How to gain multidimensional consciousness
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!
You can find all information on this certain to be memorable event here.
This will be a very special and provocative evening. Hope you can make it.
The latest version of Mitch Battros’ Earth Changes Media newsletter (you should sign up for this free newsletter) ran this piece:
M-Class Flare Produces One of Largest CME Blast
Earth-orbiting satellites detected a flash of X-rays coming from the western edge of the solar disk. “We’d never seen anything like it,” says Alex Young, a solar physicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “Half of the Sun appeared to be blowing itself to bits.”
“In terms of raw power, this really was just a medium-sized eruption,” says Young, “but it had a uniquely dramatic appearance caused by all the inky-dark material. We don’t usually see that.” The blast was triggered by an unstable magnetic filament near the Sun’s surface. That filament was loaded down with cool plasma, which exploded in a spray of dark blobs and streamers.
In my July 5th article titled: ‘Sunspot Region 1244 Continues To Act Out‘ – I wrote of the unusual instrument readings showing low C-class activity, however, it was manifesting M-class strength as it hit the Earth’s magnetic field. I believe this to be two-fold. 1)The Earth’s magnetic field is weakening 2) This period of the Sun’s long term cycle – this is to say not within the normal 11 year cycle, but within perhaps it 1,200 year cycle. However, it certainly could be a 23,000-year cycle.
FULL ARTICLE – click here.
Notice his last point about cycles? I am increasingly finding different sources (Drunvalo Melchizedek, Kiara Windrider in his upcoming book Year Zero, and Nancy Van Domelen in her books), who reference the confluence of cycles of many different lengths – 26,000, 12,000, 5,000, 2,000 and even 11 years – that are all ending/beginning during the 18-24 month period in which we are living. Kiara, for example, argues that ice corings and other sampling methods show layers of residue from an explosive “galactic superwave” of cosmic particles that are ejected from the center of our Milky Way galaxy every 12,000 years . . . and that is when the biggest earth changes and human development happens (yeah, I know there weren’t supposed to be any regular humans here that far back. You’ll just have to wait to read the book, which will be published in the fall.)
In any case, it really looks like we’re in for a most interesting ride.
Ever since the disaster at Fukushima, I have been collecting — and friends have been sending me — articles about the amount of radiation being let loose on the planet by the power plant meltdown. Here’s one that arrived the other day:
Fukushima workers’ exposure tops 650mSV
Detailed tests have found that 2 workers who were exposed to radiation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant received doses of more than twice the government-mandated emergency limit.
The men in their 30s and 40s were each found in early June to have been exposed to over 250 millisieverts — the new higher limit for exposure that the government introduced after problems began at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Now I know we’re supposed to trust our governments to be setting appropriate standards and being honest in their assessments about these things, but I nevertheless always wondered how they decided about acceptable radiation levels. How do they know?
I have a scientist friend who was the technical director of the U.S.’s first significant nuclear reactor program. He’s a smart guy – and he’s a good bit older than I am, which is to say he’s getting up there in age. When he reads articles like the one above, he gets animated and says that it makes no sense at all. “I’ve been exposed to 650 mSV multiple times in my life and certainly didn’t have any negative response”, he says.
In another headline from earlier this month the bold type questioned:
A 35% Spike in Infant Mortality in Northwest Cities Since Meltdown
Is the Dramatic Increase in Baby Deaths in the US a Result of Fukushima Fallout?
There may be coincidence here, but is there any correlation? That would be impossible to establish that at this time, so all this is, is speculation – rather uninformed speculation I’d guess that is fueled by broadly based assumptions that any and all radiation is harmful to humans.
A FUTUREdition reader got me thinking about some of this a while back when he sent me this thoughtful message. He began by commenting about another topic and then said:
I am also writing today with regards to the “Unsafe at Any Dose” article posted in your newsletter. First off, I want to let you know that I do not work for the nuclear industry in any capacity or have any vested interests in the area. I am a private Japanese citizen with a family living in Yokohama 250km away from Fukushima. Due to our relative proximity to the failed power plants, this nuclear disaster and its potential ramifications have been very real for us from day one.
