By Tara MacIsaac
Two camps of scientists have faced off on the issue of the underwater structure known as Bimini Road off the coast of the Bahamas since it was first discovered in 1968.
One camp says it is a 12,000–19,000-year-old man-made structure—flouting the conventional understanding that advanced civilizations only emerged some 5,000 years ago.
The other camp says it is a natural formation.
Dr. Eugene Shinn dismisses as “New Age” the claims that a culture advanced enough to build such a structure existed in that region so long ago. He has behind him the heavy weight of current scientific understandings.
Dr. Greg Little realizes his claims to the contrary are viewed with “outright ridicule,” as he explains in a 2005 paper on the subject. “I have no expectation that any of the skeptics will actually change their views or even consider any alternatives to their beliefs,” he writes.
“All contradictions to their beliefs are probably perceived as a direct threat to them professionally and psychologically,” Little says. “The long history of science has countless examples of widely held beliefs that were proven wrong by research. But even in the face of incontrovertible proof that these beliefs were wrong, many so-called scientists refused to accept the new evidence.”
Little is a psychologist who has taken a keen interest in Bimini and has participated in multiple dives with archaeologist William Donato along the structure.
Donato explains in an email to the Epoch Times that the line of stones form a wall, known as a breakwater, built to protect a prehistoric settlement from waves. During their dives (documented by film and photographs), Donato and Little found the structure to be multi-tiered and to include prop stones they say must have been placed there by humans.
The duo also say they found anchor stones with rope holes carved into them and at least one stone later analyzed at the University of Colorado, which was found to have tool marks, deliberate shaping, functional wear, and erosion features similar to steps.
Little writes that a neutron activation analysis compared nearby shore stones to the Bimini Wall stones and showed the Bimini stones had fewer trace elements, suggesting they were formed elsewhere and transported to that location.
“We know what the Bimini Road is now,” Donato says. “The natural feature theory has been totally discredited. Shinn has no background in archeology and [Marshall] McKusick [who worked with Shinn to promote the natural-formation theory] seems to know nothing about marine archeology.”
Shinn, a retired geologist who worked for the U.S. Geological Survey, argues Bimini Road is made up of beachrock—the climate in the region causes sand and other materials on the shore to cement into rock relatively quickly, creating “beachrock”—that was covered by water as the sea level rose.
Rocks of similar shape and in a similar formation have been found in some other regions, says Shinn. The information he sent the Epoch Times in response to inquiries, however, did not seem to explain exactly how the rock forms into the large, thick block shapes seen in Bimini.
Shinn carbon dated some rock samples and found them to be only about 5,000 years old or younger. But, he later admitted to Little, the accuracy of his dating is questionable. Little explains that bulk dating is inaccurate because the samples can be contaminated by materials from later dates.
Shinn told Little, according to Little’s 2005 paper: “You are right, dating of beach rock is not very precise especially if it is a bulk sample. The dates listed in the Nature article were bulk dates done at a later date by a student learning the carbon 14 method.”
Little also accuses Shinn of changing the results of some of his studies.
One of the proofs Shinn has given in recent writings and interviews that Bimini is naturally formed involves core rock samples he took to show a dip toward deep water. If all the cores show a dip toward deep water, explains Little, this would indeed prove the rock formed where it is and did not form elsewhere later to be transported by humans to its present location.
In 1978, Shinn’s published study of Bimini states that 25 percent of his samples showed a dip toward deep water. Little points out that Shinn’s later writings claim all of his samples showed this dip.
When Little confronted Shinn on his discrepancies, Shinn replied: “You must realize that because of all the craziness surrounding the Bimini site and the unusual people, it was hard to take the exercise with the same seriousness we would have employed with our regular research. We did it for fun. There was not the peer review usually associated with our real jobs. The details you have pointed out are evidence of minimal peer review. I got a little carried away to make a good story.”
The Epoch Times asked Shinn to confirm he said this to Little and asked him to clarify the discrepancies pointed out by Little.
Shinn said via email: “I am not going to nit-pick over Little’s concerns.”
He called into question the funding behind Little’s work. Little is funded by the Edgar Cayce Foundation, says Shinn, which was started by people who believe in the writings of Cayce (1877–1945), a purported psychic who had visions of Atlantis.
Little states in his 2005 paper that his work on Bimini is not a quest to find Atlantis. “Skeptics invoke emotion-laden, ridiculing terms,” Little wrote.
Little states: “For obvious reasons, mainstream archaeologists have avoided Bimini as if it was infected with a deadly virus. They have been convinced by reading others’ summaries of the early research—not by digesting the actual facts—that Bimini has to be nothing but natural beachrock and that a harbor cannot be there—therefore it is not there.”
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More in Beyond Science
Near death experiences NDEs have been reported through the ages by those who were near death—or thought they were—and then return.
Though these experiences are not all the same, they have many distinctive hallmarks: seeing a tunnel of light; seeing loved ones who have passed away; feeling bliss or euphoria; having a heightened sense of cognition; feeling a sense of great love; reviewing one’s whole life, often in a very short period of time; and feeling as if the soul has left the body. NDEs also tend to transform the lives of those who experience them—leading them to try to become better people.
These rich, interesting experiences have provoked the question of whether we truly do have souls, or if our consciousness is only a product of the brain. As brain science advances, there are an increasing number of claims that NDEs can be explained by neuroscience alone, thus obviating any need for an explanation based on the soul.
But how well do these explanations from neuroscience hold up?
One very important piece of information is that about half of NDEs occur when individuals think they are going to die, but are not actually medically close to death. So for example, if someone fell off a building, and thought they were going to die, but only sustained minor injuries. This means that if we’re looking to the brain to explain all the different elements of NDEs, we need an explanation that accounts situations where the person is actually dying, and those where there is no real threat of death, in terms of one’s medical condition.
