of some kind developed by the machines in order for them to gain access to the brains of the connected humans. The machine construction is a circuit that closes with the human circuit leaving everything else outside. It includes the human bodies, electrical in the smallest element of their structure, and stops there. Nothing can be input or output but through the Matrix's channel.
Finally Neo is exiting. The transition from one world to the other begins and, while exiting, his mind experiences a new connection as a result of restoring the contact with his real body's sensory system. The artificial expansion of his neuronic network is lost, leaving his brain to cope with new, totally different, data. And it is due to this adjustment that the brain interprets the environment of the power plant individual tank (his pod) as liquid mirror.
Signals are going into the neural cells and coming out of them, in the form of electrical pulses. These signals are encoded information coming from the environment stimuli according to which, as a result of necessary reaction to the stimuli type, the brain modifies the activity of organs' systems within the body. In order for two cells to communicate, they create a synapses. The neural cells convey these signals through the cells' axis to the adjoining dendrites by releasing chemical substances, called neurotransmitters. The release is caused by electrical events. It is quite possible, though, for two adjoining cells to be in contact, creating a rare form of electrical synapses that doesn't need neurotransmitters to communicate.
The key word is electrical. Since the communication is electrically-based then it is very easy to project into a brain an electrically-designed environment. This is exactly what Morpheus is talking about. Instead of using a monitor, for the viewing, and headphones, for the hearing, you go directly to the source of these senses.
The neurons are considered to be, in computer terms, a cpu capable of processing information coming from one hundred thousand different sources while there are twenty billion such neurons in the CNS. This kind of processing power makes the brain, together with the CNS, a powerful and flexible multi-purpose tool. Obviously very useful.
In addition, in a constantly changing environment the brain needs to adapt, to find solutions. The answer comes by showing flexibility in its functioning. Various circuits are developed to execute a certain function, better described as functional grouping. This is possible through proper connections created in between the neurons.
The Red Pill
The Thalamus is an assembly of large nuclei that function as intermediate stations, transferring and analyzing all the information from the sensory system to the cortex, participating actively in the consciousness function. The brain perceives the outer world through the sensory system, which is like the front doors of the CNS. It receives any changes from the surrounding environment and notifies the spinal cord and the brain. A signal from the sensor receiver travels through the neural pathways to reach the corresponding area of the brain, responsible for translating the sensory information into sense. That's how our perception of the world takes place. And this is where the machine bypass happens: to the sensory system. Physical reality's information flux to the sensory system was interrupted by intercepting its signals and replacing them with the Matrix signal.
What the red pill does, is bypasses the machines bypass, aiming at the center of the connection. It launches countermeasures either in the form of substance (or combination of substances) ordered from the outer population grid as a body necessity. Or it makes the brain release counter substances responsible for activating the suitable neurotransmitters that will result in the interruption of the reception of the Matrix signal. While at the same time the connection with the body's sensory system is restored, activating the reception of its signal. Either way the red pill results in interrupting the artificial environment's information flux. Pulling away the curtain, by causing the Matrix reality screen to collapse.
Did You Know?
Neo's opening scene in The Matrix shows the computer displaying 'Wake up Neo'. This echoes HAL's opening line in '2001: A Space Odyssey'.