While I can sympathize with those who might feel that it is best to err on the safe side, it has became obvious in my research since then that, just as the “Just say no” proposition has never worked in the drug war, handling the radiation issue based on the “unsafe at any dose” hypothesis is not a mindful or considerate approach for those affected by radiation exposure incidents, and will ultimately lead to a net negative effect on society in the form of livelihoods destroyed, unavailed health benefits, and ballooning social costs for possibly superfluous radiation safety measures.
For starters, the scientific community is not of one mind regarding the “unsafe at any dose” or the Linear No Threshold (LNT) hypothesis that is being set forth by researchers such as Caldicott. A cursory search shows that there are organizations on both sides of the fence regarding LNT’s validity:
United States National Research Council (part of the National Academy of Sciences)
National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (a body commissioned by the United States Congress)
United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR)
French Academy of Sciences (Académie des Sciences)
French National Academy of Medicine (Académie nationale de Médecine)
The Health Physics Society
The American Nuclear Society
While none of these organizations can be considered to be independent, the least that can be said is that there is a division of views regarding this matter. In fact, there is a large body of evidence that points to the invalidity of the LNT hypothesis (Please see link below and attached files).
In addition to findings that contradict LNT, there is also the idea of radiation hormesis, which says exposures up to a certain threshold produce health benefits. The findings cited in the attached files lend strong support to this idea. The information from these sources suggests that hard scientific evidence may have taken a back seat in the determination of our current policies and perspectives regarding “radiation safety.”
Again, I do sympathize with those who take the “Err on the safe side” view – a perspective that perhaps may make one more receptive to the “Unsafe at any dose” view than the “Safe up to a certain threshold” view. But the evidence I have found suggests that the former view leads to more harm than good.
If there is a possibility that the LNT hypothesis is in fact not a valid hypothesis (which I think it is not), I think we, as a global community, need to consider the scientific evidence in more depth, if only to determine whether or not the people of Fukushima (and potential victims of similar incidents in the future) are being met with unnecessary suffering, and if so, find ways to alleviate this suffering – not only suffering that stems directly from exposure, but from uncertainties surrounding health effects and the devastating impact of public perceptions that effectively result in stigmatizing the affected areas, their produce, their tourist destinations, and other areas of livelihood.
In this case again, “Just say no” has been found not to work.
I think he’s got a point. It’s quite obvious that there is a lot of politics (and unfounded assumptions, I say) in the whole radiation exposure arena. There are a lot of people who have built reputations and careers around fighting everything nuclear who are just not prepared to consider that what they started out thinking might not actually be the whole story.
What encourages me to say something about this subject? Well, I ran into another article from Rense.com about radiation exposure which, at least, sounded like it was developed from some empirical data.
Understanding Millisieverts And Radiation Effects On Humans
By Ted Twietmeyer
The main purpose of this article is to help define radiation damage to humans.
REMS CONVERSION TO SIEVERTS FOR OLDER GEIGER COUNTERS
(If you don’t use an older geiger counter skip this paragraph.) In the USA, dose damage units was historically measured in rems. Many civil defense surplus geiger counters display radiation in rems. Conversion from millisieverts (.001 sieverts) to rems is accomplished simply by moving the decimal point.
For example, 1 millisievert = .1 rems and 2,000 millisieverts = 200 rems
100 counts/minute = 1 microsievert
1 sievert = 1,000 millisieverts
1 sievert = 1,000,000 microsieverts
RADIATION EFFECTS ON HUMANS
Biological damage for various radiation levels was determined about 50 years ago by the US government’s Civil Defense Agency, now known as FEMA. I trust human radiation damage exposure levels listed in this older manual more than those in the July 1990 FEMA manual which replaced it.
Following shows radiation effects on humans with increasing exposure. This was copied directly from an official manual printed by the US government . For simplicity radiation dose is shown below in millisieverts:
No visible effects.
75 to 1,000 millisieverts:
Brief periods of nausea on the day of exposure in about 10% of the group.
As many as 50% of the group may experience some of the symptoms of radiation sickness. Although only 5% to 10% may require medical attention, no deaths are expected.
Serious radiation sickness in most members of the group followed by death to about 50% in two to four weeks.
Serious radiation sickness in all members of the group followed by death of almost all members within one to three weeks.
*** end of quote ***
1,000 millisieverts/hour is a recent radiation measurement reported outside reactor #3. 