A common explanation that has been advanced by some scientists is that when the brain is deprived of oxygen, you can expect various patterns of response, particularly a sense of bright light in your center of vision. This kind of experience can indeed be induced by a lack of oxygen, but the problem is, not all NDEs involve anoxia, yet many still have the sense of a tunnel of light.
Furthermore, when the brain is out of oxygen, it starts firing rapidly in a disorganized fashion—it’s not working properly. From our knowledge of the brain, we would not expect organized experience in this state, but a jumble perhaps akin to what one might find in seizures or in mental illness—other examples of the brain not working correctly.
But what we get are vivid, organized, transformational experiences—people report that their NDEs feel “more real than real,” they feel free, that they understand the universe at a deep level, and have never been happier. This can happen both when the brain is not in immediate danger, and when it’s under severe duress because of a life-threatening situation.
Interestingly, when the brain is close to death, there is a higher incidence of cognitive enhancement—the mind feels unfettered and able to process more thoughts than usual. That we would find enhanced cognition under deprived conditions for the brain does not square with our understanding of brain function.
Another brain-based explanation is that the out-of-body experience (OBE) portion of NDEs is caused by a misfiring at the temporal-parietal junction, a region of the brain thought to be responsible for forming one’s body concept.
The evidence that this region is responsible for the feeling of people leaving their bodies and perceiving the nearby surroundings—sometimes nearby rooms and areas—is surprisingly weak. The most-often mentioned study, by Blanke and colleagues, is based on one patient, and the patient’s explanations indicated that though she felt like she was not in her body, she only saw her legs and her trunk—which she would have been able to see anyway.
The study only demonstrated that electrically stimulating this part of the brain can make people feel like they’re not in their body, but doesn’t produce any of the other perceptual qualities of an OBE, like seeing their entire body, floating around the room, and seeing the surrounding environment. In short, it failed to elicit anything qualitatively close to the out-of-body component of an NDE.
Explanations for the life review—a phenomenon where the person’s life is reviewed, sometimes in great detail, and they feel remorse for selfish acts and satisfied with their “good” actions—are also particularly lacking.
One explanation, in a Scientific American article by Charles Choi, suggests that the brain region responsible for the life review is likely the locus coeruleus, an area that is involved in stress and is connected to areas that process emotion and memory. However, why would this area evoke an entire life’s worth of memories during death—or when death is thought imminent—and not elicit any memories during other extreme stress? And how does it explain the new moral insights that often accompany this aspect of an NDE?
Another article, by Mobbs and Watt, appearing in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, attempts to explain the life review by citing a single patient who exhibited REM (a characteristic state during dreaming) during an NDE. They conclude that the life review is probably related to REM because it happened during the NDE and is also associated with consolidation of memory.
One critical flaw with this argument is that REM has only been shown to be involved with the consolidation of procedural memories—things like learning a new skill such as riding a bike—and not for episodic memories that constitute the memories of one’s lifetime, as revisited in a life review.
Another major problem with the explanation, just like with the out-of-body example, is that it relies on only one patient. Relying on one example to make a generalization in a case like this is simply bad science, because you can’t know if it’s an exceptional situation.
Mobbs and Watt also try to explain the presence of loved ones who have passed away, giving the example that people with extreme Parkinson’s disease will sometimes hallucinate headless corpses, monsters, and ghosts, as well as dead relatives. Parkinson’s involves a problem with areas of the brain that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, and the authors suggest that these hallucinations arise from a dopamine imbalance.
The problem with this is that almost all NDE cases report positive experiences, and feelings of love and bliss—not headless corpses. While there are some cases where people apparently experience something like hell and demons, the majority of cases are not this way.
A more significant problem is that in Parkinson’s disease cases, there is an awareness that these are hallucinations, whereas those with NDEs feel that it is real. This would, at the very least, suggest a different neural pathway.
A good explanation from neuroscience needs to not only actually account for each individual phenomenon, but do so in a way that combines them and explains how they happen together.
Another explanation offered for NDEs is confabulation—that these experiences are concocted by the mind as a way of explaining a gap in consciousness. This has been offered by biologist P.Z. Myers, a noted skeptic.
Myers says that when people come back from clinical death and recount a story it doesn’t mean they were aware during the time of clinical death, it could just be the brain’s way of accounting for the lost time. In fact, he claims that this is the “the default understanding by neuroscientists of how the brain works,” in an article posted on Slate.
This explanation suffers from the same major problem as the other neuroscience explanations: about half of NDEs don’t happen in truly life-threatening situations, meaning these people didn’t go unconscious at all, and thus there’s no gap to account for.
The other problem is that confabulation sounds plausible at first, but in the scientific literature, confabulation of fantastic or extraordinary events—which an NDE would be considered—only happens in people with severe memory problems.
People who have recently had some sort of brain trauma and have trouble both learning new information and remembering old information will sometimes confabulate stories to explain things. These are occasionally quite fantastic, such as being a space pirate, but share little in common with NDE-type experiences.
The explanation suffers other weaknesses, as well. For one, this kind of confabulation goes away over time. Two, the stories often change. And three, they don’t have any qualities of ineffability, a hallmark of NDEs—that is, people try to explain what they went through, but acknowledge that words really aren’t adequate for describing the experience.
So confabulation is a kind of cheap explanation—it might sound good at first, but doesn’t fit with what’s known about confabulation, and completely fails to account for half of NDEs.
It is important to try to explain these phenomena through known mechanisms, because we don’t want to falsely believe in things, but we also have to acknowledge weaknesses or when an argument entirely fails.
More in Beyond Science
Population control measures, including a possible loosening of the despised one-child policy, were a major topic at the third plenary meeting of the Party’s 18th Central Committee this week.
