Category Archives: Science

Star Trek Science: Here comes the Impulse Engine!

Star Trek fans take note: Have a seat before you read the next sentence or prepare to swoon.

University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) aerospace engineers working with NASA, Boeing and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are investigating how to build fusion impulse rocket engines for extremely high-speed space travel.

“Star Trek fans love it, especially when we call the concept an impulse drive, which is what it is,” says team member Ross Cortez, an aerospace engineering Ph.D. candidate at UAH’s Aerophysics Research Center.

Stay seated Trekkies, because there’s more.

“The fusion fuel we’re focusing on is deuterium [a stable isotope of hydrogen] and Li6 [a stable isotope of the metal lithium] in a crystal structure. That’s basically dilithium crystals we’re using,” Cortez says, referring to the real-world equivalent of the fictional element used to power Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise.

While this engine, if produced, wouldn’t generate a fraction of the velocity as the faster-than-light warp drives envisioned in the TV shows, books and movies, it could produce speeds that exceed other not-science-fiction-based systems that rocket scientists are investigating.

Their ultimate goal is to develop a nuclear fusion propulsion system by 2030 that can spirit spacecraft from Earth to Mars in around three months—about twice as fast as researchers think they could go with a nuclear fission engine, another scheme that is being investigated but has not yet been built.

Their current design has a spacecraft with the impulse engines being built in low Earth orbit, so the thrusters and ship wouldn’t need to cope with the atmosphere or achieving escape velocity. That doesn’t mean it would be a lightweight when fully assembled, though. Cortez says the craft could tip the scales at almost 500 tons.

Major problems to solve

There’s a big gap between hopes and goals, though. For decades, nuclear fusion researchers have worked to harness the huge amounts of energy generated from slamming atoms together so hard they fuse. Their efforts have led to scientific progress, but the goal of getting more energy out of a fusion reaction than what is required to smash them together at amazingly high speeds has so far proven elusive.

Last week, Sandia National Laboratory investigators said they are getting closer to “break-even,” the holy grail of research that will see the same amount or more energy released from a nuclear fusion reaction than that which was put in.

“We’re interested in deep-space exploration,” says Dr. Jason Cassibry, a UAH engineering professor and the head of the research team. “Right now humans are stuck in low Earth orbit, but we want to explore the solar system. We’re trying to come up with a system that will demonstrate break-even for thermonuclear propulsion.”

To really start getting around the solar system, spacecraft will need to go much faster than they do now.

According to astronomy professor Courtney Seligman, the next date Earth will be closest to Mars after the team’s 2030 objective will be in May 2031, when the two planets will be 51.4 million miles apart. For the team’s fusion-powered spacecraft to reach the red planet in three months at that point, it would have to travel at almost 24,000 miles per hour, or about 10 times the muzzle velocity of a bullet fired from an assault rifle.

(conceptual diagram of the team’s fusion impulse engine. Image courtesy Ross Cortez/UAH)

Z-pinch fusion and magnetic nozzles

To hit this phenomenal speed, the researchers are investigating something called z-pinch fusion as a source of propulsion. Cortez says the technique takes a cylindrical array of super-thin lithium wires and puts a massive electric current through them. The electricity—millions of amps are being sent through the wires in 100 nanosecond pulses, which could produce 3 terawatts of output power—creates a magnetic field around the array and vaporizes the wires to form plasma. The magnetic field pinches the plasma until it collapses on a core of deuterium and lithium, which they hope will cause its atoms to fuse and result in a massive release of energy.

“What we’re aiming for is to get enough compression and heat in the z-pinch implosion to cause the fusion fuel to react,” Cortez says. “With the energy that would release, we could get millions of pounds of thrust out the back of this thing—on the order of Saturn-V-class thrust.”

After achieving the proper speed, the engines would be shut down and the craft would coast to its target.

Besides figuring out the fusion problem, another obstacle to their goal is how to contain and direct the resulting energy to generate thrust—no small task because the reaction would create temperatures in the millions of degrees Celsius, enough to vaporize any known material. To solve this problem, part of the team is working on another line of research, which seeks to develop a “magnetic nozzle.” This would use directed magnetic fields to guide the energy out of the engine.

“We’re facing some pretty heavy problems to getting this thing working; it won’t be a cinch,” Cortez says. “But we’re very ambitious and we’ve got a lot of great ideas. Put enough bright people to work on it and you’re going to get gold or, in this case, fusion.”

But even if they don’t reach their objective of developing the z-pinch fusion propulsion system, the group’s work will likely be useful in the global effort to develop terrestrial fusion reactors as a source of clean, limitless energy.

The major hurdles have not yet shaken Cortez’s optimism, because he keeps thinking of what success might mean: “How could I not stay interested? With this work, eventually, I might have the chance of seeing Jupiter up close or help humanity colonize Mars.”

(UAH doctoral candidate Ross Cortez assembles a device that generates massive bursts of electricity for fusion propulsion research.)

Top Image: A conceptual model of the University of Alabama-Huntsville’s fusion impulse propulsion spacecraft. Courtesy Ross Cortez/UAH.

Michael Keller is the Managing Editor of Txchnologist. His science, technology and international reporting work has appeared online and in newspapers, magazines and books, including the graphic novel Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Reach him at mkeller@groupsjr.com.

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80,000 year old Siberian girl comes back to ‘Life’….almost.

Make no mistake, at some point in the future we will be able to completely reanimate the human body based on only the smallest fragment of DNA code. That code will be, in my estimation, dumped into a sort of pre-designed template of stem cells and the like that can be manipulated into accepting any and all DNA. That template will then become the basis for reconstructing the exact duplicate of that DNA. The difference, though, in my opinion, will be this: the recovered DNA will be found to have traces of electric current. In my view, that archaic electricity will provide holographic-like directions for repairing and recovering memories and the like, as well as the essence of consciousness itself. Could quantum computers be the next step in processing this amount of information? Could human beings be brought back completely and wholly? I believe so. Could this be another step in that direction? Possibly….

via McMannes

“We’ve known little of the genetic sequences of our precursors, despite having found many examples of their remains: the requirement for two strands in traditional DNA sequencing isn’t much help when we’re usually thankful to get just one. The Max Planck Institute has devised a new, single-strand technique that may very well fill in the complete picture. Binding specific molecules to a strand, so enzymes can copy the sequence, has let researchers make at least one pass over 99.9 percent of the genome of a Siberian girl from roughly 80,000 years ago — giving science the most complete genetic picture of any human ancestor to date, all from the one bone you see above. The gene map tells us that the brown-skinned, brown-eyed, brown-haired girl was part of a splinter population known as the Denisovans that sat in between Neanderthals and ourselves, having forked the family tree hundreds of thousands of years before today. It also shows that there’s a small trace of Denisovans and their Neanderthal roots in modern East Asia, which we would never have known just by staring at fossils. Future discoveries could take years to leave an impact, but MPI may have just opened the floodgates of knowledge for our collective history.”

via Wired

Mars Rovers Goes Viral: ‘I’m NASA and I know it’

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It’s sexy to be a scientist.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE.

A new viral video set to the tune of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” is making the rounds, paying a hilarious tribute to NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity team in the wake of the country’s obsession with its landing on Aug. 5.

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The spoof video shows a group of “NASA” members hard at work on landing the Mars rover, touting their space skills in rap form.

“I got stars on my ‘hawk and I ain’t afraid to show it,” sings a spiky-haired impersonator of NASA’s leading heartthrob, Bobak Ferdowsi, who shot to nationwide fame after video of him the night of the landing lit up the Internet.

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The chorus of the catchy tune, of course, is, “We’re NASA and we know it.”

In the video, the group — suited up in NASA-esque blue polo shirts and sitting in a dummy control room dance through the streets and rap their space terms alongside the beat.

“This is how I rove, bakin’ red rocks in my nuclear stove,” one lyric goes, accompanied by cute animations. The faux NASA nerds also show off some synchronized dance moves, featuring a woman in an American flag bikini and a man in an astronaut-style orange jumpsuit.

The video was put together by Seattle-based comedy group Satire, with the role of Bobak played by web video comedian David Hudson. It got a stamp of approval from both NASA’s official Twitter account and the verified account for the rover itself, which both retweeted the link to the legions of space fans who have been extremely vocal in their passion for all things Curiosity since the Mars landing.

“This fan-made video is AWESOME (and I know it.)” the rover tweeted, adding the hashtag “#wiggle #wiggle #wiggle as another nod to the LMFAO song. The Mohawk man himself also gave the video a thumbs up.

“Well played!” Ferdowsi tweeted.

“Video is hilarious & awesome, but don’t know that we can dance like that (see high5s for ref),” he added, poking fun at himself and his team for their well-chronicled awkward high-fives the night of the Rover landing.

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BY MEENA HART DUERSON / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2012, 12:47 PM
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/mars-rover-fans-viral-video-nasa-i-article-1.1137698#ixzz23osZDy8N

Archaeologists from Bonn discover in Mexico the tomb of a Maya prince!

WEBWIRE – Monday, July 30, 2012

Cup provided the clue!

Archaeologists from the Department of Anthropology of the Americas at the University of Bonn have been excavating for the past four years together with the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History in the Maya city of Uxul in Campeche, Mexico. The aim of the excavation project under the direction of Prof. Dr. Nikolai Grube and Dr. Kai Delvendahl is to investigate the process of centralization and collapse of hegemonic state structures in the Maya Lowlands using the example of a mid-sized classic Maya city (Uxul) and its ties to a supra-regional center (Calakmul). Research at Uxul, located close to the border with Guatemala, is being funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

Since 2011, excavations have concentrated on the royal palace complex, which is located directly south of the main plazas in the center of Uxul. The palace extends 120 x 130 meters and consists of at least eleven individual buildings which surround five courtyards. “The palace complex was built around 650 AD, a time when the neighboring ruling dynasty from Calakmul was extending its influence over large areas of the Maya Lowlands” explains Professor Grube. In 2011, six sculpted panels were discovered during excavations of the southern stairway of the largest building of the group, Structure K2. Four of these panels depict kings from Calakmul, playing ball. The similarities in the layout of the centers of Calakmul and Uxul and especially of the main palace complexes in the two cities let the researchers to suggest that Uxul, originally a smaller independent kingdom, may have been temporarily ruled and inhabited by members of the Kaan Dynasty of Calakmul. Through recent excavations in several of Uxul´s central buildings, the changes in the physiognomy of the city´s center can be linked directly to the time of military and political expansion of the Kaan Dynasty during the reign of Yukno´m Ch´een II, in the first half of the 7th century. However, the influence subsided after 705 AD, and there is a strong likelihood that a local ruling family came back to power for a few generations. At the start of the 9th century, Uxul was almost completely abandoned.

“During this year´s excavation below one of the southern rooms of Structure K2, we have discovered a richly furnished tomb, which can be dated to the time right after the influence of Calakmul in Uxul had ended” explains Dr. Delvendahl. The walls of the crypt are made of rough stone and the chamber was covered with a corbel vault, typical for the Maya culture. In the interior of this tomb chamber which dates back about 1,300 years, the remains of a young man were discovered who was buried on his back with his arms folded. Deposited around him were four ceramic plates and five ceramic vases in an exceptionally preserved state, some of which were decorated with spectacular paintings and moldings. A unique plate, painted in the famed Codex-Style, was covering the skull of the deceased.

Vessel with dedication may point to the identity of the deceased.