You probably don’t want to know how the US government obtained the above exposure damage data. Even at 500 millisieverts it’s not known if damage to DNA is taking place. Most experts today state that any elevated radiation level is bad for you and increases the risk of cancer proportionately.
A “group” refers to a group of survivors inside a fallout shelter after a nuclear attack. But it doesn’t matter how big any group of people is. For example, if 10,000 people are exposed to 2,000 millisieverts, then about 5,000 people will experience radiation sickness.
Other people in Japan can still suffer DNA damage, even if living some distance away in Tokyo. Recent elevated levels in Tokyo sewer sludge show that when it rained people were probably pelted with radioactive fallout. Or worse – the public water supply or food is contaminated. With the Japanese culture and government’s policy of not saying anything bad to upset people, we’ll probably never know the full extent of human exposure and total number of deaths.
Nuclear plant workers have been tested with full body scanners. 1,193 had radiation counts of more than 10,000 counts/minute (100 microsieverts.)  Each “count” is one high speed particle forcing it’s way through live human cells to escape the body and reach the scanner. Each one of these particles is can alter cell DNA and increase the potential for cancers. Once radioactive materials are present inside the body’s tissues complete removal is difficult. It’s difficult to comprehend the scope of trying to decontaminate a huge, crowded city the size of Tokyo and the hundreds of square miles surrounding it. This has never been attempted before in human history. And where would the enormous volume of waste be stored?
Rarely discussed in the media is ionizing radiation damage caused by low energy alpha particles. These particles are NOT detected by ordinary geiger counters. A special alpha particle detector is required to detect alpha particles; these particles are stopped by a sheet of paper. Gieger counter tubes are usually made of metal which alpha particles cannot penetrate.
Dusty materials emitting alpha particles are caught by lung tissue when inhaled. After embedding in the lungs, dust particles continue to give off alpha radiation for many years causing on-going damage and mutating DNA, ultimately causing lung cancer. It’s worth noting however, that when alpha particles are present beta and gamma are usually also present, which are readily detectable by a geiger counter.
People in high risk areas who won’t buy a geiger counter simply because it cannot detect alpha particles, are making a big mistake.
Heavy metal toxicity effects are outside the scope of this article, but these metals present another health hazard wherever radioactive materials are present. Plutonium is among the worst of these – one tiny particle can kill a human being.
Hopefully this article will help people who use geiger counters and those who want to understand radiation measurements in articles. Clearly a serious problem exists in Japan. With radiation spreading even further out into the world it’s wise to be aware and prepared.
 Handbook for Radiological Monitors dated April 1963, page 29.
I like this kind of analysis. It certainly doesn’t downplay the seriousness of the Japanese crisis, but at the same time it does suggest that regardless of what the official government-mandated emergency level of exposure is these days, that the Fukushima workers exposed to 650mSV probably won’t even get a headache from their experience – except maybe from dealing with people who are not asking any questions about how much radiation exposure is harmful or not.
What Are We Capable of? – (You Tube – July 7, 2011)
This video clip assembled by the group of hacktivists known as Anonymous is worthy of your attention. It opens with a montage of news reports introducing past activities of Anonymous and then goes on to explore ways in which “we” – not just members of Anonymous, but all of us – may employ nonviolent means to begin addressing the corruption, secrecy and abuses of governments. Whether or not you find yourself in sympathy with their agenda and their means, their general approach and plans are worth noting.
All of South Korea’s Textbooks to Go Digital by 2015 – (Technology Review – July 1, 2011)
By 2014, all of South Korea’s elementary-level educational materials will be digitized, and by 2015, the entire school-age curriculum will be delivered on an array of computers, smart phones and tablets. While the country’s education ministry is yet to announce the make or model of the devices it will purchase, it has revealed it will spend $2.4 billion buying the requisite tablets and digitizing material for them. This move re-ignites the age-old debate about whether or not students learn better from screens or printed material. Equally important, there’s the issue of whether or not devices with smaller form factors are as effective as current textbooks, which tend to have significantly more area on each page. That might sound like a trivial detail, but before it abandoned its hardware aspirations, the makers of the Kno tablet made a pretty good case that if we’re going to replace textbooks with their digital equivalent, we need devices with something like four times the screen territory of the iPad.
