How to gain multidimensional consciousness
If you can attend, this will be a very provocative evening. One local restaurant, Ambrae House is even offering a discount on dinner to our attendees. What other reason do you need to drive to beautiful Berkeley Springs! Hope you can make it.
Mitch Batros of Earth Changes Media predicted significant earth changes within the 28 day window that bracketed the June 15th total lunar eclipse. Here’s his illuminating summary of what really happened. UPDATE: Total Lunar Eclipse – Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Storms. Whether all of these events were related to the eclipse or not, I do not know, but just seeing a global, chronological list of a month’s worth of current “natural disasters” certainly got my attention. There’s a lot going on.
2010 – 2011: Earth’s most extreme weather since 1816?
I suppose there are still some folks out there who don’t believe the global climate is changing. For them (and all of the rest of us), here is a compelling summary from Dr. Jeff Masters. I’m pretty convinced that solar changes are driving most of this, but in any case, there is little doubt that we are in the middle of a series of events for which there is no precedent.
By Dr. Jeff Masters
Published: 4:00 PM GMT on June 24, 2011
Every year extraordinary weather events rock the Earth. Records that have stood centuries are broken. Great floods, droughts, and storms affect millions of people, and truly exceptional weather events unprecedented in human history may occur. But the wild roller-coaster ride of incredible weather events during 2010, in my mind, makes that year the planet’s most extraordinary year for extreme weather since reliable global upper-air data began in the late 1940s. Never in my 30 years as a meteorologist have I witnessed a year like 2010–the astonishing number of weather disasters and unprecedented wild swings in Earth’s atmospheric circulation were like nothing I’ve seen. The pace of incredible extreme weather events in the U.S. over the past few months have kept me so busy that I’ve been unable to write-up a retrospective look at the weather events of 2010. But I’ve finally managed to finish, so fasten your seat belts for a tour through the top twenty most remarkable weather events of 2010. At the end, I’ll reflect on what the wild weather events of 2010 and 2011 imply for our future. Click here to read the full article.
Better Education in Chile
The global changes that the planet is experiencing are not limited to weather, earthquakes and volcanoes. There are social shifts going on of which most of us do not hear. On a phone call the other day, for example, with Jorge Bianchi in Santiago, Chile he mentioned that all over his country over many thousands of high-school students were demonstrating for better education. They had essentially shut down the educational system nationally. He sent some pictures and was kind enough to describe it in this blog entry.
Saving the World
Received this from a FUTUREdition reader John Shim. It was the response to an earlier letter that obviously advocated “saving the world”. I found it succinct and provocative.
You can’t save the world; the only person you can save is yourself. Only you can make the changes within yourself that will allow you to go through the difficulties you will face. It’s the same for everyone. That limitation isn’t really any different for accomplishing anything even in ordinary life. Others may point the way, eliminate obstacles, offer support or encouragement, but ultimately you have to do the work yourself. The only real difference is that this is an inner work, rather than some outer effort, some external achievement recognized by the world. But the idea of trying to create any kind of widespread social movement, preaching or proselytizing to the masses is naïve, an expression of your own need to save the world rather than any expression of real truth.
Of course such a widespread movement may occur, but it will be from the spontaneous recognition of, the inner connection of large numbers of people with a higher truth and the impulse to follow it, not from any effort on your part to make it happen. Certainly you can help others, but only to the extent you yourself have trod the path, are able to express and manifest the higher power you are holding up to others as the ideal. That help may be outer or inner, overt or hidden. It may be by teaching or communicating ideas, by guiding others individually, by helping them overcome obstacles they face. It may be by some completely unrelated work, by doing it from a higher level, motivated and directed by the inner Guide from an inner poise of neutrality. Or it may be by doing nothing at all, by simply being an unobstructing vehicle, free from any egoistic reaction, for this invisible Power to act through on the world.
If you truly walk the path yourself, by whatever name you call it, in whatever terms you understand it, then you cannot avoid helping others. You do it spontaneously, automatically, merely by your existence. You can’t do otherwise. Whether you or they have any understanding of the real dynamics of the action, or the larger direction of things isn’t necessarily important, at least at first. But the help you provide others depends entirely upon your own inner state, your own inner development, your own capacity to express the higher truth in everything you do.
Committing to Change
We’ll close on the same theme with a poem, supplied by Gary Sycalik, which aptly captures the bold commitment that we must embrace in the face of the great change on our horizon.
