1) Should I have children and inflict a life of hardship and climate chaos upon them? For that is what will happen to the vast majority of people in the next half-century. Fortunately, some people are openly discussing this matter and deciding not to have children. It is still a personal decision, with many difficult aspects to consider, but as long as people are thinking about it, that's progress.
2) I must still do my best to limit my negative effect on the planet for my own peace of mind. The fact that climate change is now a runaway train doesn't mean that our acts aren't important. We still have to look ourselves in the mirror everyday and I think we will all review our lives after they're over. Our personal acts are of great importance to us personally because they tell us what we are as moral and spiritual individuals. To use an analogy, there are seven billion people on our planet, so one death seems insignificant, but it's still wrong to murder someone.
3) Seven billion people are not going to survive climate change. In a century's time, our planet will only support seventy million people, or seven million people. Which few will survive? The remainder of this article tries to answer that third question. Read More...
Eric's demonstration is so simple that it's hard to imagine why this phenomenon hasn't been thoroughly investigated, but there are straightforward reasons for this.Read More...
In the final few chapters of the book, Dr Becker then switches to the matter of electromagnetic pollution, from microwaves, cathode ray tubes, overhead power lines, mobile phones and other sources of radiation. During the book, Dr Becker has explained how all cellular processes on Earth, including our own bodies, are highly sensitive to magnetic fields, including our Earth's magnetic field, and all its subtle fluctuations. In the chapters of electromagnetic pollution, he puts forward a lot of evidence that the sheer mass of electromagnetic pollution we are now receiving is definitely affecting our mental states, our fertility, our cancer growths and other serious health issues. Read More...
If we follow the current, accelerating temperature changes, in fifty years time, no one will be able to survive outdoors in Australia for any significant length of time and the vast majority of its agriculture will be gone.
Unfortunately. I think we are now too far down the climate-catastrophe path for amusing slogans, media campaigns, political lobbying on renewables and suchlike. The tipping points have been passed and it’s clear the fossil-fuel banking system has adopted a ‘business as usual until martial law is declared’ approach.
Instead, I think we need to start planning how some of us are going to survive beyond 2100. The only communities that will survive on Earth in the next century will be ones either living underground or in domed habitats. Therefore, it is vital that we begin a process of making sure that there are domed habitats to move into. Read More...
"Although Hillman has not flown for more than 20 years as part of a personal commitment to reducing carbon emissions, he is now scornful of individual action which he describes as “as good as futile”. By the same logic, says Hillman, national action is also irrelevant “because Britain’s contribution is minute. Even if the government were to go to zero carbon it would make almost no difference.”
Instead, says Hillman, the world’s population must globally move to zero emissions across agriculture, air travel, shipping, heating homes – every aspect of our economy – and reduce our human population too. Can it be done without a collapse of civilisation? “I don’t think so,” says Hillman. “Can you see everyone in a democracy volunteering to give up flying? Can you see the majority of the population becoming vegan? Can you see the majority agreeing to restrict the size of their families?”
2) The intelligence and entropy conundrum of Maxwell's demon.
3) The existence of aliens conundrum of Fermi's Paradox.
4) The predictability paradox of Laplace's Demon.
5) Olber's Paradox, which is 'if the universe in infinite, why is the sky dark?'
Jim also adds in a few relativity paradoxes and a statistical paradox (the game show goats and car problem) to round off the list.
I am a big fan of popular science books; I find the good ones fascinating and they're a great way to learn about our universe. Unfortunately, our scientific establishment pushes a Scientific Materialist line. In other words, all 'thought' and 'life' is simply an illusory phenomena that comes about by the action of physical mechanisms.
As I've explained in many articles on this website, in particular the influence idea, as well as in my book how science shows that almost everything important we've been told is wrong, Scientific Materialism is scientifically impossible. Minds and spirits have to exist in order for living things to defy the law of entropy, for living things are constantly increasing order in the universe, when the Law of Entropy states that all physical things should become more disordered over time. Read More...
For example, as I've mentioned before in articles examining the Big Bang Theory (not the TV series), the Big Bang is an impossible theory. It fails, for starters, because of several key paradoxes, such as the Baryon Asymmetry Problem and Boltzmann's Well-Ordered Universe Problem. The physics community has spent decades trying to solve these paradoxes and failed. They should, by rights, accept that the theory is fundamentally flawed.
Sub-quantum kinetics agrees that the Big Bang is an impossible theory. It shows a different situation, that our universe is in fact static in size. New matter comes into being in gravity wells created by agglomerations of existing matter. This approach does not suffer the problem of the Baryon Asymmetry Paradox, as it shows that matter is far more likely to occur than anti-matter (whereas conventional physics says they're equally likely to appear from the vacuum and should do so together).
Many physicists do not like the idea of new matter appearing in our universe. They would point out that any theory that involves the continual creation of new matter in our universe would break the rule of Conservation of Energy, but in fact that Law can only be relevant in reactions and collisions. We know that to be true because if we applied it to our entire universe, our universe could never have appeared out of nothing in the first place! Our whole universe demonstrates to us that the Conservation of Energy cannot be true at universal scales.
Sub-quantum kinetics theory of continual matter creation has many interesting consequences. One of them is that our science establishment's model of star formation is effectively back-to-front. According to Official Physics, our universe started with vast amounts of energy and gas, these coalesced under gravity, causing early, very bright stars to form. As time has gone on, these stars have aged and grown cooler, burning away the fuel they initially possessed. Because, according to Official Physics, no new matter and/or energy can have entered the universe since the Big Bang, all the stars in our universe will eventually go cold and dark, an ending known as the Heat Death of the Universe.
But sub-quantum kinetics shows that in fact the opposite is going on. Our universe started with no matter but then it began appearing, growing and seeding from initial points, causing more matter to steadily appeared within the existing gravity-wells. Gas giants formed, which then grew until they became stars. These stars got progressively larger and brighter. Some overloaded and exploded, shedding energy and matter, an event described in LaViolette's book Earth Under Fire. Others grew so large that they became quasars, super-massive stars that astronomers have detected at the centre of galaxies.
Along with this back-to-front version of stellar life-cycles, sub-quantum kinetics also describes a very different process occurring in the heart of stars. Conventional physics tells us that no elements larger than iron can be present in the heart of stars. This is because all elements larger than iron shed more energy when they break down (fission) compared to when they're formed (fusion). As a result, such larger elements will effectively 'slide back down' to iron; it is the effective limit of atomic formation in a star. This is why, according to the official theories, all elements larger than iron are only created in supernova. Therefore, if the Official Physics Theory is correct, then there should be no stable stars out there in our universe that contain any significant amounts of any element larger than iron. There would certainly be some trace amounts of larger elements in stars, but they would only be temporary and in minuscule amounts.
By comparison, sub-quantum kinetics tells us that the centre of stars are a very active area of new matter creation. This continual new input of matter and energy drives the creation of larger elements from smaller ones, akin to them being bombarded with neutrons. Atomic fission is also occurring in the centre of these stars, but there is so much fresh matter appearing that it causes a steady, net increase in atomic sizes. Eventually, the star will contain large amounts of massive atoms such as uranium, atoms so large that they are on the edge of atomic stability. Eventually, that state ends, as the star grows so large that some sort of atomic collapse occurs. In a massive atomic collapse, it transforms into a star made of collapsed matter, such as the so-called Hyperon Stars. Stars that haven't reached that point, and are still in the phase just described, of possessing large amounts of massive elements, would be rare compared to younger stars, especially at the outer edges of galaxies, but they would exist. Ironically (ahem), such stars would actually have relatively low amounts of iron as the iron within them would be constantly transmuted into larger elements by the influx of new matter.
Therefore, we can perform a simple test to check which is right, sub-quantum kinetics or the conventional, Standard Model of Physics. If we can find a stable star that contains huge atoms such as uranium, which is an impossible situation according to conventional physics, then sub-quantum physics is correct, or at least it's worthy much greater status, and Standard Physics is wrong, or at least deeply flawed. If we cannot find any such 'heavy-element' stars in our universe then Standard Physics is safe and sub-quantum kinetics should rightfully be seen as an interesting but flawed theory. Place your bets…
I think it's high time that there was a fundamental overhauling of conventional physics.
A few months ago, I passed on my research into 'Gobekli Tepe, the Fox and the End of Days' to Dr LaViolette on his website at http://etheric.com/questions-and-answers and he very kindly replied and thanked me. As he is clearly happy to correspond, I told him about Przybylski's Star as well, and how it seems to support sub-quantum kinetics. Dr LaViolette has also replied to that message. He says:
"Yes, you are right. Przybylski’s star refutes standard theory and confirms SQK. Thank you for bringing it to our attention."
Which is good news, as I'd hate to be talking about his theories and getting the science all wrong. Phew! :-)
As the documentary explains, Benveniste and Montagnier's work was pilloried by the scientific establishment and publicly declared to be bunk, and yet in the documentary, Montagnier proves that water does have an electromagnetic memory.Read More...
What especially caught my eye in this paper was how often the word 'remarkable' was used. Scientific papers are almost always dry, sober reports, their authors do not want to sound emotional and flighty, and so it is illuminating that the authors saying remarkable in two particular paragraphs. Here they are:
“It has long been noted that brains of various extant and extinct primates display remarkable variation in size, organization, and behavioral output (Noback and Montagna, 1970; Armstrong and Falk, 1982; Byrne and Whiten, 1988; Matsuzawa, 2001). This is particularly true for the evolutionary lineage leading from ancestral primates to humans, in which the increase in brain size and complexity was remarkably rapid and persistent throughout the lineage (Jerison, 1973; Walker et al., 1983).” Page 1.
“It is remarkable that 17 out of the 24 primate-fast outliers [rare or exceptional genetic changes] are linked to the regulation of either brain size or behavior.”
The third ‘remarkable’ is of special significance, for it touches upon a very strange story.
This sounds, at first glance, to be a reasonable progress of development. Bigger brains enable tool use, group coordination, planning etc. The only problem is that the odds of gaining the required genetic changes to have these big brains through natural selection, in the time described, are vanishingly small.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We examined published reports of increased stress protein levels and DNA strand breaks due to EMF interactions, both of which are indicative of DNA damage. We also considered antenna properties such as electronic conduction within DNA and its compact structure in the nucleus.
RESULTS: EMF interactions with DNA are similar over a range of non-ionising frequencies, i.e., extremely low frequency (ELF) and radio frequency (RF) ranges. There are similar effects in the ionising range, but the reactions are more complex.
CONCLUSIONS: The wide frequency range of interaction with EMF is the functional characteristic of a fractal antenna, and DNA appears to possess the two structural characteristics of fractal antennas, electronic conduction and self symmetry. These properties contribute to greater reactivity of DNA with EMF in the environment, and the DNA damage could account for increases in cancer epidemiology, as well as variations in the rate of chemical evolution in early geologic history.
In other words, the researchers found that DNA is a lot like a radio antenna, in that it can pick up electromagnetic signals, which then alter its behaviour. What’s more, DNA also has loops within loops, which means it can pick up electromagnetic signals in multiple frequencies.
