Monday, September 29, 2014

7 Types of Non-Believers Who Don’t Need Religion

Religious labels help shore up identity. So what are some of the things non-believers can call themselves?
Catholic, born-again, Reformed, Jew, Muslim, Shiite, Sunni, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist…religions give people labels. The downside can be tribalism, an assumption that insiders are better than outsiders, that they merit more compassion, integrity and generosity or even that violence toward “infidels” is acceptable. But the upside is that religious or spiritual labels offer a way of defining who we are.  They remind adherents that our moral sense and quest for meaning are core parts of what it means to be human. They make it easier to convey a subset of our deepest values to other people, and even to ourselves. 

holy bookFor those who have lost their religion or never had one, finding a label can feel important. It can be part of a healing process or, alternately, a way of declaring resistance to a dominant and oppressive paradigm. Finding the right combination of words can be a challenge though. For a label to fit it needs to resonate personally and also communicate what you want to say to the world. Words have definitions, connotations and history, and how people respond to your label will be affected by all three. What does it mean? What emotions does it evoke? Who are you identifying as your intellectual and spiritual forebears and your community? The differences may be subtle but they are important.

If, one way or another, you’ve left religion behind, and if you’ve been unsure what to call yourself, you might try on one of these:
1. Atheist. The term atheist can be defined literally as lacking a humanoid god concept, but historically it means one of two things.  Positive atheism asserts that a personal supreme being does not exist.  Negative atheism simply asserts a lack of belief in such a deity.  It is possible be a positive atheist about the Christian God, for example, while maintaining a stance of negative atheism or even uncertainty on the question of a more abstract deity like a “prime mover.” In the United States, it is important to know that atheist may be the most reviled label for a godless person. Devout believers use it as a slur and many assume an atheist has no moral core.  Until recently calling oneself an atheist was an act of defiance.  That appears to be changing.  With the rise of the “New Atheists” and the recent atheist visibility movement, the term is losing its edge.

For the rest of the story:

At What Point Did We Start Accepting Our Insane World As The Norm?


Ever wonder when it was that we all started submitting to the terms of life as we are subjected to on a daily basis? When did we start accepting the poisoning of our water supply with fluoride and other toxins? When did we start saying it’s ok to pollute our food, the planet and ourselves? When did we start giving away our freedom of choice and giving it to the government? When and why did this happen to humanity and how could we let it happen?'

There are many theories, but definitive answers are difficult to find. If you look back at history, such instances of absolute illogical behavior are rampant. The common theme appears to be that the masses are always in agreement to this behavior and they simply let it ride. It seems that mass mind control programs have been in operation and affecting people for tens of thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of years. Our present day reality is a reflection of the culmination of this mass mind control and what we have come to accept as normal. It’s psychotic to sane observers but completely normal to others.

Take healers as an example. They were historically stoned to death for their ability to drive away a variety of illnesses from countless people. Then there was the slaying of medicine men and women who had the ancient herbal knowledge to heal and cure hundreds of diseases.

What about the raping, killing and torture of entire communities and cities, peaceful and otherwise that did not fit into the grand scheme of plans for conquering rulers as their quest for occupied territories expanded? Sound familiar? That’s because it has happened for tens of thousands of years while the world watched and let it happen, just as we do in present day.

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NASA Brings Scientists & Theologians Together To Prepare World For Extraterrestrial Contact


A couple of months ago top U.S. astronomers gathered in front of congress to let them know that extraterrestrial life exists without question. Their main argument was the size of the universe, emphasizing that there are trillions of stars out there, with one in every five most likely harboring an Earth-like planet. It’s also important to keep in mind that planets do not have to be “Earth-like” in order to harbor life. You can read more about that story here.
“The number of habitable worlds in our galaxy is certainly in the tens of billions, minimum, and we haven’t even talked about the moons. And the number of galaxies we can see, other than our own, is about 100 billion.” – Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at California’s SETI Institute (source)
This time, NASA and the Library of Congress have teamed up bringing together scientists, theologians, philosophers and historians from around the globe for a two day symposium in order to discuss how to prepare the world for extraterrestrial contact, whether it be microbial organisms or intelligent beings.
“We’re looking at all scenarios about finding life. If you find microbes, that’s one thing. If you find intelligence, it’s another. And if they communicate, it’s something else, and depending on what they say, it’s something else! The idea is not to wait until we make a discovery, but to try and prepare the public for what the implications might be when such a discovery is made. I think the reason that NASA is backing this is because of all the recent activity in the discovery of exoplanets and the advances in astrobiology in general. People just consider it much more likely now that we’re going to find something — probably microbes first and maybe intelligence later. The driving force behind this is from a scientific point of view that it seems much more likely now that we are going to find life at some point in the future.”
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The World’s First Genetically Modified Babies Will Graduate High School This Year


Remember the sci-fi thriller GATTACA? For those who never saw the film and/or eschewed all pop culture in the late 90’s for some reason, it was a popular movie that came out in 1997 about genetically modified human beings. Now some literally genetically modified human babies born that same year are entering their senior year of high school.