For a New Beginning
– John O’Donohue
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
Universe’s Highest Electric Current Found – (New Scientist – June 21, 2011)
A jet of matter 2 billion light years away is carrying the highest electric current ever seen: 1018 amps, equivalent to a trillion bolts of lightning. Philipp Kronberg of the University of Toronto and colleagues measured the alignment of radio waves around a galaxy called 3C303, and saw a sudden change in the waves’ alignment coinciding with the jet. “This is an unambiguous signature of a current,” says Kronberg. The team thinks magnetic fields from a colossal black hole at the galaxy’s core are generating the current, which is powerful enough to light up the jet and drive it through interstellar gases out to a distance of about 150,000 light years.
Star Shooting Intense Water Jets into Space – (Huffington Post – June 17, 2011)
A young sun-like star spotted 750 light-years from Earth seems to have been shooting water from its poles. Essentially, it’s creating water bullets that it shoots deep into interstellar space, according to National Geographic. This star is no more than 100,000 years old, and is located in the northern constellation Perseus. The star was found by ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory, which was able to see through a dense layer of gas that surrounded it. The telescope picked up the light signature of both hydrogen and oxygen which are coming together as liquid water before vaporizing near the massive jets of gas that spew from the the star’s poles. It’s not until the water vapor is far from the star that it returns to a liquid state. At that point the water is moving at about 124,000 miles per hour.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Parkinson’s Artificial Brain Bank – (BBC News – June 17, 2011)
Researchers in Oxford have begun creating a bank of artificially grown brain cells from Parkinson’s patients. Using a new stem cell technique, they can turn a small piece of skin from the patient into brain tissue. This is the first time this has been done in a large-scale study aimed at finding cures for the disease. The aim is to build up a “brain bank” which will enable researchers to study how the disease develops in unprecedented detail. According Dr. Richard Wade Martins of Oxford University, who is leading the study, “The brain is an inaccessible organ and you can’t get bits of people’s brain to study very easily. But what we have here is a disease in a dish: brain cells of Parkinson’s patients that are accessible and can be produced in unlimited quantities”.
A First Step Toward a Prosthesis for Memory – (Technology Review – June 23, 2011)
Researchers have developed the first memory prosthetic device-a neural implant that, in rats, restored lost brain function and improved short-term memory retention. While human testing is still a distant goal, the implant provides evidence that the brain’s complex neural code can be interpreted and reproduced to enhance cognitive function. The device, which consists of a tiny chip and a set of 32 electrodes, marries math and neuroscience. At its heart is an algorithm that deciphers and replicates the neural code that one layer of the brain sends to another. The function restored by the implant is limited-rats were able to remember which of two levers they had pressed. But its creators believe that a device on the same principle could one day be used to improve recall in people suffering from stroke, dementia, or other brain damage.
Lean Gene Linked to Heart Risk – (BBC News – June 27, 2011)
Genes that result in a slender figure have been linked to heart disease and type-two diabetes, conditions normally associated with being overweight. A study suggests variants of the IRS1 gene reduce fat under the skin, but not the more dangerous visceral fat around organs such as the heart and liver. The study, published in Nature Genetics, examined the genes of more than 76,000 people. The link between the genetic variants and the conditions was stronger in men. Lead researcher, Dr. Ruth Loos, said: “We’ve uncovered a truly fascinating genetic story and when we found the effect of this gene we were very intrigued. Dr. Iain Frame, director of research at the charity Diabetes UK, said the study could “shed light on why 20% of people with type-two diabetes have the condition despite being a healthy weight”.
The Future of Medicine? There’s an App for That – (TED Talks – June, 2011)
In this TED talk, Daniel Kraft, a physician-scientist, inventor and innovator, offers a fast-paced look at the next few years of innovations in medicine, powered by new tools, new diagnostic tests and apps that display it all on your physician’s smart phone.
Diabetes Rate Doubles – Imperial College and Harvard Research – (BBC News – June 26, 2011)
Globally, the number of adults with diabetes in the world has more than doubled since 1980, a study in the Lancet says. Researchers from Imperial College London and Harvard University analyzed data from 2.7m people across the world to project a worldwide figure. The total number of people with all forms of the disease has risen from 153million to 347million. Its authors said 70% of the rise was down to people living longer. The rise has been most pronounced in the Pacific Islands. In the Marshall Islands a third of all women have the condition. Of developed nations, the US had the highest prevalence. The diabetes rate was relatively low in western Europe.
