Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Are our Emotional & Physiological States Wirelessly Communicated through our Sweat Glands?

"Scientists at the department of Applied Physics of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered a method for remote sensing of the physiological and emotional state of human beings.

The key is in the surprising shape of human sweat ducts. Professors Yuri Feldman and Aharon Agranat together with Dr. Alexander Puzenko, Dr. Andreas Caduff and PhD student Paul Ben-Ishai have discovered that the human skin is structured as an array of minute antennas that operate in the 'Sub Terahertz' frequency range.

This discovery is based on investigations of the internal layers of the skin that were undertaken using a new imaging technique called 'Optical Coherent Tomography.' Images produced by this technique revealed that the sweat ducts, which are the tubes that lead the sweat from the sweat gland to the surface of the skin, are shaped as tiny coils. Similar helical structures with much larger dimensions have been used widely in as antennas in wireless communication systems. This made the investigators consider the possibility that the sweat ducts could behave like tiny helical antennas as well.

In a series of experiments, the team measured the electromagnetic radiation reflected from the palm skin at the frequency range between 75GHz and 110GHz. It was found that the level of the reflected intensity depends strongly on the level of activity of the perspiration system. In particular, it was found that the reflected signal is very different if measured in a subject that was relaxed, and if measured in a subject following intense physical activity.

In a second set of measurements it was found that during the period of return to the relaxed state, the reflected signal was strongly correlated with changes in the blood pressure and the pulse rate that were measured simultaneously.

The researchers believe the discovery could theoretically help remotely monitor medical patients, evaluate athletic performance, diagnose disease and remotely sense the level of excitation – which could have significant implications for technology in the biomedical engineering, anti-terror and security technology fields.

The initial results of the research were published last week in the prestigious scientific journal The Physical Review Letters. The publication aroused significant interest among scientists, physicians and science writers."1

1"'Tiny Radio Antennas' Under Skin Could Act As Remote Sensors Of Humans' Emotional, Physiological State"

Sunday, April 27, 2008

"In Lean Times, Biotech Grains Are Less Taboo"

"With food riots in some countries focusing attention on how the world will feed itself, biotech proponents see their chance. They argue that while genetic engineering might have been deemed unnecessary when food was abundant, it will be essential for helping the world cope with the demand for food and biofuels in the decades ahead.

In Japan and South Korea, some manufacturers for the first time have begun buying genetically engineered corn for use in soft drinks, snacks and other foods. Until now, to avoid consumer backlash, the companies have paid extra to buy conventionally grown corn. But with prices having tripled in two years, it has become too expensive to be so finicky.

'We cannot afford it,' said a corn buyer at Kato Kagaku, a Japanese maker of corn starch and corn syrup.

The main reason some Japanese and South Korean makers of corn starch and corn sweeteners are buying biotech corn is that they have dwindling alternatives. Their main supplier is the United States, where 75 percent of corn grown last year was genetically modified, up from 40 percent in 2003.

In the United States, wheat growers and marketers, once hesitant about adopting biotechnology because they feared losing export sales, are now warming to it as a way to bolster supplies. Genetically modified crops contain genes from other organisms to make the plants resistance to insects, herbicides or disease. Opponents continue to worry that such crops have not been studied enough and that they might pose risks to health and the environment.

'I think it’s pretty clear that price and supply concerns have people thinking a little bit differently today,' said Steve Mercer, a spokesman for U.S. Wheat

The group, which once cautioned farmers about growing biotech wheat, is working to get seed companies to restart development of genetically modified wheat and to get foreign buyers to accept it.

Even in Europe, where opposition to what the Europeans call Frankenfoods has been fiercest, some prominent government officials and business executives are calling for faster approvals of imports of genetically modified crops. They are responding in part to complaints from livestock producers, who say they might suffer a critical shortage of feed if imports are not accelerated.

Whatever importance biotechnology can play in the long run, food shortages are making it harder for some buyers to avoid engineered crops."