There are many thought-provoking potential consequences to our DNA being fractal antennae. For starters, as the above paper mentions, there are ‘published reports of increased stress protein levels and DNA strand breaks due to EMF interactions, both of which are indicative of DNA damage.’ In other words, there’s evidence that our DNA is very sensitive to e/m signals and will actually suffer damage if the wrong signals are beamed at it. There is an awful lot of radio-frequency traffic in our world today, particular from wireless or phone masts, and there’s evidence that it’s not good for biological organisms, as this science paper states. To be honest, the logical thing to do would be to develop a full understanding of radio-frequency signals on the DNA of living creatures first, and then stick up masts everywhere, but that’s clearly not happening.
There is another thought-provoking consequence to the above paper, something that no one has talked about yet, as far as I know. According to the science paper mentioned at the beginning of this article, DNA is surprisingly good at picking up RF and ELF signals and then altering its own functioning as a result. Not surprisingly, hitting DNA with crude or random RF signals of high intensity will trigger damage within the DNA. This is a lot like hitting a set of skilfully arrange tuning forks with very loud notes of random frequency. A lot of the time nothing will happen and some of the time a fork will overload and smash to bits.
But what if we knew exactly what RF signals to send? If that was the case, we could beam a host of carefully chosen RF signals at the DNA and it wouldn’t just do nothing, or break. Would it instead play like a musical instrument? Would it alter its genetic information in a specific way? Would it produce specific proteins, neurotransmitters or perhaps even viruses? Read More...
I’ve encountered the Hindu belief in the Yugas before but I didn’t study it because of several views I had at that time:
1) In the West, we’re always told that our history is one of development from nothing and that it will simply go on forever in a positive direction. This is drilled into us in our school lessons, in media articles predicting the future, in our politicians and scientists’ speeches, in our science-fiction, etc. It’s a tempting and plausible viewpoint.
2) I could see no indication that there was anything on Earth or in the cosmos that would drive the cycle of destruction and rebirth described in the Yugas. Our human race will certainly go through cycles of self-inflicted boom and bust but these, I thought, most likely won’t be total destruction and they won’t follow a regular pattern. Natural disasters that devastate us also won’t follow a regular pattern but be random events. History tells us that this happened in our past, so our future should unroll in the same way.
3) The time spans described in the Yugas are huge. To quote Wikipedia, ‘Most interpreters of vedic scriptures, as Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami and his recent disciple Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada believe that Earth is currently in Kali Yuga and lasts 432,000 years.’ Nearly half a million years is a very long time, too long to feel that its changes are imminent or recent.
4) I could see no reason to believe that, from the ashes of a massive destruction, a new race of humans would emerge that were physically, mentally and spiritually superior to the humans living before that destruction. It would seem more likely that the survivors would be worse, not better.
The above four points, put together, seem to make a convincing case that the Yugas, a cycle of destruction and rebirth, of a slow disintegration of qualities in humanity that is only halted by a massive, global catastrophe, is a ludicrous idea.
But my more recent research has made me think again. The reason for this can be explained in the following steps: Read More...
One important fact that we can work out, scientifically, is how civilisation itself came into being on our planet. The official story is that hunter-gatherers in the delta areas of our planet switched from their existing way of life to a life of farming. In other words, they stopped moving around nomadically, gathering seasonal fruits, berries, nuts, eggs, tubers and hunting game. Instead ploughed the land and planted grass crops, such as rice, wheat, barley and oats. According to the official theory, this enabled them to free themselves from barbarity and the uncertainty of nomadic life, while also giving them the chance to settle, store and distribute food and thereby develop all the other aspects of civilisation; writing, pottery, religions, armies etc.
But, to put it bluntly, this official theory is stupid. No set of hunter-gatherers would ever switch from moving around nomadically, gathering the planet’s natural harvests and thereby eating a varied and rich diet, and switch to back-breaking toil to produce a mono-crop of low nutritional value. Grasses are not good food and the work required to plant, grow and harvest them is tortuous in a pre-fossil-fuel society.
'the inventors… could hardly have asked for a better intercessor than Tutt. His vivid, level-headed and engrossing commentary is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.'
I'm not sure that the New Scientist would be so positive in its view now, since Tutt's book talks extensively about inventors, scientists and engineers who developed new forms of energy creation that don't fit the official scientific view. Their creations were powered by zero-point energy (allegedly), cold fusion (allegedly), free energy from high-voltage, high-charge devices and other seemingly exotic sources. As a formerly avid reader of the New Scientist, I developed a good understanding of its trends and where science journalism in Britain generally was going. As a result, I'd be surprised if they gave the book such a positive review now.
Some readers might conclude that such cold weather shows that fears of global warming are unfounded, or perhaps highly exaggerated. Tragically, this latest weather phenomenon, a mass-movement of cold air south, from the Arctic, is an indication that the opposite is true.
Dr Laviolette is qualified and experienced as a physicist and engineer and shows it with his in-depth descriptions in the book of sub-quantum kinetics, an alternative theoretical description of the fundamental behaviour of reality. On the science direct website, there is an article by Laviolette describing this theory, entitled 'The Cosmic Ether: Introduction to Subquantum Kinetics'. The abstract reads:Read More...
1) Assume that UFOs are real devices but are not defying the laws of physics, that they are functioning machines, albeit advanced ones.
2) Collate observations on UFOs, especially observations carried out by skilled personnel, such as military observers and engineers.
3) Use the collated information to identify patterns of behaviour by the UFOs, their emissions (radiation etc), their weight (ground imprints) and any and all factual evidence that can be used to deduce the mode of their operation.
By doing this, Paul Hill came up with fascinating and scientifically sound possibilities as to how the UFOs operate and whether or not it is feasible for those craft to have come from planets around other stars. Read More...
Fortunately, there are some people who are interested in the field of UFOs, mind over matter, spirits and other officially 'crank' topics, who do have a solid scientific understanding. One of them is Dr Tom Valone. Below is a talk he gave at the X-Conference a few years back on the subject of advanced propulsion systems, UFOs and what their flight behaviour (as far as can be observed) may be telling us about what is possible in terms of interstellar transportation.
During the talk, Dr Valone touches on a physics matter that has intrigued me for many years. He explains that the perceived ability of some unidentified flying craft to execute high-speed, right-angle turns indicates that their designers have developed technology that reduces or negates inertial mass. Dr Valone points out in his talk that it may be possible to reduce inertial mass by creating a very-high-voltage electromagnetic environment. Traditionally, inertial mass and gravitational mass for an object are assumed to always stay the same - this is known as the Equivalence Principle - but this assumption may be flawed. In certain exotic systems, involving high voltages, the inertial mass, possibly created by the object's interaction with the vacuum energy field, could be reduced.
Interestingly, I explored this possibility in an article a few years ago but not with regard to UFOs. Instead, I postulated that stars, being high-voltage, high-pressure, high-temperature plasma balls, may have a much lower inertial mass than their gravitational mass. This would explain why stars orbit the centres of their galaxies much faster than they should, a phenomenon that has caused mainstream physics to conclude that the universe is full of dark matter. I'll try and mention this interesting idea to Dr Valone; he may find it fascinating! :-)
Sadly, the documentary also reports that attempts in New Zealand to highlight this new evidence have been deliberately ignored and suppressed, to the point of authorities banning further excavation and classifying scientific discoveries. Yet again, it would seem that certain white males in power in the Western World are making very sure that a flawed version of our history is enforced. As Orwell once said; 'He who controls the present writes the past'.
It's available from all good bookshops and is a delight. Buy it, read it from cover to cover, laugh and be fascinated. After that, give it to someone you love, while downplaying the fact that you've actually read it first, all the way through, and pretend instead that you always had them in mind when you bought the book [Note: To do this effectively, do not read it in the bath].
I haven't included psychology experiments showing 'psi' effects, such as work done by Daryl Bem, Robert Jahn and others; I think they're better off in their own list. I also haven't included experiments about cognitive bias, although there are lots of interesting ones for that subject (e.g. anchoring bias, halo effect, priming, framing etc). My favourite cognitive bias example at the moment is the 'UP TO 50% OFF' sale signs we see here in Britain all the time. Many people will see these signs and expect items inside to be 30% off or 40%. In fact, the sign does not state this at all. In fact, what the sign says is exactly the same as saying; 'NO MORE THAN 50% OFF.' Imagine what the customer would think if he or she saw a sign like that stuck on the shop window? Read More...
In this video, as well as the previous video I've blogged about, Radin ponders why the scientific establishment adamantly refuses to accept the consequences of such a huge amount of experimental evidence, along with the conclusions made by many esteemed scientists over the last century. He notes that the New York Times recently went so far as to warn people not to even entertain the conclusions of an upcoming science paper, even before it was published, because it broke the established paradigm.
It's a very important question; how can all this consistent and repeatable evidence be ignored? One reason is financial. Those at the top of the money-tree in science decide what the scientific establishment believe and disbelieves. That small elite at the financial summits hold the purse strings and the vast majority of scientists tow the dogmatic line because they have bills to pay and they want to progress in their careers. A few scientists may risk their reputation and careers to put forward theories that are against the official line but they are few in number and so can easily be marginalised and excluded from the journals and senior posts. Our scientific establishment certainly does include many principled and brilliant scientists but, because it is a hierarchical, financial organisation, it is cursed to follow the wishes and personal agendas of its financial overlords. As for what their agendas are, and why they're so keen to block a mind-first understanding of reality, that's a topic for another article.
Secondly, there's also a huge problem known as the herd effect. On that matter, I'll leave you with the classic Candid Camera sequence from the 1950's:
Another scientist who's been conducting a similar type of experiment is Dean Radin, working on the West Coast of the United States. Dr Radin has written a number of books, including 'Supernormal', which I have reviewed already. He's also presented several videos to show, carefully, methodically and thoroughly, the experimental case for our minds influencing quantum-scale events. Here's one video presented by him that I do recommend:
As Dr Radin explains, the experimental results his team have produced - to support the idea that our minds influence reality at the quantum scale - are highly convincing. The results are far above any chance result. To speak scientifically, they are 4 sigma in deviation from the norm. in other words, it is extremely unlikely that the results of his team's experiments are just a chance occurrence. Their results also correspond fully with the results Dr Jahn produced in his long series of experiments.
In his summing up in the video, Dr Radin agrees with comments I have made in the past about how our Western scientific establishment rejects these results. He accepts that the current situation is no different to Galileo inviting the Catholic Priests to look through his telescope. The powers-that-be in the Western World in our time do not want the current dogmatic paradigm of Scientific Materialism changed, even though it is fundamentally flawed and irrational.
Hopefully, fingers crossed, the change will happen regardless. To quote Napoleon Bonaparte:
“There are but two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run the sword is always beaten by the mind."
This week, the researchers explained that the existence of such a planet also explained the strange tilt of our sun in relation to our known planets. This new supporting fact makes the 'Planet Nine' hypothesis (not planet ten as pluto is officially no longer a planet) much more convincing. Here's the video explaining what they've found:
The reason I'm blogging about this, apart from it being really interesting new science, is that it could be the missing piece in the strange events at the end of our last ice age. About 12,000 years ago, according to the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, our planet was showered with a large number of meteorites. These meteorites caused huge wildfires, threw up a lot of soot and dust into the atmosphere and cooled the planet for many years. In my book, 'how science shows…', I point out that Plato's ancient dialogues ‘Timaeus’ and 'Critias' - the source of the legends about Atlantis - also talk about a 'declination of the bodies' in the sky and a corresponding conflagration on the Earth in very ancient times. In one passage, the Ancient Egyptian priest states:
“There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father’s chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals.”
