Tags: Body & Mind, books, health, meditation, psychology, Science, Spirituality
By Leonardo Vintini
According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, every time we learn or experience something new, hundreds of millions of neurons reorganize themselves.
Dr. Dispenza is known throughout the world for his innovative theory concerning the relationship between mind and matter. Perhaps best known as one of the scientists featured in the acclaimed 2004 docudrama What the Bleep Do We Know, his work has helped reveal the extraordinary properties of the mind and its ability to create synaptic connections by carefully focusing our attention.
Just imagine: In every new experience, a synaptic connection is established in our brain. With every sensation, vision, or emotion never explored before, the formation of a new relationship between two of more than 100 thousand million brain cells is inevitable.
But this phenomenon needs focused reinforcement in order to bring about real change. If the experience repeats itself in a relatively short period of time, the connection becomes stronger. If the experience doesn’t happen again for a long period of time, the connection can become weakened or lost.
Science used to believe that our brains were static and hardwired, with little chance for change. However, recent research in neuroscience has discovered that the influence of every corporal experience within our thinking organ (cold, fear, fatigue, happiness) is working to shape our brains.
If a cool breeze is capable of raising all the hairs on one’s forearm, is the human mind capable of creating the same sensation with identical results? Perhaps it is capable of much more.
“What if just by thinking, we cause our internal chemistry to be bumped out of normal range so often that the body’s self-regulation system eventually redefines these abnormal states as regular states?” asks Dispenza in his 2007 book, Evolve Your Brain, The Science of Changing Your Mind. “It’s a subtle process, but maybe we just never gave it that much attention until now.”
Dispenza holds that the brain is actually incapable of differentiating a real physical sensation from an internal experience. In this way, our gray matter could easily be tricked into reverting itself into a state of poor health when our minds are chronically focused on negative thoughts.
Dispenza illustrates his point by referring to an experiment in which subjects were asked to practice moving their ring finger against a spring-loaded device for an hour a day for four weeks. After repeatedly pulling against the spring, the fingers of these subjects became 30 percent stronger. Meanwhile, another group of subjects was asked to imagine themselves pulling against the spring but never physically touched the device. After four weeks of this exclusively mental exercise, this group experienced a 22 percent increase in finger strength.
For years, scientists have been examining the ways in which mind dominates matter. From the placebo effect (in which a person feels better after taking fake medicine) to the practitioners of Tummo (a practice from Tibetan Buddhism where individuals actually sweat while meditating at below zero temperatures), the influence of a “spiritual” portion of a human being over the undeniable physical self challenges traditional conceptions of thought, where matter is ruled by physical laws and the mind is simply a byproduct of the chemical interactions between neutrons.
Dr. Dispenza’s investigations stemmed from a critical time in his life. After being hit by a car while riding his bike, doctors insisted that Dispenza needed to have some of his vertebrae fused in order to walk again—a procedure that would likely cause him chronic pain for the rest of his life.
However, Dispenza, a chiropractor, decided to challenge science and actually change the state of his disability through the power of his mind—and it worked. After nine months of a focused therapeutic program, Dispenza was walking again. Encouraged by this success, he decided to dedicate his life to studying the connection between mind and body.
Intent on exploring the power of the mind to heal the body, the “brain doctor” has interviewed dozens of people who had experienced what doctors call “spontaneous remission.” These were individuals with serious illnesses who had decided to ignore conventional treatment, but had nevertheless fully recovered. Dispenza found that these subjects all shared an understanding that their thoughts dictated the state of their health. After they focused their attention on changing their thinking, their diseases miraculously resolved.
Addicted to Emotions
Similarly, Dispenza finds that humans actually possess an unconscious addiction to certain emotions, negative and positive. According to his research, emotions condemn a person to repetitive behavior, developing an “addiction” to the combination of specific chemical substances for each emotion that flood the brain with a certain frequency.
Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.
The body responds to these emotions with certain chemicals that in turn influence the mind to have the same emotion. In other words, it could be said that a fearful person is “addicted” to the feeling of fear. Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.
Nevertheless, many are skeptical of Dispenza’s findings, despite his ability to demonstrate that thoughts can modify a being’s physical conditions. Generally associated as a genre of pseudo-science, the theory of “believe your own reality” doesn’t sound scientific.
Science may not be ready to acknowledge that the physical can be changed through the power of the mind, but Dr. Dispenza assures that the process occurs, nevertheless.
“We need not wait for science to give us permission to do the uncommon or go beyond what we have been told is possible. If we do, we make science another form of religion. We should be mavericks; we should practice doing the extraordinary. When we become consistent in our abilities, we are literally creating a new science,” writes Dispenza.
Tags: archaeology, Culture, Science, Society, technology
By Leonardo Vintini
Many people think modern technology is very advanced, but according to Dr. Peter J. Lu, post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University, Chinese people in 4,500 B.C. did a better job making flat and smooth surfaces than we can nowadays with our best polishing technologies.
Dr. Lu, who worked with his team in the study of four ancient Chinese axes discovered in the 1990s, knows well what he’s talking about when he mentions polishing. The researcher submitted the Neolithic artifacts to a number of scientific tests, determined to come to the conclusion that the axes only could have been made using advanced techniques involving diamond.
Belonging to the Sanxingcun and Liangzhu cultures, the four ceremonial axes were dated between 2,500 and 4,500 B.C. Although in the beginning it was believed that the material used for the polishing was quartz, Lu’s team demonstrated that this is an erroneous idea.
The axes were submitted to electronic ultrasound examination, radio-graphical diffraction, and examination by electron microscope. It was determined that 40 percent of the axes was composed of corundum, a rock also known as ruby when it is red. Corundum is well known for being the second hardest material on the planet. The fine polishing work exhibited on these artifacts could have only been achieved by employing the one material harder than corundum—diamond—which had previously been believed to be first used in 500 B.C. in India.
To confirm the hypothesis, Lu took samples of the oldest axe and used a modern machine with diamond, albumin, and silica to polish them.