The first successful transfer of genetic material for this purpose was published in a U.S. medical journal in 1997 and then later cited in a Human Reproduction publication in 2001. Scientists injected 30 embryos in all with a third person’s genetic material. The children who have been produced by this method actually have extra snippets of mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, from two mothers – meaning these babies technically have three parents.

It’s still unclear whether all 30 babies turned out healthy.  The Institute for Reproductive Medicine and Science (IRMS) at St Barnabas, participants of the experiment, finally began following up with at least 17 of the now teenagers earlier this year, according to the UK’s Independent. We’ve reached out to IRMS to get those follow up results but have not heard back yet.

While we don’t know the identity of these genetically modified teens, or even how they are doing health wise at this point, the ethics of creating designer humans is still very much a hot button issue. Modifying humans genetically to create some superior race of people or simply to chose one preferred visual trait over another has been debated among scientists, politicians and others ad nauseam.

For the rest of the story:

Statism: The Most Dangerous Religion (feat. Larken Rose)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Massive 5000 Year Old Stone Monument Discovered


Imagine missing something this big for so long. It makes one wonder, what else has archaeology missed? Has all that’s been discovered so far been revealed to the public? What else remains undiscovered? One who has peered into the world of secrecy would be inclined to think, ‘probably not.’ After all, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the United States alone spends trillions of dollars on ‘black budget’ programs that go beyond government, have no oversight from congress and involve projects that the human race knows nothing about. You can read more about that here.

A lunar crescent shaped stone monument has recently been discovered in Israel. It dates back approximately 5000 years, between 3050 B.C. and 2650 B.C., which means it is most likely older than the pyramids of Egypt, and built before the Stonehenge was constructed.

It’s located approximately 8 miles northwest of the Sea of Galilee, and is massive. It measures approximately 14,000 meters, which is about 500,000 cubic feet.

Ido Wachtel, a Doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said:
“The proposed interpretation for the site is that it constituted a prominent landmark in its natural landscape, serving to mark possession and to assert authority and rights over natural resources  by a local rural or pastoral population.” (source)
Again ,the structure is about 150 meters (492 feet) long and 20 m (66 feet) wide at its base. According to Wachtel:
“The estimation of working days invested in the construction [of] the site is between 35,000 days in the lower estimate [and] 50,000 in the higher.” (source)
It’s remarkable how much time was put into constructing various magnificent structures that even to this day, have construction methods that cannot be explained. Theories have ranged from advanced extraterrestrial races to massive amounts of man and brain power.

For the rest of the story:

The Most Valiant Attempts to Program Our Five Senses Into Robots

Ever since humans first envisioned robots, we've thought about how to make the machines more like us. Robots compete against us on game shows, and rendezvous with us in the bedroom (or at least, make virtual sex feel real). But part of being human is sensing the world around us in a particular way, and doing it all at the same time.

This is much more complicated than it seems, as scientists haven't fully unraveled how we’re able to sense what we do; it's both our hardware and software that contain codes that are difficult to crack. Still, scientists power through, discovering how their own senses work while crafting artificial versions of them. Here are some of the most valiant attempts to get robots to taste, smell, touch, hear, and see in the most human way possible.



To date, robotic taste tests have primarily been concerned with—wait for it—alcohol. In 2013, a group of Spanish researchers published a beer-sampling study conducted with the "electronic tongue" they created. Each of the 21 sensors was sensitive to a different chemical compound, which enabled the "tongue" to distinguish between types of beer about 82 percent of the time.

More recently, researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark detected changes in the most common protein found in saliva to determine how the different compounds in the wine affected it. This method is more sensitive than others, better able to taste a wine’s astringency (dryness or sourness), and may even have applications to prevent and detect diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.



Researchers have been trying to get robots to smell since the early 1980s. It's not just because a sense of smell is so automatic for humans; smelling robots could have myriad applications, from sniffing for cancer or bombs to assessing the veracity of a wine's vintage.
Part of being human is sensing the world in a particular way, and doing it all at the same time

Can We Grow Crops On Mars?

If and when the day comes that we, the human race, must take to the heavens and settle on some other planet, the first question will be "can we survive there" -- but the second question will be "can plants survive there?" 


A new study from a group of German scientists attempted to grow common crops in the same type of soil that’s found on Mars and our own moon, and discovered some pretty intriguing things.

