Tag: Science

Scientists Issue Major New Report on Climate Change While Americans Dither

Two related and disturbing news articles crossed my desk today.

global_climate_change_4The first was posted at a number of news sites including one of my favorites, Salon.com, and recounted the story of a report released today by The American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the world’s largest general scientific society with a membership of 121,200 scientists and “science supporters” globally.” The 18-page concise report is titled simply What We Know [pdf]. It provides a clear summary of the facts that a huge, huge majority of the nation’s scientists agree on. The three main facts as summarized in the report:

  • “About 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening”
  • The range of uncertainty for the warming along the current emissions path is wide enough to encompass massively disruptive consequences to societies and ecosystems.”
  • Waiting to take action will inevitably increase costs, escalate risk, and foreclose options to address the risk. Moreover, as emissions continue and warming increases, the risk increases.”

The other news report covered a recent Gallup poll of American attitudes and beliefs about climate change. It found that although a majority (57%) of Americans believe climate change is happening now and is due largely to human causes, only about 1/3 see it as a real threat to their way of life. Another disturbing fact discovered in the poll is that a significant majority (84%) of Americans think they are very or fairly well-informed about climate change and yet that same group is the one most likely to be skeptical about human responsibility for the crisis. This suggests to me that the folks who claim to be well-informed are merely in the possession of lots of inaccurate and unscientific data.

I’m always bewildered by people who have opinions about facts. Anyone who looks at data on which 97% of experts in any given subject matter agree and forms a contrary opinion is not a critical thinker. They are merely spouting what they’ve heard someone else say or applying their irrelevant and often prejudiced “knowledge” to an inappropriate subject. That kind of “thinking” and “reasoning” has the potential to sink our great nation. And when it’s applied to the response to global climate change, it’s nearly guaranteed to do so in the long run.


3-D Printing is On the Near Horizon and Here are Seven Good Reaons Why

An HP 3D Printer Available Now

An HP 3D Printer Available Now

Well, six reasons really. The seventh is a little frivolous but that doesn’t make it less a profitable idea.

This article contains seven pretty intriguing, potentially practical applications for this new technology. Several of my friends are paying close attention to this market. It’s clearly filled with promise.

The possibilities of this technology advance are infinite and a dedicated hobbyist interested in getting started can do so for under $500.


Why Are We Surprised When We Change Things With Thought?

I was having a conversation with a very good friend recently and he raised an interesting question. “I see it in my life fairly often that what I think changes, or seems to change, events, circumstances and objects in my surroundings. I cannot deny this reality, but I wonder what is the mechanism that brings about such seemingly spooky changes? How is it that what I think changes not just what I experience but the actuality of the world around me?”

Here is how I answered him.

The lines of distinction between consciousness and the physical sciences are being blurred all the time, both by experiment and by experience. It seems to me that the cosmological implications of Einstein’s work have been peeking gradually into view for some decades now and are still not yet fully realized by all but a tiny fraction of physical scientists.

Energy flowing between human hands

If, as Einstein asserted and others have demonstrated, there is only one substantive thing in the Universe and if that one thing must be either matter or energy, then it seems to me to be unarguably true that everything is energy. I say this because it is clearly in the nature of things to evolve toward complexity, at least until they reach some level of complexity where the very intertwingled nature of things causes them to begin to experience entropy. All forms of energy of which we are aware are comparatively simple in their non-structure (wavicles) even though their behavior can be quite intricate. So it seems to me we start with energy which then becomes sensible energy (what we humans then choose to label “matter”).

One thing we are certain about is that when energies encounter one another they can combine or undergo a mutual transformation. Of course they can also have no effect on one another. In fact, if we posit that at the beginning there was only energy (and indeed perhaps only photons in the view of many), the only way for new forms of energy to arise is by the combination of existing forms. This is then not proof but a strong indication that energies influence and change other energies.

Given that, it should come as no large surprise that we can use our energies to transform the energies of things around us. In fact, we do so automatically and unconsciously all the time. When we breathe air, we change its composition. When we pass through a space, we disrupt the energies there — temperature, pressure, wind motion and many others — in largely measurable ways.