To the amazement of the scientists, the electron microscope confirmed that the polishing that resembled the ancient axes most closely was the one done with diamond. In fact, the craft that was carried out on the axes centuries before our era was more exquisite than the work done with modern precision instruments.
Through the study of these ceremonial Chinese axes, scientists now possess a more solid knowledge about the polishing techniques of antiquity, enabling them to explain the abundance of finely carved objects like jade. Nevertheless, many questions still exist in regard to how Chinese “cavemen” could have made the finest and smoothest axes history has ever known.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Science
By Leonardo Vintini
This is the second part in a II part series. Click here to read Reality: A Mere Illusion (Part 1)
“To them, I say, the truth would be nothing more than shadows of the imagination.”—Plato, from “The Republic”
Shadows and colors of light are crude projections of a “more real” reality. The universe that we live in presents itself as something even more illusory, where bodies, minds, and planets are parts of a great magic trick without a magician or an audience.
Scientists in Hanover, Germany, working on the GEO 600, which is an instrument that detects gravitational waves, believe they have discovered a “granulation” in space-time that indicates that our universe is nothing more than a giant hologram.
Those responsible for the GEO 600 believe that, in the same way a digital image loses resolution with significant increase in its size, the captured interference in the detector could be interpreted as the universe’s limited resolution of what it’s capable of providing to human eyes. There’s an exact point where the hologram of reality begins to “pixelize” itself.
The scientists suspect that the precision of the GEO 600, capable of detecting variations in longitudinal waves at the subatomic scale, served to discover the tiniest grains that compose the three-dimensional holographic universe, projected from the bidimensional confines of its interior.
You and I, Only Holograms
The idea of a holographic universe isn’t new. In the 1990s, scientists Leonard Susskind and Gerard Hooft suggested that the same principal that makes a two-dimensional image on a flat surface look three-dimensional could be applied to the entire universe.
Then, why do our senses perceive reality in such a distinct and “voluminous” way if we appear to be no more than shadows on a flat screen? The problem could be that our human eyes and our powerful telescope lenses conform to the reality of such a hologram of the rest of the universe.
The second point to consider is that our organic brain can also be found in the illusion, never being able to interpret a universe with a greater or fewer number of dimensions than can be perceived.
Neurophysiologist Karl Pribram, founder of the Center of Cerebral Research at the University of Radford in Virginia, thinks that our brains are holograms interpreting the hologram universe, mathematically constructing a reality interpreting frequencies that come from another dimension—a domain of significant reality that transcends time and space.
Nevertheless, the theory of a holographic universe of only two special dimensions conflicts with multidimensional theories arising from the roots of the superchord theory. Before this mark of a disparate hypothesis, many scientists already suspected that the universe is a hologram or illusion created by particles in the emptiness. However, all of the scientific efforts to comprehend the truth amid the mirage have become trapped in a frustrating array of unprovable theories.
Many vanguard theorists think that the disturbing breach in the field of quantum physics and relativity could explain historically argued phenomena in the scientific field, like those in which the mind doesn’t seem to be associated to the brain—such as near-death experiences, remote vision, and precognition.
In whatever case, Plato’s allegory of the cave would seem to be the most rational option now for explaining these vivid daily experiences that our brains interpret as being real appearances of the world.
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Tags: archaeology, Chinese culture, funny things, Science, technology
In the early 1900s, divers looking for sponges in the Antikythera area between Crete and Greece came upon one of the most mysterious discoveries the world has ever seen—the Antikythera Mechanism.
The device was being carried on a Roman ship that was wrecked between 80 and 60 B.C. The ship was believed to have been sailing to the Anatolian Peninsula (also called Asia Minor) to what is now Turkey and was carrying some of the finest works of art of its day. The divers found over 200 amphorae, or ceramic jars, which were still intact on the sea floor.
After the device was found, it wasn’t until 50 years later that an Australian archaeologist using X-rays began to discover that there was a lot more to the mystery piece than was originally thought. However, due to limited technology at the time, the actual function of the Antikythera Mechanism wasn’t known until decades later.
In 2005, using sophisticated software and technology, it was finally discovered that the Antikythera Mechanism was an astronomical device, and by using it, one could navigate one’s position at sea by charting the stars in the skies.
It was also an astrological device. By setting it to a particular day, such as a person’s birth date, one could see how the stars and planets would line up for that person. Using it as a timeline, one could then tell that person’s future by looking at the planets’ alignment for decades to come.
The device could also predict lunar phases, lunar eclipses, and the positions of the sun and moon for years to follow. Later it was also found that the device could predict the motion of the planets, and cast horoscopes for planning future festivals and events in the ancient world.
Mathias Buttet, director of Research and Development at the Swiss watchmaking company Hublot, said, “It includes ingenious features which are not found in modern watchmaking.” Buttet has managed to recreate a smaller version of the device the size of an average wrist watch.
Altogether, the Antikythera Mechanism used about 30 gear wheels, with very sophisticated and intricate parts that all interconnect. Researchers are still not sure who created the device or what its true purpose ultimately was.
The Antikythera Mechanism, along with other artifacts found at the shipwreck, can be viewed at the exhibition “The Antikythera Shipwreck: the Ship, the Treasures, the Mechanism,” which will continue to run at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece, from now through Aug. 31, 2013.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Economy, Society
SAN FRANCISCO—At age 31, Ashish Thakkar has gone from being a penniless civil war refugee to heading a multi-million dollar pan-African conglomerate. He has enough wealth to be known as Africa’s youngest billionaire. But when it comes to wealth and business, Thakkar has his own view.
Thakkar’s parents, originally from India, were forced to leave Uganda in 1972 during the expulsion of Asians by then-president Idi Amin. They fled to the United Kingdom, and this is where Thakkar was born. When he was 12, his parents decided to sell their business and move the family to Rwanda.
But a peaceful life didn’t last long. When the Rwandan genocide broke out in 1994, Thakkar and his family were forced to flee the country—through the now famous hotel Rwanda—to Uganda.
“It was, of course, horrific … Today, I’m probably thankful I got to see that, because it was an experience which has reshaped my thinking and my philosophy,” said Thakkar in an interview with The Epoch Times in San Francisco.