The First Person to Reach 150 is Already Alive – (Daily Mail – July 7, 2011)
Aubrey De Grey, the biomedical gerontologist and chief scientist of a foundation dedicated to longevity research claims that within his own lifetime doctors will have all the tools they need to ‘cure’ ageing. “I’d say we have a 50/50 chance of bringing ageing under what I’d call a decisive level of medical control within the next 25 years or so. And what I mean by decisive is the same sort of medical control that we have over most infectious diseases today.The idea is to engage in what you might call preventative geriatrics, where you go in to periodically repair that molecular and cellular damage before it gets to the level of abundance that is pathogenic.” Dr. De Grey said. His ideas may seem far-fetched, but $20,000 offered in 2005 by MIT’s Technology Review journal for any molecular biologist who showed that De Grey’s SENS theory was ‘so wrong that it was unworthy of learned debate’ was never won.
GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY
Duke Team Finds New Clues about How Cancer Spreads – (Duke University – June 27, 2011)
Cancer cells circulating in the blood carry newly identified proteins that could be screened to improve prognostic tests and suggest targets for therapies. Building on current technologies that detect tumor cells circulating in blood, the Duke team was able to characterize these cells in a new way, illuminating how they may escape from the originating tumors and move to other locations in the body. The circulating tumor components include proteins normally seen when embryonic stem cells begin to specialize and move through the body to develop organs such as the heart, bones and skin. The discovery may enhance the accuracy of blood tests that detect circulating cancer cells, giving doctors better information to gauge how a patient’s disease is responding or progressing.
Stem Cell Gamble – (Technology Review – July/August, 2011)
After years of controversy, a therapy based on human embryonic stem cells is finally being tested in humans. The treatment holds out hope to paralyzed people, but at how great a risk? The hope is that cells injected into their spinal cords could help mend damaged nerves and restore at least a degree of mobility and sensation. Even if the treatment fails, many researchers believe the test is a critical step toward a time when bodies are healed and regenerated with living cells, not chemical drugs.
Experts Grow Whole Tooth Units Using Mouse Stem Cells – (Science Daily – July 12, 2011)
Scientists in Japan said on Wednesday they have created teeth — complete with connective fibers and bones — by using mouse stem cells and successfully transplanted them into mice, a step they hope will lead to progress in stem cell research. The entire tooth units, which were inserted into lower jaws of mice, attached successfully with jaw bones and the rats were able to chew normally.
Gonorrhea Strain Found to be Resistant to Antibiotics – (BBC News – July 11, 2011)
Analysis of the bacterium that causes gonorrhea found a new variant which is very effective at mutating. Scientists from the Swedish Reference Laboratory warn that the infection could now become a global threat to public health. By analyzing this new strain, called H041, researchers identified the genetic mutations responsible for the new strain’s extreme resistance to all cephalosporin-class antibiotics. New drugs to delay the spread of the infection are needed, experts say. The first case of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea was found in Japan.
Biomarker for Autism Discovered – (Science Daily – July 12, 2011)
Siblings of people with autism show a similar pattern of brain activity to that seen in people with autism when looking at emotional facial expressions. Researchers at the University of Cambridge identified the reduced activity in a part of the brain associated with empathy and argue it may be a ‘biomarker’ for a familial risk of autism. Previous research has found that people with autism often struggle to read people’s emotions and that their brains process emotional facial expressions differently to people without autism. Dr. Michael Spencer, who led the study, said: “The findings provide a springboard to investigate what specific genes are associated with this biomarker. The brain’s response to facial emotion could be a fundamental building block in causing autism and its associated difficulties.”
Freak Arctic Weather Precursor to Coming Ice Age? – (Signs of the Times – May 7, 2010)
This is a little dated, but a great example of the breadth of the changes going on. SOTT collects weather reports from around the world which often point to weird weather occurring in locations experiencing unseasonable weather. We think this dramatically illustrates the alarming speed with which the weather can change from stable, warm and dry conditions to turbulent, cold and wet conditions. To see SOTT’s extensive collection of now-happening international weather events: click here.
Drought Spreads Its Pain across 14 States – (New York Times – July 11, 2011)
Drought has spread across 14 states, from Florida, where severe water restrictions are in place, to Arizona, where ranchers could be forced to sell off entire herds of cattle because they simply cannot feed them. In Texas, where the drought is the worst, virtually no part of the state has been untouched. City dwellers and ranchers have been tormented by excessive heat and high winds. In the Southwest, wildfires are chewing through millions of acres. With states and towns short on cash and unemployment still high, the stress on the land and the people who rely on it for a living is being amplified by political and economic forces. As a result, this drought is likely to have the cultural impact of the great 1930s drought.