The tone of the original NY Times article does not read as this post does, I simply rearranged the order of paragraphs and cut a few others out because I felt the original merely brushed by what is critical in this discussion.

For the question is not if genetic food will broach feedstock barrels, grocers, and restaurants, or when, because this has been happening for years already (remember: 75% of US corn is GM) - it is what - what are the consequences to food markets, the hungry, our environment, and our bodies, when someday soon 75% or more of what we consume is made of "DNA from one organism, modified in a laboratory, and then inserted it into the target organism's genome to produce new genotypes or phenotypes."

Furthermore, as long as men, women, and children are allowed to die of starvation when there is extraordinarily more than enough food to feed every human on Earth - the primary agricultural issue should be radically rearranging our heinous world food system to stop this from happening, 'less we chalk up human society as a failure.

Alive...after 250 million years

"Ancient bacteria trapped in a state of suspended animation for 250 million years are the world's oldest living things, claim US scientists.

The microbes are ten times older than any previously discovered living organism and may reopen the debate about the origins of life on Earth.

The bacteria were found in salt crystals buried almost 609 metres (2,000 feet) below ground at a cavern in south-east New Mexico, US.

The bacterium lived millions of years before the dinosaurs

Until now, the world's oldest living survivors were thought to be 25-40-million-year-old bacterial spores discovered in a bee preserved in amber.

Bacteria are known to adapt to harsh conditions by forming resistant structures called spores.

They can exist in a state of suspended animation for long periods.

Dr Russell Vreeland, from West Chester University, Pennsylvania, and colleagues, made the latest discovery.

'There are a lot of people who believe that organisms can survive long-term, particularly the spores themselves,' Dr Vreeland told BBC News Online. 'We have provided the strongest evidence that in fact these things could survive for extremely long periods of time.'

'We're 250 million years and counting as far as the survival of an organism goes in a crystal.'

Origins of Life

The crystals were in a drill sample taken from an air intake shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the world's first underground dump for radioactive waste left over from making nuclear weapons.

When they were extracted from the crystals in a laboratory and placed in a nutrient solution, the micro-organisms revived and began to grow.

The bacterium, known as Bacillus strain 2-9-3, resembles modern-day Bacillus organisms found in the Dead Sea.

The bacterium also raises questions about how life began on Earth.

It has re-opened an old debate: whether it is possible for life in the form of DNA or dormant microbes can be carried by asteroids or comets, or drift in interstellar clouds, to fall and colonise suitable planets such as the Earth.

Travelling at the speed of light, the nearest star to the Earth would take 4.2 years to reach and the nearest galaxy 2.2 million years.

But even huge distances like these might be within reach for bacteria that live for 250 million years.

'Once you're out to that distance then you are easily within the time period necessary for a rock to be blown off Mars, for instance, or even from a planet on a nearby star, and for that rock to travel to the Earth,' said Dr Vreeland.

He said his personal belief was that life did start on Earth, but the discovery meant it was theoretically possible for life to travel between planets."

Read the full article: Alive...after 250 million years

Friday, April 25, 2008

"A blood vessel exploded in the left half of my brain

And I lost my balance and I'm propped up against the wall. And I look down at my arm and I realize that I can no longer define the boundaries of my body. I can't define where I begin and where I end. Because the atoms and the molecules of my arm blended with the atoms and molecules of the wall. And all I could detect was this energy. Energy. And I'm asking myself, 'What is wrong with me, what is going on?' And in that moment, my brain chatter, my left hemisphere brain chatter went totally silent. Just like someone took a remote control and pushed the mute button and -- total silence."

Hear the whole unbelievable story:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Galaxies in our Biology Books & The Cosmic Food Chain

Galaxies are Living Things Too

One of the things I find most fascinating about the interstellar realm is how much its nature can mirror a single living organism on Earth. For one could maintain that galaxies qualify, even in a biologist terms, as living things.

Galaxies are born, and move and grow, and eat, and excrete, and reproduce, and attain a level of homeostasis, evolve, and inevitably die.

So why don't we see galaxies in our biology books? Just because they are not made of organic cells?

Some definitions of life include viruses and they are acellular. Plus, viruses don't metabolize either. Perhaps then, someday, we will see galaxies in 10th grade biology textbooks.

We are Not Alone

Nevertheless, doesn't this reclassification of taxonomy have the potential to drastically alter our self-perceptions as individuals as well as a species?

Don't we become the ants and the galaxies the humans when we examine the cosmos in this fashion?

And furthermore, don't we answer one of the most insatiable and fundamental questions to ever exist: Are we alone?

For if we consider galaxies to be living things, then not only are we sure we're not alone anymore, but we know that we actually live within, on, and amongst billions of other living things.

Cosmic Cannibals

Some evidence toward this theory is that galaxies eat.

Did you know that our cosmic crib, the Milky Way, is eating another galaxy as we speak, churning up its stars and dust and gases, making itself full with delicious space objects and accessing the energy within them, as say, me with pizza?

If you really think about it, this means we live amidst, or more accurately, inside the belly of a cannibal. In fact, the final frontier is really just a cannibal's firepit.

Top of the Food Chain?

That said, where on the cosmic food chain are we exactly?

According to, "it looks as if our Milky Way will be subsumed into its giant neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy, resulting in an elliptical galaxy, dubbed 'Milkomeda,' the new home for the Earth, the Sun and the rest of the Solar System in about two billion years time. The two galaxies are currently rushing towards each other at approximately 500,000 kilometres per hour."1

Therefore, interestingly, when viewing galaxies as living systems, not only are humans removed from the top of the biological food chain, but so is the galaxy in which we reside.

Note: I understand that this post is a stretch and may anger biologists as well as astrophysicists, but as a curious person I found this supposition way too interesting and metaphorically rich to not at least purpose in non-technical terms to whoever may stumble upon my blog.

The Best Way to Impede Climate Change: Eat Eco-Friendly

Changing one's diet to local, organic, vegetarian, and/or vegan are by far the most effective ways for an individual to lessen their eco-footprint, more so than driving hybrid cars, carrying reusable grocery bags, or purchasing energy-saver light bulbs (although everything helps of course).

This is particularly clear when one notes that, per year, a typical American puts 4.4 tones of CO2 in the air with their motor vehicle, while they put a whopping 60 tones of CO2 into the atmosphere with their food consumption.

However, a food's eco-friendliness appears ever-more complex. That is, it turns out based on a comprehensive study by the US Food & Drug Administration, it may be better for one to buy food from a little farther away if the production of that food is more carbon-neutral than your local offering. This is because 83% of the CO2 put out by food consumption is not how far it travels, which is about 11%, it is what it takes from start to finish to grow/raise it.

Let us play devil's advocate here. Say
you are trying to lead a green life and yet you know your local farmers use crude oil to run every instrument and aspect of their farming facility while they don't recycle at all, and the next closest farm which uses biofuels and recycles much of its waste is too far away to make it environmentally sensible. What do you do? suggests
a solution in its article, "Must I Throw Out the Whole Hog?"

To wit:

"A relatively small dietary shift can accomplish about the same greenhouse gas reduction as eating locally. Replacing red meat and dairy with chicken, fish, or eggs for one day per week reduces emissions equal to 760 miles per year of driving. And switching to vegetables one day per week cuts the equivalent of driving 1160 miles per year."

Deciding if and how to eat ecologically can be considerably confusing and frustrating, but this post and these few tips may make it somewhat easier to swallow changing your diet for our planet. Bonappetit!

More info on eco-eating:
"Food Footprint: Minimizing Greenhouse Gases"

Source:"Do Food Miles Matter"

"If left unchecked, global world food shortages could set the world back seven years in the fight against extreme poverty"

It's being called the "Silent Tsunami." In three years, prices for the basic staples that feed the world—wheat, rice and corn—have risen by a staggering 83%. For people in the developing world, affording enough food to eat is becoming a daily struggle for survival.

The New York Times is reporting that in
Haiti, people are eating cakes made of mud mixed with a little sugar and oil to try and beat the hunger pangs. Without action to stop the upward spiral of food prices, 100 million people around the world will face deeper poverty and hunger, and hundreds of thousands will confront famine and starvation.

In the face of this suffering, we cannot be silent

Last week, I asked you to send a message to President Bush and urge him to make solving this hunger crisis a priority on the G8's poverty-fighting agenda at its summit this July in
Japan. Your response matched the urgency of the moment, and we smashed through our initial goal of 30,000 petition signers.

Just yesterday, we learned that Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda has sent a letter to the other seven leaders of G8 nations adding the hunger crisis on the agenda for the G8 summit. It's a critical first step and shows that our concern is being heard. Now we need to hear from President Bush and work to keep the focus on this ongoing crisis

Help us reach our new goal of 100,000 ONE members urging President Bush to rally the G8 to take emergency action against hunger and to invest in agricultural productivity in the developing world.

Click the link below to send the following petition to President Bush:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Will the Internet Destroy Itself?

Faster, Broader, but Less Deep

"What is in mind is a sort of Chautauqua...that's the only name I can think of for the traveling tent-show Chautauquas that used to move across America, this America, the one that we are now in, an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer.

The Chautauquas were pushed aside by faster-paced radio, movies and TV, and it seems to me the change was not entirely an improvement. Perhaps because of these changes the stream of national consciousness moves faster now, and is broader, but it seems to run less deep. The old channels cannot contain it and in its search for new ones there seems to be growing havoc and destruction along its banks.

There are eras of human history in which the channels of thought have been too deeply cut and no change was possible, and nothing new ever happened, and 'best' was a matter of dogma, but that is not the situation now.

Now the stream of our common consciousness seems to be obliterating its own banks, losing its central direction and purpose, flooding the lowlands, disconnecting and isolating the highlands and to no particular purpose other than the wasteful fulfillment of its own internal momentum."1

The Internet: Too Much Too Fast

It appears that perhaps the most substantial problem with man's greatest modern invention, the internet, is its potential to overstimulate and mire our individual minds, and thus, counties, states, countries, continents, and world, in a meaningless directionless morass.

Isn't this almost exactly the threat to human significance and evolutionary coherence
Robert Persig is talking about above, 34 years ago, except with the more primitive mediums of radio and t.v.? For even then, the question of placing to much power, faith, and focus in one single form of media capable of monopolizing human communications and perceptions of knowledge was recognized.

Doesn't the internet pose to perhaps splinter human advancement at least in as much of a way as it mirrors the ever-complexer labyrinth of websites which is currently regarded as spearheading that advancement?

Self-Destruction or Hyper-Evolution?

Will we be subsumed by our greatest creation, losing our identity and value in the process?

We may very well become the internet. And if/when we do, it may be left to Google's algorithm's to become the unifying and directing force of humankind.

But what kind of people, body, entity would humanity be then? A spider trapped in its own obscenely intricate web?

Moreover, one may be able to someday credit the internet with the destruction of an intelligent human civilization, and thus perhaps, eventually, itself.

On the other hand, we may employ the same insatiable curiosity and immense ingenuity which created the internet to harness its power and shepherd us towards a discernible, focused, and advantageous future, where possibly the fruits of a Hyper-Evolution of Self-Evolution are realized.

Why does any of this matter?

These possible outcomes of the confluence of man and internet are obviously extremes, and maybe sweeping generalizations of those extremes, but as Moore's Law becomes one of the most influential force's in the human world, the human clock has no chance at keeping pace with the technological clock - that is - unless we thoughtfully speculate far ahead into possible futures to help compensate - right?

Related Reading
"In Korea, a Boot Camp Cure for Web Obsession"

1 "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Truth Edited In

Have Scientists Found the Tree of Man - Alive?