Any liberalization of the policy would be minor. The new policy being considered would allow any family, where one parent was a single child, to have a second baby. The current policy allows a second baby only in cases when both parents were only children.
Any changes to the one-child policy would endeavor to sustain the nation’s low birth rate while allowing greater freedom for some families to have a second child, National Health and Family Planning Commission spokesman Mao Qunan told state media.
Mao attributed China’s economic growth in the past three decades to the one-child policy, saying it had prevented the births of 400 million people, resulting in greater prosperity.
However, Wang Feng, a public policy professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, disagrees. In a Nov. 12 article in Caixin magazine Wang was quoted saying he believes the policy’s contribution is exaggerated by family planning officials and that the greatest decline in China’s birth rate occurred in the ten years prior to the 1980 introduction of the policy. The birth rate plunged because of the promotion of birth control information during the 1970s, he said, adding that when the economy took off in 1987, the birth rate fell again.
“The improvement of living standards and changes in people’s views about the family and giving birth are the key forces driving the decline,” Wang said.
Critics of China’s one-child policy point to serious abuses, including forced abortions, selective abortions of female fetuses, and invasive forced birth control practices as further reason to eliminate the policy. Though Chinese authorities have denied the use of forced abortions, such cases have been documented by activists like Chen Guangcheng.
“Women are forced to abort babies up to the ninth month of pregnancy, and sometimes these forced abortions are so violent that the women themselves die along with their full-term babies,” Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an international coalition that opposes forced abortion said on the organization’s website.
“The one-child policy causes more violence towards women and girls than any other official policy on earth, than any other official policy in the history of the world,” Littlejohn said.
More in China Society
By Matthew Robertson
From the frigid northern plains of Heilongjiang, to the far-flung west of Tibet, and all across China’s heartland, the Chinese Communist Party is reinvigorating a campaign to forcibly transform the thoughts of millions of practitioners of a traditional spiritual discipline.
Every corner of society is to be folded into the movement, according to dozens of Party directives posted on government and Party websites. Even places of education and healing, like the Jiangmen Middle School and the Beijing Friendship Hospital, are expected to take part.
“Enter villages. Enter households. Enter schools. Enter government organs. Enter businesses. Enter the Party cells in the migrant population,” says one notice on the website of a township in the city of Chongqing. “Carrying out the ‘2013 to 2015 Final Battle on Education and Transformation’ is the scientific decision made by the Party Central based on the current struggle,” explains another notice.
Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa), the Chinese spiritual practice being targeted, has been persecuted in China since 1999. Jiang Zemin, the Party leader at the time, launched the campaign, and until late 2012 he or his protégés ensured its continuation. Now, this “Final Battle” from 2013 to 2015, is the first time that a nationwide mobilization against Falun Gong has been launched under the rule of Party chief Xi Jinping.
Key members of the security services, who had served the political wishes of former Party leader Jiang Zemin, have been removed this year. Given that the persecution of Falun Gong was personally pushed forward and led by Jiang, it was thought that after his protégés no longer held power, the persecution would by-and-by subside.
Incomplete statistics produced by Minghui.org, a Falun Gong website, do indicate a diminishment in instances of arrests, imprisonment, and torture. And the labor camp system, which had for over a decade handled large numbers of Falun Gong detainees, has in some areas of China quietly been retired this year.
But the new campaign indicates that short of an explicit decision to stop the persecution by the Politburo Standing Committee, the Party’s top leadership organ, it will simply continue being given energy, according to Yiyang Xia, the senior director of Research and Policy on China, with the Human Rights Law Foundation based in Washington, D.C.
“Apart from the Cultural Revolution, which almost destroyed the Party, basically no political movement like this has been overturned,” he said.
The Communist Party’s budget for domestic security was over $120 billion this year, according to official figures.
The officials carrying out the campaign against Falun Gong tap into this budget. “There are several hundred thousand security officials whose livelihoods and benefits come from this persecution, so they are eager to have new campaigns,” said Yiyang Xia.
He added that with 14 years having passed since the beginning of the persecution, a large group of beneficiaries in the Party has formed, which actively push it forward, because they gain power and wealth by doing so.
Liang Xiaojun, a human rights lawyer in China who has taken Falun Gong cases, said there are three reasons the campaign is continuing: The first is momentum: “There has been an ongoing persecution, and no one said anything to stop it. Second, as a totalitarian state, the Party needs to create enemies. The third is profit: People who work on persecuting Falun Gong gain financial profit from it.”
Falun Gong is a spiritual practiced based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It has five slow-motion exercises. At its peak in the late 1990s, there were, according to official figures, over 70 million people practicing it, more than were members of the Communist Party. Practitioners say more than 100 million had taken up the practice.
The chief method that Chinese police and security forces will use to carry out the campaign is called “legal education,” or in the vernacular, brainwashing.
It involves detaining and isolating Falun Gong adherents, and then forcing them to read or watch Communist Party propaganda against the practice. This supplements sleep deprivation and physical torture, sometimes of an extreme kind—shocks with electric batons, stress positions, and burning are often reported.
Corinna-Barbara Francis, a China researcher at Amnesty International, noted that labor camps were the chief instruments for carrying out the last transformation campaign against Falun Gong, running from 2010 to 2012. With the decommissioning of some labor camps, “my assumption is that they’re going to send them to these study classes,” she said, referring to the brainwashing facilities set up on a largely ad hoc basis by local Party authorities.
Duihua, a human rights group based in San Francisco that researches China, said that these facilities are even less legally codified than labor camps, and operate outside any set of official laws.
The Final Battle is an official campaign ordered by the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party, likely based on a document prepared by the 610 Office, an extralegal Party organ tasked with stamping out Falun Gong, according to Yiyang Xia, who has studied the operations of the Party’s security campaigns.