Genetically Modified Grass Could Make Superweed Problem Worse – (Wired – July 11, 2011)
A genetically engineered grass expected to hit U.S. markets without government review could speed the evolution of hard-to-control weeds, and perhaps require a return to toxic herbicides scrapped decades ago. Scotts Miracle-Gro is the largest U.S. retailer of grass seed, and the modified grass could be widely used in residential lawns. It’s resistant to glyphosate, a front-line herbicide known commercially as Roundup. Herbicide resistance evolves in much the same way as antibiotic resistance: When a weed- or bug-killing compound is applied, any weeds or bugs lucky enough to be genetically resistant will have the best chance to survive and reproduce. Many crop plants are already engineered to be Roundup-resistant, and heavy use of the herbicide appears to have fueled the evolution of dozens of Roundup-resistant weed strains.
Asia Pollution Blamed for Halt in Warming – (Reuters – July 5, 2011)
Smoke belching from Asia’s rapidly growing economies is largely responsible for a halt in global warming in the decade after 1998 because of sulfur’s cooling effect, even though greenhouse gas emissions soared, according to a U.S. study. The paper raised the prospect of more rapid, pent-up climate change when emerging economies eventually crack down on pollution. World temperatures did not rise from 1998 to 2008, while manmade emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel grew by nearly a third, various data show. The researchers from Boston and Harvard Universities and Finland’s University of Turku said pollution, specifically sulfur emissions, from coal-fueled growth in Asia was responsible for the cooling effect.
Fracking Water Killed Trees, Study Found – (New York Times – July 12, 2011)
A study that argues for more research into the safe disposal of chemical-laced wastewater resulting from natural gas drilling found that a patch of national forest in West Virginia suffered quick and serious loss of vegetation after it was sprayed with hydraulic fracturing fluids. The study, conducted by researchers from the United States Forest Service, was published this month in the Journal of Environmental Quality. It said that two years after liquids were legally spread on a section of the Fernow Experimental Forest, within the Monongahela National Forest, more than half of the trees in the affected area were dead.
The Internet Is Filling Up with Dead People and There’s Nothing We Can Do About It – (Technology Review – July 10, 2011)
The author of this article notes, “Aside from the feeling that I’m giving up yet more of my privacy out of fear of becoming techno-socially irrelevant, the worst part of signing up for a new social network like Google+ is having the service recommend that I invite or classify a dead friend. Now, I’m aware that I could prevent this happening by deleting this friend from my email contacts list and I’ve intuited that the Gmail contacts list is Google’s central repository of everyone with whom I’d like to pretend I’m more than just acquaintances (by ingesting them into the whirligig of my carefully mediated, frequently updated, lavishly illustrated social networking persona). But what about the overwhelming majority of people who don’t know this or won’t bother?”
Power from the Air: Gadget Captures Ambient Electromagnetic Energy to Drive Small Electronic Devices – (Before It’s News – July 7, 2011)
Researchers have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips. “There is a large amount of electromagnetic energy all around us, but nobody has been able to tap into it,” said Manos Tentzeris, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering who is leading the research. “We are using an ultra-wideband antenna that lets us exploit a variety of signals in different frequency ranges, giving us greatly increased power-gathering capability.”
Spray-on Solar Goes Double Decker – (Technology Review – July 1, 2011)
A research team at the University of Toronto has created the first two-layer solar cell made up of light-absorbing nanoparticles called quantum dots. Quantum dots, which can be tuned to absorb different parts of the solar spectrum by varying their size, have been seen as a promising route to low-cost solar cells because the particles can be sprayed onto surfaces much like paint. But cells based on this technology have been too inefficient to be practical. By discovering a way to combine two different types of quantum dots in a solar cell, the researchers could open the way to making such cells much more efficient.