In Uganda, Thakkar and his family started to pick up their lives again. Eager to start his own business, Thakkar convinced his parents when he was 15 to allow him to drop out of school and start his own business. His parents consented. He managed to borrow $6000 and rent a small store in a nearby shopping mall where he started to sell computers. He frequently flew back and forth from Uganda to Dubai to purchase the computer supplies he sold in Uganda.
Eventually Thakkar settled in Dubai where he founded the Mara Group. Thakkar has proven to be extremely proficient in business. He has grown the group to now operate in 26 countries, 19 of them in Africa, and to employ more than 7,000 people. It’s ten subsidiaries operate in the communication technology, real estate, hospitality, and manufacturing sectors.
But despite heading a multi-million dollar conglomerate and ambitions to become a defining force in strengthening Africa’s business power, Thakar is not your average entrepreneur.
A ‘Clean Intention and Clean Heart’ in Business
At the center of his personal and professional vision are what he describes as the core values of “truth, love, and compassion.”
“People should never underestimate these values. It’s so important; they were applicable a hundred years ago, and they are still applicable today,” he said.
“When you do things with clean intention and clean heart, it always works out. I am a strong believer of that.”
They are values that Thakkar relates back to his spiritual belief as well as what he went through in Rwanda as a teenager. It helps him in dealing with the problems he encounters in doing business.
“Some things don’t work out, and they’re not meant to work out. And the things that do, are meant to … I think honesty, being transparent, being truthful is the key thing,” he said.
While the first few years of his career were all about the bottom line, Thakkar says that has now transformed into the idea of making a difference and how to “really move the needle on a global scale” for Africa.
And it is this needle that Thakkar is now tirelessly trying to move—hoping to give young African entrepreneurs the same opportunities he had.
“If you’ve been given the tools to help others, then you must now help others,” he said.
Supporting African Youth
A report published earlier this month by the United Nation’s International Labor Organisation (ILO) states that on average 12 percent of youth in Africa are unemployed, a number that exceeds 50 percent in some individual African countries. It’s a number that the ILO doesn’t expect to change anytime soon.
Thakkar believes that the answer for Africa lays in its small- and medium-sized businesses. While these private enterprises have the potential to provide a large number of jobs, many fail. Thakkar wants to improve the success-rate of these businesses by guiding them and setting them up for success.
In 2009, Thakkar created the Mara foundation to provide young entrepreneurs with the knowledge they need to succeed in Africa, as well as to empower and inspire them. Part of the foundation’s program connects successful entrepreneurs as mentors with new entrepreneurs.
“I’m a home product, I’m made in Africa. So I’m not someone who has done it in Silicon Valley, who quickly made an amazing amount of money by creating the right app. This was hardcore training on the ground in Africa,” he said.
But the last thing Thakkar wants to see is wealth become a goal in and of itself for these young entrepreneurs.
“The measurement of wealth is the worst thing … The driving force being just purely wealth, I don’t get it. It doesn’t excite me,” Thakkar said.
According to Thakkar, impact, not wealth, should be the defining factor what inspires young entrepreneurs. “I want to celebrate the people who are creating the most impact,” Thakkar said.
Thakkar is now frequently called “Africa’s youngest billionaire,” a title he himself calls unfortunate. “Some things you can control, some things you just can’t,” Thakkar said about the lists published on the internet that list him as a billionaire. When asked whether the statement is true in essence Thakkar declined to comment.
“We were on the top philanthropists in Africa list, that is more of an exciting thing for me. That inspires others, you know I want to be on that list.”
Thakkar said he believes that the fact that wealth is not an exciting factor for him comes from what he and his family went through.
“No matter how much money I would have had, I would have still been a refugee. … I wouldn’t have been able to stop that with my wealth … I still could have got shot in crossfire,” Thakar said. “Money can’t buy everything.”
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Tags: archaeology, Culture, Science
Researchers said last week they have unearthed art in an ancient cave in the mountains of Mexico’s Tamaulipas state.
The art, which was painted on rocks, is said to predate Spanish rule, reported LiveScience.com.
Around 5,000 pieces of the rock art was found across 11 different sites in the area, said the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History, which carried out the research. The art was created via white, black, red, and yellow pigments.
Archaeologist Gustavo Ramirez said that the findings show that in the area, “it was inhabited by one or more cultures” before Spanish rule, according to the website.
Researchers said they have not been able to precisely put a date on when the paintings were created.
“We have not found any ancient objects linked to the context, and because the paintings are on ravine walls and in the rainy season the sediments are washed away, all we have is gravel,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez said the paintings are anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, astronomical, and “abstract,” according to the institute’s website.
He said there is the possibility researchers might take samples of the pigments, “which would allow us to approximate datings through chemical analysis or radiocarbon.”
Tags: Body & Mind, Science
Every action and all matter that has developed in the universe conforms to what we know as reality. The idea that our universe passes like a giant’s dream, or like a product of a very complex virtual reality program, more closely resembles an ingenious science fiction script than the crude and imperfect world in which we move every day.
However, the reality that we perceive seems to be contrary to scientific logic, if we bear in mind that matter hardly exists. The construction blocks of visible matter are atoms, which are merely small nuclei lost in the middle of a great spacial emptiness, surrounded by nearly invisible particles (electrons) that orbit them at magnificent speeds. If our bodies were to be put under a powerful microscope, what would be seen would probably be a sea of sand grains in perpetual motion.
According to recent research in the field of quantum physics, all of what we know as matter—the solid cement of what appears to be what our reality is composed of—could be nothing more than quantum fluctuations in the middle of the empty universe.
A group of physicists led by Dr. Stephen Durr from the John Von Neumann Institute in Germany confirmed that the sum of the three subatomic particles that make up protons and neutrons (called quarks) barely represent 1 percent of their total mass.
Such evidence suggests that the rest of the nuclear mass would be consist of gluons, ephemeral particles that bubble in the middle of the emptiness, which function to maintain the unity among the trio of quarks inside protons and neutrons. This fact suggests the hypothesis that our tangible reality might be mere fluctuations of emptiness or purely nothing.