But despite it being an official campaign, the entire operation is in fact illegal according to Chinese law, say lawyers.
“Such a document is evidence of suppressing human rights,” said Liang Xiaojun, the lawyer. “Government officials who have learnt a little law should know that it’s illegal to give such orders. People have freedom of religion and freedom of speech” according to the constitution, he said.
Tang Jitian, a rights lawyer, said, “There is absolutely no question that this has no legal basis.” Properly understood, the activities of the security forces should be classed as “forced disappearances, kidnapping,” Tang said.
Analysts familiar with the operations of the Communist Party say that the directives found all over the Internet on local government websites should not have been there in the first place.
“I’m not involved in the operations. I just take care of Web information,” said a website administrator in Jinhe Town, Shaanxi Province, reached by telephone. “The document is ordered level after level from the central authorities. The State Council promotes open information, so, any government information that’s not marked secret is all published on the website.”
Yiyang Xia notes that no provincial level governments put the information on their websites—only very low-level government offices, who don’t understand the rules properly, do so, he said.
Nevertheless, those implementing the campaign are told they have to do a good job. “There are strict evaluations of the … [anti-Falun Gong] campaign every year,” says a notice in Yunyang County, Chongqing. “If any community doesn’t actively organize … [anti-Falun Gong] activities and can’t finish the education and transformation of students, the authorities will seriously seek out the persons in charge.”
Tao Decai, the leader of the anti-Falun Gong activities at the Zhongshan Middle School, in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, was reached by telephone and asked how the campaign was going.
“We’ve sent out surveys to students to take home,” he said, meaning that students had to check whether anyone in their families practiced Falun Gong. Tao was not willing to answer further questions, and ended the call.
Like any nationwide mobilization embarked upon by a communist government, this one has a lot of quotas.
A notice from the Dunren Street neighborhood Communist Party office, in Chongqing, says: “Every year, over 20 percent of the stubborn targets must undergo education-study classes one time. Their recidivism rate must be less than 3 percent.”
Yunyang County said that over 90 percent of the neighborhoods there must have a 90 percent conversion rate.
Xintunzi Town in Jilin Province, in China’s north, sets a far more ambitious goal. “To convert all the unconverted Falun Gong adherents by the end of 2015. Continue propaganda that exposes and criticizes Falun Gong.”
The earnestness of the Party’s attempt to psychologically transform a large group of peaceful individuals, coupled with the ongoing failure of the campaign to actually achieve its objective, has been a subject of puzzlement and sometimes amusement by observers.
Liang Xiaojun, the Chinese lawyer, said he thought the campaign was “very ridiculous.” “It’s impossible for the Party to achieve its goal to transform all Falun Gong practitioners,” he said.
“They’ve been trying so hard to make this group disappear, but after so much effort, the effect isn’t what they wanted, and now it’s become an international issue,” said Tang Jitian, another rights lawyer in China. “They tried it and failed, and now they have a sense of crisis.”
He added: “Their requirements are high, and they want the work to be done enthusiastically and energetically, so there are some comical aspects to it. But using violence to change people’s thoughts and ideas, in reality it doesn’t really work.”
Lu Chen contributed reporting. Ariel Tian and Frank Fang contributed research.
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More in Chinese Regime
By Tara MacIsaac
Cats communicate not only in purrs and growls but in many complex motions, using ears, eyes, tails, and body to express themselves. These expressions are often misunderstood. Here’s a guide to help you better understanding your cat.
Up: Happy and approachable
Down: Scared or threatened
Wagging rapidly: Agitated
Wagging slowly: Alert, assessing the situation
Stiff, up: Trying to appear larger, aggressive
Straight up and quivering: Excited. If your tom cat has not been neutered this gesture can also mean he is ready to spray.
Read more: A Guide to Cat Body Language
More in Slice of Life
By Tara MacIsaac
Though dogs may understand some human words, body language is their main form of communication. Not only is it how they tell you what they’re feeling, it is also the best way to communicate with them.
Here are some signs your dog may give you and how you can respond:
Dogs may sweat through their paws when they are stressed. They may rapidly pant and lower the back end of their bodies with their tails down.
Calming signals: Dogs perform these actions as a way to calm themselves and others, but you can also imitate these actions to put a stressed dog at ease: yawn, look away, move slowly, appear to become distracted by something, sit. Dogs may also lick their lips or nose and lie down.
Read more: How to Communicate With Your Dog
More in Slice of Life
By Naveen Athrappully
Each person is endowed with a unique set of characteristics that define him or her, with fingerprints and eye scans being the most commonly used methods of biometric identification. Now scientists have come upon another way through which a person, including his ethnicity, can be classified. As every smile is precious, every mouth, it has been proven, is unique. The microbial cocktail that thrives in the mouth cavity is different for everyone.
This study, undertaken by the University of Ohio, has also concluded that each ethnicity has a different oral bacterial composition. Following the results of this study, oral treatment, which has until now been basically the same for everyone, could be more specialized in the future, thereby increasing its effectiveness.
The study of 100 people from four ethnicities—African American, Latino, Caucasian, and Chinese—found that approximately 400 unique bacterial species exist in the mouth, out of which only 2 percent were similar in everyone who participated. About 90 percent of the individuals had 8 percent shared between them. Bacteria were taken from tooth surfaces, saliva, and under the gums.
The press release by the university stated that researchers found that “each ethnic group in the study was represented by a ‘signature’ of shared microbial communities.”
“This is the first time it has been shown that ethnicity is a huge component in determining what you carry in your mouth. We know that our food and oral hygiene habits determine what bacteria can survive and thrive in our mouths, which is why your dentist stresses brushing and flossing. Can your genetic makeup play a similar role? The answer seems to be yes, it can,” says Purnima Kumar, associate professor of periodontology at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study, in the press release.
