Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why Each Year Seems to Disappear More Quickly Than the Last


For most people, each passing month of their lives seems to feel shorter than the previous. Many of us can’t believe that stores are already starting to display Christmas products, and if you’re writing a check, you might still catch yourself writing 2013 when 2014 is nearly over.

All clocks follow the same 12 hour / 60 minute symmetry, yet studies suggest that as we get older, we don’t experience time the same way. And there are many theories that explain why it feels like time speeds up as we grow older.

Many psychologists believe that as we age, our perception of time begins to accelerate versus time actually speeding up. Studies indicate that biological changes in the human body that happen as it ages, such as reduced dopamine production in the brain, impact our internal clock. Furthermore, some believe that as we grow up, we have fewer emotional and arousing experiences – the first kiss, the first trip away from home, the first heartbreak. Such experiences are easier to remember and lead to higher time estimations.

The emotional intensity of our daily life is affected by the fact that many of us experience “Habituation Hypothesis”. Consider how often you find yourself on autopilot, moving through your daily tasks such as getting dressed or cooking dinner, or sitting in your daily commute while your mind is elsewhere. If you’ve lived in one place for a long time, or held the same job for many years, less and less feels truly new.

Our instinct is to conserve energy when we can, so when life is predictable, our minds turn to autopilot and we tune out. Our minds become efficient at carrying out tasks that have become habitual, so they are freed up to address more pressing issues. Unfortunately, many of us spend this mental energy on worrying, self-analyzing, weighing decisions, etc., which can become quite stressful. Yet, regardless where our mental focus goes, by exhibiting this type of behavior, we have a tendency to compress time, and as a result our lives seem to speed up.

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Will We See a Reversal of the Earth’s Magnetic Field Within Our Lifetime?

Pole Shift Earth 
Can you imagine waking up one morning to discover that all compasses are pointing south instead of north? The effect could cause geomagnetic health problems in up to 15% of the population of the planet.

It’s not as bizarre as it sounds. Earth’s magnetic field has flipped — though not overnight — many times throughout the planet’s history. Its dipole magnetic field, like that of a bar magnet, remains about the same intensity for thousands to millions of years, but for incompletely known reasons it occasionally weakens and, presumably over a few thousand years, reverses direction.

Now, a new study by a team of scientists from Italy, France, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrates that the last magnetic reversal 786,000 years ago actually happened very quickly, in less than 100 years — roughly a human lifetime.
“It’s amazing how rapidly we see that reversal,” said UC Berkeley graduate student Courtney Sprain. 

“The paleomagnetic data are very well done. This is one of the best records we have so far of what happens during a reversal and how quickly these reversals can happen.”

How Humans Are Affected 

A 2006 review of research on cardiovascular health and disturbances in the geomagnetic field in the journal Surveys in Geophysics (DOI: 10.1007/s10712-006-9010-7) concluded that a link was possible between human health and geomagnetism and that the effects seemed to be more pronounced at high latitudes.

A 2006 Australian study, for example, also found a correlation between peaks in suicide numbers and geomagnetic activity (Bioelectromagnetics, vol. 27 p 155).

Flip Could Affect Electrical Grid and Cancer Rates

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This New Battery Can Charge Phones & Electric Cars In Minutes!

For most of us to fully charge our phone battery, we need to leave it plugged in for at least an hour -with the average life expectancy of the battery being 500 charge cycles; approximately two to three years. But what if you could get a proper power refueling in just a few minutes and a charge that was less taxing on the battery?

Scientists at Nangyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have made significant advancements in creating a new lithium-ion battery that recharges to 70% full in just two minutes and can last up to 20 years. It is expected to last for 10,000 charge cycles over a 20-year lifespan.

Perhaps most interestingly, is not that this battery has the power to revolutionize the technology that powers mobile devices, but it’s that it has incredible compatibility with existing battery manufacturing processes and its performance and longevity can be used in electric cars as well.


Researchers say that with the faster charging technology, an electric car could be fully juiced in just 15 minutes, allowing drivers to save on both recharge time and battery replacement costs.

The new design of the NTU’s new Li-ion battery was invented by the materials scientist Chen Xiaodong of NTU. It has already been patented. More details can be found in the journal Advanced Materials.

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Binary Code Can Now Copy Itself Like DNA


Strings of binary aren’t all that different from strands of organic DNA; they both carry actionable information encoded into reconfigurable symbols. And, like DNA, with enough replication and slight variations, software could become resistant to viral attacks through digital biodiversity.

Taking inspiration from nature, scientists at the University of Denmark’s Center for Fundamental Living Technology (FLinT) devised a method that allowed information strings made of binary code to autonomously self-replicate and mutate in a virtual simulation. Basically, they got digital strings of 1s and 0s to act like the building blocks of organic life.