Genes Controlled with Light – (Technology Review – June 26, 2011)
Using a protein from the human retina, researchers in Switzerland have developed a method to control the expression of target genes with light. The scientists say the technology could be employed in the near term to boost the production of biological drugs, such as those for cancer, by enabling precise control over protein production. In the long term, cells engineered to carry the light-sensitive switch could be implanted into patients to produce a missing hormone, such as insulin, on demand. The study used diabetic mice implanted with cells genetically engineered to trigger insulin production when exposed to blue light.
Whales and Plankton Migrate across the Northwest Passage – (Associated Press – June 26, 2011)
When a 43-foot (13-meter) gray whale was spotted off the Israeli town of Herzliya last year, scientists came to a startling conclusion: it must have wandered across the normally icebound route above Canada, where warm weather had briefly opened a clear channel three years earlier. On a microscopic level, scientists also have found plankton in the North Atlantic where it had not existed for at least 800,000 years. The whale’s odyssey and the surprising appearance of the plankton indicates a migration of species through the Northwest Passage, a worrying sign of how global warming is affecting animals and plants in the oceans as well as on land.
Problems with Oceans Multiplying, Worsening – (Associated Press – June 20, 2011)
The health of the world’s oceans is declining much faster than originally thought – under siege from pollution, overfishing and other man-made problems all at once – scientists say in a new report. The mix of interacting ingredients is in place for a mass extinction in the world’s oceans, said a report by a top panel of scientists to be presented to the United Nations. Factors include dead zones from farm run-off, an increase in acidity from too much carbon dioxide, habitat destruction and melting sea ice, along with overfishing. Access the State of the Ocean report.
Atmosphere above Japan Heated Rapidly before M9 Earthquake – (Technology Review – May 13, 2011)
Dimitar Ouzounov at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland and colleagues present the data from the Great Tohoku earthquake which devastated Japan on 11 March. Their results, although preliminary, are eye-opening. They say that before the M9 earthquake, the total electron content of the ionosphere increased dramatically over the epicenter, reaching a maximum three days before the quake struck. At the same time, satellite observations showed a big increase in infrared emissions from above the epicenter, which peaked in the hours before the quake. In other words, the atmosphere was heating up.
April’s Weather Extremes Never Before Seen, US Experts Say – (MSNBC – June 15, 2011)
Coming from U.S. government scientists who are usually cautious about going out on a limb, a “special report” minced few words: Last April saw an unprecedented onslaught of extreme tornadoes, flooding, drought and wildfire. “While similar extremes have occurred throughout modern American history,” the report issued by the National Climatic Data Center stated, “never before have they occurred in a single month.” Drought “during April across the Southern Plains stood in stark contrast to the record precipitation across the Ohio Valley, the record floods along the Mississippi River, and the severe weather outbreaks across the Southeast,” the experts added. The preliminary tornado count was 875 for April, and even after duplicates are eliminated the final total is expected to approach the single-month record of 542 set in May 2003. The 30-year average for tornadoes in April is 135. See also: 2010 – 2011: Earth’s most extreme weather since 1816?
Nuclear flood threat: 1100 troops, 25,000 homes flooded – (Examiner – June 25, 2011)
One of the two U.S. nuclear power plants at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station in Nebraska threatened by floodwaters has been repeatedly compared to Fukushima – and not only due to inundation by floodwater. Both Fort Calhoun and Fukushima have been long-time storehouses of spent nuclear fuel rods. According to Arnie Gundersen, on June 6, Fort Calhoun pressurized water nuclear reactor entered emergency status due to imminent flooding from the Missouri River. A day later, an electrical fire occurred requiring plant evacuation. On June 8th, Nuclear Regulatory Commission event reports confirmed the fire resulted in loss of cooling for the reactor’s spent fuel pool. “The Nebraska facility houses around 600,000 – 800,000 pounds of spent fuel that must be constantly cooled to prevent it from starting to boil, so the reported 90-minute gap in service should raise alarm bells.”