Energy-Storage Capacity of Ancient Microorganism Could Lead to Power Source for Synthetic Cells – (Science Daily – July 12, 2011)
Archaea are among the oldest known life-forms, but they are not well understood. It was only in the 1970s that these single-celled microorganisms were designated as a domain of life distinct from bacteria and multicellular organisms called eukaryotes. Robert Gunsalus, a UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, developed an interest in Archaea because of their ability to thrive in harsh environments. He has shown for the first time that a type of Archaea known as Methanosprillum hungatei contains incredibly efficient energy-storage structures. Using equipment from the Electron Imaging Center for Nanomachines (EICN), the team discovered granules, structures measuring approximately 150 nanometers in diameter that store energy.
Hybrid Scorecard – (Hybrid Center website – no date)
Looking for the cleanest, most fuel-efficient vehicle whether it’s a sedan, SUV, or pickup? Hybrids are often the best choice in each vehicle class. However, not all hybrids are created equal. See which vehicles make the most of hybrid technology for the environment, and your pocketbook.
The Paperless Cockpit – (New York Times – July 4, 2011)
Those bulky, black flight bags that pilots carry into the cockpit contain reams of reference material needed for the flight – about 40 pounds of it. There are the aircraft’s operating manual, safety checklists, logbooks for entering airplane performance data, navigation charts, weather information, airport diagrams. But instead of carrying all that paperwork, a growing number of pilots are carrying a 1.5 pound iPad. The Federal Aviation Administration has authorized a handful of commercial and charter carriers to use the tablet computer as a so-called electronic flight bag. Private pilots, too, are now carrying iPads, which support hundreds of general aviation apps that simplify preflight planning and assist with in-flight operations. In the next phase of what Alaska Airlines calls “Operation Bye, Bye, Flight Bag”, the carrier plans to petition the F.A.A. to use the iPad to read aeronautical charts, saving another five pounds of paper per pilot. Counting both the pilot and co-pilot, that would remove 60 pounds of paper from the cockpit – a savings not only in paper and printing costs but also in fuel because planes are that much lighter.
Genetically Modified Atlantic Salmon Mating Study Reveals Danger of Escape to Wild Gene Pool – (Science Daily – July 13, 2011)
If genetically modified Atlantic salmon were to escape from captivity they could succeed in breeding and passing their genes into the wild, Canadian researchers have found. “The use of growth-enhancing transgenic technologies has long been of interest to the aquaculture industry and now genetically modified Atlantic salmon is one of the first species to be considered for commercial farming. Yet, little is known about the potential impact on wild salmon populations if the GM species were to escape captivity,” said lead author Darek Moreau from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. One of the key concerns about a transgene escape is the “Trojan gene effect,” caused when a GM fish outcompetes or reproduces equally against wild rivals, however, if the resulting offspring are genetically inferior this could lead a species towards eventual extinction. See also: FDA Review on Transgenic Salmon Too Narrow
Huge Demand for Fish Empties British Waters in Just 6 Months – (Independent – July 11, 2011)
Britain’s coastal waters are so overfished that they can supply the nation’s chip shops, restaurants and kitchens for little more than six months of every year, research has shown. Overfishing has caused so much damage to fish stocks across Europe that the quantity landed each year to satisfy the public appetite has fallen by 2 per cent on average every year since 1993. So great is demand that Saturday, 16 July, has been dubbed Fish Dependence Day – the day on which imports would have to be relied upon because native supplies would have run out if only home-caught fish had been eaten since 1 January. Last year it fell on 3 August, almost three weeks later, and in 1995 it was six weeks later.
SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Spies Want to Mine Your Tweets for Signs of the Next Tsunami – (Wired – July 7, 2011)
The intelligence community has seen the future, and the future is a highly sophisticated version of Google Trends, with Twitter and YouTube thrown in for good measure. IARPA, (Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity), the blue-sky research arm of the intelligence community, recently announced a new program that aims to monitor, collect and analyze publicly available data to predict future events. The Open Source Indicator Program would be so sensitive to changes in the zeitgeist that it could “beat the news,” anticipating “political crises, disease outbreaks, economic instability, resource shortages and natural disasters” – to name a few. See also: Spies Want to Stockpile Your YouTube Clips (and Scan Them for Terror Threats)
Global Race on to Match US Drone Capabilities – (Washington Post – June 30, 2011)
Little is known about the actual abilities of the more than two dozen Chinese models of drones that were on display at Zhuhai air show, the premier event for China’s aviation industry in November. But the speed at which they have been developed highlights how U.S. military successes with drones have changed strategic thinking worldwide and spurred a global rush for unmanned aircraft. More than 50 countries have purchased surveillance drones, and many have started in-country development programs for armed versions because no nation is exporting weaponized drones beyond a handful of sales between the United States and its closest allies. Defense spending on drones has become the most dynamic sector of the world’s aerospace industry. A market study estimated that in the coming decade global spending on drones will double, reaching $94 billion.
LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES
S’mores Aren’t Enough: The New Economics of Summer Camps – (New York Times – July 9, 2011)
The tight economy has made private traditional sleep-away camps even more of a luxury, even for many upper-middle-class families who have sent their children to such programs for generations. But beyond the slack economy is a profound change in the business of summer camp. As in just about every industry, slick, nimble upstarts are muscling in on the establishment. These newcomers hold out 21st-century promises: We can groom the modern organization kid, hone lacrosse skills, improve algebra, pad the high-school résumé. No more the quaint summer idyll of lake and volleyball and s’mores. Today, former Brazilian pros coach soccer camp, Oscar winners officiate at film camp, computer game developers teach tech camp – all the better, the pitches go, to get Holly or Howie into Harvard, or at least to sharpen their skills.
Neighbor vs. Neighbor as Homeowner Fights Get Ugly – (ABC News – July 7, 2011)
Normally, it’s the bankers who go after delinquent homeowners. But in communities governed by the mighty homeowners’ association, as the sour economy leaves more people unable to pay their fees, it’s neighbor versus neighbor. To combat the rise in delinquencies, boards are switching off utilities, garnishing income and axing cable. They are yanking pool passes and banning the billiard room. And, in the most extreme cases, they are foreclosing. “The treacherous part is that homeowners’ associations are acting like a local government without restraints, and they have this extraordinary power,” says Marjorie Murray, a lawyer and founder of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law. Today, one in five U.S. homeowners is subject to the will of the homeowners’ association, whose boards oversee 24.4 million homes. More than 80% of newly constructed homes in the U.S are in association communities.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Tempest from Hell Seen on Saturn – (France 24 – July 6, 2011)
Imagine being caught in a thunderstorm as wide as the Earth with discharges of lightning 10,000 times more powerful than normal, flashing 10 times per second at its peak. Now imagine that this storm is still unfolding, eight months later. One of the most violent weather events in the Solar System began to erupt on Saturn last December and is still enthralling astronomers.
Dark Fireworks on the Sun – (NASA – July 11, 2011)
Earth-orbiting satellites detected a flash of X-rays coming from the western edge of the solar disk. Registering only “M” (for medium) on the Richter scale of solar flares, the blast at first appeared to be a run-of-the-mill eruption–that is, until researchers looked at the movies. “We’d never seen anything like it,” says Alex Young, a solar physicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “Half of the sun appeared to be blowing itself to bits.” NASA has just released new high-resolution videos of the event recorded by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES
Demo of 3D Printer – (You Tube – June 23, 2011)
3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of (a proprietary composite) material. They offer product developers the ability to print parts and assemblies made of several materials with different mechanical and physical properties in a single build process. Advanced 3D printing technologies yield models that can serve as product prototypes. Watch a 3D printer duplicate a crescent wrench – and create a functional tool with all its moving parts made in a single process.
Experts Skeptical about Potential of Rare-Earth Elements in Seafloor Mud – (Scientific American – July 9, 2011)
There in the mud, just waiting to be scooped up, is a natural resource deposit potentially worth billions and billions of dollars. It contains chemical elements needed by automakers, by manufacturers of consumer electronics and by green technology developers-elements for which China currently holds a global near monopoly. The catch? The mud, which is enriched in the technologically crucial metals known as the rare-earth elements, is beneath thousands of meters of water in the Pacific Ocean. Extracting resources from such depths brings technological, economic and regulatory hurdles, all of which would have to be overcome before deep-sea rare earths become an ingredient in tomorrow’s catalytic converters, wind turbines and computer screens. As a result, experts say, it will be many years-if ever-before that seafloor resource is tapped.