It is likely that Planet Nine, if it does exist, is currently at the far side of its orbit, which would explain why astronomers haven't spotted it. If this is correct, then Planet Nine would have entered our solar system around 10,000 ago (approximately), the period of the Younger Dryas impact event. What's more, the arrival of a massive planet in our solar system, travelling through our Kuiper Belt, would understandably throw a lot of planetoids and asteroids out of their normal orbits. These objects could then have plunged into the inner solar system and bombarded our planet. It all fits together very well. If the evidence is correct, then the Younger Dryas Impact Event did happen in 10,000 BC and it was caused by Planet Nine's arrival in our solar system.
This theory also leads to a very strange possibility; that Zechariah Sitchin's theory about a mysterious extra planet, Nibiru, that he states is written about in the Ancient Sumerian records, may not be as far-fetched as it seems. I haven't studied his work in detail so I can't comment further, but it is another possible area of interest.
Fascinating stuff! :-)
One interesting pattern so far in the feedback is that readers will read the whole of the book but then take issue over a minor point, rather than discuss the book's core points. For example, readers have taken issue over the idea that the Ancient Egyptians actually sent their pharaoh god's spirit to Thuban on a ray of light. I do make it clear that such an idea cannot be proven with science and remains simply a supposition, a reporting of the Ancient Egyptian belief. The actual solid evidence on that topic shows only that the Ancient Egyptians built the Great Pyramid to beam a ray of light at the star Thuban in 2787 BC, the moment in history when it was actually, physically possible to send a ray of light successfully to another star from a fixed structure located on Earth.
Even though the 'Great Pyramid, Thuban and 2787BC' theory is solid and significant, it's not the truly important element of the book. I'm going to describe, below, THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE BOOK in just three statements. These statements are entirely scientific but their conclusion is profound. Here goes:
1) Everything physical in the universe, if left to its own devices, becomes more disordered over time. This is known as the Law of Entropy or 'the Second Law of Thermodynamics'.
2) But there is a problem; Life becomes more ordered over time. Life turns simple matter (gases, water) into highly complex structures (DNA, proteins, cells). The phenomena of Life cannot be explained away as a result of the sun's energy, as energy and order are not related; a hot gas is no more ordered than a cold gas. In fact, increasing energy invariably increases disorder, not the other way round. Life's ordering effect therefore cannot be coming from a purely physical cause.
3) Therefore, since Life is increasing order in our universe and everything in our universe, if left to its own devices, decreases in order, then Life must be being influenced by something outside of our universe, outside of physical reality.
It's definitely worth reading the third statement more than once, to get one's head around it. Once one has done that, the statement's consequences start to take shape and they are extensive and profound. 'How science shows' explores some of those consequences but not all (there's too many to fit in one book!).
Although the above, third statement may seem controversial, in many ways, science established that conclusion decades ago. In cosmology, the riddles of the Baryon Asymmetry Problem, the Fine Tuning Problem and Boltzmann's Well-Ordered Universe Problem can only be solved by accepting that an intelligence created our universe and that intelligence continued to exert a positive, organising influence over the universe. For more on that topic, do please read this earlier blog post.
Therefore, it can be scientifically proven that Materialism, the idea that only physical things exist, is wrong. Materialism is impossible in our universe. Our universe has to have been created by an organising intelligence, originating from outside of physical reality. In addition, all living things in our universe have to be physical manifestations of organising influences originating from outside of physical reality; that's the only way they can exist and defy entropy, according to our scientific understanding.
What's fascinating is that once a person accepts the above three statements, then everything about our lives and reality becomes profoundly different; that's why I chose such a provocative title to the book. All the extra stuff in 'How Science Shows…' about pyramids and Atlantis and corn-on-the-cob is fun and valid, but of secondary importance to the third statement written out above. It's that statement that is so important, as it is the Galileo's Telescope that brings the Holy Church of Materialism and Atheism crashing down to the ground. Viva La Revolution! ;-)
Adrian Ellis, 12th Oct 2016
At the beginning of the twentieth century, several astronomers noticed something odd about galaxies. When they studied the motion of remote galaxies by measuring their red shift (similar to a Doppler Shift), it seemed that all the galaxies were all moving away from us and each other. There seemed to be only one conclusion, that the universe itself was expanding. It was as if the universe was like the surface of a balloon and everything on that surface was moving away from everything else as the universe ‘inflated’.
As Darling Schulze-Makuch's book explains, the story of evidence for life on Mars kicked off with Percival Lovell and his claims for Martian 'canals'. In truth, Lovell was simply re-iterating an Italian astronomer's observations of 'canali' on Mars, which is Italian for 'channel', but Lovell's embellishments and conclusion that Mars was inhabited by a civilisation struck a popular chord.
Later on, probably the most important episode of 'life on Mars' evidence came from the Viking lander expedition. Devices on the Viking lander found evidence of life in the Martian soil. This evidence should, at least if NASA had followed its own rules, have been enough for scientists to declare that life does exist on Mars, but certain scientists on the NASA panel had their way and the evidence was eventually dismissed as inconclusive. Read More...
Among those points of self-education which take up the form of mental discipline, there is one of great importance, and, moreover, difficult to deal with, because it involves an internal conflict, and equally touches our vanity and our ease. It consists in the tendency to deceive ourselves regarding all we wish for, and the necessity of resistance to these desires. It is impossible for any one who has not been constrained, by the course of his occupation and thoughts, to a habit of continual self-correction, to be aware of the amount of error in relation to judgment arising from this tendency. The force of the temptation which urges us to seek for such evidence and appearances as are in favour of our desires, and to disregard those which oppose them, is wonderfully great. In this respect we are all, more or less, active promoters of error. In place of practising wholesome self-abnegation, we ever make the wish the father to the thought: we receive as friendly that which agrees with, we resist with dislike that which opposes us; whereas the very reverse is required by every dictate of common sense.
Your article 'Why do we move forward in time?" (Issue 3037, 5th Sept 2015, pg34) makes it clear that physics has no clear answer as to why time passes. The article reminded me of an ancient Zen Koan. Two monks were watching a flag flapping in the wind. One said to the other, "The flag is moving." The other replied, "The wind is moving." A Zen master, walking nearby, overheard them. He said, "It is not the flag nor the wind that is moving but your minds." The idea that our minds experience the four-dimensional 'landscape' of physical reality in a chosen time direction would explain the phenomenon of time passing without violating any physics. Perhaps the Zen master was right philosophically and scientifically?
The article concerned was one of a series of articles in the New Scientist that week (issue 3037) about aspects of physics that non one had yet solved. The tricky nature of time is definitely one of these big conundrums. We all experience time flowing; we do things, one after the other, day after day. Around us clocks tick and cars drive and birds fly etc. We can't seem to stop or alter this flow of time. We can't make time stand still. It can certainly sometimes seem as if time is flowing more slowly than at other times. For example, waiting to go into an exam can seem to last forever, but while you're doing the exam, time can seem to scream by. I remember once starting a strategy board game, then becoming completely engrossed and then looking up and finding out that two hours had gone by, as if in a flash. Read More...
But don't take it from me. Here’s what Richard Feynmann (who won a Nobel Prize for physics for co-developing Quantum Electro-Dynamics) said about such an image in his book ‘Q.E.D. The strange theory of light and matter’ (page 84):
“Shortly after electrons were discovered, it was thought that atoms were like little solar systems, made up of a central, heavy part (called the nucleus) and electrons, which went around in orbits, much like the planets do when they go around the sun. If you think that’s the way atoms are, then you’re back in 1910.”
Dear New Scientist. In your Opinion page (issue 3032, 1st August 2015, pg22), Martin Rees states that biological brains will eventually be superseded by far superior, machine intelligences. This follows on from recent comments in the media by Stephen Hawking and others, warning of the dangers of runaway A.I. These are all surprising assertions, as digital computers, fundamentally, are no different from punch-card clocks. Also, A.I. and quantum computing have so far failed to live up to their initial hype; they're currently more Superficial Intelligence than Artificial Intelligence. How do Hawking and Rees think these automated sorters and calculators will reach such lofty goals?
I'm pleased that the New Scientist magazine published it. They didn't publish the full letter; they removed the middle sentence, but it's still good to see it in the magazine. Thinking again on the topic, I would like to add a few more points. I did write a blog article in March, explaining the fundamental limitations of computers, and that does cover a lot, but here's three new points: Read More...
'Fast food hit' (13th May)
During his book, Heisenberg stays very much in the middle ground of the philosophical interpretations of quantum physics. He never concludes that the mind is required for matter to appear out of the quantum realm, unlike Wigner and Von Neumann, but neither does he follow the lead of Einstein and doggedly advocate the Classical Physics viewpoint of an external reality that is present and real all the time, whether we observe it or not. Instead, he talks calmly about what he thinks we can reliably conclude from the experimental evidence and the mathematics, and how that is elegant and beautiful and sufficient just by itself. Read More...
In the interview, Hill-Norton talks about the Bentwater incident, in which a UFO supposedly landed at a UK airbase in 1956 (an incident similar to the later Rendlesham forest incident. Hill-Norton discusses the matter in a logical, matter-of-fact way, using clear and straightforward arguments and his thought-provoking conclusions are sound. The interview isn't too long, and it's interesting all the way through. I heartily recommend it.
But if that's true, then either those aliens are keeping a very low profile or the powers-that-be leading our countries on Earth know about them and they're keeping the fact a secret. This second possibility shouldn't really come as a shock to anyone. 'Knowledge is Power' goes the old adage and powerful people like to be as powerful as possible. We're therefore left with two possibilities; there are no aliens visiting Earth (which is statistically highly unlikely) or there are aliens visiting Earth and our governments are keeping it secret (which is statistically highly likely, but hard to prove). Which is it? Read More...
I found the documentary both engrossing and bizarre. Throughout the program, the people involved in the project were convinced that it was a viable and brilliant way to send humans into space and the other planets in our solar system. They pointed out, sensibly, that rocket motors did not produce enough power to effectively fling humans to the edges of our solar system, or our nearby astral neighbours. Chemical rockets were good enough to go to the moon, but that's about it.
This all made sense, but at no point in the documentary did anyone say 'wait a second, how on Earth are you going to accurately steer this craft as you explode nuclear weapons under its 'spring plate'? Also, how are you going to safely detonate a whole series of nuclear bombs under this 'spring plate' without them frying the crew with radiation or running the risk of one of them blowing up while it's still inside the bomb bay? The practical problems seem endless, and yet they carried on with idealistic zeal. Fascinating stuff.
The man's medical records were quite clear. His case was hopeless. In the space of three years, he had had five operations to remove a tumour from his neck. The last was a failure: it was impossible to remove the whole tumour. He would die soon. As if that wasn't bad enough, the poor man then suffered two attacks of erysipelas, a skin infection that produced a lurid red rash and a high fever. But when the fever broke and the man recovered, his tumour had vanished. Seven years later, he was still alive and well. There could be only one explanation: whatever had caused the fever had also destroyed the cancer.