First Self-powering Nano Device that Can Also Transmit Wireless Data – (PopSci – June 17, 2011)
Scientists working with DARPA and Department of Energy backing have cracked the code on a technological milestone by developing a nano-device capable of powering itself by harvesting energy from vibrations while at the same time transmitting data wirelessly over long distances. That kind of technology could have huge implications for devices ranging from surveillance implements to airborne sensors to implantable medical devices. The game-changer is the fact that this nano-device can generate and store (in a capacitor) enough energy to transmit wireless signals to a receiver up to 30 feet away via a transmitter roughly equivalent to those in Bluetooth headsets.
5 Technologies That Will Shape the Web – (IEEE Spectrum – June, 2011)
Where will the Web go next? Spectrum asked two dozen analysts, engineers, and executives to describe what technologies they think will shape our online experiences in the next several years. We’ve distilled their wisdom into the five key technologies mentioned most frequently. The first two are: the mobile web will be smarter and video is poised to inundate the web. The other three will make the sleeker and irresistibly more social.
Kinect Hackers are Changing the Future of Robotics – (Wired – June 27, 2011)
For 25 years, the field of robotics has been bedeviled by a fundamental problem: If a robot is to move through the world, it needs to be able to create a map of its environment and understand its place within it. Until a reasonably priced, easier method could be designed, autonomous robots were trapped in the lab. On November 4, a solution was discovered-that’s the day Microsoft released the Kinect for Xbox 360, a $150 add-on that allows players to direct the action in a game simply by moving their bodies. Within weeks of the device’s release, YouTube was filled with videos of Kinect-enabled robots. Robot freaks weren’t the only people to explore the Kinect’s possibilities. Researchers, visual artists, and pornographers have all begun cobbling together home-brewed Kinect projects and posting the results online.
Atop TV Sets, a Power Drain that Runs Nonstop – (New York Times – June 25, 2011)
Those little boxes that usher cable signals and digital recording capacity into televisions have become the single largest electricity drain in many American homes, with some typical home entertainment configurations eating more power than a new refrigerator and even some central air-conditioning systems. There are 160 million so-called set-top boxes in the U.S., one for every two people, and that number is rising. Many homes now have one or more basic cable boxes as well as add-on DVRs, or digital video recorders, which use 40% more power than the set-top box. One high-definition DVR and one high-definition cable box use an average of 446 kilowatt hours a year, about 10% more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator.
D-Dalus – an Entirely New Genre of Aircraft – (GizMag – June 21, 2011)
Austrian research company IAT21 has designed a new type of aircraft which has the potential to become aviation’s first disruptive technology since the jet engine. The D-Dalus (a play on Daedalus from Greek mythology) is neither fixed wing or rotor craft and uses four, mechanically-linked, contra-rotating cylindrical turbines, each running at the same 2200 rpm, for its propulsion. The key to the D-Dalus’ extreme maneuverability is the facility to alter the angle of the blades (using servos) to vector the forces, meaning that the thrust can be delivered in your choice of 360 degrees around any of the three axes. Hence D-Dalus can launch vertically, hover perfectly still and move in any direction, and that’s just the start of the story. It sounds complex but it’s all controlled by computer algorithms, so it has simple joystick control for the user, and far less exacting than a helicopter to fly.
Across Europe Irking Drivers is Urban Policy – (New York Times – June 27, 2011)
While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear – to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. Cities including Vienna, Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by popular bike-sharing programs. Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of “environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon dioxide emissions may enter.
Fish Farms Soaring, Led by China – (AFP – June 19, 2011)
Nearly half of the fish eaten around the world now comes from farms instead of the wild, with more foresight needed in China and other producers to limit the ecological impact, according to a study done by The WorldFish Center. With rising demand for fish and limited scope to step up the wild catch, aquaculture – the raising of seafood in confined conditions – is bound to maintain strong growth, said the report released in Washington and Bangkok. The WorldFish Center, a non-governmental group that advocates reducing hunger through sustainable fishing, and environmental organization Conservation International found that 47% of food fish came from aquaculture in 2008. The study argued that aquaculture was not as environmentally destructive as raising livestock, which places severe strains on land and water use and is a major source of climate change.