The first difficulty in testing whether we can grow, say, mustard greens on Mars is actually getting some Martian soil. Luckily, there are sediments here on Earth that are compositionally very similar to extraterrestrial soil, usually dust from around volcanoes. For Mars, a bunch of soil was taken from the area between the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes in Hawaii, which is often used for this sort of testing. The moon-like soil is from deposits left by a long-dormant volcano near Flagstaff, Arizona.

The specific crops chosen for the test were picked for a few specific variables: they’re all crops known to thrive in bad soil, and they all have small seeds, so that they’ll deplete their own source of nitrogen quickly and have to rely on the soil itself for nutrients. The plants, including yellow sweet clover, carrots, field mustard, and leopard’s bane, were all planted in pots, kept at healthy temperatures, and watered twice a day with demineralized water (to avoid contamination with nutrients that are found in tap water). The Mars-like and moon-like soils were contrasted with a nutrient-poor Earth soil, taken from below the Rhine River.

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Beyond GMOs: The Rise of Synthetic Biology

Genetically modified organisms today usually have just one engineered gene. Scientists now want to create organisms with whole new gene clusters.


Thousands of researchers will descend on Boston this fall for an event billed as the world’s largest gathering of synthetic biologists. The field is evolving so rapidly that even scientists working in it don't agree on a definition, but at its core synthetic biology involves bringing engineering principles to biotechnology. It’s an approach meant, ultimately, to make it easier for scientists to design, test, and build living parts and systems—even entire genomes.

If genetic sequencing is about reading DNA, and genetic engineering as we know it is about copying, cutting and pasting it, synthetic biology is about writing and programming new DNA with two main goals: create genetic machines from scratch and gain new insights about how life works.

In Boston, scientists and students will showcase so called “synbio” projects developed over the summer, including systems ranging from new takes on natural wonders, like the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen to a useful form (nitrogen fixation), to newly imagined functions, like an odorless E. coli cell meant to crank out a lemony, edible “wonder protein” containing essential amino acids.

Now in its eleventh year, the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition has grown up alongside synthetic biology itself. Organized by a nonprofit foundation spun out of MIT, the event has acquired a mix of public and private partners, including the FBI, the National Science Foundation, Monsanto, and Autodesk. And no wonder. Synbio could produce both transformative science and big business. By some estimates, the global market for synthetic biology is projected to grow to $16 billion by 2018. Much of the anticipated activity centers on pharmaceuticals, diagnostic tools, chemicals, and energy products, such as biofuels. But in the face of energy and water constraints, a squeeze on cultivable land, and an imperative to limit greenhouse gas emissions, synbio could also transform the way we farm and eat.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dannion Brinkley | Secrets Revealed From Near-Death Experiences

This is Segment 1 of 2. Segment 1 is being provided as a courtesy of VERITAS Radio. 
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S y n o p s i s 

In 1975, during a thunderstorm, Dannion Brinkley was talking on the telephone when a bolt of lightning hit the phone line, sending thousands of volts into his head and down through his body. Brinkley was thrown across the room, and later reported seeing his lifeless body spread prone, as his then-girlfriend found him and paramedics arrived. Obviously disoriented, in his spirit-form above the scene, he wondered what the excitement was about, since (as he put it) "Everybody was okay...." He saw auras around everybody in the room except his own body below -- a pretty big hint that he was, in fact, dead.

We discussed, not only the first event in 1975, but two more near-death experiences. During these experiences Dannion was infused with knowledge about our future and what his purpose in returning to life would be. He calls the source of this information the "Box of Knowledge". Among the visions given to him, he saw a North American Union; the militarization of our southern border; and even an implantable nanochip that would be forced on the population. This nanochip would be controlled at long distances and it could be either used for positive or negative purposes. Negative purposes could be used to release cyanide to any "undesirable" or anyone wishing to remove the chip. It can also be used to locate lost children or even military personnel captured by the enemy. It can also be used to eliminate military personnel that goes rogue. Imagine the implications.

There is no reason why so many people have to wait until they pass on to enjoy life. We are promised a paradise in heaven. We can make that heaven right here on Earth. The biggest obstacle is chronic stress. Dannion's mission, in addition to help those who are close to dying, was to put into place an environment of peace. His message is very simple. We have no idea how lucky we are to be alive and be ourselves right here and right now.

                                                  B i o 

Dannion Brinkley is a New York Times best selling author, along with being a most popular lecturer, worldwide, in the fields of spirituality, prophecy, and self-development. He is also a highly respected, sought after expert in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, as well as hospice in conjuction with palliative and end-of-life care. With co-author, Paul Perry, Dannion wrote the international spiritual classics Saved by the Light and At Peace in the Light .