“On one of the vases, there was a simple dedication, written in elegantly molded hieroglyphics, which read: ’[This is] the drinking vessel of the young man/prince’. Also a second molded vessel appears to mention a young man or prince” says Professor Grube. Although these references are not definite clues as to the identity of the departed, the location of the tomb and the absence of certain status markers, such as jade jewelry, would indicate that the deceased was a young male member of the ruling family who was not in direct line for the throne. A possible date on one of the vessels corresponds to the year 711 AD; therefore the death of the young prince and the construction of his tomb can be dated back to the second or third decade of the 8th century. The exceptionally preserved ceramics in particular make this tomb one of the most significant discoveries of its kind in the entire Maya Lowlands.

Ancient Aliens? Relics on the Moon?

Has NASA known all along? Were Masons involved? Were rituals involving Osiris and ancient Egypt conducted before landing? Is the reason why we haven’t been told simply because we are not ready to hear?

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Higgs-Boson Gives Time Travel Idea New Life!

Once thought a dead issue, the idea of time travel was given new life this week as scientists interpret new data.

In March of 2011, Gadling reported time travel was to be tested at Vanderbilt University. Using the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator, scientists hoped to find the mysterious Higgs Boson particle, the particle that physicists invoke to explain why particles like protons, neutrons and electrons have mass.

“One of the major goals of the collider is to find the elusive Higgs boson. If the collider succeeds in producing the Higgs boson, some scientists predict that it will create a second particle, called the Higgs singlet, at the same time,” reported Vanderbilt’s research news.

Professor Tom Weiler and graduate fellow Chui Man Ho thought these singlets should have the ability to jump into an extra, fifth dimension where they can move either forward or backward in time and reappear in the future or past.

“One of the attractive things about this approach to time travel is that it avoids all the big paradoxes,” Weiler said at the time. “Because time travel is limited to these special particles, it is not possible for a man to travel back in time and murder one of his parents before he himself is born, for example.”

This week, researchers from the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, analyzed data from the Large Hadron Collider and are “almost certain that they had proven the existence of the Higgs boson, the most sought-after particle in all of physics,” says a CNN report.

The new information comes after Illinois researchers said earlier in the week that scientists had come closer to proving that the particle exists but had been unable to reach a definitive conclusion.

No information yet on the Higgs singlet. But proving the existence of the Higgs boson would most likely give new life to the idea of time travel. Not much new life, but some. Professor Weller noted, “if scientists could control the production of Higgs singlets, they might be able to send messages to the past or future.”

Baby steps.

by Chris Owen (RSS feed) on Jul 5th 2012

Day Dreaming Good for You? Reflection Is Critical for Development and Well-Being!

ScienceDaily (July 2, 2012) — As each day passes, the pace of life seems to accelerate — demands on productivity continue ever upward and there is hardly ever a moment when we aren’t, in some way, in touch with our family, friends, or coworkers. While moments for reflection may be hard to come by, a new article suggests that the long-lost art of introspection — even daydreaming — may be an increasingly valuable part of life. 

In the article, published in the July issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychological scientist Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and colleagues survey the existing scientific literature from neuroscience and psychological science, exploring what it means when our brains are ‘at rest.’

To read more…

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702184027.htm

 

 

Shape Shifters on the way? Next up: Klingon Cloaking Device!

Michio Kaku: Shape-Shifting Technology Is Coming
Big Think Editors on October 12, 2010, 12:00 AM

Physicist and Big Think blogger Michio Kaku is the closest thing the world has to real-life wizard. With his shocking white hair, he makes prophesies about fantastic technologies that science is close to unlocking. On “The Colbert Report” this summer, for instance, Kaku said that we would soon have invisibility cloaks like in the “Harry Potter” books.

During his most recent Big Think interview, we asked Dr. Kaku what other futuristic technologies we could hope to see within our lifetimes. His answer: shape-shifting. Science is already making huge advances in so-called “programmable matter,” he says. “Atoms can slide over atoms, rearrange themselves, but what happens if atoms are replaced by chips, chips that are so small they’re smaller than the head of a pin and you can change their electric charge? By changing the electric charge they bind and reform in different ways and they’re intelligent because each dot is a computer chip perhaps as powerful as a PC.” This may sound like science fiction, but the computer chip manufacturer Intel is already leading the charge toward developing this kind of programmable matter. In the future it could be used to build entire cities instantaneously. “If I have a clump of clay made of thousands of millions of little dots I push a button then the charges rearrange themselves to form a statue, a car, whatever you want,” Kaku says. “This means that I can push another button and this clay turns into a house or I push another button and a whole city rises out of the desert.”

Kaku also discussed the prospect of a technological singularity, a point at which robots will become smarter than humans—resulting in explosive scientific innovation. Based on Moore’s Law, which says that computer technology doubles every 18 months, some have projected that the singularity will take place as soon as 2029. But Kaku calls these predictions inaccurate because at some point Moore’s Law will hit a wall. There will be a point at which silicon transistors will physically not be able to get smaller or more powerful, he says. Scientists will need to find a replacement for silicon if computers will continue to improve. And even if scientists do overcome this, Kaku isn’t too worried that robots will take over and enslave us. “Right now our machines are as smart as insects,” he says. “Probably by the end of the century, who knows, they’ll be as smart as monkeys. At that point they could become potentially dangerous because monkeys can formulate their own plans; they don’t have to listen to you. They can formulate their own strategies, their own goals and I would say therefore at that point let’s put a chip in their brain to shut them off if they get murderous thoughts.”

But robots aren’t the only thing that could destroy mankind. We are more than capable of doing that job ourselves, he says. And what happens over the next 100 years will determine the fate of mankind. Kaku says we are currently a “type zero” civilization; we rely on fossil fuels and have nationalistic governments. But in about 100 years we will become a “type one” civilization, a planetary civilization with global governments and institutions. “We’ll be able to harness all the energy output of the planet earth,” he says. “We’ll play with the weather, earthquakes, volcanoes. Anything planetary we will play with.” And this formative next century is so dangerous because we still have sectarian, fundamentalist ideas circulating alongside nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that could wipe life off the planet. Terrorists are a reaction against a type one civilization, which is beginning to emerge with organizations like the European Union and a global language like English. “What they’re reacting to is the fact that we’re headed toward a multicultural tolerant scientific society and that is what they don’t want. They don’t want science. They want a theocracy. They don’t want multiculturalism. They want monoculturalism.”

A Quick Note to Anti-Faith Intellectuals.

Ah, the beauty of a self-implied intellectual mind and its consistent suppression of any and all things faith-based. It seems brilliant scientists all over the world start each sentence with the fine response, “We had no idea…We couldn’t believe…We didn’t expect to see…We’re hoping to find…Theoretically, it should…We’re not sure exactly why…” and then feel justified by all you amateur ‘Physics’ cheerleaders who wave your mental pom-poms in different newsgroups screaming “Schrodinger’s Cat! Schrodinger’s Cat!!” to anyone who will listen while espousing the demonic virtues of all things faith-based.

MY GOD, MAN!! OF course, the earth is flat…oh, wait!

You support all that is intellectual and yet allow ZERO intellect toward what ‘MIGHT’ be possible. Of course, there can be NO GOD because my intellect says it’s silly (Oh yeah, and my daddy beat me as a child!) Open your mind, Newton-and by the way, Schrodinger’s Cat is more of a faith experiment than a thought-experiment. The very moment you observe it, everything changes. Only ONE OUTCOME can be observed even though, at one point, there was TWO outcomes. When you open the box, you SEE one…but you must BELIEVE that there was another. FAITH = a more intellectual way to look at the unknown.~~~~

Now, GIVE ME A ‘G’–G, GIVE ME AN ‘O’–O, GIVE ME A ‘D’–D…and what does that spell? Your “Finale!”

Be blessed, my friend……if you’re intellectual enough to ask for it.

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/05/24/lost-ends-on-a-spiritual-note/?hpt=Sbin

LOST – – THE END!

Thanks to Lostpedia for all the brilliant insight. And Here….we…..go!

THEY WERE NOT “DEAD THE WHOLE TIME”

I don’t know why people are having trouble understanding this, as it is CLEARLY explained in the final minutes of the finale episode by Christian Shephard (Jack’s dad). The original Oceanic 815 plane crash happened. Everything on the Island through seasons 1-6 happened. The “flash sideways” universe introduced in season 6 was a sort of stop-over point between life and afterlife (referred to here as the “purgatory universe”).

Each person in this “purgatory universe” created a reality for themselves based on their lingering issues in life – that which they could not “let go” of. For Jack it was Daddy issues; Kate, the guilt of murder; Sawyer, the quest to find “Sawyer” and be a better man; Sayid, the unrequited love of Nadia; Charlie, looking for something “real” in his hollow life of fame, etc…

Everyone was still attached to their Earthly concerns (we’re getting very Buddhist here, bear with me) – but when they made contact with those people they’d met on the Island, they remembered the journey and growth they had experienced because of the Island, and could finally understand the connections and “purpose” brought into their damaged lives by being there. With that greater understanding of themselves, they were each ready to “leave” or “move on” to the next phase of existence – i.e., the true afterlife.

WHAT WAS THAT FINAL IMAGE OF THE CRASHED PLANE?

Some people are convinced the final image during the end credits of the Lost finale was the “clue” to the characters being dead the whole time. OK, let’s think about this: The image appears during the closing credits, after the final appearance of the “LOST” logo. That means that the story had officially ended. Saying that the biggest reveal came while the end credits were rolling is like saying a movie’s climax happens during the end credits. Not bloody likely.

The image of the plane crash (if you look closely) has memorabilia from the Lostie’s time on the beach where they first made camp. Shacks, towels, etc… it was one part nostalgia (remember where it all began?) and also one part commentary on the circular nature of the Island.

Like the Black Rock ship that brought Richard to the Island (“Ab Aeterno“), or the downed plane with the heroin that had Mr. Ecko’s brother’s corpse inside of it (“The 23rd Psalm“), the remains of Oceanic 815 and the evidence of a small community built on the beach are just more monuments of the Island. The next time somebody crashes there, they’ll see that stuff and wonder what the “mystery” behind it is…

Then they’ll whine and complain about how unsatisfying the answer is. (“What? That’s how that mystical guy “Hurley” came to the Island? LAME.”)

WHAT WAS DESMOND’S POWER?

One of the biggest things people seem to be questioning is how Desmond was able to “wake up” from the purgatory universe and how he had the know-how to “wake up” the other Losties. For that answer, you really just have to look back over the history of Desmond.

Desmond (specifically through his connection to Penny Widmore) is a sort of “constant” in the show. No matter what happens, when, or where, Desmond seems somehow immune to the Island’s energy (which has electromagnetic properties) and has a sort of awareness that can transcend space and time (his consciousness shifts seen in episodes like “The Constant“). These “shifts” and Widmore’s explanation that Desmond is special because of his resistance to the Island’s energies, imply that Desmond would even be able to “shift” his consciousness back and forth between this universe and the purgatory one, catalyzed by Widmore’s team placing him in that huge electromagnetic machine in the season six episode, “Happily Ever After“.

So, it does stand to reason (at least Lost reasoning) that Desmond – after having his consciousness “shifted” to the purgatory reality – would “wake up” after encountering HIS constant, Penny. It’s another fast and loose metaphysical explanation, but one that (for me) still works within the framework of the show.

WHAT’S  THE DEAL WITH THE ISLAND’S “RULES?”