Factory Farms Produce 100 Times More Waste Than All People in the US Combined and It’s Killing Our Drinking Water – (AlterNet – May 23, 2011)
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently delivered a major victory to factory farms. Under a 2008 EPA rule, any confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) “designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in a manner such that the CAFO will discharge” animal waste must apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit under the Clean Water Act. The livestock industry ridiculed the notion that a farm must apply for a permit to discharge manure whether it intended to discharge it or not. And while, when phrased that way, it might sound ridiculous, the details of the case betray a different story.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Chinese Navy Mission Reveals Secret Drone – (Wired – June 27, 2011)
It was another big reveal in a long history of them. Six months after the Chinese air force let the first photos of its new stealth fighter leak online, Beijing’s military has “accidentally” showed off another secretive weapon system: a small drone, apparently used to scout ahead of China’s fast-growing fleet of warships. Details of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle – gleaned entirely from a snapshot (.pdf) taken by a Japanese navy patrol plane last week – are sketchy. But the new UAV certainly represents a step forward in China’s development of American-style spy drones.
Air Force Wants to Track You Forever With a Single Camera Click – (Wired – May 19, 2011)
Don’t bother with the iris scanner or the fingerprinting machine. Leave the satellite-enabled locators and tell-tale scents back on the base, military manhunters. If an Air Force plan works out as planned, all you’ll need to track your prey is a single camera, snapping a few seconds of footage from far, far away. Huntsville, Alabama’s Photon-X, Inc. recently received an Air Force contract to develop such a camera. With one snap, the company claims, its sensor can build a three-dimensional image of a person’s face: the cornerstone of a distinctive “bio-signature” that can be used to track that person anywhere. With a few frames more, the device can capture that face’s unique facial muscle motions, and turn those movements into a “behaviormetric” profile that’s even more accurate.
TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE
How the Patriot Act is Being Used to Fight the Drug War and Eavesdrop on Journalists – (AlterNet – June 20, 2011)
The Constitutional “precedent” set by the Patriot Act appears to be accelerating the rapid disintegration of civil liberties in this country. Very recently the House (250 to 153) and Senate (72 to 23) approved, and the President signed, an extension of this landmark attack on the Bill of Rights with little notice and even less debate. Most disturbing was the extension – without modification – of the Act’s three most controversial provisions: allows broad warrants to be issued by a secretive court for any type of record, from financial to medical, without the government having to declare that the information sought is connected to a terrorism or espionage investigation; allows the FBI to obtain wiretap authority from the secret court (i.e. “roving wiretaps”,) known as the FISA court, without identifying the target or what method of communication is to be tapped; and allows the FISA court warrants for the electronic monitoring of a person (“lone wolf” measure ) for whatever reason – even without showing that the suspect is an agent of a foreign power or a terrorist.
Hate for Hate: Joystick Justice – (Veterans for Peace – May 4, 2011)
This thoughtful op ed piece opens with a quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.” In a deeply, sadly ironic tone, it goes on to observe that “Somewhere elite teams within the US Special Operations Forces are planning another predawn raid to mete out Pax Americana justice, streamlining otherwise cumbersome adjudications in the face of international scrutiny. Virtual reality or not, another high-value target’s days are numbered and after all, the International Criminal Court is so passé. Somewhere a suspected low-level operative is being stalked by a Predator or Reaper Drone, targeted for killing by a US foreign policy gone postal and willing to relinquish hearts and minds and international law for – or in spite of – collateral damage estimates. Unmanned Aerial Vehicle research and development has expanded the range of killer Drones to 40,000 miles, rewriting asymmetric warfare in response to real or imaginary bogeymen. Targeted assassinations and joystick justice, beginning in Yemen in 2002, now have a global reach.”
Daniel Ellsberg Says that the Government Has Ordered the Media Not to Cover 9/11 – (Washington’s Blog – June 14, 2011)
Veteran reporter Bill Moyers criticized the corporate media for parroting the obviously false link between 9/11 and Iraq (and the false claims that Iraq possessed WMDs) which the administration made in the run up to the Iraq war. Daniel Ellsberg says that the case of a certain 9/11 whistleblower is “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”. (Here’s some of what that whistleblower says.) Ellsberg also said that the government is ordering the media to cover up her allegations about 9/11. He adds that some of the claims concerning government involvement in 9/11 are credible, that “very serious questions have been raised about what they [U.S. government officials] knew beforehand and how much involvement there might have been”, that engineering 9/11 would not be humanly or psychologically beyond the scope of those in office, and that there’s enough evidence to justify a new, “hard-hitting” investigation into 9/11 with subpoenas and testimony taken under oath.