Dannion_Kathryn_Brinkley_CTP Dannion’s lastest best selling book, based on his incredible third near-death experience, Secrets of the Light, was co-authored by his wife, Kathryn Peters-Brinkley. Dannion has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows and in 1994 his New York Times bestseller, Saved by the Light (VHS), was one of the highest rated made-for-television movie of all time (by the Fox Network).

No stranger to pain, Dannion’s deep understanding of, and compassion for, those who are suffering or in transition, is anchored in his own personal experiences of enduring unimaginable pain and multiple near-death experiences. After being struck by lightning in 1975, Dannion was clinically dead for 28 minutes and had one of the most complete Near Death Experiences (NDEs) ever recorded.

His near death experiences were the result of two lightning strikes, open-heart surgery, ruptured subdural hematomas, resulting in brain surgery and a massive grand mal seizure. Drawing from these experiences, Dannion delivers his uniquely inspirational and insightful messages to diverse audiences worldwide on topics including Near-Death ExperiencePalliative and Hospice Care, and Complementary and Alternative Healing Practices.

Dannion’s near death experiences, and subsequent Panoramic Life Reviews, ingrained in him a deep sense of service and compassion. That is why he has been a hospice volunteer for 34 years; has spent more than 30,000 hours at the bedside of dying veterans; and has been with 375 people as they drew their final breath.

In 1997, Dannion co-founded The Twilight Brigade, Compassion in Action , in Los Angeles, Caflifornia, with a small but dedicated team of experienced hospice volunteers and trainers. Through the years, nearly 6,000 people have taken Dannion’s volunteer training.

His ultimate vision is to expand the Twilight Brigade Chapters so they are active in every VA VISN, with trained volunteers serving in every VA hospice unit in the country. In this way, the dying, their loved ones and VA providers will have greater access to the Twilight Brigade services. And at the end of life, not a single veteran will be alone.

Because of Dannion’s valiant work in healthcare and cooperation with the Veteran’s Administration, for more than 20 years he has had a hand in educating legislators and policymakers about the value of complementary therapies, the need for more research and a wider access to these alternative modalities, for every veteran. Duly respected for his knowledge and foresight, Dannion was invited to the famed Chantilly meeting which gave birth to the National Institute for Health. Later he testified before Congress, a White House Commission, the National Academy of Sciences, as well as numerous Alternative Medicine Advisory Committee meetings.

In recognition of all his dedication and hard work, Dannion has received dozens of awards for his achievements and volunteer service, including the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, the VFW Women’s Auxiliary Cherished Heroes Award, the Courage and Valor Award from the National Foundation for Women Legislators and numerous VA Awards including the VA Special Secretary’s Award and the Heart of Hospice Award, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Association’s highest honor.

Dannion is a respected international speaker who delivers his uniquely inspirational and insightful messages to diverse audiences worldwide, on topics including near death experiences, palliative and hospice care, and complementary and alternative healing practices.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Alternative Internet Where You're in Control of Your Data

The internet runs on a data economy: There’s no such thing as a free service, and you can bet the true price will be outlined in that lengthy privacy agreement you never read. Designer Sarah Gold proposes an alternative—a civic network that gives users full control over what they share. She calls it “the Alternet.”

The Alternet isn’t anonymous, but it is as private as you want it to be. Gold wasn’t interested in making another dark net; her network is not really about secrecy but about controlled data-sharing. 

“The Alternet is this idea about transparency with your data—you’re not trying to hide your data, it is actually pro-sharing,” she said. She wanted it to be user-friendly, noting that getting on to the dark net made her feel like she was “becoming a hacker.”

To this end, she speaks of the Alternet in terms of data ownership rather than privacy. Even if you don’t require anonymity, you probably want some say in how your personal data is used. When people respond that they have nothing to hide, Gold asks, “Do you have curtains on your bedroom window?”
The idea is that you have complete choice and control as a citizen of this network 
 For the rest of the story:

Astronomers Can Now Detect Water on Exoplanets That Are Light Years Away

Water is the magic ingredient for life as we know it, and detecting it on Earthlike exoplanets is the best strategy for rooting out habitable worlds. Well, researchers at the University of Maryland have just detected water vapor in the atmosphere of an exoplanet 124 light years away.

That's huge for a couple reasons. For one, it's always good news for those searching for extraterrestrial life when they find water on another planet (in this case, the exoplanet HAT P-11b). For two, we now have the means of detecting water vapor that's light years away.

The planet is four times times bigger than Earth and boasts about 26 times its mass, making it roughly the size of Neptune. That might seem big, but HAT P-11b is actually the smallest exoplanet astronomers have ever found to be hosting water vapor. In fact, it’s the smallest world for which the atmospheric conditions have been discovered at all, making it a key step towards finding water on even smaller terrestrial exoplanets resembling Earth.