Over the course of the show people have wondered about the mythology of the Island – where it came from, what it is and what are the “rules” that govern it and its mystical protectors? Admittedly, this is an area where the showrunners played things fast and loose, hoping that the momentum of the characters’ story arcs and the whole “good vs. evil” showdown would be enough to appease most fans. Alas, not so.

Season six of Lost did a great deal to semi-explain what the island was – a sort of container for a very important energy that seemingly links this world with worlds beyond… or something. That energy is represented by light and water, and if that light goes out and the water stops flowing, the world is basically screwed. Everything magical or fantastic about the Island stems from this energy, and many of the technological oddities found on the Island (the Swan Station from season 2) are a result of the Dharma Initiative trying to harness and control that energy (i.e., man trying to bend magic and mysticism to the will of modern science).

However, there are some things that were definitely left unexplained: Why did the Man In Black become a smoke monster when he was exposed to the light (was it a manifestation of his corrupted soul)?; What is the nature of the “rules” that governed certain aspects of the Island – who could come and go, who could kill who, who was healed from injury (Locke, Rose), who lived forever (Richard). How were these rules established and maintained?

The Jacob/MIB origin episode, “Across The Sea”, attempted to fill in that aspect of the Island mythology, but what we came away with were a lot of vague pseudo-explanations. The protector of the Island basically makes up the rules and once those rules are established they are set until somebody (a new protector?) changes them. This is the reason why the MIB was obsessed with “finding a loophole” in order to kill Jacob; it’s also why Jack was ultimately able to kill the MIB. Smokey was connected to the energy source, and when Jack had Desmond “turn off” that energy, Smokey lost his powers and was merely flesh and blood.

THE WIDMORE/LINUS CONUNDRUM

Ok… so there’s implication of what the Island’s “rules” are, but that gets a bit problematic when you think back to season 4 of Lost – which is basically about Charles Widmore sending operatives to the island to do what he cannot (get revenge on Ben Linus). There was that whole sub-plot about how it was ‘against the rules’ for Widmore to return to the Island, and how Widmore “changed the rules” by killing Ben’s adopted daughter, Alex. But why would the “rules” of the Island’s protectors apply to these two guys?

In the end, I think the showrunners went for an “It is what it is,” approach with the mystical rules governing the Island; they are convenient plot devices that support the story at various points, but don’t really hold up when looked at in conjunction with the entire series. The Widmore/Linus conundrum is simply one of those holes – a weak point of the Lost mythology, for sure.

WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE BLACK PEOPLE?

Remember when Lost had African-Americans as part of its “groundbreaking international cast?” Yeah, I vaguely do too. One friend of mine (and I’m sure of yours) watched the finale chanting “They better bring back Walt!” over and over – but no such luck.

Walt and his father Michael did make latter season Lost appearances: Locke visited Walt off the Island in the season five episode “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” and Michael appeared to Hurley as a ghost in season six, explaining the whole “whispers on the Island” thing. Still, many fans wondered why Walt, Michael and the “tailie” priest, Mr. Eko, didn’t reunite with the other cast members at the purgatory all-faith church in the finale.

Well, Michael we know is stuck on the Island as a “whisper” because he can’t move on, due to his killing of Libby and Ana Lucia in season two. Walt was freed from the Island early on, so the journey that bonded the Oceanic passengers in the purgatory universe was one that Walt was never really part of.

As for Mr. Eko, his death in the season 3 episode “The Cost of Living” showed that Eko had come to peace with his life. When told by the ghost of his brother Yemi to “Confess his sins,” Eko refused, saying that he had no guilt to confess; in his life, he did what he had to do to survive. The smoke monster evaluated Eko, who stood resolute about himself, his sins and the faith and redemption he’d ultimately found. After smokey beat Eko to pulp, Eko’s last vision was his young self walking away with his brother, holding the soccer ball they used to play with.

In short: Eko, by finding his faith and coming to peace with himself, had no reason to be in the purgatory world with the others. Wherever his soul was going, it was prepared for that journey – unlike the other passengers, who still had to come to peace with themselves and their deaths.

That all sounds deep, sure, but I’m sure off-screen conflicts with the actors and the fact that Macolm David Kelley (the kid who played Walt) hit puberty were also major factors.

WHAT ABOUT THE POLAR BEARS?

If you’re asking this question, you weren’t really paying attention to the show. Go rent Lost season 3 on DVD and see if you can’t figure out the polar bear “mystery” when the rest of us did… back in 2006. I’ll give you a hint: Dharma Initiative experiments.

WHAT ABOUT THE NUMBERS?

In the season six episode “The Substitute” Un-Locke takes Sawyer down to “Jacob’s cave” on the cliff (where Jack ultimately killed MIB) and in that cave, Sawyer observes that Jacob’s list of “candidates” for his replacement – our Losties – have numbers by their names. The list of candidates (Sawyer, Jack, Locke, Hugo, Sayid and “Kwon”) equate to the numbers 4-8-15-16-23-42 – the numbers that both steered Hurley to the Island in the first place (he went to Australia to find out about them), and served as the code for releasing the Island’s tapped energy in The Swan station. The numbers also showed up again and again throughout the show (Danielle’s papers, on medicine Claire and Desmond take, on Mr. Eko’s stick, etc…).

So in the end the numbers had to do with fate, and were a nice little numerology motif for the showrunners to play with (and a mathematical mystery for fans to agonize over). THE END.

BEN CONTROLS SMOKEY?

In the season 4 episode “The Shape of Things To Come” Ben Linus witnessed the murder of his daughter Alex at the hands of Charles Widmore’s mercenaries. Ben then accessed the secret room in his Dharma house and disappeared into a secret passage covered in hieroglyphics. When Ben returned, he brought the smoke monster with him, which murdered the team of Widmore’s assassins. Now we know the smoke monster was the Man In Black, but some viewers are still confused why Ben was able to “control the monster” in this season 4 episode, but not later in season six.

However, it is never said that Ben “controls” the smoke monster – the best word would be “summons.” This makes sense to the story, as Alex’s death is the event that makes Ben turn to the MIB for a favor – a favor which he later repays in season 5 by killing Jacob for the MIB. It’s the ultimate corruption of Ben Linus – the moment where he goes from being a blind servant of Jacob to serving evil. So I don’t quite consider this a loose end – just another case of misinterpretation by some viewers.

JACOB vs. THE DHARMA INITIATIVE

Ok, so this is MY major question. In one of my favorite Lost episodes, “The Man Behind The Curtain“, we learn all about Ben Linus’ childhood with the Dharma Initiative. The episode ends with the chilling revelation that Ben – conspiring with Richard – betrays “his people” in the initiative and mass murders them using nerve gas – including his own father. Ben then reveals to Locke what ultimately became of the Dharma Initiative: The Others threw their bodies into a gruesome mass grave.

Looking back from the series finale and the “Across The Sea” episode about Jacob’s past, I can’t help but wonder: did Jacob murder the Dharma Initiative?

We know that Richard is an emissary of Jacob – that is, Richard does Jacob’s bidding. So if Richard instructed Ben to kill the Dharma members, doesn’t that imply that Jacob instructed Richard to do so, much the same way Jacob’s “mother” slaughtered the men on the Island when the Man In Black got to close to them?

I find it hard to explain the death of the Dharma Initiative any other way, and that’s a huge narrative problem when you consider that our Losties – many of whom lived with and befriended the Dharma Initiative in the 70s – ultimately serve Jacob as well. They’re serving the man who most likely gave the order to murder their friends and co-workers!

It also blurs the lines between good and evil. Mass murder is never a good thing, so the fact that Jacob at least allowed the mass murder of the Dharma Initiative (it’s his role as “protector,” right?) is pretty ghastly when you think about it. This is the embodiment of “good” we’re supposed to root for? Makes you think the Man In Black wasn’t ALL bad…

WHAT ABOUT THE BOMB?

For me this is also a major problem of the Lost mythology. For much of season 6, many fans assumed (based on the opening to the season six premiere, “LA  X“) that the bomb that Jack and Co. detonated in the 70s (the season 5 finale) resulted in the Island sinking and an alternate timeline being created, in which Oceanic 815 never crashed, and things were slightly different in the lives of the passengers.

Now we know that the “alternate timeline” was actually purgatory where the Losties  all met up when they were dead, and the whole “alternate timeline” bit was a red herring.  So what, exactly, did the bomb do?

The obvious answer is that the bomb propelled the Losties back through time to the present day, where the the Swan station (a.k.a. “The Hatch”) was now a slightly different version of its former imploded self (see the photos below).

Like most time travel narratives, the situation with the hatch raises a ton of logistical questions, such as: Would Desmond still be on the island if the hatch had been destroyed in the past? Wouldn’t that alteration to the time stream have a ripple effect that disrupted everything else regarding the Oceanic 815 crashing? And so on…

Instead what we got was a time travel scenario where that one location, the 70s Swan station, seemed to “overlap” on its present-day self, while leaving the rest of the time stream unaffected (or something like that). It’s confusing and very problematic – yet another reason why time travel is something you probably want to stay away from as a storyteller…

In the end though, the outcome is the same: Whatever conduit to the Island’s energy source that the Dharma Initiative tapped when they made the Swan station was ultimately exhausted. Whether it was exhausted by the bomb Juliet set off, or the the moment in season 3 when Locke lost his faith and refused to push the button (“Live Together, Die Alone“) the energy was released, and The Swan was destroyed. The Losties made it back to the present, and there was never two timelines, apparently.

Try not to think too hard about it, I guess… But it certainly is a major thread left dangling.

These are just some of the lingering question Lost has left us with. For those of you who feel cheated by the finale – did any of these explanations help?

Our Universe at Home Within a Larger Universe? So Says Physicist’s Wormhole Research!

Such a scenario in which the universe is born from inside a wormhole (also called an Einstein-Rosen Bridge) is suggested in a paper from Indiana University theoretical physicist Nikodem Poplawski in Physics Letters B. The final version of the paper was available online March 29 and will be published in the journal edition April 12.

Poplawski takes advantage of the Euclidean-based coordinate system called isotropic coordinates to describe the gravitational field of a black hole and to model the radial geodesic motion of a massive particle into a black hole.

In studying the radial motion through the event horizon (a black hole’s boundary) of two different types of black holes — Schwarzschild and Einstein-Rosen, both of which are mathematically legitimate solutions of general relativity — Poplawski admits that only experiment or observation can reveal the motion of a particle falling into an actual black hole. But he also notes that since observers can only see the outside of the black hole, the interior cannot be observed unless an observer enters or resides within.

“This condition would be satisfied if our universe were the interior of a black hole existing in a bigger universe,” he said. “Because Einstein’s general theory of relativity does not choose a time orientation, if a black hole can form from the gravitational collapse of matter through an event horizon in the future then the reverse process is also possible. Such a process would describe an exploding white hole: matter emerging from an event horizon in the past, like the expanding universe.”

A white hole is connected to a black hole by an Einstein-Rosen bridge (wormhole) and is hypothetically the time reversal of a black hole. Poplawski’s paper suggests that all astrophysical black holes, not just Schwarzschild and Einstein-Rosen black holes, may have Einstein-Rosen bridges, each with a new universe inside that formed simultaneously with the black hole.

“From that it follows that our universe could have itself formed from inside a black hole existing inside another universe,” he said.

By continuing to study the gravitational collapse of a sphere of dust in isotropic coordinates, and by applying the current research to other types of black holes, views where the universe is born from the interior of an Einstein-Rosen black hole could avoid problems seen by scientists with the Big Bang theory and the black hole information loss problem which claims all information about matter is lost as it goes over the event horizon (in turn defying the laws of quantum physics).