Furthermore, the researchers constructed an algorithm that predicted individual ethnicities, which was right 62 percent of the time. African Americans, however, were identified with 100 percent accuracy.
The findings shed light on why some ethnicities like African Americans and Latinos are more prone to gum disease.
“The most important point of this paper is discovering that ethnicity-specific oral microbial communities may predispose individuals to future disease,” Kumar said.
Only about 40 percent of the bacteria in the mouth has ever been identified and studied, mainly because they don’t grow well in laboratory conditions. The bacterial species were classified by sequencing their DNA.
“Nature appears to win over nurture in shaping these communities,” Kumar noted in the study.
The group had already recognized the adverse effects some substances like tobacco have on the oral cavity. Smoking disrupts the healthy microbial community, causing infections ranging from cavities to oral cancer. The study also suggests dispositions toward certain diseases among different ethnic groups.
The trillions of invisible bacteria that make our bodies their home have not yet been fully studied by scientists. These organisms affect our bodies in many significant ways, telling a lot about a person including their health, intake of fat, allergies, and reactions to certain external elements.
The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, was supported by the Ohio State University College of Dentistry and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
More in Science News
By Zachary Stieber
Will there be a supernova in the next 50 years that is visible from Earth?
Yes, astronomers with Ohio State University say.
The odds are nearly 100 percent that a supernova visible to telescopes in the form of infrared radiation will happen in the Milky Way in the next 50 years, the astronomers say. They discovered the probability by using a simulation of supernova positions and modern dust models.
The odds are much lower—depending on where you are, 5 to 50 percent—that the spectacle would be visible to the naked eye in the nighttime sky, the astronomers wrote in the study announcement.
Astronomers can definitely see the supernova with high-powered infrared cameras, and the sight would be unprecedented.
Astronomers would have a chance to detect the supernova fast enough to witness what happens at the very beginning of a star’s demise, something that’s never been done. Typically, only remnants of supernova are captured in images.
A massive star “goes supernova” at the moment when it’s used up all its nuclear fuel and its core collapses, just before it explodes violently and throws off most of its mass into space.
“We see all these stars go supernova in other galaxies, and we don’t fully understand how it happens. We think we know, we say we know, but that’s not actually 100 percent true,” said Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State. “Today, technologies have advanced to the point that we can learn enormously more about supernovae if we can catch the next one in our galaxy and study it with all our available tools.”
Actually witnessing a supernova could prove or disprove associated theories that have thus far only been figured out using computer models and calculations.
“Every few days, we have the chance to observe supernovae happening outside of our galaxy,” said doctoral student Scott Adams. “But there’s only so much you can learn from those, whereas a galactic supernova would show us so much more. Our neutrino detectors and gravitational wave detectors are only sensitive enough to take measurements inside our galaxy, where we believe that a supernova happens only once or twice a century.”
The astronomers have published their findings in an issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
Supernovas are often seen in other galaxies but are difficult to see in our own Milky Way galaxy because of dust blocking the view.
“Despite the ease with which astronomers find supernovae occurring outside our galaxy, it wasn’t obvious before that it would be possible to get complete observations of a supernova occurring within our galaxy,” said Adams. “Soot dims the optical light from stars near the center of the galaxy by a factor of nearly a trillion by the time it gets to us. Fortunately, infrared light is not affected by this soot as much and is only dimmed by a factor of 20.”
By balancing all the factors, the astronomers determined that they have nearly a 100 percent chance of catching a prized Milky Way supernova during the next 50 years.
Additionally, the astronomers incorporate the fact that supernovas issue neutrinos immediately after the explosion starts, but don’t brighten in infrared or visible light until minutes, hours, or even days later.
Adams explains the findings more in the video below.
NASA, using the Chandra telescope, has discovered the remains of multiple supernovas that exploded in the Milky Way, including on of those that are pictured, the Cassiopeia A, the youngest remnant in the galaxy.
“The blue, wispy arcs in the image show where the acceleration is taking place in an expanding shock wave generated by the explosion,” according to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “The red and green regions show material from the destroyed star that has been heated to millions of degrees by the explosion. Although observers at the time didn’t notice this supernova, astronomers today have detected its light echoing through the galaxy 400 years after the fact.”
Scientists study supernovas to learn about the universe, according to NASA. For instance, one kind of supernova has shown that our universe is expanding, growing at an ever increasing rate.
Below, see an artist’s conception of a binary star system that produces recurrent novae, and ultimately, the supernova PTF 11kx.
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By Henry Jom
Jon Robson gets to the root of symptoms of illness—the patient’s state of mind.
Robson began studying an integrative system of healthcare called “meta-medicine” in 2008 and founded Meta-Medicine USA in 2012. Compelled and inspired by his mother’s passing at an early age, and having a family history of chronic diseases, Robson set out to find a way to help people with chronic diseases.
He wanted to find a healthcare system that went beyond just managing symptoms and medicating patients for life.
Robson said in an interview with Epoch Times: “Disease is not a natural state the human body should be in. I believe that health and vitality are the natural states of the body.”
How a Patient Healed Heart Disease With His Mind
Robson had a client who had heart disease. After this client had a heart attack, Jon guided him with meta-medicine, and was able to help him understand the stresses in his life that manifested in his body as heart disease.
“[The client was able] to dissolve those stresses he was experiencing. He resolved his life stresses and his heart healed.”
Manifestation of Self-Loathing: Body Literally Attacks Itself
Robson also had a client who had Systemic lupus erythematosis. Systemic lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to essentially attack itself.
It’s underlying cause is not fully known. MedLine Plus explains: “It is where the immune system believes that certain tissues and organs in the body are cancerous and it then attacks itself.”
Robson helped this client by asking deeper questions: “Why is this body attacking itself? What deeper resentment do they have for themselves?”