“The atmosphere [of HAT P-11b] is mostly molecular hydrogen, with an admixture of heavier molecules including water vapor,” Drake Deming, co-author of a paper describing the discovery in Nature told me, adding that only water vapor was directly detected. 

“The presence of molecular hydrogen is strongly inferred,” he explained. “Without hydrogen, the atmosphere would be too ‘compact’ to detect anything, [because] hydrogen reduces the mean molecular weight and allows the atmosphere to puff upward to the point where it blocks enough starlight for a detection.” 

The planet’s atmosphere may also contain methane, but Deming’s team needs more data to substantiate its presence.

For the rest of the story:

How Chemistry Can Help Predict Earthquakes Months Before the Earth Shakes


Earthquake warning systems, at this point, can only give “seconds to minutes of advance warning,” once the Earth is already shaking. But a team of researchers may have found a way to see earthquakes coming months in advance. They discovered that before the ground shifts, the groundwater's chemistry does.

Working the geologically and seismically active hotspot of Iceland—a place that live-feeds volcanic eruptions—researchers from universities in Sweden, Iceland, and Saudi Arabia found that months before two moderate-class, magnitude-5 earthquakes hit in October 2012 and April 2013, respectively, the stress building up in the Earth's crust caused different types of groundwater to mix, which was evident in the chemical composition of the water. The results of the study appeared in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“In our study area we have the advantage that the deeper groundwater is very old (probably more than 10,000 years) which results in a very unique hydrogen isotope signature," Alasdair Skelton, the study's leader author, told me. "This makes mixing between deeper and shallower groundwater easy to detect. The concentrations of deuterium—which is the heavier isotope of hydrogen—and sodium increased before both earthquakes.”

Smaller earthquakes that occurred during the study didn't have this chemical giveaway before the earthquake, although some had proof appear afterwards. It's worth noting, however, that a magnitude-5 earthquake, while noticeable, isn't usually very destructive. Why, just this morning, Iceland experienced a magnitude-4.9 temblor, and while it may have moved seismographs, it wasn't really big news for a country that experienced four magnitude-5 quakes in 48 shaky hours, back in August. As an instrument, watching the groundwater is probably as sensitive as it needs to be.

For the rest of the story:

New “Mega Planet” Is 17 Times Heavier Than Earth


The Kepler space telescope has given humanity a look into space that is nothing short of fascinating. In fact, the telescope has provided data that suggests that there could be billions of earth-like planets in our own cosmic backyard.[1][2] A new find to come out of the data provided by the Kepler is of a ‘mega’ planet that is 17 times heavier than our planet Earth. In a sense it dwarfs all other planets found that were classified as ‘super-planets’ and were seen as impressive on their own. To give you an indication of how significant this size is, although Kepler has found many earth-like planets, they have never seen something quite this big. Its name? Kepler-10c.

Another interesting factor is that this planet is incredibly solid and very rocky. Many of the other planets found by Kepler were very large and gaseous, something that likely couldn’t contain life as we know it.

When astronomers initially measured the diameter of this monster find it came in at 29,000 kilometers or 2.3 times larger than Earth. Although that would have been impressive enough, new information from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) reveals the planet is incredibly heavy, 17 times the weight of earth! The weight makes scientists pretty confident that the planet is made of very dense materials and is likely very rocky.

“Finding Kepler-10c tells us that rocky planets could form much earlier than we thought. And if you can make rocks, you can make life,” lead researcher Dimitar Sasselov says in a press release.

For the rest of the story:

Scientists Mapped 8000 Galaxies (Out Of Billions) & Made An Amazing Discovery


Counting the stars in the universe  is like trying to count the number of sand grains on a beach, its not possible. Although estimates vary among different experts, the general consensus is that there are at least between 100 billion and 200 billion galaxies in our universe. Think about that for a moment, and now throw in billions of stars in each galaxy! (source) This number could very easily be in the trillions for all we know.

Take the Milky Way Galaxy for example, which measures to about 120,000 light years across (it would take light that many years to travel across the galaxy), and contains up to 400 billion stars. Again, that’s billions of galaxies that contain billions of stars. (source)

In the video below, a team of scientists gathered data on more than 8000 galaxies that surround the one we live in, also mentioned above, the Milky Way galaxy. They mapped each galaxies movement and position in space, and discovered that the Milky Way galaxy is part of one giant system that contains a number of other galaxies, referred to as a super cluster.

Anything to do with space is mind altering to me, so for those of you who are wondering, that’s why I put it in the title.

For the rest of the story:

Life in the multiverse means endless possibilities


What if...? Whether or not we live in the best of all possible worlds, the multiverse can help us make the best decisions in this one

WE LIVE in the best of all possible worlds. So said Gottfried Leibniz in 1709. For him, this was the only explanation for why a loving, all-powerful and all-knowing god tolerated evil. Any attempt to improve our lot would backfire, making it still worse. The world was not perfect, but optimal; and Leibniz was its first optimist.

His argument did not go unchallenged. Voltaire parodied it through the character of Doctor Pangloss in Candide, who clings to his Leibnizian optimism despite endless torments. But the idea endured and evolved: "The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true," wrote James Branch Cabell in 1926.

Now the question of possible worlds is back on the agenda. Fifty years ago, Hugh Everett decided that the neatest explanation for the oddities of quantum physics was that new universes were continually being created – each slightly different from our own. Many physicists now agree, with one even using it to again address the problem of evil (see "Multiverse me: Should I care about my other selves?Movie Camera").

Popular culture, too, has embraced the idea of parallel worlds, even if they are frequently depicted in ways that depart considerably from Everett. There's obvious appeal in what-ifs, and they aren't confined to science fiction: they feature in everything from romcoms (Sliding Doors) to thrillers (Fatherland).

For the rest of the story:

On a Shoestring, India Sends Orbiter to Mars


Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, onscreen, addressed researchers and scientists in Bangalore after the Mars Orbiter successfully entered the red planet's orbit.

An Indian spacecraft affectionately nicknamed MOM reached Mars orbit on Wednesday, beating India’s Asian rivals to the Red Planet and outdoing the Americans, the Soviets and the Europeans in doing so on a maiden voyage and a shoestring budget. 

An ebullient Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on hand at the Indian Space Research Organization’s command center in Bangalore for the early-morning event and hailed it “as a shining symbol of what we are capable of as a nation.”

“The odds were stacked against us,” Mr. Modi, wearing a red Nehru vest, said in a televised news conference. “When you are trying to do something that has not been attempted before, it is a leap into the unknown. And space is indeed the biggest unknown out there.”

Children across India were asked to come to school by 6:45 a.m. Wednesday, well before the usual starting time, to watch the historic event on state television.

The Mars Orbiter Mission, or MOM, was intended mostly to prove that India could succeed in such a highly technical endeavor — and to beat China. As Mr. Modi and others have noted, India’s trip to Mars, at a price of $74 million, cost less than the Hollywood movie “Gravity.” NASA’s almost simultaneous — and far more complex — mission to Mars cost $671 million.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Dogs Can Understand Our Intentions


If my dog isn't sleeping, the odds are most likely that he's watching me—watching me compose blog posts, watching me write computer code, watching me watch movies, watching me watch him. My dog is both a scientist and documentarian of me. With that kind of dedication, it becomes a persistent question of what is he watching for? What does he understand of what I do? Does he just remember patterns of my behavior, or does he perceive what my intentions are? In other words, what can he know of why I do the things that I do? Patterns or understanding. 

According to a study out last week in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, dogs are perhaps more capable of understanding human intentions than they're typically given credit for. In experiments funded by the European Research Council and led by University of Portsmouth researcher Sarah Marshall-Pescini, dogs were found to have the capability for this sort of understanding of at least a human infant or chimp.

"The question of whether non-human species can perceive other’s actions as goal-directed has been more controversial," Marshall-Pescini et al write, "however there is mounting evidence that at least some primates species do. Recently domestic dogs have been shown to be particularly sensitive to human communicative cues and more so in cooperative and intentional contexts."

Showing that human infants and-or dogs can recognize human intentions is challenging for obvious reasons, e.g. neither can very well explain themselves. The set-up used in the current study is the same as a classic set-up used to test infant awareness.

"[In a 1998 study, AL] Woodward found that when 5-month old infants repeatedly observe a person interacting with an object, they will then look longer when the actor suddenly switches to interacting with a different item in the same location than when they see the actor interacting with the usual object placed in a new location," the current paper explains. "The ‘surprise’ shown by infants in this paradigm has lead authors to conclude that infants understand the actor’s action as being goal-directed to a particular target."

For the rest of the story:

New Hints of Dark Matter from the International Space Station


Earth's atmosphere protects us from the continuous barrage of high-energy cosmic rays that reach our planet from space. It keeps us from living in a giant microwave, in a sense. While these rays have many sources—black holes, supernovae, quasars, gamma-ray bursts, the Big Bang itself—one is of particular interest: dark matter. And hanging off the side of the International Space Station one finds the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, part of an experiment designed to hunt for dark matter by observing the production of antimatter in our atmosphere.

Indeed, newly crunched results from the AMS detector are now showing even more promising hints of dark matter from these showers of cosmic rays. 