"Cell work is so sensitive. Some times I wonder if the success of my experiment is down to whether I'm feeling happy or sad that day."
The quote generated laughter in the room but I wondered, surely a scientist would be intrigued by this experience? He or she might say to themselves; this is an interesting phenomenon. I'm noticing a pattern of behaviour. Is this phenomenon repeatable? If it is repeatable, I'd know it is a reliable, measurable phenomenon. If it is, then I've extended my knowledge of the world around me. I can then write up my experiments and distribute the information to others. That way, others can be made aware of what I've found. Ideally, one or more of them will conduct the experiments too and they can report whether or not they found the same effect. I can perform a set of experiments and in each one, record my own state of mind, giving my level of happiness a scale of one to ten, then carry out the cell work and record the results. It would be a relatively inexpensive task and if the phenomenon is real, it would be a big step forward in understanding how reality works. If the phenomenon isn't reliable, then I can conclude that it was purely a concoction on my part. Read More...
As I mentioned in the last blog, if the Influence Idea is correct, then the physical universe around us is a collaborative construction by minds, an idea that many famous quantum physicists almost a century ago also concluded was true. This idea is also supported by a large number of experiments that have been carried out using rigorous scientific techniques since then, a body of research that is reported on, for example, by Dean Radin in his recent book 'Supernormal', a book I recently reviewed.
There are many fascinating consequences to this idea. One key consequence is that since our minds originate from outside the space-time fabric of the physical universe, we potentially can perceive any moment in time and space. Clearly, this is would not be an easy thing to do, even if it was possible. Normally, we perceive events or places only with the eyes and ears of the bodies we inhabit, at least during our waking hours, but it would seem to be theoretically possible.
Fortunately, according to a whole pile of evidence, there are a lot of people who didn't just think about it being a possibility, but actively pursued it as a skill. Read More...
Interestingly, the book's logical conclusions can also be deduced from the Influence Idea. The Influence Idea is relatively simple and can be summed up in one sentence: the only way that Life can exist and flourish in a universe governed by Entropy is for there to be an external, non-physical organising influence acting upon physical reality. Read More...
The New Scientist magazine ran an article last week on this subject entitled 'Virtual reality film revolution puts you in the scene'. The article reports on how several major companies involved in technology and film, such as Sony, are exploring how to use VR to make a new generation of movies and documentaries. The article discusses the benefits, but also the obstacles for VR film-making. I wrote a letter to the New Scientist magazine, suggesting a different use for this new technology, which they've published: Read More...
How real is the threat of rogue A.I.'s? Can one really become sentient, accelerate in intelligence, form its own agenda and take over the world, destroying humanity in the process? Read More...
Brian Clegg doesn't mention this idea in his book. Instead, he takes the reader on a historical journey, tracking the development of our understanding of light from Ancient Greece all the way to the latest manipulations of light in the laboratory. Read More...
I enjoyed the book. It was pretty clear from early on (in fact, P.D.Smith admitted as much himself) that the author had been writing a biography of Leo Szilard, an admirable and brilliant Hungarian physicist who had to leave his home in Budapest when Nazism and anti-Semitism emerged in central Europe. He ditched up in London and finally emigrated to the United States. Unlike other brilliant Hungarian physicists who ended up playing a major role in the development of atomic power and the atomic bomb (such as Von Neumann and Edward Teller), Szilard was a compassionate and ethical man. Read More...
Hal Hodson reports that Google's software for ranking pages on their trustworthiness will make its judgement by drawing on a store of facts gathered from the internet. Isn't this circular logic? How would the Google system handle a statement such as "glass is a liquid"? On the internet, the notion that glass is a slow-moving liquid, resulting in medieval windows that are thicker at the bottom, seems far more prevalent than the truth – that glass is a solid and medieval glaziers placed the thicker end of blown glass sheets at the bottom. Since nothing on the internet is unanimously agreed, Google's software would have to take the majority consensus. If this happened, there is a good chance that any site dispelling a popular misconception would appear far down the list of search results, making it harder, not easier, for people to learn the truth. Popular fiction would dominate because the software would add it to the Knowledge Vault and use that reference point to downgrade the truth. Intelligent people can make clever software, but no one makes intelligent software.
This project also reminded of the physicist Max Planck's comment about new ideas. He said:
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
In your letters page (21st Feb 2015) John Bailey concludes that since we haven’t been bombarded with self-replicating alien robots or seen huge heat signatures in space, there probably aren’t any advanced civilisations in our galaxy. He seems to think that advanced races will have a ‘more is better’ philosophy, but climate change is showing us that a ‘less is better’ philosophy is the only intelligent long-term strategy. If this is correct, then the more advanced a race is in the galaxy, the less visible they’ll be. It’s the quiet ones that are clever, not the shouters.
John Bailey's expectation that advanced alien civilisations will be huge, star-spanning confederations with big, powerful ships and zillions of self-replicating robots is, I think, because of how they're currently depicted in mainstream fiction. We pick whatever seems cutting-edge and exciting at the moment - nano-technology, robotics, ion-drives - and multiply them by a thousand or a thousand million and, voila, that's your advanced alien civilisation. A century-or-so ago, H.G.Wells came up with the idea of Cavorite, a substance that could negate gravity. Using this discovery, two Englishmen travelled to the moon. From a scientific point of view, Cavorite is just as believable as a warp drive or a hyperdrive but it's now seen as quaint, silly and unscientific. I'd bet that self-replicating robots will be seen as just as daft in a century's time. Read More...
For a long time now, wind power has been criticised as being an eyesore and an inefficient and hopeless method of power generation, but these criticisms are fast looking ridiculous. For example, wind power is Denmark is so successful that it is meeting their entire energy needs during periods of the year! They constantly monitor and display the output in the country and the net difference between energy produced and energy consumed (source: energinet.dk):
"The plan to sell home data centres to customers as heat sources sounds innovative, but seems to be missing some key financial points (7th February, pg20). Each customer will need to seek the extra computing power online. The cost of a high-bandwidth connection to the internet and an intermediary to handle the processing tasks is not mentioned. More importantly, the article doesn't mention Moore's law, which states that computing power doubles every two years [Although this law isn't as straightforward nowadays with processor speed limits, it is still roughly true]. This means that the expensive kit a Project Exergy customer buys will roughly halve in value every two years. Also, companies buying the processing power will invariably switch to newer users with newer and faster kit. Early Exergy adopters will be abandoned, leaving them with nothing more than [wildly] expensive electric heaters."
As can be seen from my letter, I wasn't impressed with the strategy of Project Exergy described in the article, but I think their sentiment is positive. As the article states, 'it takes the energy from 34 coal power plants to sustain all digital activities in the US every year'. That's an awful lot of CO2 and innovative ways to reduce this consumption are most welcome, but I think their current strategy isn't the answer.
How about this for an alternative approach? Instead of each household installing servers that remote companies can use for processing tasks, why not set up the servers to mine bitcoins? Bitcoins are created by running an algorithm to solve a mathematical equation for certain values. In other words, processing time is converted into units of digital currency. If households set up their Exergy servers to do this work, they would not need to encourage remote clients to use their machines and they would therefore not need an intermediary. They would also not need to transmit lots of data and would therefore not need a fat pipe to the internet. In addition, their servers would still be able to grind out bitcoins as the years went by, just at a relatively slower rate. These households would therefore not get 'dumped' by processor clients switching to new customers.
It's still not ideal, but it's hard to think of any currency accumulation that isn't energy intensive. Gold is inert and non-toxic, but it takes a lot of effort and power to get it out of the ground and refine it. Also, its mining processes are hideously bad on the environment. Much of the wealth of the modern world is effectively petroleum turned into money, which isn't much good either. By comparison, generating bitcoins while heating your home doesn't seem too irresponsible. If I can, I'll suggest the idea to the Project Exergy people.
Apart from all that, I'm still immersed in writing a science-fiction comedy novel. I'll try and knock out an article on something interesting soon, when there's a natural gap in the writing. Until then, if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you're enjoying the longer, sunnier days! :-)
In your article on a new strategy for those involved in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI), David Messerschmitt says that alien civilisations would logically choose to send short, wide-band radio signals rather than prolonged narrow-band ones, to improve both energy efficiency and bandwidth (31st January, p17). Yet probably the most important signal so far detected by SETI is the narrow-band 'Wow!' signal, picked up in 1977. It came from the direction of Sagittarius and was almost exactly on the hydrogen line, a frequency many thought would be ideal for interstellar transmission. Should we tell the alien civilisation in Sagittarius that they're being a bit primitive?
The U.S. government builds the machine described in the blueprints. Eventually, Jodie Foster's character gets to travel in the machine. I won't reveal any more to avoid spoiling it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but the way the story unfolds and is finally resolved is both clever and intelligent.
There is a terrible irony if we compare 'Contact' with the 'Wow!' signal. If we had received the 'Wow!' signal today, rather than in 1977, we'd have the technology to record it in detail and analyse it, just as Foster's team did with the signal they received in the film. It's perfectly possible that the 'Wow!' signal was an extremely detailed signal, just like the film. Unfortunately, the technology available at the time could only record a few alphanumeric values, so we'll never know. Argh! How frustrating!
There is also a funny side to the story of the 'Wow' signal. To quote the Wikipedia article:
In 2012, on the 35th anniversary of the Wow! signal, Arecibo Observatory beamed a response from humanity, containing 10,000 Twitter messages, in the direction from which the signal originated.
To think, we might have had better kit and found the 'Wow!' message to be full of data. We'd have decoded it, delirious with excitement at the prospect of receiving messages from an interstellar civilisation, and read ten thousand alien social networking messages! CHECK OUT HER TENTACLES! OMG! LOL! :-)
The article then discusses another interesting possibility, that gravity is not a force as such, but instead is a hidden property of light that causes all light paths to reduce in scale over time. I've talked about bats in caves to help communicate this idea, but I haven't drawn any illustrations, so it is a bit dry.
The last part of the article puts forward another idea, that if gravity is the scalar reduction over time of the light pattern that is reality, then the assumption that gravitational mass and inertial mass (known as the Equivalence Principle) may not true for stars, due to their role as massive light creators.
There's a very good chance that my article is tosh, but it's still fun to speculate! ;-)
As part of spreading awareness of the graphic novel and the ideas contained within it, I've posted an article on this website about a key piece of evidence that I unearthed while researching the story. As the title of this blog entry indicates, the key piece of evidence concerns the Great Pyramid and the year 2787 BC, when a crucial celestial event occurred. For a full explanation, do please read the article.
The article puts forward a strange but perfectly possible idea; that evolution on Earth has not entirely been guided by random mutation, as Charles Darwin explained in his theory of evolution by natural selection. Recent studies in microbiology and genetics indicate that our genome, our DNA library, is chock-full of old virus code. Viruses work by infiltrating the DNA machinery of cells and they can insert their instructions into cell's DNA. There is scientific evidence now that the very basic features of multicellular life have come about not by random mutation but through the action of foreign viruses.