A Little Doom and Gloom – (Foreign Policy – June 24, 2011)
Looking back, a striking feature of the past two decades is that the central features of U.S. foreign policy and the basic Cold War institutions remained largely unchanged long after the Cold War ended. NATO is still around; our bilateral security ties in Asia haven’t changed much, and we retained pretty much the same set of allies and policies in the Middle East. The end of the Cold War meant the United States could throw its weight around a bit more without worrying that a hostile great power might try to stop it. Instead, a combination of hubris, ignorance, and arrogance led the U.S. into a series of costly quagmires, accompanied by a self-inflicted financial meltdown that stemmed from an equally toxic combination of arrogance and avarice. But have those disasters brought us to the brink of a major shift in the global order? Is the familiar landscape of world politics in the process of being transformed? Nine significant trends suggest that the answer to those questions is “yes”.
China Blocks Billion Dollar Airbus Order – (Financial Times – June 24, 2011)
China has blocked a multi-billion dollar order for 10 Airbus superjumbo aircraft in a sharp escalation of Beijing’s protests against Europe’s plan to bring international airlines into its emissions trading scheme from the start of next year. A Hong Kong Airlines order for the planes worth $3.8bn at list prices was due to be formally announced at the Paris air show but the agreement was blocked by Beijing and the announcement did not occur. Until now, large polluters based in Europe such as power companies and cement factories have been covered by the emissions trading scheme the EU launched in 2005. It was agreed several years ago, after much debate, that airlines would be brought into the scheme from January 2012. EU climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, and José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, have both made it clear Brussels has no intention of caving in to such threats.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
Small Cities Feed the Knowledge Economy – (Wired – May 31, 2011)
Livable cities draw creative people, and creative people spawn jobs. Some places you’d never expect-small cities not dominated by a university-are learning how to lure knowledge workers, entrepreneurs, and other imaginative types at levels that track or even exceed the US average (30% of workers). For example, Omaha, Nebraska is among a dozen highlighted in the article. It’s only the 42nd-largest city in the US, but over the past two decades, Omaha has been transformed into one of the Midwest’s most vibrant cultural hubs. Here’s how the rebirth happened, starting in the ’90s.
Pope’s Tweet via IPad Gets 15,000 Followers – (Bloomberg – June 28, 2011)
Pope Benedict XVI, who at 84 still handwrites his speeches, used an iPad to send his first post on Twitter. Within three hours, the pope had more than 15,000 followers, yet was not following anyone. This is not the first time Benedict has reached out to cyberspace. The octogenarian pope is already a user of YouTube, MySpace and Facebook in an effort by the Roman Catholic Church to lure disenchanted youth into the Church’s fold. Catholics were overtaken for the first time last year by the world’s 1.1 billion Muslims, according to the Vatican Statistical Yearbook.
World Changes Eating Habits as Food Prices Soar – (CNN – June 15, 2011)
The majority of people in most countries surveyed by international aid agency Oxfam said they’re no longer eating the same kind of food as they did two years ago, with 39% globally blaming rising food costs and another 33% citing health reasons. High and volatile food prices represent an increasingly large and unpredictable proportion of household income in developing countries, according to an economist for the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “People in poorer countries are already eating once a day, so when prices go up, people spend all their income on food,” Abbassian told CNN. “They can’t have more income, so the only thing they can do is eat less or more inferior food.” The poll also shows the effects of globalization on the world diet, with both pasta and pizza ranked among the top three favorite foods in many countries.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Brilliant, Block-shaped 16-Story Tall Black Objects Observed on Comet Hartley 2 – (Daily Galaxy – June 19, 2011)
After about 3.2 billion miles of deep space travel, several discoveries awaited the EPOXI mission’s project and science teams. On Nov. 4, 2010, the mission spacecraft flew past a weird little comet called Hartley 2. On its knobby ends, particularly the smaller end, the surface terrain is dotted with block-like, shiny objects, some as big as one block long and 16 stories tall. These objects appear to be two to three times more reflective than the surface average. Another discovery is that, “Hartley 2 is a hyperactive little comet, spewing out more water than most other comets its size,” said Mike A’Hearn, principal investigator of EPOXI from the University of Maryland, College Park. “When warmed by the sun, dry ice — frozen carbon dioxide — deep in the comet’s body turns to gas jetting off the comet and dragging water ice with it.”
