While we re-imagine this site, I couldn’t resist posting this. This is Rx not just for people, but for Earth. We are cells in the planetary body.
Posted by NextNow Collaboratory on August 28, 2015
While we re-imagine this site, I couldn’t resist posting this. This is Rx not just for people, but for Earth. We are cells in the planetary body.
Posted by NextNow Collaboratory on March 29, 2013
We’re supporting this campaign/experiment to determine if something real is being measured….
Reprinted from the Santa Barbara Independent Journal, Wednesday, March 27, 201
Isaac Newton, perhaps the greatest scientist who ever lived, did of course make many hypotheses about gravity. In fact, he developed an incredibly profound general theory of gravity that united such seemingly different phenomena as a falling apple and the circling of the planets around the Sun. His theory of gravity stood firm for over two centuries before Einstein argued convincingly that Newton’s theory was incomplete. (Einstein’s general theory of relativity renders Newton’s theory a “limiting case.”)
What Newton refused to do, however, was speculate about exactly how gravity works its magic. Gravity just is, and Newton apparently recognized that his era’s scientific knowledge was not sufficient to go beyond the equations that formed his theory of gravity. He contrived no hypotheses1 as to the mechanism behind gravity, but he recognized fully that it seemed to be some kind of “action at a distance” that operates quite differently than through direct contact, which is how the world around us operates more generally.
Cause and effect is what physics is all about, and science more generally. What causes what? Even though we can never make definitive statements about what caused what, we can probe correlations and make reasonable inferences.
The most familiar form of causation is the direct contact of push and pull. A billiard ball bounces directly away from the cue ball due to the direct contact of ball upon ball. The energy from the pool cue is transferred by the pool player’s arm to the cue ball and then to the second ball.
But even this extremely simple form of cause and effect is not as simple as matter pushing matter. Rather, the electromagnetic force that holds the molecules of the balls together is the intermediary for these actions. Electromagnetism is in fact the most important force at our scale of reality: It holds all molecules together and it allows us to see, hear, touch, etc. The billiard balls don’t actually touch. Rather, the electromagnetic forces generated by the molecules in each ball repel each other.
Gravity keeps us, as well as apples, on terra firma, and plays a very large role in the universe outside of the scale of human life. But it is electromagnetism that forms the basis for life and much of our existence as earth-bound organisms, due to its attractive/repulsive qualities at the molecular level.
What’s behind the various forces of nature?
Electromagnetism – the combination of electricity and magnetism, which we know now are different aspects of a single force – was described comprehensively by Maxwell and others in the 19th Century. These scientists developed what are now known as “Maxwell’s equations,” even though their modern form wasn’t actually Maxwell’s work. While we can describe electromagnetism quite well mathematically, and predict its workings based on these equations, there is still no consensus as to what electromagnetismactually is.
The photon is a massless particle that carries the electromagnetic force. Einstein stated around 1955, shortly before his death: “A full 50 years of deliberate brooding have not brought me any closer to the question: What is the [photon]? Today every clod thinks he knows it, but he deceives himself.” Einstein had for decades tried unsuccessfully to develop various field theories of electromagnetism and the other forces, but still couldn’t say what the photon really is. For Einstein, in his later work, fields were fundamental. Despite significant development of field theory since Einstein’s era, we’re not much closer today in understanding what the photon is.
Similarly, we still don’t know the mechanism for gravity with any certainty. Einstein’s general relativity suggests that matter and energy literally curve space, and gravity simply reflects the easiest path for matter and energy to follow as it moves through curved space. It’s a two-way street, then, with matter/energy curving space and curved space causing matter/energy to change its trajectory.
However, the Standard Model of particle physics, based on the other pillar of modern physics – quantum mechanics – suggests that gravity works through the exchange of “gravitons” (boson particles) between massive bodies. The Higgs Boson is yet another way in which today’s physics attempts to explain gravity, and it made big news in 2012 due to evidence suggesting it had actually been found by the Large Hadron Collider.
Reconciling these two different models, general relativity and quantum theory, is the objective of theories of quantum gravity, none of which are yet widely accepted. String theory is the most popular approach to quantum gravity, though it has yet to lead to any experimental verification, and it suggests, through its “brane cosmology” approach, additional ideas on gravity that go beyond both the quantum mechanical and general relativity notions of gravity.
So who’s counting? How many forces are there?
Anyway, my point is to show that our physical understanding of cause and effect is still quite nascent and always evolving. While there is a broad consensus that there are only four fundamental forces or interactions – gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear force – there are also serious efforts underway to explain key observations through additional forces.