It follows, for me, that if everything is energy and if energies have the capacity of modifying other energies when they encounter them, it would be most unusual if we were not able to use thought energy to change energetic entities.

And as if that logical flow weren’t convincing enough for me, my own personal experience — and yours, as you say — demonstrates repeatedly the ability to make conscious choices that change the energies around me. I was once surprised by this. Now I am intrigued by it.

All of this of course sidesteps the question of consciousness, which is also a form of energy and may be the vehicle or the medium through which these energetic transformations flow. But that’s a subject for a different article.

So I think, anyway.

Climate Change Math is Terrifying and Convincing

Bill McKibben is one of the brightest men on the planet. So when he writes an article, published in this week's Rolling Stone, titled "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math", he gets my attention. And he deserves yours.

The sub-title of the article is "Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is." Here are his three numbers:

2 degrees Celsius, the amount of temperature increase the world's nations have "agreed" to as a limit. Period. Not over some period of time, but forever. The problem, McKibben writes, is that before starting the two-degree clock, we raised the temp by 0.8 degrees and the results have been far more disastrous than predicted. Scientists broadly think a number closer to one degree is about as high as we dare go without risking planetary chaos and destruction.

565 Gigatons. That's how much carbon dioxide we can dump into the air over the next 40 or so years and have any chance of even staying below 2 degrees.

2,795 Gigatons. That's the amount of carbon already contained in the proven coal and oil and gas reserves of the fossil-fuel companies and company-like countries.IOW, it's the fossil fuel we're currently planning to burn. It doesn't take a math degree to see that this number is five times higher than 565.

Oil companies — already the most incredibly profitable and richest industry in the history of man — base their asset valuation largely on these untapped but proven reserves. If they announced plans not to burn 80% of it in the interest of a little objective like saving humanity, their value would plummet. And you can figure out the likelihood of that happening, right?

We need economic policy that raises the cost of producing carbon-based fuels as expensive as the damage doing so will do. This will take one of three things:
  1. A massive outpouring of altruism on the part of the oil producers.
  2. A government (actually multiple governments) of such vision and courage to bite the economic and political bullet of making it happen through regulation and taxation.
  3. An outraged public that will force one or both of the above.
Guess which is most likely to happen before it's too late?


Flash! New Mayan Calendar Discovery Doesn’t End in 2012!

A recent discovery in Central America strongly suggests that all the hype and hoopla surrounding the "end" of the Mayan calendar this December was exactly that: hype and hoopla.

Archeologists have uncovered a small room that appears to have been the study of a Mayan scribe. It contains notations and numeric sequences that suggest that, at least in one view, the Mayans didn't foresee an end of time (end of the world or radical world transformation) in 2012. In fact, this particular calendar finding some of the dates extend to 3500 and perhaps even billions of years beyond that date.

Given the recency of the discovery and the preliminary nature of any conclusions drawn from it, I'm not sure that we shouldn't still find significance of some sort in the hundreds of examples of Mayan calendars found in Central and South America in the past decades, all of which appeared to end in 2012. It may be that the end of time doesn't happen this year (for those who were taking that extreme of the many available positions) but it still could point to a transformational event or experience.

The really important message here is simpler than any of that analysis, though. Transformation happens. For us to survive as a species, transformation of consciousness must continue. Spiritual evolution is not just important, it is essential. Whether there's something magic, mystical or important about December 2012 is less important than that we continue to be aware of the need for us to participate in the ever-progressing upward movement of life and consciousness.

Could Lunar Satellite Ring Power All of Earth?

An idea sparked by American scientist Peter Glaser in 1968 has captured the imagination of researchers in Japan who envision orbiting a ring of solar-gathering satellites around the moon and pumping their energy output to Earth.

The idea, most recently publicized on ABC News on Tuesday, is at least 25 years away from being ready to begin construction according to Shimizu Corp researcher Tetsuji Yoshida. Even that date is contingent on finding appropriate funding.

The idea of lunar-based solar power isn't new or unique to the LunaRing project. 