Russian Scientists Predict Alien Encounters within 20 Years – (Guardian – June 27, 2011)
Russian scientists expect humanity to encounter alien civilisations within the next two decades. “The genesis of life is as inevitable as the formation of atoms … Life exists on other planets and we will find it within 20 years,” said Andrei Finkelstein, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Applied Astronomy Institute, according to the Interfax news agency. Speaking at an international forum dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life, Finkelstein said 10% of the known planets circling suns in the galaxy resemble Earth. If water can be found there, then so can life, he said, adding that aliens would most likely resemble humans with two arms, two legs and a head.
Living It Up – (National Geographic – June, 2011)
Earth will soon be home to seven billion humans. If you find that hard to fathom, try grasping how many have ever walked the planet. According to an analysis done by demographer Carl Haub, a total of approximately 108 billion people have ever lived. Of that number, 6.4% are currently living.
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
New Glass Proves Twice as Durable as Steel – (Discover – May, 2011)
Caltech materials scientist Marios Demetriou and colleagues have recently created a glass made from metals that doubles the combined strength and toughness of the best-performing steel, the benchmark alloy for damage tolerance. ” Interestingly, the glass draws its strength from its main weakness. After melting and combining the precious metals palladium and silver with other ingredients, rapid cooling of the product freezes the atoms into a chaotic arrangement resembling that of glass. As in conventional glass, stress rearranges the atoms into deformations called shear bands. But instead of growing into destructive cracks, as happens in glass, the bands aggressively multiply and interlock, forming a shield against cracks. Demetriou hopes to replicate the new alloy’s properties using less costly metals-palladium and silver make it about 1,000 times as expensive as steel.
Acoustic Invisibility Cloak Makes Objects Unhearable – (PopSci – June 27, 2011)
A new acoustic invisibility cloak made of a plastic metamaterial makes objects invisible to sound waves, researchers say. It could be used to shield ships from sonar, or build better soundproof walls for concert halls and other spaces. Invisibility cloaks work by bending light waves in ways that would not normally be possible. This cloak uses many of the same principles to bend sound waves, so a ship made of this material would render sonar useless, because the sound waves would not bounce back. The device resonates at frequencies that either absorb or reflect sound waves, so it both blocks and contains them – anything underneath the stack would not hear sound, and sound waves could not be used to locate something coated with the stack.
Bridge Comes to San Francisco with a Made in China Label – (New York Times – June 25, 2011)
At a sprawling manufacturing complex in Shanghai, hundreds of Chinese laborers are now completing work on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Next month, the last four of more than two dozen giant steel modules – each with a roadbed segment about half the size of a football field – will be loaded onto a huge ship and transported 6,500 miles to Oakland. There, they will be assembled to fit into the eastern span of the new Bay Bridge. The project is part of China’s continual move up the global economic value chain – from cheap toys to Apple iPads to commercial jetliners – as it aims to become the world’s civil engineer.
Mind Map of Global Civilizational Collapse – (Laetus in Presesens – June 18, 2011)
This article is an exploration of various graphical means to display a mind map of inter-relations; it is not about “global collapse” per se. A 3-D projection has the potential advantage of suggesting how some of the issues may be effectively “invisible” from the perspective of those associated with, or recognizing, others positioned elsewhere around the surface. The polyhedron used is the icosidodecahedron which has 30 vertices. The challenges inherent in the issue were each associated with a vertex. The images offered in the article result from various standard geometrical manipulations of that form – designed to trigger imaginative reframing of the relationship between the challenges. Many other such manipulations are possible to highlight other relationships.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
Harrisburg Hoping God Can Help Balance the Books – (CNBC – June 21, 2011)
If all the brightest minds in Harrisburg’s government can’t solve the city’s financial problems, maybe God can. That seems to be the thinking in Pennsylvania’s capital city, where Mayor Linda Thompson and a host of other religious leaders are about to embark on a three-day fast and prayer campaign to cure the city’s daunting money woes. But judging by its financial picture, the city of 49,000 in the central part of the Keystone State may not even have a prayer. According to a recent report from the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development, “The City of Harrisburg is facing a direct, immediate and grave financial crisis.” The DCED wrote in a 422-page analysis of the government’s perilous condition, “The financial crisis is so severe that the City teeters uncomfortably on the verge of bankruptcy that could be triggered at any moment by parties outside its control.”
A FINAL QUOTE…
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
A special thanks to: Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Anthony Judge, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Stu Rose, Cory Shreckengost, Steve Ujvarosy and all of you who have sent us interesting links in the past. If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.
Edited by John L. Petersen