For example, dark energy, which is thought to comprise the majority of the matter/energy in the universe (about 70%), would itself constitute a new force. Specifically, dark energy is posited as the force behind the accelerating expansion of our universe, and also of the very early inflationary period that saw our universe expand from minute dimensions to a sizeable fraction of its current size in literally millionths of a second.
Yet another possible new force or interaction is suggested by the strong evidence for quantum entanglement, which appears to operate far faster than the speed of light. In 2008, a Swiss team led by Daniel Salart showed that entanglement operates at, at the least, 10,000 times the speed of light. What’s behind this effect? No one really knows yet, but apparently it is not one of the traditional four forces.
So, even without getting very exotic in our survey of different physical theories (which is certainly a relative notion given the extremely broad array of theories in physics today!), we can make a good argument that there should be at least six fundamental forces. A seventh force is compound interest. Einstein declared that “the most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.” Okay, that’s a joke…
Action at a distance
Now, here’s where I’m going with all of this discussion about cause and effect, and forces of nature: While action at a distance, mediated by fields or force particles like the photon or graviton, is very much part of our mainstream physical and cosmological theories, action at a distance when it comes to human causation is far too often dismissed as impossible or as wacky “woo woo” science. And despite its wide recognition in physics, we still don’t know much about the actual mechanisms behind such action at a distance, for example, with respect to gravity or quantum entanglement.
In fleshing out a more complete understanding of the physical world, and the role of mind in the physical world, we are gathering substantial evidence that the human mind may have a broader causal role than has been assumed. It seems clear that human minds can directly impact more than just our immediate bodies. Dean Radin’s excellent book, Entangled Minds, surveys the field of what is known often as parapsychology or extrasensory perception.
The data in this field are certainly debatable and the effects are clearly subtle, if they are indeed real. If they weren’t subtle, there would be far less controversy surrounding them. However, there is one area of parapsychology that I’ve found pretty convincing, and I’ve now been personally involved with research in this area – I’m referring to work with random number generators (RNGs) and the influence of mass celebrations on the output of electronic RNGs.
This is a really interesting area of research but it takes a little background to explain it. Traditional random-number generators include dice, coins, shuffled cards or any physical device used to produce a random outcome. Modern RNGs, however, are small electronic devices that produce zeros and ones (bits) randomly (hence the name). They’re traditionally used in cryptography, gambling, and other areas by producing true randomness and thus foiling attempts to algorithmically discover passwords or predict outcomes. However, there is a more recent tradition of using RNGs to probe the impact of minds on matter, and the evidence produced is increasingly convincing that there is a causal link between mind and matter.
Probably the best way to explain this area of science further is to explain the experiments that I’ve been involved with recently. I’m a visiting scholar in psychology at UC Santa Barbara (under Professor Jonathan Schooler) and I’m also a regular Burning Man attendee (a “Burner” in the parlance of this sub-culture). I’ve met some very interesting people by being a regular at this massive celebration in the Nevada desert. About 50,000 people attend each year, celebrating music, art, and collaborative creation.
A few years ago I met Cassandra Vieten, the executive director of research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) in Petaluma, California. IONS focuses on frontier science, which includes working toward a better understanding of the relationship between mind and matter. IONS was founded by Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon. Mitchell was so inspired by a profound spiritual experience as he hurtled back to Earth that he wanted to re-direct some scientific attention to phenomena that are too often denied as impossible by mainstream science. IONSwas the result.
Vieten, Schooler (another Burner), and I were chatting at the Burn in 2010 about the research that IONS does, and we decided it would be awesome and fun to do some RNG experiments at Burning Man. Many past experiments have shown a correlation between mass celebrations, like New Year’s Eve in Times Square, and a deviation from randomness in RNGs. The reasonable inference from these correlations is that there is a causal link between the mass focus on a single event, and whatever mechanisms produce the random events in the RNG.
The twist in our idea was that we decided to add a huge freakin’ laser to our experiment, connecting the output of the RNG to a laser in order to show, visually, any deviation from randomness. This would, we hypothesized, create a positive feedback loop and the effect would be enhanced.
We turned this idle talk into reality in 2012 by completing our first experiment on the Playa, which is where the Burning Man event is held each year. It worked! We obtained strong evidence of a correlation between the collective focus of thousands of minds on the burning of the Man (which happens on Saturday night every year), and the burning of the Temple (another major structure that is integral to the Burning Man celebration, on Sunday night), and the output of our RNGs.
Figure 1 shows the key result of our experiment: a strong spike in deviations from randomness during the burning of the Man, with a p value of 0.004. (A p value of 0.05, which means one-in-twenty odds of the result occurring due entirely to chance, is considered standard in most areas of science; a value of 0.004 is far more significant and means that the odds of our results occurring entirely due to chance were four in one thousand).