Chinese Local Debt Might be $540T More than Estimated: Moody’s – (Huffington Post – July 5, 2011)
China’s local government debt burden may be 3.5 trillion yuan ($540 billion) larger than auditors estimated, putting banks on the hook for deeper losses that could threaten their credit ratings, Moody’s said. Addressing the estimate by China’s state auditor that its local governments have chalked up 10.7 trillion yuan of debt, Moody’s said it found more potential loans after accounting for discrepencies in figures given by various Chinese authorities. The ratings agency said the Chinese state auditor likely omitted the 3.5 trillion yuan of debt from its assessment because they were not considered as real claims on local governments. “This indicates that these loans are most likely poorly documented and may pose the greatest risk of delinquency,” said Yvonne Zhang, a Moody’s analyst.
The Unexamined Society – (New York Times – July 7, 2011)
We have two traditional understandings of poverty. The first presumes people are rational. They are pursuing their goals effectively and don’t need much help in changing their behavior. The second presumes that the poor are afflicted by cultural or psychological dysfunctions that sometimes lead them to behave in shortsighted ways. Neither of these theories has produced much in the way of effective policies. Eldar Shafir of Princeton and Sendhil Mullainathan of Harvard have recently, with federal help, been exploring a third theory, that scarcity produces its own cognitive traits. Poorer people have to think hard about a million things that affluent people don’t. They have to make complicated trade-offs when buying a carton of milk: If I buy milk, I can’t afford orange juice. They have to decide which utility not to pay. These questions impose enormous cognitive demands. The brain does not have unlimited capacities. If you increase demands on one sort of question, it performs less well on other sorts of questions.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH – articles off the beaten track which may – or may not – have predictive value.
The Strange Case of the Volcano that Set Time 15 Minutes Fast – (Atlantic Wire – July 10, 2011)
It was business as usual when Mount Etna, the active volcano on the Italian island of Sicily, erupted for the fifth time since the beginning of the year. But lately, the volcanic eruptions on the island have been linked to some very odd things. It started last month, when large numbers of locals turned up for work early. It came to light that for thousands of people, digital clocks and watches, from computers to alarm clocks, were all running 15 minutes fast. RIA Novosti also reported that in Palermo digital clocks and watches in Sicily were running more than 15 minutes fast. According to the Daily Mail, Sicilians “were quick to blame the volcano.” (Editor’s Note: This may well be a hoax, but the video footage embedded in the article of the eruption is quite dramatic.)
Last Dinosaur Before Mass Extinction Discovered – (Science Daily – July 13, 2011)
Researchers from Yale University discovered the fossilized horn of a ceratopsian — likely a Triceratops, which are common to the area — in the Hell Creek formation in Montana last year. They found the fossil buried just five inches below the K-T boundary, the geological layer that marks the transition from the Cretaceous period to the Tertiary period at the time of the mass extinction that took place 65 million years ago. Since the impact hypothesis for the demise of the dinosaurs was first proposed more than 30 years ago, many scientists have come to believe the meteor caused the mass extinction and wiped out the dinosaurs, but a sticking point has been an apparent lack of fossils buried within the 10 feet of rock below the K-T boundary. The seeming anomaly has come to be known as the “three-meter gap.” Until now, this gap has caused some paleontologists to question whether the non-avian dinosaurs of the era gradually went extinct sometime before the meteor struck. “This discovery suggests the three-meter gap doesn’t exist,” said Tyler Lyson, lead author of the study.
JUST FOR FUN
The Neurobiology of Bliss – Sacred and Profane – (Scientific American – July 12, 2011)
Until eight years ago, neuroscience had little scientific basis from which to comment on bliss, sexual or otherwise. However, a clearer portrait of pleasure is now emerging. Bliss, both sacred and profane, shares the diminution of self-awareness, alterations in bodily perception and decreased sense of pain. And while the left frontal lobe may be linked to pleasure, the other three characteristics are bilateral. In studies that observe the brain in action, the right hemisphere seems to be the sexy hemisphere. It lights up during orgasm-so much so that, in one study, much of the cortex went dark, leaving the right prefrontal cortex as a bright island. Absence of pain is predictably akin to pleasure, but the other two-losing a sense of identity and of bodily limits-are less obvious. Self-awareness, apparently, is no picnic.
A FINAL QUOTE…
To predict the future, we need logic; but we also need faith and imagination, which can sometimes defy logic itself. – Arthur C Clarke
A special thanks to: Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Humera Khan, Kurzweil AI, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Cory Shreckengost, Steve Ujvarosy, Heidi Waltos 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