After careful analysis, he discovered that this client devalued herself. She had put her mother on a pedestal, and felt she was herself unworthy.
Robson explained, “[The client] grew into systemic lupus. [This] systematically broke down her body because she didn’t feel worthy of love and had deeper anger toward herself.”
Jon taught the client to love and appreciate herself. He helped the client see that the positive characteristics she attributed to her mother she actually had in her own unique form and style within her own personality. This client’s disease went into remission. Her body healed.
“Their outer world changed, purely because they changed from within,” Robson said.
When asked how Meta-medicine relates to Buddhism or spiritual disciplines that teach looking within one’s mind and heart to find the root of problems, Robson said his treatment is similar in that, “[it] lets you see the specific moments which are taking you out of truth, and through that coaching process that brings you back to truth, transformation occurs.”
He said: “Your physical body is a perfect reflection of your mind.”
By Carol Wickenkamp
A state approved Chinese political theory journal rejects Western political ideas that are taking hold in China, saying they would “confuse the people’s minds”.
A recent article in the journal Qiushi Theory was critical of Western ideological trends that would “confuse the people’s minds” and “crumble the common ideological basis of the Party” while promoting “wrong ideas” such as “universal values,” and “constitutional democracy,” said the Washington DC based media research organization Chinascope, who translated parts of the article.
The article, “Consolidate the Common Ideological Basis That the Party and the People Share in Their Concerted Struggle” says that these ideas are meant to deceive and confuse the masses, while strongly affirming the primacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The political reforms that were hinted at by Xi Jinping’s new regime do not include a Western style constitutional democracy or multi-party system, Qiushi said.
Uncompromisingly supporting a strongly worded Party document that was leaked this summer, the October 16 Qiushi Theory journal article officially denounces any of the changes hoped for by the “New Citizen’s Movement,” a pro-reform, pro-democracy movement which has arisen in China.
Characterizing Western style political reform as a “democracy trap” designed to weaken and eliminate the CCP, the Qiushi article attacks Western political ideas as dangerous.
Advocates of Westernization, it said, were plotting to “mess with the minds of the people,” quoted Reuters. “This is so they can pressure us to put in place the ‘political reforms’ they so earnestly hope for, the real goal of which is to eliminate Communist Party leaders and change our socialist system.”
The reiteration of the regime’s strong anti-reform stance publicly revealed this summer has been accompanied by a continuing crackdown against free assembly, association, and speech.
Advocates for a constitution-based government, disclosure of officials’ assets, and the elimination of government corruption have been targeted in a concentrated effort to derail the trends by detaining key individuals.
Since March , dozens of activists, lawyers, and other citizens have been detained in the crackdown, meant to suppress peaceful assembly, association, and expression, says Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD), a human rights and advocacy network.
As of Oct. 21, 2013, CHRD has accounted for over 60 individuals accused of activism who have been criminally detained or disappeared in China. Many remain in detention without charges, while 34 have been formally arrested.
By Joshua Philipp
On the Chinese hacker black market, you can buy your way into a compromised computer in South Korea or Japan for 16 cents each. If you want to watch someone through their webcam, access to computers with cameras connected come in packages of $16.27 for 500.
Cybersecurity company TrendMicro took a tour through China’s online, underground market for everything from automated hacking tools to stolen credentials in America and Europe. Researchers detailed their findings on Oct. 29 in a new report, “Beyond Online Gaming Cybercrime: Revisiting the Chinese Underground Market.”
“The Chinese underground market is hidden to the public but is not very difficult to find,” the report states. To access the Chinese hacker black market, researchers went to China’s two main methods for online communication: Baidu Web forums and QQ chat groups.
It states that cybercriminals frequent both Baidu and QQ, noting that each Chinese cybercrime group has a unique ID. “Would-be customers can simply search for a certain group of interest in QQ to gain access to its service and product offerings.”
After gaining access, researchers were greeted with an underground market that is “a lot like any Chinese market.” Users on the Chinese-language market can haggle for goods, and sellers use attractive advertisements to entice buyers.
“Everything you can possibly need is readily available,” the report states.
Under the services section researchers found groups of Chinese mercenary hackers ready to launch attacks for the right price. They can be hired for simple jobs, like launching Distributed Denial of Service attacks to overload websites and take them offline, to more complex jobs like testing a piece of malware against antivirus software.
For cybercriminals interested in working for themselves, there are also plenty of automated hacking tools available. These include phishing kits that can help hackers trick unsuspecting foreigners into granting access to their computers. Or they can grab a remote access tool (RAT) that allows them to control a victim’s computer remotely.
Since their last visit to China’s underground hacker black market, researchers at TrendMicro noted, “It now offers a wider variety of services and products that any cybercriminal would love to get his hands on.”
They also gave a word of warning: “Because cybercriminals find a great deal of value from stealing and buying stolen personal credentials, users should make sure they practice safe computing habits.”
Confucius Institutes censor political discussions and restrain the free exchange of ideas. Why, then, do American universities sponsor them?
We were sitting in his office, Ted Foss and I, on the third floor of Judd Hall at the University of Chicago. Foss is the associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies, a classic area studies program that gathers under its roof specialists in various disciplines who work on China, Korea and Japan. Above us, on the fourth floor, were the offices and seminar room of the university’s Confucius Institute, which opened its doors in 2010. A Confucius Institute is an academic unit that provides accredited instruction in Chinese language and culture and sponsors a variety of extracurricular activities, including art exhibitions, lectures, conferences, film screenings and celebrations of Chinese festivals; at Chicago and a number of other schools, it also funds the research projects of local faculty members on Chinese subjects. I asked Foss if Chicago’s CI had ever organized lectures or conferences on issues controversial in China, such as Tibetan independence or the political status of Taiwan. Gesturing to a far wall, he said, “I can put up a picture of the Dalai Lama in this office. But on the fourth floor, we wouldn’t do that.”