This model in isotropic coordinates of the universe as a black hole could explain the origin of cosmic inflation, Poplawski theorizes.

Poplawski is a research associate in the IU Department of Physics. He holds an M.S. and a Ph.D. in physics from Indiana University and a M.S. in astronomy from the University of Warsaw, Poland.

‘Lifeless’ prions capable of evolutionary change and adaptation

ScienceDaily (Jan. 3, 2010) — Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute have determined for the first time that prions, bits of infectious protein devoid of DNA or RNA that can cause fatal neurodegenerative disease, are capable of Darwinian evolution.

The study from Scripps Florida in Jupiter shows that prions can develop large numbers of mutations at the protein level and, through natural selection, these mutations can eventually bring about such evolutionary adaptations as drug resistance, a phenomenon previously known to occur only in bacteria and viruses. These breakthrough findings also suggest that the normal prion protein — which occurs naturally in human cells — may prove to be a more effective therapeutic target than its abnormal toxic relation.

The study was published in the December 31, 2009 issue of the journal Science Express, an advance, online edition of the journal Science.

“On the face of it, you have exactly the same process of mutation and adaptive change in prions as you see in viruses,” said Charles Weissmann, M.D., Ph.D., the head of Scripps Florida’s Department of Infectology, who led the study. “This means that this pattern of Darwinian evolution appears to be universally active. In viruses, mutation is linked to changes in nucleic acid sequence that leads to resistance. Now, this adaptability has moved one level down — to prions and protein folding — and it’s clear that you do not need nucleic acid for the process of evolution.”

The Scripps Research study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and by a generous donation to the Weissmann laboratory from the Alafi Family Foundation.

–For the entire article, click below.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091231164747.htm

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Adapted from materials provided by Scripps Research Institute, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.


Journal Reference:

  1. Li et al. Darwinian Evolution of Prions in Cell Culture. Science, 2009; DOI: 10.1126/science.1183218

“Hold that door! Can you punch floor 23,115, please?”

‘Space elevator’ wins $900,000 NASA prize – space – 06 November 2009 – New Scientist.

A laser-powered robotic climber has won $900,000 in a competition designed to spur technology for a future elevator to space.

 

 

Building a space elevator would require anchoring a cable on the ground near Earth’s equator and deploying the other end thousands of kilometres into space. The centrifugal force due to Earth’s spin would keep the cable taut so that a robot could climb it and release payloads into orbit.

Though building a space elevator might require an initial investment of billions of dollars, proponents say once constructed, it would make for cheaper trips into space than is possible using rockets. But huge technological hurdles must first be overcome, including how to supply power to the robotic climber.

To that end, NASA offered $2 million in prize money in a competition called the Power Beaming Challenge, in which robotic climbers, powered wirelessly from the ground, attempt to ascend a cable as fast as possible.

Now, a robotic climber has made a prize-winning ascent worth $900,000, making it the first to win money in the competition, which has occurred annually since 2005.

Ted Semon, a volunteer with the Spaceward Foundation, a non-profit that organised the competition, and author of the Space Elevator Blog, says the feat shows space elevators are one step closer to getting off the ground. “We’ve done a lot here to demonstrate that this technology is possible,” he told New Scientist. “This is just enormously exciting.”

The winning climber was built by a team called LaserMotive, based in Seattle, Washington. Like the other two vehicles in the competition, it used solar cells to absorb energy from a ground-based infrared laser.

Unclaimed pot

On Wednesday, LaserMotive fired up its laser, powering the climber to ascend 900 metres up a cable suspended from a helicopter at Edwards Air Force Base in Mojave, California.

The climber reached the top in just over 4 minutes, for an average speed of 3.7 metres per second. The team’s climber repeated the feat at a slightly higher speed of 3.9 metres per second on Thursday.

On Friday, two other teams failed in their final attempted climbs. That means LaserMotive will receive the entire $900,000 NASA set aside for climbers that could make the climb faster than 2 metres per second.

The remaining $1.1 million in NASA prize money was reserved for climbs faster than 5 metres per second, which none of the competitors was able to achieve.

Lunar rovers

A climber entered by a team from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, stalled just a few metres up the cable in its final attempt on Friday and was unable to continue its climb.

A climber from a third team, called the Kansas City Space Pirates, also achieved only partial climbs.

NASA was expected to officially recognise LaserMotive as the winner of the $900,000 prize in an award ceremony later on Friday.

Though a space elevator remains a distant prospect, NASA is interested in wireless power transmission for other applications, like beaming power to lunar rovers travelling in shadowed craters, where solar energy is unavailable.

Multiplying Universes: How Many Is The Multiverse? – New Scientist

Multiplying universes: How many is the multiverse? – space – 28 October 2009 – New Scientist.

HOW many universes are there? Cosmologists Andrei Linde and Vitaly Vanchurin at Stanford University in California calculate that the number dwarfs the 10500 universes postulated in string theory, and raise the provocative notion that the answer may depend on the human brain.

The idea that there is more than one universe, each with its own laws of physics, arises out of several different theories, including string theory and cosmic inflation. This concept of a “multiverse” could explain a puzzling mystery – why dark energy, the furtive force that is accelerating the expansion of space, appears improbably fine-tuned for life. With a large number of universes, there is bound to be one that has a dark energy value like ours.

Calculating the probability of observing this value – and other features of the cosmos – depends on how many universes of various kinds populate the multiverse. String theory describes 10500 universes, but that just counts different vacuum states, which are like the blank canvases upon which universes are painted. The features of each canvas determine what the overall painting will look like – such as the laws of physics in that universe – but not the details.

Thanks to the randomness of quantum mechanics, two identical vacuum states can end up as very different universes. Small quantum fluctuations in the very early universe are stretched to astronomical scales by inflation, the period of faster-than-light expansion just after the big bang. These fluctuations lay down a gravitational blueprint that eventually determines the placement of stars and galaxies across the sky. Small differences in the form of these fluctuations can produce a universe in which the Milky Way is slightly bigger, or closer to its neighbours.

So just how many of these different universes can inflation’s quantum fluctuations produce? According to Linde and Vanchurin, the total is about 101010,000,000 – that’s a 10 raised to a number ending with 10 million zeros (arxiv.org/abs/0910.1589). Suddenly string theory’s multiverse of 10500universes is looking rather claustrophobic.

It might be, however, that this number is irrelevant, and that in a world ruled by quantum physics what matters is how many universes a single observer can distinguish. “Before quantum mechanics,” says Linde, “we thought that ‘reality’ was a well-defined word.” In classical physics, observers are irrelevant – we simply want to know how many universes exist.

It may not matter how many universes exist – just how many a single observer can tell apart

According to quantum physics, observers affect the systems they measure(see “Restricted view”). If observers are an integral part of the cosmic formula, then it may not matter how many universes exist – just how many a single observer can tell apart. If the observer is a person, that depends on how many bits of information the brain can process. “Based on the number of synapses in a typical brain, a human observer can register 1016,” says Linde. That means humans can differentiate 101016 universes, which is much more manageable than the 101010,000,000 Linde and Vanchurin found to start with.

But does the human brain really play a role in making predictions in the multiverse? “This goes deep into philosophy,” Linde says. “It’s a slippery slope.”

Cosmologist Alex Vilenkin of Tufts University in Boston is equally ambivalent. “It could be right that what is important is what an observer sees,” he says. “But there might be things an observer doesn’t see that are still there.”

Restricted view

Quantum theory splits the world into two parts: the system under study and the rest of the world, which contains the observer. The system hovers in a ghostly state of near-existence made up of a host of possibilities until the observer makes a measurement – and so reduces this to a single reality.

Cosmology suffers from the paradox that no observer can be outside the universe – so the universe is doomed to spend eternity as nothing more than a vague possibility. The lesson of quantum cosmology is that we can’t talk about the universe as a whole, but only what a given observer inside it might measure. Applying that lesson to the multiverse, Andrei Linde and Vitaly Vanchurin suggest that what matters is not the total number of possible universes, but the number of universes a single observer could distinguish.

If that observer is a human, the brain limits the amount of information they can register. But any observer – even an inanimate one such as a galaxy – is limited in the information it can store. These limitations in what observers can measure whittle down the number of universes that come into play in cosmological predictions. That means an observer might make a difference in explaining the value of things like dark energy.

Rethinking relativity: Is time out of joint? – space – 21 October 2009 – New Scientist

EVER since Arthur Eddington travelled to the island of Príncipe off Africa to measure starlight bending around the sun during a 1919 eclipse, evidence for Einstein’s theory of general relativity has only become stronger. Could it now be that starlight from distant galaxies is illuminating cracks in the theory’s foundation?

Everything from the concept of the black hole to GPS timing owes a debt to the theory of general relativity, which describes how gravity arises from the geometry of space and time. The sun’s gravitational field, for instance, bends starlight passing nearby because its mass is warping the surrounding space-time. This theory has held up to precision tests in the solar system and beyond, and has explained everything from the odd orbit of Mercury to the way pairs of neutron stars perform their pas de deux.

Yet it is still not clear how well general relativity holds up over cosmic scales, at distances much larger than the span of single galaxies. Now the first, tentative hint of a deviation from general relativity has been found. While the evidence is far from watertight, if confirmed by bigger surveys, it may indicate either that Einstein’s theory is incomplete, or else that dark energy, the stuff thought to be accelerating the expansion of the universe, is much weirder than we thought(see “Not dark energy, dark fluid”).

The analysis of starlight data by cosmologist Rachel Bean of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has generated quite a stir. Shortly after the paper waspublished on the pre-print physics archive, prominent physicist Sean Carroll of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena praised Bean’s research. “This is serious work by a respected cosmologist,” he wrote on his blog Cosmic Variance. “Either the result is wrong, and we should be working hard to find out why, or it’s right, and we’re on the cusp of a revolution.”

If it is wrong, we should be working hard to find out why, but if it’s right, we are on the cusp of a revolution

“It has caused quite a furore in astronomy circles,” says Richard Massey of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh in the UK. “This paper has generated a lot of interest.”

Bean found her evidence lurking in existing data collected by the Cosmic Evolution Survey, a multi-telescope imaging project that includes the longest survey yet by the Hubble Space Telescope. COSMOS, which detected more than 2 million galaxies over a small patch of sky, takes advantage of gravity’s ability to bend light. Massive objects like galaxy clusters bend the light of more distant objects so that it is directed towards or away from Earth. This effect, called gravitational lensing, is at its most dramatic when it creates kaleidoscopic effects like luminous rings or the appearance of multiple copies of a galaxy.

The sky is also dominated by the distorting effects of “weak lensing”, in which intervening matter bends light to subtly alter the shapes and orientations of more distant galaxies, creating an effect similar to that of looking through old window glass. Since galaxies come in all shapes and sizes, it is difficult to know whether the light from an individual galaxy has been distorted, because there is nothing to compare it with. But by looking for common factors in the distortion of many galaxies, it is possible to build up a map of both the visible and even unseen matterMovie Camera that bend their light.

The weak lensing technique can also be used to measure two different effects of gravity. General relativity calls for gravity’s curvature of space to be equivalent to its curvature of time. Light should be influenced in equal amounts by both.

When the COSMOS data was released in 2007, the team – led by Massey – assumed these two factors were equivalent. Their analysis revealed that gravitational tugs on light were stronger than anticipated, but they put this down to a slightly higher concentration of ordinary and dark matter in the survey’s patch of sky than had been predicted.