The Other Truth
What we see with our physical eyes is greatly reduced to a convenient scope. Possessing a pair of eyes that could see only microscopic particles would make it impossible for us to move in a world with objects so large as the objects with which we generally interact are composed of billions and billions of microscopic particles.
According to biologist Richard Dawkins, rocks only feel hard and impenetrable to our hands because they can’t penetrate each other. For us, it is useful to have notions of hardness and solidity as it helps us navigate our world.
Navigating in an illusory reality, we have to accept that somewhere in the universe another reality can be found. There could be a gigantic slumber, a crazy bubble, or God, if you will.
Since the reality of particles cannot be more than smoke and shadows, it could be that the real existence of all objects in the cosmos resides in one or more parallel spaces. Many scientists speculate that, just like a three-dimensional object can project a two-dimensional shadow over the ground, a multidimensional universe (like the case of the String Theory) could cast a shadow in three-dimensional space.
If this theory is correct, every object and organism in this world would not be more than a gross representation of objects and organisms in a more “real” universe. Coinciding with this theory, the existence of an extracorporeal mind in another dimension might be the ideal explanation for why we have memory, as the atoms in our brains are replaced hundreds of time throughout the course of our lives. According to Steve Grand, author of “Creation: Life and How to Make It,” none of the atoms that make up our bodies today would have been in our bodies during an event in our childhood that we remember.
Grand suggests that matter moves from one place to another and reunites momentarily so that you can be you. Therefore, you aren’t the matter of which you are made. This would imply that our real bodies are in the space that we cannot comprehend—while a virtual body, a mere container, would be what is in what we call reality.
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Tags: Chinese culture, Science, Society, Spirituality
By Leonardo Vintini
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” —Genesis 7:11-12
Approximately 9,000 to 5,000 years ago in the northern Turkish province of Sinop, an event of spectacular historic magnitude took place. So spectacular, in fact, that some believe it represents proof that the “Great Flood” recounted in the Bible may have been an actual (though somewhat exaggerated) representation of real events.
In September of 2004, an expedition in the Black Sea by a team of scientists from various institutions (including the National Geographic Society) determined that the sea in question was not always as we know it today.
They concluded that it had originated from an immense lake of black water that at one point in history began to widen in an unusually rapid way. The change was so great, in fact, that inhabitants of the surrounding area were immediately obliged to search for more secure land, hastily leaving behind housing, tools, and other traces of their former lives.
This led the underwater expedition headed by oceanographer Robert Ballad to declare that there once existed human settlements that now reside more than 300 feet underwater. This startling Black Sea discovery not only contributed to a thoroughly enriched historical understanding of the serious alterations in water level suffered in the ancient Middle East, but also raised questions about what caused the alteration in the first place.
Since then, scientists and reporters continue to probe the unresolved issue; it is a key to understanding the historical development of human civilization and the different climatic stages that Earth has experienced. Furthermore, it is an important theme intertwined not only with the Judeo-Christian tradition but with many legends from different cultures around the world—the Great Flood.
The Black Sea: Proof of the Flood?
Contemporary hypotheses suggesting that the rapid growth of the Black Sea was a consequence of an incredible rainfall of planetary proportions has never received great sale. Based on a large framework of scientific laws, predominantly geological, which have been established on the basis of empirical observation over the years, makes this a rather improbable scenario.
In the first place, skeptical geologists propose that for such a flood to have occurred, we would find a similar stratum throughout the world covered with pebbles, sludge, boulders, and other elements. It is curious that this layer cannot be found, even more so when the flood narrated by the Bible had taken place in a time as recent as 3000 B.C.
Neither can be found the strata of fossils, with different animal and vegetable species occupying specific soil layers. According to flood logic, the animal remains of all species before the big flood (including the extinct dinosaurs) should be found today in only one stratum, without any distinction. But paleontology completely contradicts these suppositions.
Yet these examples appear to be only the tip of the iceberg comprising the arguments that refute a global flood. Even so, much of such reasoning is refuted with equal grace by the “pro-flood” scientists. In fact, descriptions like “all the sources of the great abyss were broken” or “the waterfalls of the heavens were opened” recounted in Genesis are backed up by hypotheses that, although incredible, are impossible to rule out as being incompatible with reality.
One of the more dramatic hypotheses proposed that the planet could have been covered with water up to its highest points, contrary to the calculations indicating that all the water suspended in the atmosphere would only be enough to reach a modest 1.2 inches over the total surface of Earth.
These “flood supporters” calculate that if the geography of Earth went through a leveling out in its surface—the mountains being lowered, the sea troughs being elevated—then the entire Earth would be covered by thousands of feet of water.
According to the water-covers-the-earth theory, in the times of Noah the upper layers of the atmosphere contained a substantial amount of water that today makes up the oceans. This atmospheric water was what covered the whole planet, and which later returned to the ocean troughs by violent vertical tectonic movements. Researchers in support of this idea believe it makes suitable reference to the “waterfalls of the heavens” that could condense themselves thanks to dust generated by several simultaneous volcanic eruptions.
With respect to non-Biblical myths about a purifying flood, these can be found in the Hindu, Sumerian, Greek, Acadia, Chinese, Mapuche, Mayan, Aztec, and Pascuanese (Easter Island) cultures, among others. Several of these stories appear to possess surprisingly similar common factors. Among the most repeated themes are those of celestial announcements ignored by the people, the great flood itself, the construction of an ark to preserve life from the flood, and the later restoration of life on the planet.
A clear example of this similarity is provided by pre-Biblical Mesopotamian history of the flood in which the god “Ea” warned Uta-na-pistim, king of Shuruppak, about the punishment that awaits humanity for its serious moral degeneration. Uta-na-pistim received instructions from the god to construct a craft in the form of a cube with eight floors, and said that it should include in it a pair of each species of animal, plant seeds, as well as his own family. Thus, Uta-na-pistim survived the several-day-long deluge, released a bird to verify the proximity of dry land, and made an animal sacrifice to the gods.