Separately, two other Japan-based initiatives are already under way. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is partnering with Mitsubishi Electric and Kyoto University to launch a solar-power generating satellite into Earth orbit in the next 10 years. Mitsubishi Electric has also announced a project dubbed Solarbird which would use dozens of solar power generating satellites to produce the equivalent of a nuclear power plant's worth of energy.

The timing of these two more modest proposals is interesting given Japan's new interest in ridding itself of all nuclear plants as soon as possible in the wake of the earthquake-tsunami of March 11.

After Glaser's pioneering thinking in the late 60's, NASA took up the idea of the Luna Ring but has never made much progress with the concept.

Telepathy Is Easier Than You Think: Michio Kaku

Dr. Michio Kaku has a cool video response on BigThink.com to a question about using quantum entanglement for telepathic communication. He says that getting two minds entangled would be impossible, but I agree with my very good friend Laurence Rozier that angels and Divine Spiritual Beings have powers that transcend those we have or use or understand. For them, this may be even easier than what Dr. Kaku suggests. (Thanks, Laurence, for the pointer!)

No Surprise: 20% of “Atheist” Scientists Are Spiritual

A new study about to be published by Rice University says about 20% of scientists who describe themselves as atheists are also spiritual.

The study, which will be published in the June issue of Sociology of Religion, is based on interviews with 275 natural and social scientists at several elite universities. 

With the constant barrage of news about discoveries and uncoverings in quantum physics that point increasingly clearly to a central force (often referred to as the Quantum Field), it is hardly surprising that many scientists would begin to see the convergence. Frankly, I'm surprised it's only 20% but it may be that the social scientists — who would presumably be less aware of quantum developments than their natural science colleagues — skew the totals. It is more difficult to see cohesion when your field of study is the messiness of the macro world of people, cultures and institutions than if you can confine your focus to interactions of simpler forms of matter and energy.

"These scientists see both science and spirituality as 'meaning-making without faith' and as an individual quest for meaning that can never be final. According to the research, they find spirituality congruent with science and separate from religion, because of that quest; where spirituality is open to a scientific journey, religion requires buying into an absolute 'absence of empirical evidence'."

Conservative and Lilberal Brains Differ Structurally But Which Comes First?

A study by a British team that is being published in a prestigious scientific journal says that scientists have discovered a key structural difference between the structures of the brains of people who are conservative and those who have a liberal political position. The article raises the chicken-egg question: does a different brain structure cause the political tendency or does the holding of a particular political viewpoint affect brain structure?

The answer has been known in the field of epigenetics for some time: our thoughts and beliefs change our DNA and, by implication, anything affected by DNA, which is to say almost everything about us. Bruce Lipton's seminal work The Biology of Belief details the research findings that lead to this conclusion. 

Constantly reinforced thoughts — or what metaphysicians informally call "thoughts held in mind" — can in fact alter our physical bodies. It is not strange that deeply held political beliefs would have a similar effect. Interestingly, the study suggests that, "liberals are better able to cope with conflicting information and are more open to new experiences, while conservatives are better able to recognize a threat and more anxious when faced with uncertainty," This largely coincides with my decades of exposure to people of both ilk, though it is not 100% true, of course. These thought patterns describe foundational ideas in the two opposed ideologies.

One who is open to new experiences is far more likely to be spiritual but not religious, to trust the Universe/Spirit/God's ultimate benevolence, safety, and evolutionary nature, while one who is more focused on guarding against uncertainty will find more comfort in a Divine that is fiercely protective, exclusionary, and unchanging.

Millions of people have shifted from one perspective to the other, some of them many times. This information is not hard-wired into us; it is formed as a result of experience, including upbringing and our own interactions with the Divine.

When Galaxies Collide…Beauty Happens

The Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way Galaxy are moving towards each
other slowly. In billions of years, scientists expect them to collide.

This simulation follows the collision of two spiral galaxies that
harbor giant black holes. The collision merges the black holes and
stirs up gas in both galaxies. The merged black hole gorges on the
feast and lights up, forming an active galactic nucleus called a
quasar and creating a “wind” that blows away much of the galaxy’s gas.