Oldest Tree Discovered

Recently, a seemingly puny looking spruce tree was discovered in the Dalama province of Sweden that has been carbon-14 dated at around 9,550 years of age. In total, there are about 20 trees in this upper mountainous region of Sweden, all of which are approximately over 8,000 years old.

The oldest known trees prior to this discovery were bristle cone pines in North American estimated to be 4500 years old. Although still at about two thousand years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza, they are only half as old as their Swedish counterparts.

4500 year old Bristlecone Pine of North America.

9,550 and Still Going

So how is it possible for a tree to continue to live after 9,550 years?

According to ScienceDaily, "these trees have survived harsh weather conditions [as well as any human interference they may have encountered in the remote mountains of Sweden] due to their ability to push out another trunk as the other one died."

In other words, when these spruce trees are decaying and dying they employ their remaining energy to grow another trunk as an alternate for when the main one is fully dead, and it is with this other trunk the tree remains. Continually repeating this process has allowed these extraordinarily resilient trees to survive over nine and a half millennia.

The Tree of Man?

To give you some context here, the last Ice Age ended around 10,000 years ago, and, sometime around then human beings invented crop cultivation and the domestication of animals.

Noting this period, formally called the Neolithic Revolution, is consistently regarded as the seed of human civilization - it appears the oldest known tree on the planet has subsisted to see the germination of non-nomadic human society and witness the Digital Age which persists today.

Ergo, couldn't we, fairly, dub this tree: the Tree of Man, or perhaps: the Tree of Civilized Man?

"This 9,550 year old spruce has been discovered in Dalarna, Sweden. A favourable climate has produced an upright trunk since the beginning of the 1940s."


Friday, April 18, 2008

'We have broken speed of light'

Instantaneous Travel

"A pair of German physicists claim to have broken the speed of light - an achievement that would undermine our entire understanding of space and time," reports

The article continues, "According to Einstein's special theory of relativity, it would require an infinite amount of energy to propel an object at more than 186,000 miles per second.

However, Dr Gunter Nimtz and Dr Alfons Stahlhofen, of the University of Koblenz, say they may have breached a key tenet of that theory.

The pair say they have conducted an experiment in which microwave photons - energetic packets of light - travelled 'instantaneously' between a pair of prisms that had been moved up to 3ft apart.

Being able to travel faster than the speed of light would lead to a wide variety of bizarre consequences."

A Universe Beyond the Speed of Light

"For instance, an astronaut moving faster than it would theoretically arrive at a destination before leaving.

The scientists were investigating a phenomenon called quantum tunnelling, which allows sub-atomic particles to break apparently unbreakable laws.

Dr Nimtz told New Scientist magazine: 'For the time being, this is the only violation of special relativity that I know of.'"


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" - To be "largest U.S. opening of any documentary film ever"

“'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,' will boast the largest U.S. opening of any documentary film ever.Scheduled for release in 1,000 theatres, 'Expelled' will be hotter than 'Farenheit 9/11,' which debuted on 868 screens, and much more convenient to see than 'An Inconvenient Truth,' which I was surprised to find opened on only four screens nationwide despite all the hype, peaking at 587 before its appeal melted."

"'Expelled' calls attention to the plight of highly credentialed scholars who have been forced out of prestigious academic positions because they proposed Intelligent Design as a possible alternative to Charles Darwin’s 150-year-old theories about the origins of life.
Instead of entertaining a debate on the merits of competing theories, the scientific establishment has moved to suppress the ID movement in a 'systematic and ruthless' way at odds with America’s founding principles, the film asserts."

Regardless of one's belief systems, anti-belief systems, or lack of belief systems, Ben Steins documentary coming out this Friday seems way too curious, and perhaps important, than one can turn their back to. Just watch some of the clip below.


THE Greatest Crime of the Ancient World?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Herein Lies the Seeds of a Post-Apocalyptic Human World?

Freezing 100 Million Seeds

"We now understand that along with international movements to save endangered species and the rainforests of the world, it is just as important for us to conserve the diversity of the world's crops for future generations," says Wangari Maathai.