In Search of the Lost Ark
One separate point that adds weight to the Bible controversy is the body of photographic and physical evidence of a large object encrusted in Mount Ararat, where, according to the Christian text narrations, finally rested the ark of Noah.
In the beginning of 2006, University of Richmond professor Porcher Taylor declared that according to an extensive study made over years of satellite photography there is a foreign object encrusted in the area northeast of the mountain, the length of which coincides perfectly with that of the ark recounted in the Bible.
Such satellite images from above Ararat have inspired the curiosity of a great number of scientists since this declaration was made in 1974. Several expeditions of investigators also managed to rescue remains of petrified wood, as well as 13 strong anchors of rock in the area surrounding the supposed location of the possible archeological treasure. Ultrasonic tests have also been made, revealing a very odd structure embedded in the rock.
In spite of the multiplicity of texts from diverse cultures which tell the story of a great ancient flood, the magnitude and duration of such an event seems to be a point of argument, even among those who believe that such an event actually occurred. Thus, while a small number of researchers suggests that this flood covered the entire Earth in vast amounts of water, most geologists agree that such a scenario is an impossibility.
While not everyone believes ancient accounts that describe the re-creation of humanity from the salvation of a handful of people, it would seem that a climatic catastrophe actually did take place across the entire planet several millennia ago. We can also safely assume that an indefinite number of human beings in elevated locations had the capacity to continue civilization, and to transmit the story of the occurrence to later generations.
Up until the time when evidence is revealed to definitively tip the scales toward one of these particular theories, the story of a time when a great flood purged the sins of man will be taken as a myth for some and a statement of historical fact for others. Either way, this great ancient flood remains forever a part of the story of humankind.
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Tags: archaeology, Body & Mind, CCP, China, Culture, environmental issues, film, funny things, health, human rights, IT and Media, labor camps, Nature, persecution of dissidents, Science, Society, sustainable development
And some more…
By Michelle Yu
“When I die, bury me on the sunny side of the hill, because I’m afraid of the cold,” a child, now nameless and faceless, said to his fellow teenage prisoners over half a century ago. For the 4,000-5,000 juvenile prisoners at the Dabao labor camp, such requests were common, as the children were surrounded by death every day.
By Gu Qinger
Chinese torture victims have confronted Xinhua, the official propaganda organ of the Chinese regime, over its publication of a report by Liaoning officials which denies that inmates are being tortured at a labor camp in the northeast of the country called Masanjia.
By Matthew Robertson
It would have been impossible even very recently in China to produce a documentary about torture and slavery in an officially-run labor camp, and not be thrown in jail for it. Chinese independent filmmaker Du Bin, however, has done just that, and he’s now in Hong Kong speaking at film screenings and blithely taking interviews from overseas media.
By Shar Adams
WASHINGTON—After five days and 40 testimonies from international witnesses from the military, scientific and academic fields, a committee of six former Congress members agreed to seek international support to break a “truth embargo” on encounters with extraterrestrial life.
By Jack Phillips
Some are questioning the origin so-called “ring around the sun” that appeared on Monday.Reports said that the ring is a 22-degree halo, also known as a sun halo, according to ABC News. The halo is formed by small ice crystals that are contained in cirrostratus clouds. The sunlight then refracts through the ice at the 22-degree angle, creating the optical phenomenon.
By Matthew Robertson and Carol Wickenkamp
A group of nearly a dozen Chinese human rights lawyers who attempted to investigate an extralegal “brainwashing center” in the southeast of the country were violently set upon by guards on May 13, before being handed over to police, who beat them further and held them overnight before releasing them.
By Cassie Ryan
While the latest official news from China says that the H7N9 bird flu outbreak is now under control, a new international study urges continued caution.
By Gao Zitan
Chinese media recently exposed quality issues in the bottled water industry, saying its regulation levels are from the Soviet era.
Beijing News reported May 2 that over 10 Chinese experts had found that the standards for bottled water are very low, with only 20 test indices versus 106 for tap water quality.
By Will Hickey
One reason behind greater pollution leading to global warming has been artificially lowered gas prices brought by subsidies. Governments have carried on this shortsighted policy to foster growth and satisfy consumers. But as world fuel prices begin rising again, the costs of subsidy—both budgetary and environmental—will come to the fore.
By Matthew Robertson
University professors and administrators in China have been given clear instructions recently about precisely what topics of discussion are off-limits in the classroom.
By Sally Appert
Communist officials in Shaanxi Province have resorted to hiring fake monks to collect donations in an attempt to recover the debt they incurred from a large development project near the ancient Famen Temple.
Accused of violating one-child policy, Zhang Yimou’s real crime was backing Jiang Zemin
By Xia Xiaoqiang
A successful Chinese film director becomes entangled with the propaganda schemes of a brutal dictator. The director enjoys a rich and privileged life, but then loses everything when the dictator’s political opponents charge him with violating the nation’s family-planning laws.
By Zachary Stieber
Byzantine mosaic floor: The “extraordinary” floor was in a public building during the Byzantine Period in what is today Isreal, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, Culture, documentary, environmental issues, film, human rights, IT and Media, labor camps, Nature, organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents, Science, Society, sustainable development, technology
Since I have not posted any articles in a long time I will post some so you can select those that are of interest to you.
By Sarah Laskow
We have seen a lot of solar chargers in our day. And among all of them, this is the first one we’ve seen that we will definitely run out and buy as soon as it’s made available in the U.S. It’s a portable socket that gets its power from the sun rather than the grid. You plug into a window instead of into the wall. It’s easy.
By Joshua Philipp
Epoch Times Staff
Watching the soft glow of fireflies could become a more common activity if researchers at Syracuse University have anything to do with it. They’re developing a method to artificially create luciferase, the chemical behind the soft glow of fireflies, and are working to create commercial lights that mimic the insects’ bioluminescence.
These migrants know why they keep moving
By Francisco Gavilán
When I was going to travel through Central Asia for the umpteenth time, I was looking for new and enriching experiences, including living for a while with the nomads of Song Kul, in Kyrgyzstan.
By Tara MacIsaac
Earth permanently deformed: Geologists have discovered that the Earth’s crust may not be as elastic as previously thought. Quakes in Northern Chile have permanently deformed the Earth.
Celebrating compassion and higher living across the globe
By Arshdeep Sarao
In India the full moon day of May 25, 2013, is being celebrated as Buddha Purnima or the birth anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni. This year the Buddha becomes 2,556 years old.
By Matthew Robertson
‘I didn’t take blood money from a government that is murdering its people,’ says Jeffrey Van Middlebrook, Silicon Valley inventor.
By Leonardo Vintini
Everybody longs for happiness, but it seems like a hidden treasure. One way or another—consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly—everything we do, our every hope, is related to a deep desire for happiness.
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, health, Science, Society
Single gene swap enables avian virus to change hosts
Chinese researchers have created a virus that can infect mammals via coughing and sneezing by hybridizing the H5N1 bird flu virus with the H1N1 swine flu strain that caused the 2009 pandemic.
Their paper was published in the journal Science on May 2, the same day a man from Henan Province died from the H7N9 bird flu virus–reportedly the first death outside of eastern China and the 27th death among over 120 cases to date.
The H7N9 virus is believed to be a reassortment of several avian flu viruses, but is relatively benign in birds, according to recent research by another Chinese team published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
H5N1 bird flu is highly pathenogenic, but does not easily infect people, whereas H1N1 swine flu infected many millions in 2009. As yet, there is no evidence that the two viruses have mixed in nature, but they do overlap geographically and share some host species.
In the controversial new research the Chinese scientists deliberately manipulated the two viruses to make them more dangerous, for what they said was for the purpose of improving their understanding of pandemic risks. Some of the resultant mutants easily spread through the air between guinea pigs in the lab.
“If these mammalian-transmissible H5N1 viruses are generated in nature, a pandemic will be highly likely,” said research leader Hualan Chen at the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“High attention should be paid during routine influenza surveillance to monitor such high-risk H5N1 hybrid viruses in nature.”
While Chen believes her work could benefit disease control and prevention, other scientists are critical of these so-called gain-of-function mutation studies, as manipulating viruses requires excellent lab security standards to prevent the viruses spreading or being accessed by terrorists.
Microbiologist Richard Ebright at Rutgers University, New Jersey, said two other studies had already looked at how H5N1 mutations spread through the air between mammalian hosts–in that case ferrets. That flu research triggered a debate about biosecurity, and led to a one-year moratorium on any similar projects.
“This argument—even if one accepts it, which I do not—does not provide a rationale for the third, fourth, fifth, and nth research projects confirming the same point,” Ebright told Science Magazine via email.
Baron May of Oxford, a former U.K. government chief scientist, told The Independent that the work by Chen’s team is “appallingly irresponsible.”
“They claim they are doing this to help develop vaccines and such like. In fact the real reason is that they are driven by blind ambition with no common sense whatsoever,” he added.
Further research by Chen and colleagues has apparently been delayed by investigations into the new H7N9 virus.
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- Chinese Vet Says Authorities Concealed H7N9 Poultry Epidemic
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Tags: Science, Society
By Zachary Stieber
A set of “ultraconserved” words that are frequently used today, and were frequently used thousands of years ago, point to ancient languages having more in common with each other than previously thought.
The researchers, in a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on May 6, found a set of 23 words that have barely changed from 15,000 years ago, being used in a similar form in four of the seven ancient language families.
Among the words:
The researchers can predict how the 23 words traced back to ancient times sounded in those times, as part of an ancestral language.
“We can trace echoes of language back 15,000 years to a time that corresponds to about the end of the last ice age,” study co-author Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, told LiveScience.
The team of researchers reconstructed ancient words based on the frequency of when certain sounds usually change in different languages. They could mark when words slightly change as languages have evolved, such as the Latin “pater” to the English “father.”
The team also mapped modern languages to mark the relationships between modern languages, and pinpointed the most stable words in the modern day.
Words identified as frequently used are spoken about 16 times a day. Many on the list are used more than once per 1,000 spoken words, and many on the list are pronouns and adverbs.
“Here we use a statistical model, which takes into account the frequency with which words are used in common everyday speech, to predict the existence of a set of such highly conserved words among seven language families of Eurasia postulated to form a linguistic superfamily that evolved from a common ancestor around 15,000 years ago,” according to the study abstract.
While the research has broken new ground, Page said that it would be difficult to go back beyond 15,000 years.
The other words on the list are:
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- Desert Glass Formed by Ancient Atomic Bombs?
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Tags: Body & Mind, China, funny things, Nature, Science
By Li Wenhui
Ms. Xiao Hongyun, a teacher at Changde Normal School in Hunan Province, usually suffers dizziness, tinnitus, and palpitations the day before an earthquake occurs. She has suffered these symptoms in conjunction with earthquakes in China as well as in Taiwan and Chile.
She recently experienced dizziness and insomnia a few days before the 7-magnitude earthquake in Ya’an in Sichuan Province, China on April 20.
Voice of China interviewed Ms. Xiao about her physical prediction of the Ya’an earthquake.
According to Ms. Xiao, she suddenly fainted while giving a lesson. She was sent to the hospital and examined, but no abnormalities were found.
Xiao said, “I began to feel dizzy on the 18th and I could not fall asleep during the night, especially on the 20th, I was still awake at 4 a.m., feeling very tired as if I were in a boat swaying on the water.”
She said to her husband, “I’m afraid a quake is about to happen somewhere.” The Ya’an earthquake did then happen on the morning of April 20th. “I was sitting on the sofa and my legs could not stop shivering when the quake took place,” said Xiao.
Ms. Xiao, age 53, says her physical episodes date from an electric shock she suffered at the age of 13. “At that moment, my whole body went numb and I collapsed on the ground. Luckily I was not hurt badly,” she said. Since then, she has experienced the dizziness and other symptoms from time to time, yet medical examinations have always been normal.