The reason is that the Confucius Institutes at the University of Chicago and elsewhere are subsidized and supervised by the government of the People’s Republic of China. The CI program was launched by the PRC in 2004, and there are now some 400 institutes worldwide as well as an outreach program consisting of nearly 600 “Confucius classrooms” in secondary and elementary schools. In some respects, such a government-funded educational and cultural initiative is nothing new. For more than sixty years, Germany has relied on the Goethe-Institut to foster the teaching of German around the globe. But whereas the Goethe-Institut, like the British Council and the Alliance Française, is a stand-alone institution situated outside university precincts, a Confucius Institute exists as a virtually autonomous unit within the regular curriculum of the host school—for example, providing accredited courses in Chinese language in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.
There’s another big difference: CIs are managed by a foreign government, and accordingly are responsive to its politics.
Read more: China U. | The Nation
By Pure Insight
Reincarnation. Fact, fallacy, superstition or simply coincidence? Those stories of people with super-minds; minds that delve into the past, minds that have the power to move objects and perceive things the rest of us cannot with our ordinary senses; minds that operate independently of the body. Since ancient times, these enigmas have intrigued rational people but only back in the 1970s are scientists, the Mind Detectives, beginning to understand something of the mysteries at work inside of us.
Do we have one life only or several? Have you ever experienced that feeling of déjà vu or a sense of “been here before”? According to mind detectives, we have experienced many previous lives in the past and we’ll go on being born again, into other forms, until we reach an absolute state.
Here are three interesting cases of experts’ experience on the subject of reincarnation. Below is Part I
Case Study 1 – the Bloxham tapes
Arnall Bloxham was a Welsh hypnotherapist from back in the 1970s who, over a 20-year period, hypnotized a few hundred people and recorded what appear to be descriptions of previous lives. Do the Bloxham tapes prove reincarnation or can they be explained in some other way? Arnall Bloxham is an expert in what hypnotists call ‘past lives regression experiments.’ Under hypnosis he can take a person back to the moment of his or her birth, and even beyond that. Bloxham was the president of the British Society of Hypnotherapists then and he was using hypnosis to cure people of physical ailments, like smoking, for instance.
What happens during his experiments on hypnotic regression defies common human logic. His clients could relate, in meticulous detail, lives of people who existed hundreds of years ago.
As unbelievable as it may seem, Bloxham produced over 400 tape recordings of hypnotized subjects reliving their previous lives. In addition, many detailed records, cross-references from these tapes, have been substantiated as facts. According to Bloxham, this strong evidence strongly supports the ancient belief of reincarnation as the truth.
One of Bloxham’s high-profile cases is that of Jane Evans. Jane’s regression into her past lives began in 1971 when she saw a poster that reads: “Arnall Bloxham says rheumatism is psychological.” Jane, a 32-year-old Welsh housewife who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, found the statement incredible, so she decided to get in touch with the man responsible for this poster. Indeed she did, through a friend of her husband. And ultimately got in touch with six of her past lives as well. They were: as a tutor’s wife in Roman times; as a Jew who was massacred in the 12th century in York; as the servant of a French medieval merchant prince; as a maid of honor to Catherine of Aragon; as a poor servant in London during the reign of Queen Anne; and as a nun in 19th-century America.
The story of Jane Evans and several other examples of reincarnation were brought to light by BBC television producer, Jeffrey Iverson in his book, “More Lives Than One?” In 1975, in pursuing verification of the theory of reincarnation, Iverson asked Jane’s permission to let Bloxham hypnotize her again into regression, this time in the presence of a BBC television camera and tape recorder. Iverson then set out to uncover whether she did, in fact, have more lives than one.
Iverson researched the detail of these lives and verified that the details of Jane Evans’ recorded regressions were indeed founded on fact. At the end of the book he considers that Bloxham’s 20 years of work signify strong support for the concept of reincarnation. He also produced a BBC documentary film, called “The Bloxham Tapes” based on all these materials.
Case Number 2 - Dr. Arthur Guirdham’s Cathars
Skeptics have attributed this phenomenon to what mind detectives call “cryptomnesia,” a term that simply means remembering facts you forgot you ever knew! If such a distant memory could be culled from a person’s mind, it might logically explain Jane Evan’s supposed ‘reincarnation.’
However, for Dr. Arthur Guirdham, Britain’s other great authority on reincarnation, this explanation cannot account for the cases he had seen and heard. Dr. Guirdham relates these experiences in his books, “We Are One Another,” “The Cathars & Reincarnation” and his autobiography, “A Foot in Both Worlds.”
Dr. Guirdham, a retired national health psychiatrist in the U.K., heads a small group of people who believe that they were Cathars in their past lives, a heretical religious group which existed in the Languedoc area of south-west France in the 13th century.
The incident that led to Dr. Guirdham’s reincarnation theory began in Bath, 1962, in a hospital’s outpatient department, where Dr. Guirdham worked as a psychiatrist. His last patient on one particular day was an attractive, apparently normal young woman who had had a recurring nightmare occasionally since her teens, but was now experiencing it two or three times a week. In her dream she was lying on her back on the floor while a man approached her from behind. She did not know what was going to happen but was absolutely terrified.
Although Dr. Guirdham remained calm and detached, he had to hide his surprise while listening to his new patient for the woman was describing the same nightmare that had plagued him, too, for more than 30 years. The doctor was intrigued but said nothing to his patient. She never had the nightmare again and, as for Dr. Guirdham, his dream stopped within a week of meeting this new patient.