My article puts forward the possibility that evolution on Earth may have been guided and accelerated by tailored viruses sent here from planets orbiting other stars. For more info, check out the article.
Greetings! It's cold here in Blighty but it's beautiful in the sunshine.
The beginning of February is only a week away. I was planning to bring out the second issue of 'Visiting Alien' magazine. Unfortunately, there haven't been enough downloads to justify putting out another issue at the moment; but that's okay, as putting the magazine together and working on its contents has already reaped creative dividends.
While assembling chapter 2 of 'Chloë solves the Universe', I delved a little deeper into the history of the Neumann-Wigner hypothesis. This is the idea, put forward by two brilliant scientists, that our minds must be outside of the physical system and influencing it, in order for ghostly quantum superpositions to turn into real objects like photons and electrons. I discovered that this viewpoint wasn't just the view of two mavericks. It was actually fully or partly supported by a host of famous quantum physicists, astrophysicists and mathematicians. Wolfgang Pauli, John Von Neumann, Max Planck, Arthur Eddington, Erwin Schrödinger, Eugene Wigner and Werner Heisenberg were all of the view that materialism was no longer valid. Quantum physics had effectively killed that belief. Instead, they concluded that reality had to be dependent on the mind, either being a creation of the mind or a separate construction to the mind that the mind actively influenced. They debated about this matter for decades. Like any long-running debate, the views of those involved shifted but for many of them, the mind-first idea became more valid over time, rather than less.
I think it's very surprising that this important debate has never been written about in a popular science book (as far as I know). That may be because popular science books are usually written by senior scientists who are still active in science. The problem with this approach is that it may lend weight to the scientist's views but nowadays, any scientist who espouses a view that isn't materialist is endangering his or her scientific career, whether or not the evidence supports such a view. In recent decades, many senior scientists, doctors, biochemists and neurologists have produced evidence strongly indicating that the materialist view is wrong but in most instances, they've been careful not to make any statements but simply present the evidence. This is a shame, and it's not scientific, but there you go. Eugene Wigner, who won a Nobel Prize in 1963, wrote of this problem in his article 'remarks on the mind-body question':
"In the words of Neils Bohr, 'the word consciousness, applied to ourselves as well as others, is indispensable when dealing with the human situation'. In view of all this, one may well wonder how materialism, the doctrine that 'life could only be explained by sophisticated combinations of physical and chemical laws' could so long be accepted by the majority of scientists. The reason is probably that it is an emotional necessity to exalt the problem to which one wants to devote a lifetime. If one admitted anything like the statement that the laws we study in physics and chemistry are limiting laws, similar to the laws of mechanics which exclude the consideration of electrical phenomena, or the laws of macroscopic physics which exclude the consideration of 'atoms', we could not devote ourselves to our study as wholeheartedly as we have in order to recognise any new regularity in nature. The regularity which we are trying to track down must appear the all-important regularity, if we are to pursue it with sufficient devotion to be successful."
I'm therefore rewriting 'Chloë solves the Universe' as 'Chloë's Quantum Quest'. Its central focus will be this historical debate between these Nobel Prize-winning physicists. Chloë will find out about quantum physics and then hear of the Big Argument between the physicists about the nature of reality. When she hears that the mind-first view has been abandoned by modern physicists, she is indignant and decides to do something about it.
That'll be my job for the next couple of months. Roll on Spring!
Another great thing about the scientific method is that it is relatively straightforward. Someone starts by having an idea about how an aspect of the world works. This is a person's possible theory or hypothesis (which literally means 'scene running beneath'). It is often the case that this hypothesis will fly in the face of the accepted theory. The person's hypothesis will often include assumptions about how the world works, which are its axioms. To find out if the hypothesis is true, a person will conduct several experiments. He or she designs these experiments to show, through physical events, whether or not the hypothesis is correct. Depending on the results, the person may conduct further experiments to make sure that the physical evidence he or she has gathered is proof that the hypothesis is correct and that there wasn't just a lucky coincidence, which would indicate a possible false correlation. Once false correlations are ruled out by isolating key elements, the hypothesis can be regarded as fact.
I carried out this process recently with a very mundane problem. I kept getting mouth ulcers. Mouth ulcers aren't fun. They're not life-threatening but they can be a real pain. On a regular basis, I'd been getting them since I was eight, or possibly earlier. About ten years ago, after a particularly bad infestation, I chatted about the problem to a colleague. He said with assured confidence that it was because I was eating acidic foods like tomatoes. I nodded in appreciation at this insight but later on, I thought 'my mouth should be perfectly able to eat tomatoes. Evolution would have weeded out such a simple problem'. But without any anything else to go on, I couldn't come up with a different hypothesis.
That is until last year, when I was chatting to friend. She remarked that she bought SLS-free soap for her young son because he'd had eczema problems since he was a baby. That got me thinking. 'My mouth ulcers are a skin problem of a kind. Could they be the result of my mouth being sensitive to SLS?' That idea became my hypothesis.
My next step was to investigate SLS. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (or Laureth Sulphate or SLES if it's the 'ethyl' version) is a foaming agent. If you add a small amount of SLS to a product it makes the product foam up in an attractive manner as soon as you add water. Because of this, SLS is added to soaps, washing-up liquids and toothpaste, among others. It's in a lot of products. I noticed that it was in toothpaste. I checked my popular brand toothpaste; yep, it was an ingredient. My hypothesis that SLS was giving me mouth ulcers was still possible.
My next step was to perform an experiment; I stopped using my SLS toothpaste. I looked for an alternative brand, free of that ingredient. After a bit of effort, I found one in the local health food shop. I began using that toothpaste exclusively. After several weeks, I realised that I had not had a single mouth ulcer. It looked as if I had proved my hypothesis.
But then I thought: 'perhaps there is another ingredient in the toothpaste I was using previously that is really the cause of my mouth ulcers?' If that was true, then I would have had a false correlation. To test this possibility, I put some soap, containing SLS, on my fingers and then rubbed my fingers around the inside of my mouth. This way, I was isolating SLS from the other toothpaste ingredients. Twenty-four hours later, I had two painful, sensitive mouth ulcers. This experiment gave me the confidence to decide that SLS was the culprit. [There was still the possibility that some other ingredient was the actual culprit but I wasn't going to buy a hundred products and deliberately give myself mouth ulcers for two months. No way!]
Flushed with success (but not inflamed), I wondered about another skin problem I've had most of my life; clammy hands. Did SLS cause that too? That was a trickier challenge because we generally touch more chemical products with our hands than we put inside our mouths. To test this hypothesis, I had to get rid of SLS soaps (which includes pretty much all liquid soaps) and SLS washing up liquids, since I hand-washed my dishes. Eventually, I found an SLS free washing-up liquid made by 'earth friendly products'. Three weeks after switching to those products, I found that in my home at least, my hands were dry as a bone with almost no outbreaks of clamminess.
One day soon after, I popped around to chat to a neighbour. He handed me a mug for my tea, fresh from his kitchen draining-board and as I grasped it, my right hand broke out in a sweat. It was that fast! Not only that, but there couldn't have been much more than a tiny residue of SLS on the mug. Such a large reaction to such a small residue seems to indicate that my hands are hyper-sensitive to the chemical in a similar way to someone with an acute allergy. It was a fascinating reminder of how fast my hands would become clammy again if I let cheaper, SLS-based products back into my daily life.
Since that time, my mouth has been completely ulcer-free and my hands have been almost entirely bone-dry at home. Success!
p.s. If you've found this article interesting, you might want to read my article about Mono-Amine Oxidase, Preserved Meat and a child's Problem Behaviour.
Examining the possibility of a world without fossil fuels, Michael Le Page comes to the conclusion that global warming may be an inevitable result of any industrialised civilisation, as fossil fuels are an unavoidable phase of that development (18th October pg34). He also reports that this might explain the apparent absence of extraterrestrial civilisations despite the high probability that they exist, as each planet offers once chance at transitioning from reliance on finite fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.Perhaps it would be useful to consider a sentient race that could control its population? If our global population had stabilised at a healthy 7 million, rather than 7 billion or more, it's perfectly feasible that we could have passed right through our fossil fuel phase without wrecking our planet's environment.
The editor writes: We will never know for sure. But it is likely that a critical mass of people as well as energy is needed to reach something we would recognise as an industrialised civilisation.
It's an interesting response from the New Scientist editor. How many people would be needed on this planet for us to continue to develop successfully as a technological species? From a genetic perspective, a species' minimum viable population (or MVP) is in the thousands, so a human population of a million or more is definitely genetically healthy. Genetics aside, what population is needed for technological development? What global population would be required to keep us advancing technologically to the point where we did developed a purely renewable technology society?
Well, how about the entire Roman Empire?
The map above (courtesy of the Wikipedia page) shows the extent of the Roman Empire in around 100 AD. It was big. Surely if our global population was the same as the population of the entire Roman Empire, we'd be able to keep going technologically? Around the time of Christ, daily life in Roman Empire wasn't significantly different from today. They had water supplies, sewage systems, household heating, international trade, docks, cranes, pottery and metalwork and a quality road network. They had developed mathematics, researched complex astronomy and created steam-power prototypes. If the Roman Empire was the only civilisation in the world and its population had stabilised at that point and it had been given enough time, surely it would have been capable of advancing past us? It is true that a lot of technological development in Europe was thanks to developments outside Europe, particularly from the Arab world but the Arab world gained many of their technological developments from Egypt and Greece, which were both part the Roman Empire. For a scientist trying to decide on a critical mass of people required to develop into a modern industrial civilisation, the population of the Roman Empire would seem an adequate amount.
Here's the rub. The population of the Roman Empire, east and west together, in 400 AD, was 70 million people. The entire population of the world at the time of Christ was about 170 million people. Our current global population is a hundred times larger than the population of the entire Roman Empire.
It's very strange that the subject of population is very rarely mentioned when people talk about climate change. It's almost a blind spot and yet population is the elephant in the room. For example, for every extra person in Britain, we need to spend £140,000 more on infrastructure; roads, houses, hospitals etc. Extra people are a big burden. For anyone interested in learning more about the effects of population increase, I recommend visiting the population matters website. Population Matters is a charity that works to educate and inform people about the effect of population on our planet and ourselves. The '£140,000' fact comes from a recent study they conducted into the effects of population growth.
There's a dark final point to the matter of a sustainable global population. It would seem that 70 million people (or 1% of our current population) is a believable global population for survival and development. We've grown fifty times larger in the last two-thousand years and we're still growing, but all the evidence points to climate change putting us back down to that figure in the next five hundred years if we don't do it ourselves. That reduction will be brutal and ugly if we don't find a way to do it ourselves humanely. The choice is ours.
A new article out this week adds to that corpus of knowledge. The article appeared in this week's New Scientist magazine and reports on a recent health study of tens of thousands of people in Sweden. The study ran for over 20 years and focussed on milk consumption by adults. It found that:
'the more milk people drank, the more likely they were to die or experience a bone fracture during the study period.'
The study also found that women who reported that they drank three-or-more glasses of milk a day had almost double the risk of dying during the study period as those who reported only drinking one.