Ms. Xiao recalls that when she was 16 years old, one day she heard a roar in the field while harvesting rice crops, but people next to her didn’t hear anything. Many days later, she learned that the Tangshan earthquake had happened on that same day. (On July 26, 1976 the Tangshan earthquake struck in northeast China, killing hundreds of thousands of people.)
However, Ms. Xiao did not associate her abnormal physical symptoms with earthquakes until September 1999. “When I saw on TV the strong quake in Taiwan on September 21, 1999, I began to think, maybe my strange illness is related to earthquakes.” Xiao said, because she had suffered strong physical reactions the day before.
Since then, Ms. Xiao watches the news every time she feels unusual. “After my physical reaction, most likely there will be an earthquake. Based on the degree of the ringing in my ears, I can judge how far, how strong, and in what direction approximately a quake will be,” she said
Because nobody believed her and thought something was wrong with her, Xiao started recording every premonition that had been verified by an earthquake. She asked her family and colleagues to sign the pages as confirmation. According to her diary, the closest earthquake occurred in Linli County of Chengdu and the farthest occurred in Chile.
Ms. Xiao contacted Sun Shihong, a retired professor of the Chinese Seismograph Station, the day before the Yushu earthquake of April 14, 2010. She told him she had a strong physical reaction and that this usually happened the day before an earthquake.
Sun Shihong believed Ms. Xiao’s condition really is linked to earthquakes.
Subsequently, experts from various seismic stations throughout Hunan Province made a special trip to Ms. Xiao’s home to conduct an investigation and analysis.
The experts concluded that Xiao’s reactions were indeed linked to the earthquakes because her body could sense the infrasonic sound of the earthquake in advance. The higher the magnitude is, the stronger the sensation is.
Translation by Alex Wu. Written in English by Arleen Richards.
Tags: environmental issues, Science, Society, sustainable development, technology
Researchers engineer bacteria to produce first biofuel identical to commercial fuel
By Simon Veazey
Until now biofuels were not completely compatible with unconverted modern engines, working inefficiently and corrosively.
But researchers say they have genetically engineered bacteria, splicing in tree and algae genes, to produce hydrocarbons identical to those used in commercial fuel.
The research was carried out at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom (UK), producing modified E. coli bacteria that produce enzymes that convert sugar into fatty acids which in turn are converted into fuel.
Professor John Love at the University of Exeter said in a statement: “Producing a commercial biofuel that can be used without needing to modify vehicles has been the goal of this project from the outset.”
“Global demand for energy is rising and a fuel that is independent of both global oil price fluctuations and political instability is an increasingly attractive prospect,” he said.
The ecological credentials of biofuels produced from food crops are sometimes criticized. But Love believes that a scaled-up version of the process would enable them to adjust the genes to allow the bacteria to produce fuel from animal manure, not sugar.
The research was partly funded by Shell’s research division, Rob Lee from Shell Projects & Technology said in a statement: “ While the technology still faces several hurdles to commercialisation, by exploring this new method of creating biofuel, along with other intelligent technologies, we hope they could help us to meet the challenges of limiting the rise in carbon dioxide emissions while responding to the growing global requirement for transport fuel.”
Tags: Body & Mind, books, Culture, Science
Part two in a series. Read part one here.
Premonition, Precognition, and Presentiment
By Louis Makiello
Epoch Times Staff
Sheldrake has collected a database of 842 cases of human premonitions, precognitions or presentiments, including people who see the future in dreams. He has also looked at the same phenomenon in animals.
He cites the case of British biologist Rachel Grant, who was carrying out a study on the mating of toads in Italy, only to observe a mass exodus of toads ahead of the 6.4-magnitude quake that struck Italy in April 2009. Grant told the press that her findings “suggest that toads are able to detect pre-seismic cues such as the release of gases and charged particles, and use these as a form of earthquake early warning system.”
But Sheldrake writes: “If it turns out that they are indeed reacting to subtle physical changes, then seismologists should be able to use instruments to make better predictions themselves. If it turns out that presentiment plays a part, we will learn something important about the nature of time and causation. By ignoring animal premonitions, or by explaining them away, we will learn nothing.”
Dean Radin, a U.S. academic, devised an experiment in the 1990s to test for presentiment. He monitored human subjects’ emotional arousal using electrodes attached to the fingers (as in lie detector tests). The activity of sweat glands, which varies following people’s emotional states, results in changes in skin resistance.
The subjects were shown various photos. Most photos showed calm things like landscapes but some were shocking, such as corpses cut open. A computer selected the them at random. When the calm pictures were displayed, the subjects remained calm; when the shocking ones were displayed, the increase in electrodermal activity could be measured via the electrodes.
Researchers were surprised to find that the increase in electrodermal activity occurred up to four seconds before the photo was shown to the subject, despite being selected only milliseconds earlier by a computer. Sheldrake writes: “People seem to be influenced by themselves in the future, rather than by objective events.”
He relates this to his own theory of morphogenetic fields. “This is in agreement with the way that attractors pull organisms towards their inherited or learned goals, with flows of influence from virtual futures through the present towards the past.”
Universal Constants May Not Be Constant
In addition to biology and philosophy of science, Sheldrake comes up with amusing and intriguing ideas in other fields of science.
Speaking of the speed of light, he writes, “By 1927, the measured values had converged to 299,796 kilometers per second. At the time, the leading authority on the subject concluded, ‘The present value of c [the speed of light] is entirely satisfactory and can be considered more or less permanently established.’
“However, all around the world from about 1928 to 1945, the speed of light dropped by about 20 kilometers per second. (…) In the late 1940s the speed of light went up again by about 20 kilometers per second and a new consensus developed around the higher value.”
Sheldrake says that in the future, scientific periodicals may carry regular news reports on the latest value of c, much like weather reports or stock-market indices.
Questioning the Conservation of Energy
The book discusses a range of experiments aimed at testing the conservation of energy in living organisms. This involves keeping humans or animals in airtight chambers and measuring energy input through food, heat and work produced, oxygen consumed, and carbon dioxide produced.
In some experiments, more than a quarter of energy is unaccounted for. In other experiments, Sheldrake holds that scientists averaged data from different experiments, and discarded some data to arrive at a result that followed the conservation of energy law.
“Although most people do not realize it, there is a shocking possibility that living organisms draw upon forms of energy over and above those recognized by standard physics and chemistry,” he writes.
Sheldrake goes on to tackle the phenomenon of “inedia,” wherein people do not eat for months or years without any adverse effects. He discusses the many holy people in India and the West, from past to present, who are said to survive without food, and in some cases water too.
Sometimes, the fasting seems to happen due to illness, rather than spiritual devotion. Sheldrake cites the 2010 study of Indian yogi Prahlad Jani [/n2/science/study-on-yogi-prahlad-janis-fasting-miracles-concludes-35126.html] who was monitored for two weeks by the Indian Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Science.
Sheldrake calls for further study of the phenomenon: “Are there new forms of energy that are not at present recognized by science? Or can the energy in the zero-point field, which is recognized by science, be tapped by living organisms?”
Sheldrake relates the failure to experimentally verify the conservation of energy in living creatures to physics’ theory of dark matter.
When physicists observed the motion of galaxies and clusters of galaxies, they were surprised that the galaxies were not following the laws of the motion of matter. There seemed to be much greater gravitational attraction than should be possible. They thus concluded that a large amount of invisible matter must be present. They called it “dark matter” and it remains hypothetical and unobservable.
Cosmologists now believe that only a small fraction of the universe is made up of observable matter and energy such as atoms, stars, galaxies, gas, planets, and electromagnetic radiation. Most of the universe is made up of dark matter, they say.
Most theories of dark matter state that the density of dark matter is constant. Therefore, since the universe is expanding, dark matter is constantly coming into being. This refutes both the second law of thermodynamics, and the conservation of matter—two cornerstones of physics.
Sheldrake writes: “The universe is now like a perpetual-motion machine, expanding because of dark energy, and creating more dark energy by expanding.” He goes on to call out scientists on their prejudices against perpetual-motion machines: “Skeptics claim that all these devices are impossible and/or fraudulent, and some promoters of ‘free energy’ devices may indeed be fraudulent; but can we be sure that they all are?”
He says that misguided scientific advisers may be to blame for discouraging investment in research into “over unity” devices (which supposedly produce more than one unit of energy for every unit of energy put in). “But perhaps some of these devices really do work, and really can tap into new sources of energy.” He goes on to suggest a prize to be put up for the creation of such a device.
Alternative Medicine Should Become Mainstream
In addition to modern materialistic medicine, rival medical systems, such as homeopathy, chiropractic, and traditional Chinese medicine, are also widely used. However, government research, most national health services, and private medical insurance schemes ignore such rival systems, and stick to Western medicine.
Sheldrake begins by acknowledging the extraordinary achievements of modern Western medical science. The huge leaps forward in public health through immunization and improved hygiene were not thanks to any particular dogma, he says. Neither materialism nor the mechanistic theory of life should claim credit. Antibiotics also were discovered by chance. Most modern drugs are either chemical compounds isolated from herbal remedies or discovered by trial and error.
After a brief history of Western medicine, Sheldrake criticizes corrupt practices within the pharmaceutical industry. “Some companies go to great lengths to make their drugs look safer and more effective than they really are, creating an illusion of scientific respectability for their claims. [...] They offer large fees to scientists to put their names to articles that have been ghostwritten by authors paid by the drug company.”
Sheldrake goes on to tackle the placebo response. He relates this to the power of hypnosis on the body. He cites hypnotists’ abilities to induce blisters on the skin by convincing people they are being burned. He also cites the treatment of warts by “magical” methods as often being more effective than conventional ones.
When modern medicine tests a treatment’s effectiveness, it seeks to ignore the placebo response. Sheldrake asks the question: do some treatment methods give a better placebo response than others?
He then talks about the effect of spiritual practices on health. “The effects of prayer or meditation on health and survival have been investigated through prospective studies in which people who prayed or meditated and otherwise similar people who did not pray or meditate were identified at the start of the study and watched over a period of years to see if their health or mortality turned out differently. It did. On average, those who prayed or meditated remained healthier and survived longer than those who did not.”
He cites a U.S. study in which 1,793 over 65s were tracked for six years. After correcting for factors such as lifestyle, those who prayed had a 55 percent better survival rate. “If a new drug or surgical procedure had such dramatic effects on health and survival as spiritual practices, it would be hailed as a medical breakthrough,” he writes.
Sheldrake then urges the development of a new way to test treatment methods other than the randomized double-blind placebo controlled study. Mainstream and alternative treatments should all be compared so as to determine which one works best, which has the greatest variability of results between practitioners, and which is the most cost-effective.
On the sensitive question of end-of-life care, Sheldrake says patients who receive palliative care rather than aggressive treatments to prolong life lead better quality lives. Palliative care costs less, and in one study, lung cancer patients who received palliative care actually survived longer than those receiving aggressive anti-cancer therapy.
The Illusion of Objectivity
Throughout his book, Sheldrake challenges different assumptions and beliefs held by the scientific community. Scientists themselves are often unaware of their own prejudices, he says. Those who idealize science believe that scientists are “the epitome of objectivity, rising above the sectarian divisions and illusions that afflict the rest of humanity.”
He cites comedian Ricky Gervais as a prime example of a layperson having blind faith in the infallibility of science.
Scientists themselves perpetuate the ideal of the scientist as an objective, godlike, disembodied mind “freed from the normal limitations of bodies, emotions, and social obligations.” Stephen Hawkins has captured public imagination precisely because he is “as close to the disembodied mind as a human can be.”
Quantum theory has found that the very act of observing an experiment affects the outcome, but scientists still mostly write reports in the passive voice, as do schoolchildren in science class.
Sheldrake urges drastic reforms for scientific education, funding for science, and health care. At stake, he says, is the advancement of science, public health, mental well-being, and even the safety of our species, which is endangered by modern science’s effect on ecology.
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