Maathai, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning environmentalist, continues,"The significant public interest in the seed vault project indicates that collectively we are changing the way we think about environmental conservation."

The "seed vault project" to which Maathai is referring is the construction of "The Svalbard Global Seed Vault." The purpose of the Seed Vault is to protect the livelihood of crops and food on Earth by preserving the agricultural biodiversity of hundreds of millions of seeds from hundreds of countries 130 meters deep in an arctic mountain.


But, why go to such lengths for biodiversity of seeds? Why do we care if tens, or hundreds, or even thousands of seed genus dissolve into extinction?

We care because biodiversity in seed germs is vital to sustaining the fundamental foodstuffs humanity relies on for its ever-increasing sustenance needs. The fewer types of seeds or seed families within the basic human crop repertoire, the lesser the chance of their survival. This is particularly true during harsh seasons, when facing rapidly evolving diseases, and in the midst of various insect and pest swarms - all which, one might point out, are on the rise.

One of the primary reasons lack of biodiversity is a major blow to seeds, crops, and the foods we consume, is, as with humans, seeds are more robust when they breed across families, as opposed to within their own. Little holes or gaps in one family's DNA that are bound to occur from time to time during DNA replication can be filled in by the DNA of another family that does not possess such gaps, and vice versa. However, by allowing seed family populations to dwindle we will also limit the possibilities of this DNA fix - leaving crops more susceptible to the ills of nature and man, and with it, man to the ills of nature and man.

In addition, according to the Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Cary Fowler, "Crop diversity will soon prove to be our most potent and indispensable resource for addressing climate change, water and energy supply constraints, and for meeting the food needs of a growing population" - all present and worsening threats to human life on a global scale.

Herein Lies the Seeds of a Post-Apocalyptic Human World?

ScienceDaily points out that the Seed Vault not only protects biodiversity for the present day but that "the vault could also prove indispensable for restarting agricultural production at the regional or global level in the wake of a natural or man-made disaster."

That is, in the event of a nuclear holocaust, dino-size meteorite, or supermassive volcano - it is from these very seeds being planted in an iced-over mountain in the Arctic Circle today - a second chance for humankind may one day spring.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Xiabalba: "Road to Awe" or "Place of Fright"

"First father, he was the very first human. He sacrificed himself to make the world. The tree of life burst out of his stomach. His body became the trees roots. They spread and formed the earth. His soul became the branches, rising up forming the sky. All that remained was first father's head. His children hung it in the heavens creating Xiabalba."

This is the story of Xiabalba (pronounced Shhbulba) according to the movie The Fountain, by Darren Aronoskfy. This concept of Xiabalba led to a, if not the, central notion/message of his movie - "Death is the road to awe."

It sounds splendid, angelic, but it is farce. History tells us a very different story.

(Mayan depiction of Xiabalba)

In fact, Xiabalba is actually the Mayan underworld, ruled by two gods called, Hun Caquix, "One Death," and Vucub Caquix, "Seven Deaths." Furthermore, Xiabalba, when translated, means something akin to, "place of fright." This is not a likely title for the pearly gates is it?

This Xiabalba is clearly not the Mayan heaven Aronofsky presents.

Though, interestingly, according to Mayan historians, "Life in
Xibalbá was similar to life on earth. Like humans, the death gods had wives and children, they feasted, played ball and conducted business. In their council house, One Death and Seven Death presided over a host of death gods whose names reflected the manner in which they killed people. Adjacent to the council house were a number of buildings known as the Six Houses.”

(Xiabalba Death Gods)

It is here, however, that the normal life on earth comparison dissolves. For in each of the Six Houses is a different test one may face in the underworld.

Maya scholars have gleaned from ancient texts, murals, and engravings that the Six Houses are, "The Darkness House, Shivering House, Jaguar House, Bat House, Blade House and Fire House." Each I'm sure is grueling in its own right. And for those who have to face all of the Six Houses - the horror can be no less than unfathomable.

When you die which Xiabalba do you want waiting for you...The Road to Awe or The Place of Fright?

Note: This is not a review of the movie The Fountain. To see such a review click here.

Text transcribed from The Fountain

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Within Leaves of Grass

There is much to be found about human existence within leaves of grass.

"This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun, and animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towards the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men; go freely with the powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and mothers, of families: read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life: re-examine all you have been told at school or church, or in any books, and dismiss whatever insults your Soul."

The text above is from Walt Whitman's masterly poetic titan, Leaves of Grass. You do not have to like poetry to enjoy Whitman's work here. In fact, you can even despise poetry and have this work flood your mind with unexpected triumphs and cyclonic epiphanies.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Moment Our New Evolution Began

"The lunar landing was equal in importance to the moment
in evolution when aquatic life came crawling up on the land."

-Wernher von Braun-

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Greatest Hits of Humankind: Volume II?

“The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”1

In the fall of 1977, two Voyager spacecraft were released into the stars to explore the contents and activities of the cosmos and relay such data back to NASA. Upon those spacecraft, was a golden disc intended to present humankind to any would-be extra-planetary life of notable intelligence.

It was filled with music, earthly sounds, pictures, scientific and biological diagrams, mathematical equations, and greetings in over 50 languages, including one from US President Jimmy Carter.

What Earthly soundscapes and musical compositions did Carl Sagan and his prestigious panel at Columbia University chose to represent all of humanity?


Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F, "Gavotte en rondeaux," and The Well-Tempered Clavier, Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode," Navajo Indians Night Chant, Mozart's The Magic Flute, Queen of the Night aria, no. 14, Azerbaijan, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven's "Melancholy Blues," Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, First Movement, and String Quartet No. 13 in B flat, a Peru wedding song, an India raga,"Dark was the Night" by Blind Willie Johnson, and...see the full list.

The record is actually quite good, except, because it was in its nascence in 1977, one of today's most popular musical forms worldwide, Hip-Hop, was not included. That's not all the Golden Record is missing.

It has nothing about what are now the greatest human inventions: the Personal Computer and the Internet. There are now over 6.4 billion of us as opposed to 4 billion in 1975.2 We have found at least a few other extremely Earth-like planets. We can grow functional human organs in a laboratory.3 Plus, Pluto is not even a planet anymore!

Therefore, I purpose that perhaps its is time to update Mankind's message to deep space with current scientific knowledge, technology, culture, and human developments.

For does the original disc really accurately represent the human species as fully as it should anymore?


Space Collective

From void to sky to sea to land, where is the 3.8 billion year old evolution of life on Earth headed, as its 6.4 billion 75-trillion-celled organisms coalesce their curious minds in cyber-reality?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Diamons on the Soles of Her Shoes

Paul Simon performing a wonderful piece from Graceland called "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" live in Zimbabwe in '87. Enjoy.

The Shins

In case you haven't heard of the Shins - they are an exceptional band. But don't take my word for it, click below and find out for yourself.

The song is "Australia" from their latest album
Wincing the Night Away.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Who's in Imminent Danger from Whom?

Elephant Paints Self Portrait

Although this is likely the result of training and memorization, not the free expression of extra-species artistic creativity - I am flabbergasted and this is still unbelievable.

The Most Popular Websites Ever

  1. Yahoo!

  2. YouTube

  3. Windows Live

  4. Google

  5. Myspace

  6. Facebook

  7. Microsoft Network (MSN)

  8. Hi5

  9. Wikipedia

  10. Orkut

I simply assumed Google would be number 1 - I mean how could it not be? But to my grave surprise it didn't even make the top 3! Yahoo!, Windows Live, and YouTube beating the Goliath Google - WOW.

Furthermore, I can't believe YouTube was as close to the most visited website as any other website in history - that's just craze. I guess its like TV on steroids. And who could contend for the masses attention better than that?

Blogger didn't even make the top 10 (it was 11).

Plus, where is Amazon and Craigslist in all of this?

A distant 45 and 66. Damn.