To look for potential deviations from general relativity, Bean reanalysed the data and dropped the requirement that these two components of gravity had to be equal. Instead the ratio of the two was allowed to change in value. She found that between 8 and 11 billion years ago gravity’s distortion of time appeared to be three times as strong as its ability to curve space. An observer around at the time wouldn’t have noticed the effect because it only applies over large distances. Nonetheless, “there is a preference for a significant deviation from general relativity”, says Bean (www.arxiv.org/abs/0909.3853).

Gravity’s distortion of time appeared to be three times as strong as its ability to curve space

At this stage, it’s hard to say what would happen if the deviation from general relativity was confirmed. Cosmologists have already considered some modifications to general relativity that could explain the universe’s acceleration(see “Not dark energy, dark fluid”).

Yet finding a deviation when the universe was less than half its current age is odd – if general relativity had broken down at some level, the signs should be most dramatic more recently, long after the repulsive effect of dark energy overwhelmed the attractive powers of gravity some 6 billion years ago.

Most astronomers, including Bean, are cautious about the results. “Nobody is yet betting money that the effect is real,” says cosmologist Dragan Huterer of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Various other explanations, like a bias in the technique used to estimate the distances to galaxies, now need to be ruled out.

Although COSMOS photographed a deep patch of sky, it was fairly small by the standards of modern surveys. This opens up the possibility that this region might be anomalous, notes Asantha Cooray, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Irvine. “You could have a massive galaxy cluster that could boost your weak lensing signal up. Or by random chance you could have more dark matter,” says Cooray, part of a team that analysed other survey data taken with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii and found no hint of a departure from general relativity. “The only way to take that into account is to look at data in a larger field.”

Future projects will scan the sky over much wider areas and collect images of many more lensed galaxies. For example, the Dark Energy Survey is poised to start surveying the sky from 2011 and will build up an even more precise picture of how light has been bent over the course of the universe’s history.

Whether these surveys find the effect or not, Bean hopes that her paper will generate more interest in the idea of using weak lensing to test general relativity. “I’m not putting my flag out there and saying this is a real thing,” Bean says. “We need to look at more data sets. This is really just the first stage for trying to test gravity in this way.”

Massey agrees: “At the moment we’re in the mode of just trying to hack into general relativity to find the chinks in its armour, to find any places where it might not be working.” n

Not dark energy, dark fluid

Dark energy could be weirder than we thought. Evidence that over large distances gravity exerts a greater pull on time than on space (see main story) might not necessarily suggest that the theory of general relativity is wrong. It could instead be a sign that the universe’s acceleration may require a more exotic explanation.

The simplest way of explaining the universe’s acceleration is to invoke a cosmological constant, originally proposed by Einstein to allow the universe to remain the same size in the presence of matter. This describes a universe filled with uniform, outward-pushing energy. But there are other possible explanations for acceleration.

One idea is that the entire universe exists on a membrane, or brane, floating inside an extra dimension. While matter will be confined to three dimensions, gravity could be leaking into this extra dimension. When the universe becomes large enough, this gravity could interact with matter in the brane, to produce acceleration on large scales.

A deviation could also be a sign that dark energy is a more complex “fluid” that exerts varying pressures in different directions. The snag is that telling the difference between a more exotic form of dark energy and a modification to our understanding of gravity could be tricky.

“If we were to detect a departure,” says cosmologist Alessandra Silvestriof the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we might not be able to tell whether there is a flaw in general relativity or just evidence that dark energy is “some sort of fancy fluid”.

Lynne McTaggart: Why Dan Brown’s Science Fiction Is Mostly Fact

Written by: Lynne McTaggart: Why Dan Brown’s Science Fiction Is Mostly Fact

LostSymbol“One of the main characters in Dan Brown’s new book The Lost Symbol , is a scientist particularly interested in ‘mind over matter’: the power of thought–or intention–to affect and change the world. The ‘big idea’ in Dan Brown’s book is that science is only now providing evidence of what ancient traditions have traditionally espoused: that thought has a tangible power, enabling human beings to be creators of their own world.

I’m in a unique position to comment on this as I have extensively studied all the science Brown includes in his book, written two bestselling books on the subject and I facilitate these kinds of experiments all over the world. In fact, Brown prominently singled out me, my book, The Intention Experiment, my research and my website www.theintentionexperiment.com for special mention in the blockbuster, claiming that one of his main characters was ‘fascinated’ by my work and my web-based global laboratory, testing the power of thought.

Although Solomon is solidly fiction, the vast majority of her work is based on solid fact.
In a sizeable body of research exploring the nature of consciousness, carried on for more than 30 years in prestigious scientific institutions around the world — Princeton and Stanford Universities, the Universities of Arizona and California, and, in Europe, the Universities of Freiberg and Edinburgh –thoughts directed at targets in the laboratory have been shown capable of altering machines, cells and even complex organisms like human beings. This mind-over-matter power even seems to traverse time and space.

logoIn my own web-based experiments, we involve thousands of participants in 90 countries around the world, sending thoughts to targets created in rigorous laboratory settings at the University of Arizona, Pennsylvania State University, University of California at Davis, and other prestigious universities in Europe. Of our 19 experiments to date, 16 have shown significant positive results, six of which have been published in a scientific paper.

These studies go well beyond spoonbending tricks. This central idea, that consciousness affects matter, lies at the very heart of an irreconcilable difference between the world view offered by classical physics – the science of the big, visible world – and that of quantum physics – the science of the world’s most diminutive components. These discoveries offer convincing evidence that all matter in the universe exists in a web of connection and constant influence, which often overrides many of the laws of the universe that we used to believe held ultimate sovereignty.

At least 40 top scientists in academic centres of research around the world have demonstrated that an information transfer constantly carries on between living things, and that thought forms are simply another aspect of transmitted energy. Hundreds of others have offered plausible theories embracing even the most counter-intuitive effects, such as time-displaced influence, as now consistent with the laws of physics.

freemasonryIdeas about the power of thought are no longer the ruminations of a few eccentric individuals. They now underpin many well-accepted disciplines in every reach of life, from orthodox and alternative medicine to competitive sport. Medical scientists often speak of the ‘placebo effect’ as an annoying impediment to the proof of the efficacy of a chemical agent. It is time that we understood and made full use of the power of the placebo. Repeatedly, the mind has proved to be a far more powerful healer than the greatest of breakthrough drugs.

Frontier science is the art of inquiring about the impossible. All of our major achievements in history have resulted from asking an outrageous question. What if stones fall from the sky? What if giant metal objects could overcome gravity? What if there is no end of the earth to sail off of? All of the discoveries about the power of thought and remote influence have similarly proceeded from asking a seemingly absurd question: what if our thoughts could affect the things around us?

True science always begins with an unpopular question, even if there is no prospect of an immediate answer – even if the answer threatens to overturn every last one of our cherished beliefs. The scientists engaged in consciousness research must constantly put forward unpopular questions about the nature of the mind and the extent of its reach. In our group Intention Experiments, we have asked the most impossible question of all: what if a group thought could heal a remote target? It is a little like asking, what if a thought could heal the world?

It is an outlandish question, but the most important part of scientific investigation is just the simple willingness to ask the question. Mainstream science has grown ever more fundamentalist, dominated by a few highly vocal scientists who believe that our scientific story has largely been written. Nevertheless, a small body of resistance carries on in defiance of this restricted view. With every unorthodox question asked, with every unlikely answer, frontier sciences such as those featured in my books – and now Dan Brown’s — remake our world. May they and their ilk light our way.”
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lynne-mctaggart/why-dan-browns-science-fi_b_325906.html

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Latest stem-cell advance proves no need to kill embryos.

BY NANCY FRAZIER O’BRIEN – CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
TUESDAY, 28 JULY 2009
The work of two teams of Chinese scientists who created live mice from induced pluripotent stem cells is “another demonstration that researchers don’t need to destroy embryos” to achieve stem-cell advances, according to a pro-life official at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.embryonic-Stem-cells-mouseThe research done by separate teams in Shanghai and Beijing and published July 23 in the scientific journals Nature and Cell Stem Cell showed that the so-called iPS cells have “the full range of uses that embryonic stem cells are proposed for,” said Richard M. Doerflinger, associate director of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

“The immediate finding is that induced pluripotent stem cells, created without harming any embryos, really are as versatile as embryonic stem cells,” he said. But Doerflinger also warned in a July 27 interview with Catholic News Service that this latest breakthrough in stem-cell research shows that iPS cells are “so powerful” that researchers “might be able to put them in a human embryo and change the genetic makeup of that child and all the future generations” related to the child. “It’s an ominous thing, that they could be remaking people’s genetic traits,” he added. “It’s a powerful technology and it could be misused.”

The two Chinese teams had varying degrees of success in creating genetic duplicates of mice by reprogramming skin cells from adult mice into iPS cells and then implanting the embryos created into a surrogate mother. The first team, led by Qi Zhou of the Institute of Zoology in Beijing and Fanyi Zeng of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, reported 27 live births, starting with a mouse named Xiao Xiao or “Tiny.” All 12 of the genetic duplicates that were mated produced offspring without abnormalities; the team reported hundreds of second-generation and more than 100 third-generation mice.

The second team, headed by Shaorong Gao of the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing, produced only two live births using the same technique, with one of those dying in infancy. The team is currently trying to mate the surviving mouse. In the U.S., the National Institutes of Health recently issued final guidelines for federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, requiring that such research use only embryos created for reproductive purposes at in vitro fertilization clinics and no longer needed for that purpose.

index_r2_c1 (1)The draft guidelines set standards for voluntary informed consent by those donating the embryos, and said no NIH funds would be given for research that did not meet the standards. The final guidelines, however, set up an “alternative pathway” for the approval of funding of research involving embryos donated before the new guidelines took effect or involving stem-cell lines developed in foreign countries. A working group made up of about 10 scientists and ethicists is to look at each such application on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it meets the core principles of voluntary informed consent.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, strongly criticized the final guidelines and said the debate over embryonic stem-cell research “now shifts to Congress, where some members have said even this policy does not go far enough in treating some human beings as objects to be created, manipulated and destroyed for others’ use.”

Some had predicted that President Barack Obama’s decision to reverse the limits on funding of embryonic stem-cell research established under President George W. Bush would lead to the rapid expansion of such research, particularly at the university level. But the results of a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education, published July 21, found that only 6 percent of major research universities — those with $100 million or more in federal grants — planned to increase research on human embryonic stem cells “by a large amount.”

The survey also found that most of the universities said they had increased their contribution to the indirect costs of scientific research on campus by 50 percent or more over the past five years. A federal policy established in 1991 limits the indirect costs that a university may collect on each federal research grant for expenses like photocopying, accounting and electricity.

Star Trek Movie Posters Released!

Cold Fusion or sequel to ‘The Saint’?

 

coldfusionWASHINGTON (AFP) – Researchers at a US Navy laboratory have unveiled what they say is “significant” evidence of cold fusion, apotential energy source that has many skeptics in the scientific community.

The scientists on Monday described what they called the first clear visual evidence that low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR), or cold fusion devices can produce neutrons, subatomic particles that scientists say are indicative of nuclear reactions.

“Our finding is very significant,” said analytical chemist Pamela Mosier-Boss of the US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) in San Diego, California.

“To our knowledge, this is the first scientific report of the production of highly energetic neutrons from a LENR device,” added the study’s co-author in a statement. The study’s results were presented at the annual meeting of theAmerican Chemical Society in Salt Lake City, Utah. The city is also the site of an infamous presentation on cold fusion 20 years ago by Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons that sent shockwaves across the world.

coldfusion_timeDespite their claim to cold fusion discovery, the Fleishmann-Pons study soon fell into discredit after other researchers were unable to reproduce the results. Scientists have been working for years to produce cold fusion reactions, a potentially cheap, limitless and environmentally-clean source of energy.

Paul Padley, a physicist at Rice University who reviewed Mosier-Boss’s published work, said the study did not provide a plausible explanation of how cold fusion could take place in the conditions described.

“It fails to provide a theoretical rationale to explain how fusion could occur at room temperatures. And in its analysis, the research paper fails to exclude other sources for the production of neutrons,” he told the Houston Chronicle.

“The whole point of fusion is, you?re bringing things of like charge together. As we all know, like things repel, and you have to overcome that repulsion somehow.”

But Steven Krivit, editor of the New Energy Times, said the study was “big” and could open a new scientific field. The neutrons produced in the experiments “may not be caused by fusion but perhaps some new, unknown nuclear process,” added Krivit, who has monitored cold fusion studies for the past 20 years.

“We’re talking about a new field of science that’s a hybrid between chemistry and physics.”

First Ever Photos – Liquid Water found on Mars!?

Liquid Saltwater is Likely Present on Mars, New Analysis Shows

awater-drops-mars-phoenix-landerSalty, liquid water has been detected on a leg of the Mars Phoenix Lander and therefore could be present at other locations on the planet, according to analysis by a group of mission scientists led by a University of Michigan professor. This is the first time liquid water has been detected and photographed outside the Earth.

“A large number of independent physical and thermodynamical evidence shows that saline water may actually be common on Mars,” said Nilton Renno, a professor in the U-M Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences and a co-investigator on the Phoenix mission. “Liquid water is an essential ingredient for life. This discovery has important implications to many areas of planetary exploration, including the habitability of Mars.”

Renno will present these findings on March 23, 2009 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

Droplets on a leg of the Mars Phoenix lander are seen to darken and coalesce. Nilton Renno, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences says this is evidence that they are made of liquid water. Previously, scientists believed that water existed on Mars only as ice or water vapor because of the planet’s low temperature and atmospheric pressure. They thought that ice in the Red Planet’s current climate could sublimate, or vaporize, but they didn’t think it could melt. This analysis shows how that assumption may be incorrect. Temperature fluctuation in the arctic region of Mars where Phoenix landed and salts in the soil could create pockets of water too salty to freeze in the climate of the landing site, Renno says.

Photos of one of the lander’s legs show droplets that grew during the polar summer. Based on the temperature of the leg and the presence of large amounts of “perchlorate” salts detected in the soil, scientists believe the droplets were most likely salty liquid water and mud that splashed on the spacecraft when it touched down. The lander was guided down by rockets whose exhaust melted the top layer of ice below a thin sheet of soil.

090319232438-large

These images were acquired by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander’s Surface Stereo Imager on the 21st and 25th days of the mission, or Sols 20 and 24 (June 15 and 18, 2008). These images show sublimation of ice in the trench informally called “Dodo-Goldilocks” over the course of four days. In the lower left corner, lumps disappear, similar to the process of evaporation. Some of the mud droplets that splashed on the lander’s leg appear to have grown by absorbing water from the atmosphere, Renno says. Images suggest that some of the droplets darkened, then moved and merged — physical evidence that they were liquid.

The wet chemistry lab on Phoenix found evidence of perchlorate salts, which likely include magnesium and calcium perchlorate hydrates. These compounds have freezing temperatures of about -90 and -105 Fahrenheit respectively. The temperature at the landing site ranged from approximately -5 to -140 Fahrenheit, with a median temperature around -75 Fahrenheit. Temperatures at the landing site were mostly warmer than this during the first months of the mission.

Thermodynamic calculations offer additional evidence that salty liquid water can exist where Phoenix landed and elsewhere on Mars. The calculations also predicts a droplet growth rate that is consistent with what was observed. And they show that it is impossible for ice to sublimate from the cold ground just under the strut of the lander’s leg and be deposited on a warmer strut, a hypothesis that has been suggested. Certain bacteria on Earth can exist in extremely salty and cold conditions.

acm“This discovery is the result of the talent and dedication of the entire Phoenix team and NASA, whose strategy for Mars exploration and the Phoenix mission is ‘follow the water,’” Renno said.

Phoenix landed on Mars on May 25, 2008, and transmitted data back to Earth until Nov. 10. Scientists are still analyzing the information Phoenix gathered. The mission was led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Arizona. Among its preliminary findings, Phoenix verified that water ice exists in the just beneath the surface of Mars. It sent back more than 25,000 photos and deployed the first atomic force microscope ever used outside Earth. The lander was the first Martian spacecraft to document a mildly alkaline soil and perchlorate salts. It also observed snow falling from clouds on the Red Planet.

A paper on this research, written by Renno and dozens of his colleagues on the Phoenix mission, including principal investigator Peter Smith, is under review at the Journal of Geophysical Research. 

http://www.astrobio.net/news/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3074&theme=Printer

How do ‘I’ Learn? I shock myself…often!

‘The Unexpected Outcome’ Is A Key To Human Learning
ScienceDaily (2009-03-15) — The human brain’s sensitivity to unexpected outcomes plays a fundamental role in the ability to adapt and learn new behaviors, according to a new study by psychologists and neuroscientists. Using a computer-based card game and microelectrodes to observe neuronal activity of the brain, the Penn study, published March 13 in the journal Science, suggests that neurons in the human substantia nigra, or SN, play a central role in reward-based learning, modulating learning based on the discrepancy between the expected and the realized outcome… > read full article

New Trailer for ‘Star Trek’ Breaks All Existing Records!

2008_star_trek_xi_logo_trailerLOS ANGELES, March 11 /PRNewswire/ — The new trailer for J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” had more than 1.8 million downloads during its first 24 hours on Apple.com and has gone on to become the most popular HD download ever on the site with more than five million downloads in its first five days. The trailer made its exclusive debut on Apple.com/trailers on March 6th giving fans a sneak peak of this summer’s highly anticipated “Star Trek” for viewing on their Mac or PC, iPhone or iPod with video.

From J.J. Abrams (“Mission: Impossible III,” “Fringe,” “Lost” and “Alias”), producer Damon Lindelof and executive producers Bryan Burk and Jeffrey Chernov and screenwriters and executive producers Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman (“TRANSFORMERS,” “MI: III”) comes a new vision of the greatest adventure of all time, “Star Trek,” featuring a young, new crew venturing boldly where no one has gone before. “Star Trek” opens nationally on May 8, 2009.

Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment Present a Bad Robot Production “Star Trek” starring John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Winona Ryder, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Eric Bana and Leonard Nimoy. The film is directed by J.J. Abrams (“Mission Impossible III,” “Lost,” “Alias”), written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman (“MI: III,” “Transformers”).

Based upon “Star Trek” Created by Gene Roddenberry. The film is produced by J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof. The executive producers are Bryan Burk, Jeffrey Chernov, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. The director of photography is Dan Mindel, ASC. The production designer is Scott Chambliss. The film is edited by Maryann Brandon, A.C.E. and Mary Jo Markey, A.C.E. The costume designer is Michael Kaplan. The visual effects & animation are by Industrial Light and Magic. The music is by Michael Giacchino. This film has not yet been rated.

There’s Nothing to See Here!!

Science closing in on cloak of invisibility

WASHINGTON – They can’t match Harry Potter yet, but scientists are moving closer to creating a real cloak of invisibility.

Researchers at Duke University, who developed a material that can “cloak” an item from detection by microwaves, report that they have expanded the number of wavelengths they can block.
In 2006 the team reported they had developed so-called metamaterials that could deflect microwaves around a three-dimensional object, essentially making it invisible to the waves.
The system works like a mirage, where heat causes the bending of light rays and cloaks the road ahead behind an image of the sky.

The researchers report in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science that they have developed a series of mathematical commands to guide the development of more types of metamaterials to cloak objects from an increasing range of electromagnetic waves.
“The new device can cloak a much wider spectrum of waves — nearly limitless — and will scale far more easily to infrared and visible light. The approach we used should help us expand and improve our abilities to cloak different types of waves,” senior researcher David R. Smith said in a statement.

The new cloak is made up of more than 10,000 individual pieces of fiberglass arranged in parallel rows. The mathematical formulas are used to determine the shape and placement of each piece to deflect the electromagnetic waves.

Science.com

Back from the Future?

Swiss watch found in 400-year-old tomb

Archeologists in China are baffled after finding a tiny Swiss watch in a 400-year-old tomb.

The tiny Swiss watch found in a 400-year-old tomb /Quirky China News

The watch ring was discovered as archeologists were making a documentary with two journalists from Shangsi town.

“When we tried to remove the soil wrapped around the coffin, a piece of rock suddenly dropped off and hit the ground with a metallic sound,? said Jiang Yanyu, former curator of the Guangxi Autonomous Region Museum.

“We picked up the object, and found it was a ring. After removing the covering soil and examining it further, we were shocked to see it was a watch.”

The time was stopped at 10:06am, and on the back was engraved the word “Swiss”, reports the People’s Daily.

Local experts say they are confused as they believe the tomb had been undisturbed since it was created during the Ming dynasty 400 years ago.

They have suspended the dig and are waiting for experts to arrive from Beijing and help them unravel the mystery.

 


The Child of the Child King?

DNA tests to study mummy fetuses in King Tut tomb

Egyptian scientists are carrying out DNA tests on two mummified fetuses found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun to determine whether they are the young pharaoh’s offspring, the antiquities authority said Wednesday.

The two tiny female fetuses, between five to seven months in gestational age, were found in King Tut’s tomb in Luxor when it was dissevered in 1922. DNA samples from the fetuses “will be compared to each other, along with those of the mummy of King Tutankhamun,” the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, said in a statement.

The testing is part of a wider program to check the DNA of hundreds of mummies to determine their identities and family relations. Hawass said the program could help determine Tutankhamun’s family lineage, which has long been a source of mystery among Egyptologists. The identity of Tut’s parents is not firmly known. Many experts believe he is the son of Akhenaten, the 18th Dynasty pharaoh who tried to introduce monotheism to ancient Egypt, and one of Akhenaten’s queens, Kiya. But others have suggested he was the son of a lesser known pharaoh who followed Akhenaten.

Scholars believe that at age 12, Tutankhamun married Ankhesenamun — a daughter of Akhenaten by his better known wife Nefertiti — but the couple had no surviving children. There has been no archaeological evidence that Tut, who died around the age of 19 under mysterious circumstances over 3,000 years ago, left any offspring. The council said that if the tiny mummies are unrelated to Tut, they may have been placed in his tomb to allow him to “live as a newborn in the afterlife.” Ashraf Selim, a radiologist and member of the Egyptian team, said the tests could take several months. So far, the team has carried out CT scans on the two fetuses and taken samples for DNA tests.

“We want to find out the truth and facts relevant to the history of these kings,” Selim told The Associated Press. Since they were found in King Tut’s tomb, the mummified fetuses were kept in storage at the Cairo School of Medicine and were never publicly displayed or studied, Selim said. One of his top goals is to find the mummy of Nefertiti, the queen legendary for her beauty. Abdel-Halim Nour el-Deen, a former head of the council and a leading Egyptologist said DNA testing on mummies thousands of years old is very difficult.

“It is doubtful that it could produce a scientific result to determine such important issues such as the lineage of pharaohs,” Nour el-Deen told the AP. Nour el-Deen also criticized the antiquities authority for not making public the results of the tests already carried out.

UNBELIEVABLE & IMPOSSIBLE: A Great Discovery at Antique Mall!

This is pretty strange but actually a pretty neat story when ya think about it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by killer instinct5 Gulf Coast Antiquities Chat Room
What IN THE HELL have I found??? 

 

Dawn Elliot – 42 – Clairmont, PA

I’m going to try and get right to the point on this one, guys. Earlier this year, I think it was mid January or so, my two sisters and I went to the Antique emporium in Beaver Falls. We usually go once a month or so. My entire family lives in Clairton, PA, a small town outside of Pittsburgh so we all hang out with each other and do stuff. I’m the youngest sister in a family of six. Denise and Tanya, my two older sisters, are big antiquers. I like antiques too but I love old books and have been a collector since I was about 10. Those of you who know me know I didn’t play with dolls. I read stories and played football with the boys. 🙂 Anyway, the very moment we drove up, I saw the warehouse guys bringing in a whole bunch of books in off the truck. I was excited, which was tough for anyone really seeing as how it was 18 degrees outside. I hate our weather by the way! So, I asked one of the guys (Who was real cute, BTW–YES, I am single!) why so many books were coming in. The manager came up from behind me and said that they were from the Boston/ New England area and didn’t get auctioned off and that the mall was ‘awarded them’ through some kind of grant. I didn’t really care -just wanted to see the books and get some coffee.

Here’s where it gets weird! I bought 12 books that day for $250 or so, some just because they were SO old and in such GOOD shape. So get this—I come home the other day and started looking through this book of Longfellow to try and find a street price to sell it. It had 1888 as the year published. Anyway, I was just going to put it up and let it sit there for ‘looks’ unless it sold on Ebay but it was so thick. I found that a little odd. As I looked through the book, the light from my ceiling showed what I thought were little word indentions on the 2nd page to the end. THESE WERE NOT INDENTIONS. I was like a crazed schoolgirl. There was a physical letter – a double sided letter (2 pages!!) within the binding of the actual book. However, the only way to see if I was right would be to rip the book apart. $59 down the drain, right? Don’t think so. This has been one of the most remarkable things that I’ve ever seen or been involved with. This took place two days ago – I have stared at this letter for hours upon hours just wondering. I decided to post it here in the hopes of finding the other letters. Here it is– the letter – will post pictures when I get my new scanner. My father is mailing it to some guy he knows. (Yes, it’s being tracked and insured!! 🙂 This has got to be a gimmick, I know, but it is so damn odd to read. I don’t even understand it. Check it out. It took HOURS to copy it but here it is word for word:


 

————-
May 1888 – B.L. writes:I write this entry in a dark and private room behind a thick desk using a gold pen that does not belong to me. My notebook is bent and wrinkled with torn edges from the thick binding rubber band that has held it together since my awakening within those murderous walls. A strange man, bald and grossly overweight lies in the hallway dead just beyond the door’s entrance. This very well could be his pen. My breathing has come under control; my heartbeat has found a calm way now. Though I am largely disoriented, I will simply begin to pen my thoughts, for what reason, I’m not entirely sure. All written words, my words, that have been tirelessly spread across these once empty pages read so differently now, and thus I am asking whoever finds this and reads along to disregard all other entries prior to this day: Thursday, May 31st, 1888. Let there be no misunderstanding – I am not insane. I write this under the accepted standard definition of what constitutes a sound mind. Though I disagree with the definition of ‘sound’ as well as the current psychological parameters applied to it, guidelines by which most institutions blindly follow with religous fervor, I will adhere to them for this day and thus, my mind is to be regarded as sound.

I have been held against my will by men of no conscience in a place or a time that I can’t define. I say to myself that I have ‘awoke from sleep’ but that would be inaccurate. I do know for a fact that I have witnessed firsthand, lastly at sun up on this very day, the devastating destruction that can fall upon a man who elects to use whatever internal fortitude that could be mustered to resist these captors and their hideous, torturous probing machines, devices which pierce the very inner workings of our human minds. These people of captivity, many of whom I now call friend, are living life as nothing more than simple test subjects and exotic play toys for scientists gone mad. My friends have endured such wretched punishment, much moreso than even the most monstrous and dispicable of child rapists. My friends have persevered for some time, fighting against their limits end, clinging to their life’s last breath, holding on to a hope that promised long life, though each would ultimately succumb to the final ringing of the bell. Many were unable to withstand the herding from room to room, the table to table prodding of blunt, bloody instruments time and again. I was there with them on the edge facing the impending doom of my own life…for the second time in a lifetime. I watched, crying like a child as they yelled their way into eternity. I was there…until today. These demon men drilled into our skulls and redesigned us. I’m telling you that I was dead before today – DEAD!

How do atrocities such as this happen? Has my soul lost its place of reservation amongst the cities of gold? Why has my God forsaken so many? Surely, our violent screams were loud enough to disturb any angel that housed even the slightest of conscience…and yet, the dead remain back there on the floor, still and quiet and our begging produced nary a blink from the devils that stood over us cutting into our skulls. My sadness knows no bounds for these people, my friends. Their lives, as well as my own, were recorded as ended in normal fashion many a century ago but an indescribable resurrection has enveloped both our mind and soul thus trapping us in a some twisted sort of dimensional container for future generations to enjoy a giant belly laugh. They have laughed at us as entertainment. But now I stand in the corner of a cold room in a building so tall, the structure makes no sense; I am in a time that I don’t believe can exist.

I have questioned my sanity, yes. But my awareness becomes more acute with each passing minute. I apologize for not having the words nor the vocabulary to describe what I am seeing or have seen. It is a hideous, hideous world in which I find myself. The people appear hollow and do not speak. The sky is gray and there are no birds to speak of. I feel the clutches of my own desperation and I believe it will eventually overwhelm me.

I’m being pursued and chased by the most evil of people. However, thanks be to the Lord that ‘chased’ is the operative word. They have not found me. They do not have me, yet. I am outside their scope and running as the wind blows with no pattern to speak of. I am simply running for my life. I do not know for how long I can withstand this though. I can not yell, I can not confide in another, and I can not become known to anyone for any period. My skin glows differently than the people outside of these walls. I can not mingle amongst them. They all wear one piece tunics of some type. I am finding this all to be so very odd. However, I reflect on my youth. HE was as strange a person as there was or could be. Perhaps the people who walk aimlessly through the evening are not as bad as the devils in that room. And they can not be as bad as him, the one I’ve known.

Forgive my rambling – Now, I will be blunt, quick and to the point for I do not know if this escape will pass or linger for an any extended duration. With all truthfulness, I am not precisely sure where I am but I know that I have indeed escaped the confines of where I was. The building that held me, held others like me. Perhaps a mental ward, of some sort. Dazed people were everywhere, a lifeless drudge of humans with faces of mucus and saliva falling from their faces. I do not know how I became awake but I did. There was a door and I found my way through it during the night.

As of now, I seem to be just outside the perimeter of an enormous town. Metal and smoke are in every direction. Few people walk the street and none do so alone. The air tastes like a wet cigar, and not a fine, store-bought one, mind you. The smell of mildew and rot is in the air, as it was in the building that housed me. I am confused by what my eyes are seeing: square cubes of light and words, small viles of liquid just down the corridor that easily numbers into the thousands. I have only experienced these conditions for a single day and I am utterly perplexed. Everything is simply beyond me. My set of senses returned yesterday, the day that would’ve been Wednesday, May 30th, 1888.

Today, however, trumps all; it has been unlike anything I’ve known in my short thirty-two years on this earth. I can not relay that sentiment with any more simplicity than as I just have. I’m a religous man by nature, trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ to guide and protect me through out my life, one which He hath bestowed upon me so many gracious and wonderous things. I am honest man and have made every effort at an honest living, despite myself, and thus this written request should be considered exactly as it is.

What is written on these pages before you is true. I ask for a momentary suspension in general belief. I do this now hopeful that you find me in time. Somewhere.

Yesterday, according to the traditional Gregorian calendar of the anno Domini era, officially adopted by the British empire in the year 1752, normal perception by a modern day human being would attest to the fact that yesterday was without question, Wednesday, May 30th, 1888 . It was simply Wednesday to a normal man. I tell you I am petrified by even the littlest movement of this very pen. I hurriedly write these words to best of my ability with as much haste as my fingers will allow. I tell you now that the yesterday I remember, Wednesday, May 30th, 1888 was nothing of the sort but rather Wednesday, June 23rd, 2088. I have no understanding of this other than my instincts.

If nothing I write here is to be believed then I am dead and dust and worth no mention. Throw this journal out with the nearest trash and buy a pint and tell a fantastic story of a crazed man. However, if any of my words fall within the truth then know that I may stand moments away from being recaptured and returned to hell itself; my second escape would be as far-fetched a notion as well, sadly to say, the suggestion to which I’ve been writing here.

But, if I’m correct and the year is indeed 2088, then the love of my life, the young girl whom I once kissed so delicately in the early mornings, has either been dead and buried for over 150 years or she is here, somewhere in this time under the same impression as I. She was caught with both of us, he and I, in his doomsday-type, electricity web that killed us all. If I am alive, and that is quite the ‘if’ then she may be alive, as well. If I am truly writing this, there’s hope.

Her name is Kathryn Listori and it is imperative that she be located. She’s the only one who can help for she is the only one who could know his location. I must deduce that if I am actually here then my lovely Kathryn may be here, as well. If I was housed in the building of slaughter, so, too, would she be. If she’s here in this time, then in all likelihood, he’s here, too.

Make no mistake of who this man is or of my contempt for his being alive. He is my sworn enemy to the death, an event I was somewhat certain had occurred some century and half earlier. However, he is the only one who can save us all now. Find her and she’ll find him. Then, after learning that I, too am alive, just as he is alive, he will let nothing on earth stop him from getting to me. Ironically, his touch, that of a failed experiment by his father’s hand, one which now produces a framework for lightning itself, is my only chance to maintain my mind from the leeches who have preyed on my intellect for an undistinguishable period of time. My hope rests in the magentic hands of my own hatred – him.

two hours po8t  8rptm– (I can’t really read what this says…)

My body is so cold. I can see the chills crawling up my legs just as they did this morning. I miss Kathryn so. I beg that they have not yet already destroyed her delicate mind. She is so much like a flower, undisturbed in every way. I ask to the Lord that my dearest Kathryn be found well and in good spirits, and though I do not believe this will become truth, I pray for enough health for her to locate his whereabouts. Selfish? Yes. But I will not return to that place. I have since devised a theory regarding my previously written words on these pages but am unable to provide sufficient proof or enough attributable knowledge to support my hypothesis, which is what it is – an educated guess. I hate my sould for allowing my fate to rest within that odd magic of his. If I’m correct in my guess, even if only in the smallest of parts, then these vile people, whoever they are, will or have already come to understand that no contraption of which they’ve conceived can harm him; no effect can fall over him. He most likely walks the streets of this time, undisturbed by any one single thing. He’s repulsive and arrogant and I do wish a hateful death upon him and his soul, though admittedly, I fear him and dare not utter his name perchance he may hear me even in this time. Lord forgive my vengefulness.