In the dark matter hunt, physicists are particularly interested in the pairs of matter and antimatter particles that are created when superfast-moving particles collide with bits of matter or energy in the atmosphere. Antimatter is a natural result of the particle creation that occurs when two massless particles (like photons) collide to form two massive particles (an electron and positron). 

Normally, the antimatter part of the equation is annihilated immediately when it meets some bit of normal matter, resulting in nature's most efficient, near-perfect release of energy. But up in orbit, at the very edge of the atmosphere, it's possible to count antimatter particles before they blow up. Crucially, it's possible to determine if there are extra antimatter particles beyond what should be expected from detectable cosmic rays. This would indicate that there is some additional source of rays so far unaccounted for.

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Physicists Beat the Distance Record for Teleporting Light Into Matter


A team of physicists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) has for the first time demonstrated quantum teleportation over a large distance between particles of light and particles of matter. Spanning 25 kilometers of optical fiber, the researchers successfully transported the quantum state of photon particles to the massive particles of a crystal. 

The current distance record for quantum teleportation still stands at 143 kilometers. That was achieved last year in an experimental setup bridging two Canary islands with high-energy beams of light. The crucial distinction is that the Canary Islands experiment and most other such experiments teleport between light particles and other light particles, rather than the light particles into massive particles of the Geneva scheme.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Navy Routinely Spies on Citizens Then Helps the Police Prosecute Them


It's not just the NSA: A Federal Appeals Court has just noted a disturbing and "extraordinary" trend of the Navy conducting mass surveillance on American civilians, and then using what they find to help local law enforcement prosecute criminals.

In this specific case, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent in George scanned the computers of every civilian in Washington state who happened to be using the decentralized Gnutella peer-to-peer network, looking for child pornography. The agent, Steve Logan, found child porn on a computer owned by a man named Michael Dreyer. 

Logan then passed his evidence on to local law enforcement, who arrested and eventually convicted Dreyer, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison. The US Ninth Circuit of Appeals ruled that this was a massive overstep of military authority, a disturbing trend, and a blatant violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, a law that prohibits the military from conducting investigations on civilians.

The government argued that it conducted the surveillance on the off chance that it caught a military member violating the law and suggested that it has this authority in any state with a military base.

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Eight bodies found after attack on Guinea Ebola education team

A health worker brings a woman suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus to an ambulance in Monrovia, Liberia, September 15, 2014. REUTERS/James GiahyueEight bodies, including those of three journalists, were found after an attack on a team trying to educate locals on the risks of the Ebola virus in a remote area of southeastern Guinea, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

"The eight bodies were found in the village latrine. Three of them had their throats slit," Damantang Albert Camara told Reuters by telephone in Conakry.

However, Guinea's Prime Minister Mohamed Saïd Fofana, speaking in a television message that had been recorded earlier, said 7 bodies of 9 missing people had been found. 

He said six people have been arrested following the incident, which took place on Tuesday in Wome, a village close to the town of Nzerekore, in Guinea's southeast, where Ebola was first identified in March.

Since then the virus has killed some 2,630 people and infected at least 5,357 people, according to World Health Organization (WHO), mostly in Guinea, neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has also spread to Senegal and Nigeria.

Authorities in the region are faced with widespread fears, misinformation and stigma among residents of the affected countries, complicating efforts to contain the highly contagious disease.

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Why Is the USDA Buying Submachine Guns?


“Submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot bur[s]t trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsib[l]e or folding, magazine - 30 rd. capacity.”

In May, the USDA's Office of Inspector General filed a request for these weapons. But why exactly do they need them?

According to a USDA press rep, the guns are necessary for self-protection.

“OIG Special Agents regularly conduct undercover operations and surveillance. The types of investigations conducted by OIG Special Agents include criminal activities such as fraud in farm programs; significant thefts of Government property or funds; bribery and extortion; smuggling; and assaults and threats of violence against USDA employees engaged in their official duties,” wrote a USDA spokesperson.

Those seem like legitimate enforcement activities, but still: submachine guns? Not everyone believes the USDA being armed to the teeth is justifiable. On Aug. 2, the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund launched a petition to support a bill that would curb the ability of agencies like the USDA to arm themselves. They see it as overkill and scare tactics, especially for smaller producers.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Robert W. Sullivan IV, Esq. | Cinema Symbolism: Esoteric Imagery in Popular Movies

This is Segment 1 of 2. Segment 1 is being provided as a courtesy of VERITAS Radio. 
To listen to Segment 2 of this exclusive interview, subscribe at to listen to the rest. 

Veritas is censorship-and commercial-free and survives on your voluntary subscriptions. Thank you for supporting our work. ~Mel Fabregas.

S y n o p s i s 

Have you ever wondered why 007 is James Bond's numerical designation? Or where the name Luke Skywalker comes from? How about all those giant faces that pass judgment on General Zod and his lieutenants at the beginning of 1978's Superman? What's behind the symbolism of all those mirrors in Black Swan?