This evidence flies in the face of the traditional view of milk; that it's a healthy food and that it helps our bones because it contains calcium. Clearly, this view needs a very strong review. As far as I can remember, the forks over knives documentary gives an explanation that fits the Swedish study very well. Forks over Knives explains that milk does contain calcium but our bodies can't absorb that calcium because we don't have the appropriate enzymes (not surprisingly, as we're not calves). After digestion, the proteins and other elements in milk can create an acid environment in our blood. Our body has to rectify that acid-alkaline balance by drawing calcium from our bones. The bizarre net result is that drinking milk causes us to lose calcium from our bones, not gain it.
This theory is not mentioned in the New Scientist article. It reports that the scientists at Uppsala University could not state a definite causal connection to explain the results of their study. They felt the most likely explanation was that drinking milk was causing inflammation.
Whichever it is, the facts speak for themselves. Don't believe anyone who says that drinking milk is good for your bones.
"In her article exploring whether dolphins live up to their reputation for intelligence, Caroline Williams tells of being forcefully rebuffed by a dolphin after attempting to connect with it (27th September, p46). In this era of climate change, the possibility that dolphins don't want to be friends with humans makes them seem more intelligent and emotionally developed than ever."
The mention of climate change led me to think about its connection with another recent topic, Milgram's Experiment. For a long time, many psychologists have been deeply unhappy that Milgram's Experiment seems to show that most people would willingly cause pain and death to an unfortunate target if they were gradually coaxed into it by authority figures. Humanity isn't like that, they say, people aren't that bad!
But a form of Milgram's Experiment is going on as we speak. It started a while ago when some people were coaxed into hurting a living target in return for personal reward. The level of harm they inflicted was slowly ramped up. They willingly continued to harm the target, even though they could see how it was suffering. Now, the experiment has reached the stage where the people involved are inflicting lethal levels of harm on the living target. Yet, they are still continuing even though they profess to be concerned about the target's welfare. The experiment I'm talking about is climate change. The living target suffering is the Earth's biosphere and the people concerned are, well, nearly every affluent individual on the planet.
Perceptive creatures, dolphins.
They found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted. One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room. Despite being unconscious and ‘dead’ for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines.
The evidence now appears to be conclusive. When someone physically dies on an operating table, in essence when their heart stops, their brain has about twenty seconds worth of oxygen. After that, the brain is unable to function. According to the current orthodox view of consciousness, the subject can no longer think as the brain can no longer work. And yet Dr Parnia's study and Dr Van Lommel's before it, and other associated studies, clearly show that the mind does function. Subjects who physically die and are then revived are found to have been fully aware of what was going on during the several minutes that their bodies were dead. In some cases, they even give detailed descriptions of what happened in the room while they were physically dead which tally with what actually happened.
In the New Scientist article, the psychologists argued that the members of the public that participated in Milgram's experiment - the ones that applied the electric shocks - weren't as bad as everyone has made them out. One reason the psychologists gave was that the subjects in the experiment were told that the experiment had scientific benefit. That, argued the psychologists, was partly why the subjects applied what they thought were lethal level shocks. Also, the psychologists argued, Milgram did the experiment many times, with different parameters (including one where the subjects carrying out the shocks had to physically put the victim's hands on the shock plates) and in some of those versions, a greater percentage of people refused to carry out the shocks to lethal levels. All this, the psychologists emphasised, showed that people aren't as willing to inflict pain and eventual death on a victim - if instructed to by an authority figure - as Milgram's experiments make out.
Being a right picky, curmudgeonly so-and-so, I felt I had to respond with this letter:
"In re-evaluating Stanley Milgram's infamous experiments, Alexander Haslam and Stephen Reicher argue against the popular view that most people will willingly shock someone to death if an authority figure asks them to (13th Sept, pg28). These psychologists might change their mind if they watch the 2010 French/Swiss televisions documentary 'Le Jeu de la Mort', in which participants in a fake game show were asked to shock a contestant who answered trivia questions incorrectly. The participants knew there was no scientific benefit. Yet only a fifth of them stopped before inflicting what they thought were lethal level shocks."
I was very pleased that New Scientist published the letter. The version they printed wasn't actually the version I sent them, but theirs is better. Nuts, I still haven't cracked this clear and efficient prose malarkey. For those who'd like more info on how the devious but illuminating French-speaking fake-game-show people reinforced Milgram's infamous findings, here's the BBC report.
We know of the existence of Denisovan Man because a scientist named Michael Shunkov from the Russian Academy of Science looked for interesting fossils in a cave in Siberia (named after a hermit called Denis). In the cave, Shunkov found an interesting sliver of a finger bone. He bagged and labelled the shard and sent it off for analysis.The results came back. The bone belonged to a hitherto unknown version of primitive man. This strain was genetically similar to ourselves and Neanderthal man but clearly separate. Excited by the news, Shunkov searched the cave for further evidence of this new species. He found a surprisingly large wisdom tooth. At first, he thought the tooth was too large to be Denisovan (or any proto-human) but the genetic testing carried out later confirmed it was also from Denisovan Man.
Scientists have carried out further genetic analysis and examination of these artefacts and have been able to work out what Denisovan Man would have looked like. They are confident that Denisovan Man had dark skin, brown hair and brown eyes. It is also likely that Denisovans were as hairy as Neanderthal Man, possibly even as hairy as their common genetic ancestor, Homo Heidelbergensis. It is also likely that Denisovans were large and robust, like Homo Heidelbergensis. As the article states: "[Homo Heidelbergensis] were big and robust guys, with body mass estimates around 100 kilograms”.
Interestingly, the Denisovan wisdom tooth also indicates that the Denisovans were large and powerful individuals. In fact, it is possible that they were larger than Homo Heidelbergensis. There is no reason why Denisovans could not have grown to be nine feet tall. This would have put a strain on their heart and other physical processes, leading to a shorter life, but the benefit it gave to survival may have outweighed this limitation. We - home sapiens - became group operators and tool users to fend off large predators. Denisovans may have evolved a different approach; to become large and powerful like gorillas to avoid predation by bears, tigers and other large carnivores. Built like this, Denisovans could have operated in small, family groups, consuming an omnivorous diet. They wouldn’t have had claws for protection, but their physical power and some crude weapons could have been enough to ensure their survival amongst wild animals.
Denisovans wouldn’t have stood a chance against Homo Sapiens. We would have wiped them out if they tried to compete with us. Their best tactic to survive on a planet inhabited by homo sapiens would be to avoid us whenever possible. If we came close, they would need to get away and, ideally, drive us off. Driving us off with violence would probably only result in their deaths. Denisovans would therefore benefit from some sort of non-violent repulsion, like creating a terrible stink. With this ability, and enough remote, wild terrain to lose themselves in, Denisovans could theoretically have survived on a planet dominated by homo sapiens
If Denisovans did develop these abilities (evasion of humanity, repulsive smell) then there’s a fascinating possibility, that they have not died out but still exist. There still are some wild and remote parts of the world in which they could still be living. The reason we haven't captured a Denisovan is that, unlike other rare creatures, Denisovans would be very adept at deliberately avoiding detection by humans. All a hunter would experience would be a dim shape, followed by a terrible smell and possibly the distant sounds of movement in the underground. If this is true, it would explain the stories of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti etc. It would also explain why so many cultures in our past accepted and believed that an elusive, huge, powerful ape-man existed that avoided man and could emit a terrible smell.
Unfortunately, there can’t be many Denisovans left. Top predators need a large territory to survive and Denisovans would be no exception. If one was captured, people's initial disbelief would be followed by fascination and a mad rush to bag some more, rapidly followed by the realisation that there were critically endangered. Perhaps it's better if we do believe that Denisovans died out and Bigfoot doesn't exist; it's probably a lot safer to be a myth! ;-)
There's no doubt that modern cosmology has several problems that it is current incapable of solving; here's a list of them below. The first two are mentioned in the article.
Boltzmann's 'Well ordered Universe' problem
Ludwig Boltzmann noticed in the late nineteenth century that the universe was in a very well-ordered state; in simple terms, it worked. The suns were stable and supplied energy, planets orbited them, supporting life. What confused Boltzmann was that he knew about thermodynamics and the Law of Entropy. It made no sense that a universe in which things always got more chaotic over time, it would be in this state after billions of years. It made no sense.
The fine tuning problem
The laws of the universe are extremely friendly to life. In fact, the ratios of the fundamental constants are incredibly, precisely, just right for stars and planets to form. If one or more of them were even a tiny amount different from their real values, we couldn't have atoms, never mind stars. Somehow, possibly by astonishing accident, our universe has just the right fundamental constants for atoms and stars to exist.
The baryon asymmetry problem
When the Big Bang banged, it should have produce equal amounts of matter and anti-matter. This is because, according to physics, the universe treats anti-matter and matter both equally. The only problem with this fact is that if the universe had treated them equally when it began, the matter and anti-matter would have cancelled each other out by colliding in a flash of light, leaving nothing but some radiation. Clearly, this hasn't happened and there is nothing in physics to explain why.
What's very interesting about this list of problems is that there is an answer that solves them all, that makes them all make sense. It is very simple:
The Universe is a construction
In other words, the universe didn't come into existence as a random event. The universe is a creation, made with a positive purpose and designed so that it is stable. That is why its settings (its laws, constants and ratios) are astonishingly fine-tuned so that suns and solar systems can form. That's also why our universe is filled with matter, whereas a universe that was created as a random event from nothing should have produced equal amounts of matter and anti-matter.
The strange conundrum then becomes, if that's the only logical answer and it solves all the existing conundrums, why hasn't it been accepted and widely disseminated?
The reason, in a word, is materialism. The dominant belief in modern science at the moment is materialism. Materialists believe that only inert matter exists. Even our minds are not real. According to materialists, they are simply a sensory phenomenon, like a rainbow. Materialists only believe that our universe came about as a random event, an event without any bias, an event where there was no tendency or movement towards a particular goal. It's worth noting at this point that materialism is purely a belief; it is not based on any scientific evidence. Some scientists may think that science has proved materialism but there are many experiments made by senior scientists that negate this view. These experiments have been dismissed on spurious grounds because they don't agree with materialism. Ironically, it's a lot like the Renaissance Vatican priests refusing to look in Galileo's telescope.
In case someone is thinking that I'm making a case for religion, I'm not. The fact that the universe is a construction doesn't mean that it was made by God (or a god). The evidence doesn't indicate who or what constructed our universe, or how or why it was done. Our universe might have been created by a single entity, it might be a technological creation by an extremely advanced civilization, it might be a huge, collaborative, consensual illusion. The evidence doesn't help us work this out, but it sure is an interesting question.
If any readers would like read a related idea of mine, that also explores how life exists, please have a leaf through the Influence Idea. There's lots of attractive illustrations and pictures of famous scientists and some sheds.
I've sent the New Scientist magazine a letter about this cosmological conundrum, pointing out that all the problems they mentioned are solved if we accept that the universe is a construction. They've been very kind to publish my letters in the past, so it may turn up in the magazine at some point. Here's hoping! :-)
They have published my letter. Hooray! That is very good of them, as any scientific view that's even a little non-materialistic can get some serious flack. Thank you, New Scientist magazine.