Their meetings continued, though. Dr. Guirdham was certain there was nothing mentally wrong with his patient and her knowledge of the past intrigued him. Later she gave him a list of names of people she said had existed in the 13th century and described things that happened to them. She also told Dr. Guirdham that he, too, had been alive then and was called Rogiet de Cruisot.
As a psychiatrist, Dr.Guirdham had picked up some basic information about the theory of reincarnation, but never had much interest in the subject. Nevertheless, intrigued by this case, he decided to investigate. He found that the names given to him by his patient were indeed accurate, though only mentioned in fairly obscure history records of the Middle Ages. Those records had been written in French though, and had never been translated into English. The people Dr. Guirdham’s patient described were all members of the Cathar sect, a group that had flourished in southern France and northern Italy in the Middle Ages. Among other things, the Cathars believed in reincarnation. Over time, Dr Guirdham met more and more individuals, 11 in total, who had memories of their past lives living together in a Cathar group.
None of the subjects were drugged or hypnotized; past names and incidents simply appeared in their minds, said Dr Guirdham. Dr Guirdham also produced one of the most remarkable pieces of evidence he had. It was the sketchpad of a seven-year-old girl, containing drawings of a bygone era. The sketchpad also includes many members’ names of the Cathar sect. Amazed, Dr Guirdham said, “It’s beyond me how a 7-year-old child could know these names when I shouldn’t think there was an expert in medieval history in England at the time who knew them.”
The sheer amount of memories, names and contacts convinced the doctor that he and his group had all lived together, not just once, but several lifetimes before. He said, “With 40 years of experience in medicine, it is either that I know the difference between a clairvoyant’s experience and a schizophrenic one or I am psychotic myself. None of the people in my group is mad in any way – and none of my colleagues have found me psychotic.”
Case Number 3 - Dr. Ian Stevenson, University of Virginia
If the world’s top experts on reincarnation were to be named, Dr. Ian Stevenson, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia would be on that list. He has traveled all over the world to investigate various reports of reincarnation and has devised a rigorous test to rule out fraud, cryptomnesia, etc. Out of 200, only 20 cases survived this tough test by Dr. Stevenson to be suggestive of possible cases of reincarnation. Seven of these cases occurred in India, three in Sri Lanka, two in Brazil, one in the Lebanon and seven among a tribe of Indians in Alaska.
Take the case of a very young girl, born in 1956 in central Sri Lanka with a tongue-twisting name of Gnantilleka Baddewithana. Soon after she had started learning to talk, she began mentioning another mother and father in another place, where she said she also had two brothers and many sisters.
From the details the little girl gave, her parents were able to fit her descriptions to a particular family in a town some distance away. They found that this family had lost a son in 1954. When Gnantilleka was taken to visit this family, she said that she was their dead son and correctly identified seven members of “his” family. But until then the families had never met each other or even visited each other’s town.
Skeptics may dismiss the theory of reincarnation as fallacy, while non-believers in reincarnation may brush it off as baseless superstition.
Regardless of whether you believe it or not, since time immemorial, Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism have been advocating the theory of reincarnation in their beliefs. They believe in the theory of causation, in other words, the connection between cause and effect. They believe a person’s conduct in this present life matters and all the good deeds and misdemeanors committed by one will be accounted for. But, well, who is the bookkeeper?
Theory has it that the natural forces of the Cosmic Law, or you may call it Nature’s Law, will take precedence over this. A person’s deeds, good or bad will manifest their effects in one’s present life or the next, as good fortune or destiny versus bad destiny or retribution, and so on, according to the case itself.
The atheists would probably consider this theory as an example of “fatalistic syndrome.” The atheists believe life is what one makes out of it; one’s destiny is in one’s own hands.
On the contrary, Taoists believe a person reaps what he/she has sown. Perhaps, this explains one of the theories of Taoism about the eight types of people’s reincarnated destinies; such as, wealth vs. poverty, honor vs. ignobility (lowliness), longevity vs. short-life, and the like.
Perhaps this is also the reason why Buddhism has promoted the theory of the “six paths of samsara (reincarnation)” beginning some 2,500 years ago until today.
And perhaps this could be the reason for the often heard advice of our forefathers and parents to follow the maxim of, “Doing good deeds will be rewarded with virtues and doing bad or evil deeds will beget retribution”.
Read more: Reincarnation: Fact or Fallacy?
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This girl can really sing. A voice from the heaven. So mature… for her age.
A planet with no sun was spotted by astronomers, according to astronomers in Hawaii this week. The sun-less planet is reportedly six times the size of Jupiter.
Scientists have said that the planet, called PSO J318.5-22, could be the first real free-roaming planet spotted by astronomers to date. The planet was spotted drifting alone around eighty light years from Earth, according to the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manao, which conducted the research.
“We have never before seen an object free-floating in space that looks like this,” said lead researcher Michael Liu in a statement. “It has all the characteristics of young planets found around other stars, but it is drifting out there all alone. I had often wondered if such solitary objects exist, and now we know they do.”
The planet, researchers said, formed around 12 million years ago and is similar to other gas giants orbiting around young stars, the university said. Earth is thought to be around 4.5 billion years old.
“Planets found by direct imaging are incredibly hard to study, since they are right next to their much brighter host stars. PSO J318.5-22 is not orbiting a star so it will be much easier for us to study. It is going to provide a wonderful view into the inner workings of gas-giant planets like Jupiter shortly after their birth,” Dr. Niall Deacon of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany said in a statement.
The planet was discovered while researchers were trying to find brown dwarfs. Like PSO J318.5-22, brown dwarfs are faint and have cool temperatures.
But PSO J318.5-22 “stood out as an oddball, redder than even the reddest known brown dwarfs,” they said.
“We often describe looking for rare celestial objects as akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. So we decided to search the biggest haystack that exists in astronomy, the dataset from PS1,” said Dr. Eugene Magnier, co-author of the study.
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