Cinema Symbolism: A Guide to Esoteric Imagery in Popular Movies answers these questions; it is about occult, numerological, astrological, mythological, alchemical, Tarot, and kabbalistic iconography and symbolism contained within popular movies. Films analyzed include The Exorcist, Back to the Future, Star Wars (Episodes I-VI), The Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz, Black Swan, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the James Bond movies, The Matrix, among many others.

“The esoteric symbolism surrounding the Overlook Hotel is this: it represents the dark side of the United States of America. It is explained that the Overlook Hotel was “built over an Indian burial ground” just as the United States was established on what was once native Indian land; the establishment of the United States allegorically and literally “buried” the Indian Nations. Symbolizing the United States it is opulent; “Four Presidents, movie stars. ..All the best people,” have patronized the Overlook according the hotel’s manager Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson, 1917-2007). Likewise the specters that haunt the Overlook are extravagant and elegant yet demonic. Being the Overlook’s only inhabitants during the film - serving as its winter caretakers - the family of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), his wife Winifred or Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and their son Danny (Danny Lloyd) are often seen wearing red, white, and blue clothing emblematizing the United States flag and American patriotism. There is an intentional overuse of red, white, and blue color schemes throughout the film, the most famous is when the Overlook’s elevator doors open unleashing gallons of red blood down its corridors. Likewise the twin daughters of Delbert Grady (Philip Stone, 1924-2003) are seen wearing blue dresses with white knee high socks.”

B i o 

Robert W. Sullivan IV is a philosopher, historian, antiquarian, jurist, theologian, writer, and lawyer. The only child of antique dealers, he was born on October 30, 1971 in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated high school from Friends School of Baltimore (the oldest private school in Baltimore, founded in 1784) in June 1990. He attended Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania becoming a brother of Lambda Chi Alpha (Theta Pi, member #1199) fraternity. He earned his B.A. in History in 1995. Mr. Sullivan spent his entire junior year of college (1992-1993) abroad at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford University, England studying European History and Philosophy. While in Oxford Mr. Sullivan was a member of the Oxford Union, the Oxford University Conservative Association, and the Oxford Law Society. Upon returning to the United States in June 1993 he took a year off from Gettysburg College to serve as office director of the Washington International Studies Council located on Capitol Hill.

Prior to attending law school in the United States he spent the Michaelmas Term 1995 at Trinity College, Oxford University studying Jurisprudence and International Law. From 1997 to 2000 he attended Widener University School of Law, Delaware Campus, from where he received his Juris Doctorate. Admitted to the State Bar of Maryland (2000) as well as the District of Columbia (2002), Mr. Sullivan spent 2001 to 2008 working at various law firms in the Baltimore area practicing primarily in the area of insurance defense. Mr. Sullivan is a Freemason having joined Amicable-St. John’s Lodge #25, Baltimore Maryland in 1997; he became a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Mason in 1999, Valley of Baltimore, Orient of Maryland. The Royal Arch of Enoch: The Impact of Masonic Ritual, Philosophy, and Symbolism is his first published work and is the result of twenty years of research. A lifelong Marylander, he resides in Baltimore. MD.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When the Government Wanted a Database of Everyone's IQ

Today people worry about NSA spying. Fifty years ago it was intelligence tests. The conversation hasn't changed. 


In November of 1967, The Atlantic's cover featured an evil Uncle Sam generating data readouts in a dark control room. The journalist behind the cover story, Arthur Miller, noted at the time that computer science was already so advanced "that experts envisage a huge National Data Center to speed and simplify the collection of pertinent information about Americans." Almost 50 years later U.S. law enforcement opened a secretive multi-billion dollar, million-square-foot data center in the mountains of Utah.

In the piece, Miller also worried about the potential abuse and, more importantly, the mistakes of surveillance:
As a result, someone who simply exchanges Christmas cards with a person whose mail is being monitored might find himself under surveillance or might be turned down when he applies for a job with the government or requests a government grant or applies for some other governmental benefit. An untested, impersonal, and erroneous computer entry such as 'associates with known criminals' has marked him, and he is helpless to rectify the situation. Indeed, it is likely that he would not even be aware that the entry existed.
Sounds somewhat familiar, eh? The debate over privacy has cracked the mainstream spotlight once again in recent years with Edward Snowden's leaks about the extent of law enforcement surveillance and companies like Facebook and Google using the world's most advanced computers to learn about people in order to deliver advertisements. But the concerns about quantitative interpretations of people have been around for a long time. In the 1960’s, people weren’t worried about vast internet spying, of course—instead, they were worried about IQ tests.

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