A very interesting article appeared in this week's New Scientist magazine entitled 'Thank viruses for your skin and bone'. The article explains that many of the proteins that our cells manufacture are from genes originally found in viruses. More importantly, the proteins needed for cell fusion, for multicellular organisms such as ourselves and all living things, all seem to have come from viruses. This is a fascinating continuation of an earlier New Scientist article discussing the increasing importance scientists give to viruses in relation to cellular evolution. Felix Rey of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, who headed up the work, speculates that:
Viruses may be responsible for the very existence of multicellular organisms. Viruses come and go between different cells, exchanging genetic information between them. "This makes me think that viruses have contributed enormously to the communication between cells, and to the appearance of multicellular organisms on Earth."
This idea has fascinating consequences, not only for our understanding of the natural processes of evolution, but of the possibilities for artificially guiding evolution. For example, if your civilisation existed for tens of millennia and you had advanced knowledge of genetic engineering, you could steer the evolution of life on another planet. As long as the target planet contained unicellular organisms, you could repeatedly send tailored viruses to that planet. These viruses would infect the remote cells, change their genetic code and gradually modify them to become multicellular organisms. You could continue this process, sending new viruses that deliberately alter and extend the genetic code of life on that planet. By doing this, you could make those primitive organisms more advanced, more varied, more sophisticated. You would be the overriding source of evolution on that planet.
Although it would be easier to do this to another planet in your solar system, it would be perfectly feasible to do the same trick to a planet around another star. As viruses are so small and relatively hardy, you could 'coat' them to allow them to be propelled by a laser beam. You could then point a laser at that star and insert a stream of virus packets into that beam. Although the vast majority of virus packets would be lost en route, a small fraction could reach the target planet intact. Once they were there, they could infect life on that planet. In the same way that a viral infection of our bodies can start with only a single virus particle, you would only need a handful of virus packets to successfully infect life on the alien planet to make the process work. Once they had infected life on the target planet, they would use the living organisms on the planet to create more copies of themselves and, by doing that, spread their gene-altering code to life on the entire planet.
It's interesting to think of the human race carrying out such a project in the future, when our level of technical understanding has reached a sufficient level, but a more pertinent question is; has this been done to us?
Logically, if a race reached such a level of advancement, it could accelerate evolution on the planets around its neighbouring stars. These planets would in turn develop until they had intelligent, technically advanced races who would also carry out such work. Instead of life around stars being a random event, rare in appearance, that develops slowly to a semi-random plan, you would instead have a viral, hot-housing, guided development of life spreading out exponentially across the galaxy.
If evolution on this planet, and possibly our own evolution as a species, had been influenced in this way, how would we know if it had occurred?
One way that we could work out that it had happened would be if the fossil record showed a sudden and very strange leap in evolution during a very short period, a change that could not be explained by any natural event on our planet. Interestingly, such an event did occur about one billion years ago. Our planet is about four billion years old. For its first three-or-so billion years, very little evolution went on. Our planet contained mostly single-celled amoeba, exactly the type of organisms that would have existed before these special viruses had appeared to kick-start multi-cellular activity. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye geologically - multi-cellular organisms appear in the fossil record and there is an explosion of evolution, leading to a variety of multi-cellular organisms such as trilobites. This became known as the Cambrian Explosion.
Was the Cambrian Explosion caused by alien tailored viruses kick-starting evolution on Earth? It certainly fits the facts. Unfortunately, I can see no way to prove such a theory. It has to stay as a piece of speculation.
By comparison, if a virus-filled laser beam had been fired at our planet in recent times, when we were sufficiently advanced to record the event, we could prove that it had happened. If such an event had happened when we were sufficiently advanced, it's possible to guess how it would have been recorded. Here's a rough description:
Observers see that a nearby star has abruptly changes colour (as a laser beam from it focuses on our planet). The star becomes 'fiery' (due the laser light being scattered by our atmosphere). The star turning 'fiery' is accompanied by the emergence one or more epidemics (most likely isolated to particular species that share certain biological similarities). Animals of certain species become ill, showing symptoms of viral infection, but most recover. The records talk of fear and awe of the fiery star and religious ceremonies are carried out in an attempt to placate the star's malevolent effect. Eventually, the fiery star returns to normal and people go back to their normal routines (but unknown to them, specialised genes have been added to the genetic code of one or more species, according to a plan developed by the civilisation living on a planet around that fiery star).
Sounds exotic and fantastic? Well, this is where things get really interesting...
A year-or-so ago, I wrote an article about a very strange series of events during our Classical Era. This was the laser transmissions from Sirius article. It put forward the strange but scientifically feasible idea that Earth received a laser transmission from Sirius in the first millennium before Christ. During that time, the star Sirius, normally a bright, white star in our sky, was reported by many different sources to have blazed a fiery red for years on end, during a period of centuries, and in particular that it blazed red towards the end of the Northern Hemisphere Summer, the origin of the phrase the 'dog days of summer' named after the Dog Star itself. During that time, according to multiple reports, the fiery star brought epidemics that affected men and dogs.
When I wrote that article, I couldn't understand why a transmission from Sirius would bring epidemics. Why would an advanced alien civilisation want to send us diseases? Rabies seemed the closest disease to the epidemics described; why on Earth would advanced aliens beam us rabies on a laser?
This strange evidence now makes much more sense, in the light of the new research on viruses' role in cellular evolution. The prime reason why the star Sirius turned 'fiery' all those centuries ago was specifically to send us one or more tailored viruses.
If that is the case, what viruses were sent Earth? What genetic codes were the virus designed to install and what species were they designed to affect? The reports from Ancient Greece make it clear that people did succumb to some sort of illness when the star flared red; they were astroboletus or 'star-struck'. What did the illness(es) they succumbed to do to them? Were our ancestors deliberately targeted by an alien civilisation from Sirius and infected with a gene-altering virus?
It sounds very far-fetched as an idea, but as far as I can tell, it is thoroughly grounded in solid science. Certainly, psychologically, it isn't an idea that'll be popular with most people. The possibility that evolution on our planet - including the evolution of our own species - has been guided by a remote alien civilisation makes us look like a bunch of lab mice. Very humbling!
There is one more strange consequence of this 'tailored viruses fired at planets to artificially guide evolution' idea. Perhaps the media outlets need to be buzzing with a shocking new development. Intelligent Design is now a scientifically viable idea; the only problem is that God's not involved at all, the job's been done by our Dog Star's Little Green Men… :-)
The video is lots of fun and it does a good job of celebrating how many predictions such science-fiction authors as H.G.Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Douglas Adams got right about our modern world. As the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Nils Bohr once said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." :-)
For an example of this 'flipping', here's a letter I wrote to New Scientist recently which has now been published in their letters page:
In your recent article 'artificial tendons help you walk' (issue 2953, pg21), Yong-Lae Park and colleagues of Carnegia Mellon University made 'a robotic device with artificial muscles that could help people with cerebral palsy strengthen their foot and ankle muscles'. There may be another potential use for such robotic devices; helping ordinary people develop their muscles (get ripped) without having to actually move their limbs themselves. In the future, someone may simply climb inside a full-body version of the device and develop a bodybuilder physique without (literally!) lifting a finger.
For anyone keen to find new ways to come up with creative ideas for stories, I definitely recommend they try this 'flipping' approach. It has a Zen Buddhism element to it in the sense that you need to break out of the predictable way of thinking about a story, invention or place. Jokes and humour also follow this approach, flipping an idea around in such a way that it is interesting, but totally unexpected. It's also great fun!
Producing ideas this way can actually influence the future. The lateral-thinking ideas of science-fiction writers have inspired engineers to make the very items they conjured up in their stories. Arthur C. Clarke famously predicted the usefulness of orbitting satellites and Douglas Adams pointed out how Digital Audio Compact Discs might be rather useful for computer data storage. Perhaps someone will read my letter and in five-years' time, start a company that makes robotic suits that turn their owners from couch potatoes into muscle-bound Adonis's? I've no idea, but it's an interesting idea. :-)
One fun thing about writing science fiction is looking at what’s happening now in the world and extrapolating. Sometimes though, you don’t need to extrapolate and come up with far-fetched ideas. Instead, you can work out what could already present but hasn’t been made public. This is science-fiction drifting close to a technical analysis; it's a fiction only in the sense that it hasn’t been proved. By comparison, science-fiction that speculates on a possible distant future is plausible fiction; it will probably never happen, but it’s still interesting.
This article is aimed at the former category and it’s to do with our moon.
Much has been written about the recent burst of activity in moon exploration by our planet’s major powers. The Chinese currently have a robot on the moon, nicknamed ‘Jade Rabbit’ which is attracting huge interest among Chinese citizens as it explores and analyses the moon’s surface. India is also investing large sums of money in visiting the moon and according to this Daily Telegraph article, both China and India plan to land people on the moon in the next ten years. The United States, who have already been to the moon, are talking about a new programme of exploration and there are reports Japan also wants to be involved.
An interesting question to ask is; why are they all doing it? It’s true that a country gains a lot of kudos if it completes a successful mission, but it’s a very expensive endeavour. According to this NASA website, it costs about $500,000,000 to send a robot to the moon. Another way of estimating the cost is per kilo of payload. According to some science websites, it costs about two million dollars for every kilogram you put on the moon. In other words, if you want to put a bicycle on the moon (probably a folding one), you’ll need to spend about twenty-million dollars. These prices don’t include all the efforts put into developing new technologies, the cost of failed missions and other related issues.
Along with the sheer expense, there is also the unedifying fact that the moon has already been landed on and it’s not an exciting place; it’s a dead, airless lump of rock. No nation is going to stay up into the small hours to see a robot land on the Sea of Tranquility. But there is a possible and very viable reason why the big nations of our planet, particularly the emerging superpowers, are racing to put robots, people and eventually bases on the moon, and it’s do with height.
In the history of warfare, height has always been of huge importance. Tribes soon noticed that attacking downhill is a lot easier, and more successful, than attacking uphill. Millennia later, as soon as people could take to the air, they used airborne craft to gain a new height advantage, bombing and strafing their enemy on the ground. When both sides had airborne craft, those craft that could climb higher gained a crucial advantage. The latest stage in this war of altitude has been the development of satellites for reconnaissance and communication, which all major nations now have. More recently the technology to knock out those satellites has been developed, with successful tests by more than one superpower showing they can knock out their own ageing or erratic satellites, and if push comes to shove, someone else’s. This satellite stage in the war of altitude is now a crowded, well-established territory. To gain a singular advantage, someone has to take the next altitude step; the moon.
A base on the moon has several strategic benefits. Firstly, it’s a super-satellite. There are a huge number of commercial and military satellites currently orbiting the Earth. They are extremely vulnerable, delicate devices. As popularised in the recent movie ‘Gravity’, there are so many satellites orbitting our planet that the destruction of just a few could release so much debris that a chain-reaction could break a huge number of the satellites currently in geosynchronous orbit around the Earth. It is also perfectly possible, as mentioned earlier, for ground-based lasers and rockets to knock them out individually. By comparison, an installation of communication or reconnaissance equipment on the moon, protected by some sort of screen, would be far harder to knock out. The moon therefore becomes an ideal back-up location for military communication and reconnaissance hardware.