I think it shouldn't be especially surprising that 4 of the top 10 websites ever graced by the human eye were social networking sites, but it is considerably interesting nonetheless.

I think this was the case because, really when it comes down to it, the average person's favorite pastime is to talk about/promote themselves as often and in as many ways as possible to other people. Thus, the most effective and popular sites which serve this function were bound to dominate Internet Traffic.


P.S. The US list makes way more sense to me.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Course of the Nerves

From Charles Bell, "A Series of Engravings Explaining the Course of the Nerves", London, 1803

"Charles Bell was an English surgeon who did his own engravings together with his brother John, who was also a surgeon."

The Future?

Alexander Ramsay: Flap-illustration, early 19th century.

"Early 1800's flap-illustration by Alexander Ramsay made for his lectures in New England, Southern USA and Canada. a hundred years before Schwitters and Dada."

USG: Supporting Troops in Theatre But Not at Home?

Go here to show your support.

Hanging On

[Image by Dad]

It seems although, officially, Spring has been here (CT) since March 21st, Winter is still hanging on with its cold dead hands.

I have to go turn the heat up, my fingers and toes are numbing.

But time is on my side.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

We can save 16,000 lives every day!

HIV/ AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria are devastating entire communities and economies. Poor countries are losing their teachers, doctors and nurses. Businesses are losing their workers. Governments are losing their civil servants. Families are losing their breadwinners.

The internationally agreed upon goal is to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria.

Based on current estimates, meeting this goal would result in approximately 16,000 lives saved every day.

U.S. leadership in fighting these three diseases must continue through a coordinated approach that utilizes both bilateral and multilateral tools. The ultimate goal should be to provide 1/3 of the global funding requirements for HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria and achieve universal access to prevention, care and treatment for all three diseases by 2015.

Proven, cost-effective strategies can prevent and treat these diseases

Antiretroviral medication used to treat people living with HIV/AIDS costs as little as $140 per patient per year, down from nearly $10,000 a year less than 10 years ago.

TB can be fully cured with effective treatment that costs as little as $16 per person for the full treatment course (six to eight months) with a success rate of up to 80% in the poorest countries. TB treatment is also one of the best ways to find those who are HIV positive and keep them alive.

Malaria can be all but eliminated through four highly successful interventions: insecticide treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, preventative treatment for pregnant women, and treatment for those already infected. It costs as little as $2 to purchase the most effective malaria treatments.1

Click here to help with a simple phone call (it'll take you less time than it takes to check your myspace or facebook accounts).


Garbage Warrior: A much needed spark

"What do beer cans, car tires and water bottles have in common?

Not much unless you're renegade architect Michael Reynolds, in which case they are tools of choice for producing thermal mass and energy-independent housing.

For 30 years New Mexico-based Reynolds and his green disciples have devoted their time to advancing the art of 'Earthship Biotecture' by building self-sufficient, off-the-grid communities where design and function converge in eco-harmony.

However, these experimental structures that defy state standards create conflict between Reynolds and the authorities, who are backed by big business. Frustrated by antiquated legislation, Reynolds lobbies for the right to create a sustainable living test site. While politicians hum and ha, Mother Nature strikes, leaving communities devastated by tsunamis and hurricanes.

Reynolds and his crew seize the opportunity to lend their pioneering skills to those who need it most. Shot over three years and in four countries, Garbage Warrior is a timely portrait of a determined visionary, a hero of the 21st century."1

A much needed spark

Garbage Warrior is a powerful and never more timely documentary.

The vast social infrastructure changes required to sustain the livelihood of the average human life, amidst the Age of Environmental Dismemberment, are thoughtfully presented in the microcosm of Reynold's story.

This film elicits hope in the most disenfranchised of minds that humans will do what they can and always have done to survive - ADAPT.

I mean if Michael Reynolds can "pick bananas in the living room from the sewage system," genuine progress must be at hand.2

Go see it.

Watch the trailer below and an interview with Reynolds on the Colbert Report here.