Most likely, my captors, the ones who search for me, fixated on my return, are in fear of him already, searching for a way to combat him and that may be the sole reason I’ve been afforded this amount of freedom. In the smallest compartment of my mind, I do laugh on his behalf against these maggots who hide behind the veil of playfulness and gamesmenship. This is a foundational element of my theory: we are a game from the past; fodder for the future, if you must know. I laugh at them infinitely more than I will ever laugh with him. If the three of us are reunited then some amount of amusement will come our way. For me, though, it will be short-lived. But at the very least, I will see their faces when they see his and when they realize their doom is imminent. Their mistake was and will be unable to be corrected. They knew not what soul they had brought back in him. History will not reveal who this man is. But I tell you as sure as this pen touches this paper, he was.

He, like a virus, has certainly infected them as everything that he has ever touched would profess. He took all I had from me. He infected her against me.

If ultimately re-captured, with no hope of seeing my precious Kate again, I would gladly give of myself to destroy him as my swan song to the universe.

If Satan himself still exists in this wretched future timeland, which I suppose he does, then he still controls the reigns of that boy’s mind. But I hope he finds me, he the only hope any of us have; though I pray the Lord damns him to hell in the process.

Footsteps on the street…I will return. B.L.
 
 
Weird….

Michio Kaku talks Time Travel

“I would like to see . . . when we have a theory of everything.”

If Time Were Really on His Side, Michio Kaku Would Go From the Big Bang to the Big Picture

Michio Kaku is the co-founder of 11-dimensional “string theory,” which is either a Nobel-worthy “theory of everything” or unverifiable poppycock, depending on whom you talk to. His latest best-selling work is “Physics of the Impossible.”

— Joel Garreau

You describe time travel as a “Class II Impossibility” — at the very edge of our understanding of the physical world. But then you mention that physicists are unable to find any physical law that makes time travel impossible. What are the top three times you’d want to go to and why?

I think every physicist would like to witness the instant of creation. The Big Bang. Normally we’d like to do this from a safe distance.

But there isn’t one.

That’s a problem, right. Because the universe was quite small back then, and if we were inside the universe, we too would be quite small. And we too would be bathed by an enormous flux of radiation. But assume for a moment that it is possible to look at it from another dimension. That would give us a bonanza of information about the nature of the universe. Now if I had a second choice, I would like to meet Isaac Newton at the height of his creative powers.

Did the apple tree exist?

We do think that when he was 23 years old he saw an apple fall, and then he asked the key question — if an apple falls, does the moon also fall? And he came to the conclusion yes — the moon is in free-fall. And then you could calculate the motion of the moon using his new law of gravity. That’s what he did when he was in his 40s. In about 18 months, in one of the greatest outpourings of intellectual genius the world has ever seen, he wrote down “Principia” — basically the laws of the planets.

Now, a third thing, if I could, I would like to see beyond my years, maybe like 100 years in the future, when we have a theory of everything. This is my life’s work, right?

What you basically want to know is whether you’re Einstein.

Well, we want to know whether we wasted some of the best years of our life, okay?

Archaeologists discover statues of Cleopatra, Aphrodite

CAIRO (AFP) – An alabaster head of Cleopatra and a mask thought to belong to her lover Mark Antony have been found near Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Alexandria, antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said on Monday.

The two treasures, a bronze statue of Goddess Aphrodite and a headless royal statue from the Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled Egypt between 323 and 30 BC, were discovered by a joint Egyptian-Dominican Republic team of archeologists in the Tapsiris Magna temple, Hawass said.

Some 20 bronze coins stamped with Cleopatra’s face were found in underground tunnels 50 metres (164 feet) deep in the archeological site, Hawass said.

The teams had originally been searching for Cleopatra’s tomb but Hawass “categorically denied” that they were any closer to finding the queen’s burial place.

“We have found nothing that indicates the presence of the tomb,” he said, adding that the search for the tombs will restart in November. The discovery of Cleopatra’s tomb would be the biggest archaeological discovery in Egypt since Britain’s Howard Carter found the tomb of boy king Tutankhamen in 1922.

Cleopatra and Mark Anthony are one of the most famous couples in history. They committed suicide after their defeat at the battle of Actium, which consolidated Octavian’s rule of Rome.

 

NASA’s Phoenix Spacecraft Lands At Martian Arctic Site

A NASA spacecraft has sent pictures showing itself in good condition after making the first successful landing in a polar region of Mars.

The spacecraft Phoenix landed in the northern polar region today to begin three months of examining a site chosen for its likelihood of having frozen water within reach of the lander’s robotic arm. Radio signals received at 6:53:44 p.m. (Texas/ Central Standard Time) confirmed the Phoenix Mars Lander had survived its difficult final descent and touchdown 15 minutes earlier.

The signals took that long to travel from Mars to Earth at the speed of light.  Mission team members at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver; and the University of Arizona, Tucson, cheered confirmation of the landing and eagerly awaited further information from Phoenix later tonight. From the initial information sent from Phoenix, the site appears to be what exactly what they thought. Now, it’s time to go find the ice.

“We see the lack of rocks that we expected, we see the polygons that we saw from space, we don’t see ice on the surface, but we think we will see it beneath the surface. It looks great to me,” said Peter Smith of the University of Arizona, Tucson, principal investigator for the Phoenix mission.

“Phoenix is an amazing machine, and it was built and flown by an amazing team. Through the entire entry, descent and landing phase, it performed flawlessly,” said Ed Sedivy, Phoenix program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. “The spacecraft stayed in contact with Earth during that critical period, and we received a lot of data about its health and performance. I’m happy to report it’s in great shape.”

Phoenix uses hardware from a spacecraft built for a 2001 launch that was canceled in response to the loss of a similar Mars spacecraft during a 1999 landing attempt. Researchers who proposed the Phoenix mission in 2002 saw the unused spacecraft as a resource for pursuing a new science opportunity. A few months earlier, NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter discovered that plentiful water ice lies just beneath the surface throughout much of high-latitude Mars. NASA chose the Phoenix proposal over 24 other proposals to become the first endeavor in the Mars Scout program of competitively selected missions.

First Photo – Phoenix opens her eyes!

The Mars Surface

For more about Phoenix, visit http://www.nasa.gov/phoenix .

‘The Road’ was taken!

I don’t write book reviews. I mean, unless you’re a book reviewer, who would actually spend time writing reviews of other people’s work, especially if you’ve begun the process of creating your own? However, I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by because when you’re moved – you’re moved; I’m going to stop writing and start writing (Get it? Ok then…). Today, I write a review of a book. Not just any book, mind you but one that has invoked inspiration, not only as a reader but as a writer.
The title of this book is THE ROAD, by Cormac McCarthy. In an earlier posting on DRAMABLOG, I discussed his interview with Oprah Winfrey. It was immediate and it was quick – I liked him. I liked his style and was taken with his ‘old charm.’ I must say that Mr. McCarthy most definitely caught me off guard.

I knew very little of him as a novelist, and even less about him as a person. The fact that he’s only done two print interviews in his lifetime is quite the oddity in itself. Couple that with the fact that he has never, ever appeared on television, well, that’s mind numbing. What about the fame? What about the attention? What about the me, me, me mentality of everyone, everywhere, with everything in every situation? Yeah, uh… not with this cat! I really and truly developed a healthy respect for Mr. McCarthy after seeing him interviewed. Of course, with Oprah, even though she has the interview of a lifetime, she makes it all about her, interrupting, the mic’d “Uh-Huh’ agreements that MUST be thrown in to affirm her knowledge of any and all subjects, even though was talking about Physics. Oprah is just…Oprah. She needs the attention. We all do but sometimes you just have to know when to let the other person have the floor.

He’s a very peculiar person-a very odd but intellectual man, I believe. He spends a great deal of his time at the Santa Fe Institute in Arizona. It’s here that many great minds get together to contemplate different thoughts, different philosophies, and different ways to approach things. McCarthy says that he likes coming to the Sante Fe Institute because there are a lot of bright people there who have a lot of bright things to say. My God if I could for just a week…anyway, I digress! It is here that Mr. McCarthy fits in perfectly. Further along in the interview, he talks about his main goal in life – not working. He simply doesn’t want to work and he has spent his whole life working toward that goal, working at not working. He mentions that he’s no afflicted artist who feels the anguish of his creations, his art. With that said, there’s no affectivity aroused from his art either. He’s just a writer who’s trying to understand his place in the world, as cliché as that sounds. Pulitzer Prize or not, he remains steadfast in who he is, but not so much as to be incapable of changing that mindset.

Last night, it was my mindset that was forced to change. I came to the end of THE ROAD. I must say, this book was truly, truly a great thing- for me, a wonderful experience. Never before have I had the written word bring me to such an emotional state quite like this book. To be honest, I’m not actually sure what it was that did it. The writing style, the structure with which this book was written is foreign to me. Strike that-his style WAS foreign to me but no longer. I’ve actually emulated him a great deal recently in my own writings and in my own different works. Trying to think like him, attempting to write like him, getting inside the head of someone like him has been fairly difficult… but I’m making progress!! 🙂

McCarthy goes on to say that he doesn’t think that interviews are good for your head. Also, when he was a kid he used to write, but when he was a teenager he did not do much of anything. He says that passion is a pretty fancy word. He likes what he does. He thinks that sometimes writing is difficult. You always have the vision of the perfect thing of which you can never achieve. But you never stop trying to achieve it. He thinks you have this interior image of something that is absolutely perfect. He thinks that this is your signpost, your guide. He thinks you will never get there; but without it..you will not get anywhere.

THE ROAD tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world, one without cause and one without solution. It is simply a story about a man and a boy and their journey together. I’ve heard it described as a love story between a man and his son… and I’m good with that. Actually, I’m really good with that. That explanation is very simple but is quite comprehensive in its description. It is a love story-it is about a man-it is about a boy. However, it is so much more than that!

This atmosphere he describes in this novel is putrid, dank, and saturated with rot. The way he describes this landscape is beautiful, descriptive, and poetic. How can that be? How does he do this? I’m not really sure, and if I were, or if one day I were to become sure, perhaps my name will accompany his as a Pulitzer Prize winner. For now, I’m just not sure. He’s just a master of his art and he takes a great deal of pride in the fact that he has no inhibitions, no concerns, and no real care as to whether or not anyone buys his book or even likes it, for that matter. He sat down in front of a typewriter and decided to write a masterpiece… and that’s what he did. Here’s another complement for Mr. McCarthy – I could read this book again. For no other reason than the wondrous way in which it was written, I could indeed read this book again.

Each page meticulously describes an unfamiliar, and truly dark world in a complex and detailed way, yet remains quite straightforward in delivery and unmistakable in the depiction of what the characters encounter throughout their journey. And that’s what this was, a journey, a trip through time, an exposé of another man’s mind delineated on paper revealing a great affection and patience, not only for the characters but for their miserable surroundings, as well.

THE ROAD, by Cormac McCarthy is one of those books that forces you to put it down with but a few chapters remaining. If you are a true lover of books and stories, you understand this frame of mind, what kind of book does this and why. If you are not someone who can allow themselves to become entranced by the thoughts and words of another person, then let me explain-

You do not want the story to end!!

Great book! This was one of those stories; this was one of those books. I still hate the fact that so many great stories force me to say goodbye – say farewell to the enchanting characters, to the mesmeric worlds in which they live, and to my own bewitched state, a mindset that produces great joy but one which starts the fading away process the moment the final page flips from right to left.
great joy but still one which begins to fade away as the final page flips from right to left.

 

 

 

 

 

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