But this article focusses on a second and more dramatic use, that makes full and devastating use of the moon’s position as the ultimate high ground.
Earth is big and, as a result, it has a strong gravity. By comparison, the moon is smaller and has less gravity, roughly one-seventh of Earth’s. If someone on the moon wants to attack a spot on the Earth, all they need to do is to throw a moon rock hard enough to leave the moon’s weak gravity well. The rock will then pass into Earth’s gravity well and fall down it, finally striking its appointed target on the Earth’s surface. This process is like a giant on a mountain tossing a boulder on to a fertile valley below. This is a kinetic weapon, as the damage it causes is entirely down to the speed at which it strikes the target, due to the extreme height from which the object has fallen.
To make such a weapon work on the moon, the attacker needs ammunition - rocks - of which the moon has loads, and some means to toss those projectiles in a guided way, in order for them to hit their intended target. Previous science-fiction stories have explored this idea, such as Robert Heinlein’s ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’, in which rocks coated in iron are launched from the Moon, at Earth, by an electromagnetic cannon. Although Heinlein’s book was a masterwork of speculative fiction, wrapping such rocks in iron as a way to propel them is a dated method and unfeasible. Iron is heavy and rare on the moon. There is a better alternative and it involves more modern technology, that of lasers and solar power.
To launch a rock from the Moon to the Earth, you need a) a power source of some kind for the launching and b) something that launches the rocks out of the moon’s gravity. The first requirement, power, can be supplied by solar power. The moon can receive the full intensity of the sun’s rays, uninterrupted, for long periods of time, making this an ideal spot for solar power generation.
The next thing needed is something to launch the rock. Lasers can carry out this task. A possible mechanism is as follows:
On the far side of the moon, a solar array is installed on its surface, along with a robot and several lasers. The solar array charges up the robot. The robot then digs a rock out of the lunar surface and places the rock in a harness hung from poles above the ground, placed in the centre of a circle of lasers. The robot retreats and the lasers, powered by the solar array, fire beams at the rock in the harness. The heat of the laser beams on the rock causes material on its surface to heat up and boil off. This emission of gases pushes the rock in the opposite direction to the gases it emits. Using this ‘action and reaction’ effect, the lasers ‘push’ the rock upwards, against the moon’s weak gravity. By altering the intensity of their beams and where they hit the rock, the lasers guide the rock upwards and entirely away from the lunar surface, accelerating it out of the moon’s gravity well. Once the rock is free of the lunar gravity, the lasers are turned off and the rock is left to fall down the Earth’s gravity well until it finally hits the intended target.
There are many practical benefits to investing in this type of weapon. It runs entirely from its own power source. It also has effectively limitless ammo. If it is placed on the far side of the moon, it is not even vulnerable to any Earth-based lasers’ attempts to disable it. It effectively becomes the most powerful catapult ever created, firing its shot from the highest-ever castle, behind the thickest-ever wall. Although the weapon’s location would make communication with it from an Earth-based command centre very difficult, the weapon’s computer could be semi-autonomous, or even receive its instructions from probes located further away from Earth than the moon, for example at one of the Sun’s Lagrange points, that have relayed instructions to it from an Earth-based command centre.
Is such a weapon on the minds of the super-states racing to explore and colonise the moon? I don’t know, but I would very be surprised if none of them have done a feasibility study. The idea isn’t new to science-fiction and recent developments in laser efficiency, solar power efficiency and robotics make it far more achievable than when Heinlein wrote about it, fifty years ago. Knowing what we do about human-kind, it's sensible to believe that one or more super-states will install such a weapon if they think it's worth the cost. Civilisation has followed a logical path for millennia and there’s no reason to think that will change, at least until natural factors bring it to a painful end. I think the moon will be a key piece in our next global war. Someone will establish a weapon on our moon and use this new high ground to devastating effect.
Note: Thinking about this again, a day later, I'm keen to check through some more of the technical aspects. For example, how big does a lump of rock that's travelled from the moon need to be to avoid being burnt up in Earth's atmosphere? This could be tricky to work out but I'll see what I can do.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog article about the excellent Forks over Knives documentary. The documentary made a fascinating and convincing case for the connection between major illnesses and a diet high in animal proteins. As a follow-on from that entry, I thought I’d mention a new article in this week’s New Scientist magazine. It reports on some very interesting new research. To quote:
Switching to a diet based exclusively on animals or plants triggers rapid changes to the microbes that rule your gut. This knowledge could help fine-tune diets to improve health, as well as reduce the risk of illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease.
The New Scientist magazine last week reported on a study by the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California to see if diet and lifestyle could reduce or revert cell-ageing in 10 men in their early sixties with prostate cancer. They were ‘asked to follow a strict healthy-living regime rather than take a course of drugs. They ate a meat-free diet, did exercise and yoga daily and went to weekly group therapies. After five years, the telomeres on a type of white blood cell were 10% longer on average in these men. In contrast, 25 men with the same condition who kept to their usual lifestyles saw the telomeres on these cells shrink by an average of 3% over the same period.’ Read More...
The idea that plants make use of quantum physics to harvest light more efficiently has received a boost. Plants gather packets of light called photons, shuttling them deep into their cells where their energy is converted with extraordinary efficiency. A report in Science journal adds weight to the idea that an effect called a "coherence" helps determine the most efficient path for the photons. Experts have called the work "a nice proof" of some contentious ideas.
‘Heading Towards Omega’ focusses on people’s reports of their Near Death Experiences, including episodes they experienced decades before, the circumstances of their NDE and the effect those NDE’s had on their lives and their view of life and reality. The experiences of those subjects closely match those reported in ‘Consciousness Beyond Life’. Both describe separating from the body, viewing their body from outside, observing people in the room, awareness of a tunnel, a light at the end of that tunnel, a realm of light, the presence of loved ones, encounters with higher individuals filled with love, the reviewing of their life so far, their decision to return to their body, their return and connection with the physical world - along with its pain and intensity and physical limitations - and, finally, their the return to a waking, aware state. Read More...
Unlike other books on the subject, such as Kenneth Ring’s excellent ‘Heading Towards Omega’, the book describes Dr Van Lommel decision to set up a study to rule out the possibility that these episodes were fantasised or were caused by the subjects’ brains hallucinating when low on oxygen or affected by drugs. Read More...
This article comes from the Independent newspaper. It describes the instance where a woman, who was thought to be dead, woke up as the medical staff were wheeling her in the operating theatre to have her organs removed as a transplant donor. To quote from the article, ‘her eyes opened in response to the bright lights in the operating theatre, causing doctors to immediately call off the procedure.’
Not surprisingly, everyone involved was quite shocked. The hospital involved, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Centre in Syracuse, was a professionally run hospital that had highly trained staff and modern technology, and yet they had completed failed to spot that their patient wasn’t actually dead.
Today’s article comes from New Scientist. In it, a man named Graham attempted suicide but his bid failed. Afterwards, he told everyone around him that he regarded himself as dead. He no longer gained any joy from life, from normally pleasurable activities, and saw no point in continuing to exist. The mental problem that Graham was suffering from is known as Cotard’s Syndrome.
What is fascinating about this particular patient was that the researchers took the step of analysing Graham’s brain using the latest scanning techniques. They found that portions of his brain that should have been active, since he was clearly alive, showed virtually no activity at all. He had the brain activity of someone who was unconscious or in a coma, and yet he was walking around conscious and living like anyone else. Only his depression and his view of the world was different.
The idea also cropped up more recently in a New Scientist magazine article. The article’s author reported attempts underway by scientists to find Dyson Spheres out there in the Milky Way. The logic of the article was as follows: By the laws of probability, there should be many advanced civilisations out there in our galaxy. If there are, some of them should have built Dyson Spheres (or similar enormous engineering constructions) in order to house their expanding populations and help their expansion through the Galaxy. There should therefore be Dyson Spheres out there, encasing stars; it’s just a case of spotting their heat signature, shape, E/M emissions etc.
At their house, while thinking on the problem, I noticed that my friend was giving her son more ice-cream than before. I pointed it out to her and she said that since her son’s infant food allergies were gone, he was enjoying the ability to eat dairy. I asked what he’d been eating on the day he’d had the fight. She said they’d had garlic sausage for lunch. I wondered; were these foodstuffs connected to his problem behaviour? Particularly since he had a history of food intolerance? After a bit of work, I came up with a possible solution. Here it is:
The problem scientists are finding with black holes is that the physics (and maths) of a black hole doesn’t fit with the physics (and maths) of the universe. These problems are really extensions of a still bigger problem, which is that physicists have developed two important theories to explain reality; Relativity, which explains the largest scales brilliantly and Quantum Physics, which explains the smallest scales brilliantly. The only problem is that the two theories aren’t compatible. Black holes, being a place in the universe where the largest becomes deeply involved in the tiniest, not surprisingly are a source of much consternation; they’re like huge cosmic signposts saying ‘YOU’RE MISSING SOMETHING IMPORTANT!’. Read More...
“New scientific ideas never spring from a communal body, however organized, but rather from the head of an individually inspired researcher who struggles with his problems in lonely thought and unites all his thought on one single point which is his whole world for the moment.”
A news article has appeared in this morning's Independent newspaper reporting that methane has now been discovered bubbling up from the open arctic ocean, appearing through cracks in the thinning ice. To quote: Read More...
Here's the video. I'll be honest, it makes me want to go out immediately and buy a huge Lego Technic kit.
Dr Marcy believes that if alien civilizations do exist, some must be sufficiently advanced to be communicating between stars. To do this, they would logically use lasers, since lasers enable tight, focussed, information-rich communication. We on Earth have been sending out lasers and radio waves into space for a while now and Dr Marcy suspects that alien civilizations may target us as a result. As he states in the interview: 'maybe they are studying us with their own lasers, for whatever reason, and we should be looking for that. And that's what I plan to do.'
The reason I'm mentioning this is that, based on the evidence I uncovered in my book 'The Golden Web', such an event may have already happened.
Unfortunately, I read an article in the Independent at the very beginning of this year which I think is of huge significance. In the article, to quote, 'Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide - have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.'
Last year, I wrote to Rupert Sheldrake, a fascinating man who developed the theory of morphogenetic fields and is the author of books such as 'Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home' and 'Seven Experiments That Could Change the World', both of which I recommend. I wanted to make him aware of the intriguing research that Luc Montagnier has been carrying out with water and DNA. He very kindly replied and agreed it was very interesting and threw up a lot of questions but he couldn't see on first glance how it could connect to his theory of morphogenetic fields. Here's my reply:Read More...
Being an ardent fan of the New Scientist magazine, I couldn't resist entering its caption competition. The picture is as follows:
My entries were:
'Are you sure this'll be okay, Dr Jekyll?'
'And with that final drop, they had created the world's strongest espresso'
New Scientist are running one every week for four weeks, no purchase necessary!
“The number of people in the UK who do not believe in global warming has doubled in the last two years, according to a poll from the office of national statistics. Does this represent the common sense of a British public who can see the claims of the climate alarmists dissolve before their eyes?”
It’s an interesting choice of phrase, common sense. Common sense is a very important skill to have. Read More...