Unfortunately, our huge freakin’ laser wasn’t very huge and it didn’t function very well due to various technical problems. So we’re going back this year, in August, to repeat the experiment and use a really big laser, in collaboration with other more experienced laser technicians. We’re going to use a 30-watt laser rather than the one-watt laser we used last year. A 30-watt laser is easily visible across the whole Playa, so the positive feedback loop should be substantial. Yes, it’s huge!
But what does it all mean?
At the end of the day, what does all this mean? Who cares if there’s a tiny impact from mass celebrations on the output of zeros and ones from a little electronic device? Well, first, we think it’s just really cool and intriguing that this stuff works at all. It’s denied as impossible by many scientists today. Personally, I think the really powerful result of this research is to show that we could in theory,if we can amplify what are obviously very subtle effects, use just our minds to influence macroscopic events in the world around us.
There is an ironic convergence of traditional science and this frontier science, when we consider that “mind reading” using electromagnetic technologies is advancing quickly. Using various types of brain imaging, we can now tell what words subjects are thinking (from a pre-selected list only, at this point); and monkeys have used the power of their minds, implanted with electrodes, to control mechanical arms.
It may be the case that using electromagnetism alone will be the more fruitful path to manipulating macro events with thoughts alone. However, understanding that there may be other ways for mind to influence matter is really important for a more complete physical understanding of the universe, and it may give rise to more options for helping physically disabled persons to transcend their disabilities, allow us to create interesting new forms of entertainment, and perhaps help in many other human endeavors.
We’re in the middle of a crowd-funding campaign to pay for the laser and other equipment for round two of our RNG experiment at this year’s Burning Man. If you’re inspired by these ideas, please contribute something to our Indiegogo campaign or spread the word more generally:
Who knows – you may be helping to usher in a really exciting paradigm shift in how we understand physical reality. And maybe you too can one day control a huge freakin’ laser with your mind!
Posted by NextNow Collaboratory on October 8, 2011
All I can say is *Just In Time* (and I have a new favorite joke).
— Joke circulating on the Internet
The world as we know it is on the brink of disintegration, on the verge of dissolution. No, I’m not talking about the collapse of the euro, of international finance, of the Western economies, of the democratic future, of the unipolar moment, of the American dream, of French banks, of Greece as a going concern, of Europe as an idea, of Pax Americana — the sinews of a postwar world that feels today to be unraveling.
I am talking about something far more important. Which is why it made only the back pages of your newspaper, if it made it at all. Scientists at CERN, the European high-energy physics consortium, have announced the discovery of a particle that can travel faster than light.
Neutrinos fired 454 miles from a supercollider outside Geneva to an underground laboratory in Gran Sasso, Italy, took less time (60 nanoseconds less) than light to get there. Or so the physicists think. Or so they measured. Or so they have concluded after checking for every possible artifact and experimental error.
The implications of such a discovery are so mind-boggling, however, that these same scientists immediately requested that other labs around the world try to replicate the experiment. Something must have been wrong — some faulty measurement, some overlooked contaminant — to account for a result that, if we know anything about the universe, is impossible.
And that’s the problem. It has to be impossible because, if not, if that did happen on this Orient Express hurtling between Switzerland and Italy, then everything we know about the universe is wrong.
The fundamental axiom of Einstein’s theory of relativity is the absolute prohibition on speed faster than light. Einstein’s predictions about how time slows and mass increases as one approaches the speed of light have been verified by a mountain of experimental evidence. As velocity increases, mass approaches infinity and time dilates, making it progressively and, ultimately, infinitely difficult to achieve light speed. Which is why nothing does. And nothing ever has.
Until two weeks ago Thursday.
That’s when the results were announced. To oversimplify grossly: If the Gran Sasso scientists had a plate to record the arrival of the neutrinos and a super-powerful telescope to peer (through the Alps!) directly into the lab in Geneva from which they were being fired, the Gran Sasso guys would have “heard” the neutrinos clanging against the plate before they observed the Geneva guys squeeze the trigger on the neutrino gun.
Sixty nanoseconds before, to be precise. Wrap your mind around that one.
It’s as if someone told you that yesterday at drive time Topeka was released from Earth’s gravity. These things don’t happen. Natural laws don’t just expire between shifts at McDonald’s.
Not that there aren’t already mysteries in physics. Neutrinos themselves are ghostly particles that travel through nearly everything unimpeded. (Thousands are traversing your body as you read this.) But that is simplicity itself compared to quantum mechanics, whose random arbitrariness so offended Einstein that he famously objected that God does not play dice with the universe.