According to the researchers, this finding constitutes a step toward understanding how digitized information—knowledge and software—can ensure its own survival over time by continually generating variable copies of itself, like our DNA does, preserving valuable data indefinitely. As long as it has a physical container capable of computation, anyway.

“In the real world, everything falls apart. The mountains fall apart. Things deteriorate. For such a system to work, you need to be able to maintain long polymers—long molecules—that contain information,” Steen Rasmussen, the head of the FLinT center, told me. “I think that these autocatalytic, or self-maintaining, networks are very robust. So you can perturb them, you can take away some of the components, and they will immediately be regenerated.”

The team’s approach, described in a paper published in Europhysics Letters, involved creating a virtual pool of information strings (combinations of binary numbers, or “polymers”) made to act like the ingredients of a chemical reaction. 

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America is Becoming Less Religious

Here’s a bar chart to look at whenever you wonder why your atheist/humanist/agnostic friends keep having church weddings: It’s for their grandparents.

According to Pew Research Center, which gathered the survey data in this bar chart, 81% of all Americans aged 30 and older, and 88% of American septugenarians (aged 70 and older), identify as Christian. Young Americans, on the other hand, are pretty singularly secular in comparison. Only 68% of adults under 30 identified as Christian. 25% of adults under 30 didn’t affiliate with any religion whatsoever.

Is this just because people tend to get more religious as they get older, or is religion actually on the decline with younger people? According to Pew, today’s young adults reject organized religion at a significantly higher rate than generations before them at their age: In the late 1970s, 13% of Baby Boomers had no religious affiliation; by the late 1990s, 20% of Generation X-ers had no religious affiliation.

These numbers came from General Social Surveys (GSS), which reach back to 1972. According to GSS, “unaffiliation” actually increased for all age cohorts over the past few decades, but most dramatically for the youngest among them:

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If DNA Is Software, Maybe NASA Has Been Looking For ET Intelligence In The Wrong Place


As I recently prepared for my poster presentation for the upcoming Science and Nonduality (SAND) Conference in San Jose, it occurred to me that my ideas can best be understood from the perspective of the space program.

With the $2.5 million annually in funding for SETI -NASA’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence- drying up perhaps we need to rethink a few things. SETI had their huge radio telescopes trying to pick up patterns of intelligent communication from the stars, under the assumption that only an intelligent extraterrestrial civilization could broadcast such an encoded signal.

The SETI concept of intelligence is a series of sounds or symbols in a discernible, repetitive pattern that implies order and meaning. But in a TED talk in 2003, geneticist Juan Enriquez, compared sequenced DNA code to software in the following description –he was talking about an apple:
    “Because this thing codes ones and zeros (software), and this thing (an apple) codes A T, C, Gs, and it sits up there, absorbing energy on a tree, and one fine day it has enough energy to say, execute, and it goes thump. Right?
And when it does that, pushes a .EXE, what it does is, it executes the first line of code, which reads just like that, AATCAGGGACCC, and that means: make a root Next line of code: make a stem. Next line of code, TACGGGG: make a flower that’s white, that blooms in the spring, that smells like this.”

Enriquez was describing the sequenced DNA in the nuclei of our cells.

If SETI had discovered a series of symbols that had a similar meaning and worked according to a precise syntax, they would have exclaimed, Eureka!  Someone else is out there.

So why aren’t we saying the same thing with respect to the code that we now use to cure certain diseases?

The most obvious reason is that science cannot supply an adequate explanation, and that if we considered it deeply it would upset many of our most basic assumptions. If we dig a bit deeper we can admit we now know quite a bit about software. Some of us have written code that makes a picture appear in a web browser and we know that without the proper syntax of HTML, the page will not “express properly.”

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Monday, October 20, 2014

What Is the Universe? Real Physics Has Some Mind-Bending Answers

Science says the universe could be a hologram, a computer program, a black hole or a bubble—and there are ways to check
The questions are as big as the universe and (almost) as old as time: Where did I come from, and why am I here? That may sound like a query for a philosopher, but if you crave a more scientific response, try asking a cosmologist.

This branch of physics is hard at work trying to decode the nature of reality by matching mathematical theories with a bevy of evidence. Today most cosmologists think that the universe was created during the big bang about 13.8 billion years ago, and it is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The cosmos is woven into a fabric we call space-time, which is embroidered with a cosmic web of brilliant galaxies and invisible dark matter.

It sounds a little strange, but piles of pictures, experimental data and models compiled over decades can back up this description. And as new information gets added to the picture, cosmologists are considering even wilder ways to describe the universe—including some outlandish proposals that are nevertheless rooted in solid science:

The universe is a hologram

Look at a standard hologram, printed on a 2D surface, and you’ll see a 3D projection of the image. Decrease the size of the individual dots that make up the image, and the hologram gets sharper. In the 1990s, physicists realized that something like this could be happening with our universe.

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