Aphorisms don’t trump reality, however. They are but a frail, poignant protest against a universe that often disdains the most cherished human notions of order and elegance, truth and beauty.
But if quantum mechanics was a challenge to human sensibilities, this pesky Swiss-Italian neutrino is their undoing. It means that Einstein’s relativity — a theory of uncommon beauty upon which all of physics has been built for 100 years — is wrong. Not just inaccurate. Not just flawed. But deeply, fundamentally, indescribably wrong.
It means that the “standard model” of subatomic particles that stands at the center of all modern physics is wrong.
Nor does it stop there. This will not just overthrow physics. Astronomy and cosmology measure time and distance in the universe on the assumption of light speed as the cosmic limit. Their foundations will shake as well.
It cannot be. Yet, this is not a couple of guys in a garage peddling cold fusion. This is no crank wheeling a perpetual motion machine into the patent office. These are the best researchers in the world using the finest measuring instruments, having subjected their data to the highest levels of scrutiny, including six months of cross-checking by 160 scientists from 11 countries.
But there must be some error. Because otherwise everything changes. We shall need a new physics. A new cosmology. New understandings of past and future, of cause and effect. Then shortly and surely, new theologies.
Why? Because we can’t have neutrinos getting kicked out of taverns they have not yet entered.
Posted by NextNow Collaboratory on June 1, 2011
Why does the sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste of the ocean set our souls at ease?
How does our “brain on ocean” behave?
These questions and much more are the subject of the BlueMind Summit, an unprecedented gathering that will bring together neuroscientists, ocean scientists, experts in technology forecasting, photographers, explorers, yogis, writers, artists, ocean advocates…
It will take place June 2, 2011 at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco
More information: http://bit.ly/Blue_Mind
Posted by NextNow Collaboratory on April 27, 2011
NextNow Collab met Steve Killelea in 2007 while preparing the Fifth International Symposium for Digital Earth. Steve couldn’t make it to present at the conference but thanks to our ISDE5 team member Tim Foreman we caught up with him between flights at the San Francisco International Airport where he introduced The Peace Index. We’ve been waiting all these years and it’s amazing to see the Peace Index of the United States completed and launched earlier this month. Now, it’s making the news.
From their website and other sources:
Just two weeks ago, the Institute for Economics and Peace launched the first-ever United States Peace Index (USPI) and we have already seen a tremendous response. Nearly 200 news stories have featured the report, with the USPI as a must-read story on USA Today and featured in TIME, the Huffington Post, The Washington Times and The Guardian, amongst many others. We were overwhelmed not only by the level of the response but also by its positive tone.
The USPI ranks the 50 U.S. states according to their levels of peacefulness, identifies the environments associated with peace, and estimates the cost savings and additional economic activity of increased peace. Click here to watch a short video about the findings.
The report finds that in the U.S., reductions in violent crime and incarceration to levels equal to Canada would yield an estimated $361 billion in direct savings and additional economic activity, and potentially create 2.7 million jobs. It also shows that peace is linked to health, education, and opportunity but not related to political affiliation.
This research aims to further understand the types of environments that are associated with peace and to help quantify the economic benefits that could result from increases in peace, leading to a more informed discussion around these opportunities. The Index is now being used as a resource for policy discussions, with an op-ed on the report published by a U.S. Congressman and as a tool for advocacy. Download the full report:
More on the index:
The inaugural United States Peace Index, created by the international think tank, Institute for Economics and Peace is the first-ever ranking of the fifty U.S. states based on their levels of peace. The U.S. Peace Index (USPI) shows Maine is the most peaceful U.S. state, while Louisiana is ranked the least peaceful.
The USPI report reveals that peace in the United States has improved since 1995 primarily driven by a substantial decrease in homicide and violent crime.
Economic Impact – potential to create 2.7 million jobs
The Institute for Economics and Peace estimates that at a time when states and lawmakers in Washington are struggling to balance budgets, the USPI shows reductions in violence, crime and incarcerations to the same levels as Canada would result in $361 billion in savings and additional economic activity. This additional economic activity has the potential to create 2.7 million jobs, which would significantly reduce unemployment.
Education and health outcomes correlate strongly with peace
The USPI also finds that a state’s ranking is strongly correlated with various socio-economic factors including the high school graduation rate, access to health insurance and the rate of infant mortality. Significant economic correlants included the degree of income inequality and the rate of participation in the labor force. Meanwhile, factors such as median income and a state’s political affiliation had no discernable impact on a state’s level of peace.
WATCH THE VIDEO: