Volume 14, Number 11 - 6/15/11Twitter   Facebook  
FUTURE FACTS - FROM THINK LINKS

DID YOU KNOW THAT...
  • Two new elements, currently known only as elements 114 and 116, are being added to the periodic table.
  • The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy "shadow" Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments.
  • For unknown reasons, the number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years.
  • Through a combination of anonymity technology and a sophisticated user-feedback system, the Silk Road website makes buying and selling illegal drugs as easy as buying on Amazon.


INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE

5 WikiLeaks Hits of 2011 That Are Turning the World on Its Head - (AlterNet - June 7, 2011)
In 2010, WikiLeaks brought to light documents disclosing that trigger-happy soldiers who have been trained to kill are likely to shoot innocent civilians, including journalists and children. We learned that the US military handed over detainees they knew would be tortured to the Iraqis, and as a matter of policy, failed to investigate the hundreds of reported torture and abuse by Iraqi police and military. The Afghanistan logs showed many more civilians killed than previously known, along with once-secret US assassination missions against insurgents. And Cablegate shed light on a US foreign policy that values self-interest over democracy and human rights at all costs, perpetuating anti-American sentiment in the process. If possible, WikiLeaks disclosures in 2011 have been even more revealing - and world changing.



NEW REALITIES

Two New Elements Added to Periodic Table - (Cosmos - June 11, 2011)
Two new elements are being added to the periodic table after they were discovered through a collaboration between U.S. and Russian scientists, a top U.S. chemistry expert said. The elements are the first to be added since copernicium in 2009. They have not yet been named, but are known for now as 114 and 116. The pair were found through atom-smasher experiments called cross-bombardments. The experiments smashed calcium together with plutonium to make 114, and calcium with curium for 116. The new elements were first detected in 2004 and 2006, but it took years to confirm them. Now the naming process gets under way, which could takes weeks or months.

Moving Mirrors Make Light from Nothing - (Nature - June 3, 2011)
A team of physicists based at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden is claiming to have coaxed sparks from the vacuum of empty space. At the heart of the experiment is one of the weirdest, and most important, tenets of quantum mechanics: the principle that empty space is anything but. Quantum theory predicts that a vacuum is actually a writhing foam of particles flitting in and out of existence. The existence of these particles is so fleeting that they are often described as virtual, yet they can have tangible effects. If verified, the finding would be one of the most unusual experimental proofs of quantum mechanics in recent years.

Distant Quasars Suggest Our Corner of the Universe is Fine-tuned for Life - (Daily Galaxy - May 31, 2011)
Precise measurements on the light from distant quasars suggest that the value of the fine-structure constant may have changed over the history of the Universe. If the quasar results are eventually confirmed, our concepts of space and time are sure to change our fundamental understanding of the Universe. The fine-structure constant, or alpha, is the coupling constant for the electromagnetic force. If alpha were just 4% bigger or smaller than it is, stars wouldn't be able to make carbon and oxygen, which would have made it impossible for life as we know it in our Universe to exist. A study has shown that alpha seems to have varied a tiny bit in different directions of the Universe billions of years ago, being slightly smaller in the northern hemisphere and slightly larger in the southern hemisphere. One intriguing implication is that the fine-structure constant is continuously varying in space, and seems fine-tuned for life in our neighborhood of the Universe.



GENETICS/ HEALTH TECHNOLOGY/ BIOTECHNOLOGY

An End to AIDS? - (Reuters - June 3, 2011)
On the 30th birthday of HIV, the global scientific community is setting out with renewed vigor to try to kill it. The drive is partly about science, and partly about money. Treating HIV patients with lifelong courses of sophisticated drugs is becoming unaffordable. Caring for HIV patients in developing countries alone already costs around $13 billion a year and that could treble over the next 20 years. For his doctors, Timothy Ray Brown was a shot in the dark. An HIV-positive American who was cured by a unique type of bone marrow transplant, the man known as "the Berlin patient" has become an icon of what scientists hope could be the next phase of the AIDS pandemic: its end. The treatment could well have finished Brown off. Instead he remains the only human ever to be cured of AIDS.

US Adds Formaldehyde to List of Carcinogens - (AlterNet - June 11, 2011)
The U.S. government has added formaldehyde, a substance found in plastics and other commonly used products, to a list of known carcinogens and warned that the chemical styrene might cause cancer. In a report prepared for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), scientists warned that people with higher exposure to formaldehyde were more at risk for nasopharyngeal cancer, myeloid leukemia and other cancers. Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical widely used to make resins for household items, such as composite wood products, paper product coatings, plastics, synthetic fibers, and textile finishes.

Forever Young: The Pill that will Keep You Youthful - (Daily Mail - June 11, 2011)
A 'forever young' drug that allows people to grow old gracefully could be available in just ten years, said Professor Linda Partridge, an expert in the genetics of ageing. Science is moving so quickly that it may soon be possible to prevent many of the ills of old age. By taking a pill a day from middle-age, we will grow old free from illnesses of the body and mind such as Alzheimer's and heart disease. Research has shown that chains of reactions in the body involving insulin and related hormones are key to health and ageing. This means that years of research into diabetes could have yielded medicines that can be reinvented as anti-ageing drugs. Some medicines abandoned by drug companies may soon be dusted off and put to use.

'Living Laser' Engineered from Human Cell - (Wired - June, 2011)
Medical researchers from Harvard University have created the first "living laser"; a biological cell that's been genetically engineered to produce a visible laser beam. Lasers need two things to generate beams: a gain medium that amplifies light and an arrangement of mirrors to concentrate and align that light. Seok-Hyun Yun and colleague Malte Gather, instead used green fluorescent protein (GFP), which makes jellyfish bioluminescent, as their gain material. The team genetically engineered human embryonic kidney cells to produce GFP. When the team ran pulses of blue light through the kidney/jellyfish combo, a visible laser beam shot out. It only lasted for a few nanoseconds, but the light could be easily detected and carried useful information on the properties of the cell. The cell left the experiment unharmed.



ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES/CLIMATE

Monster Volcano Can Be Seen from Space as It Spits Fire into the Sky - (Daily Mail - June 7, 2011)
A towering plume of brown ash is clearly visible from space as a Chilean volcano continues to violently erupt. Captured by specialist equipment on the Aqua satellite, the image was taken shortly after the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle exploded into life after decades of lying dormant in south-central Chile. (Editor's note: we recommend this article for its remarkable photography.) The volcano has not erupted from it's old caldera. Instead, it has ripped a huge gash into the surface of the earth 6 miles long by 3 miles wide, 2.5 miles away! For some additional details and photography: click here.

Arnie Gundersen Interview: The Dangers of Fukushima - (Chris Martenson Blog - June 3, 2011)
Arnie Gundersen, widely-regarded to be the best nuclear analyst covering Japan's Fukushima disaster, notes: The situation on the ground at the crippled reactors remains precarious and at a minimum it will be years before it can be hoped to be truly contained. In the near term, the reactors remain particularly vulnerable to sizable aftershocks, which still have decent probability of occurring. On top of this is a growing threat of 'hot particle' contamination risk to more populated areas as weather patterns shift with the typhoon season and groundwater seepage.



COMMUNICATIONS/COMPUTING

U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour around Censors - (New York Times - June 12, 2011)
The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy "shadow" Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks. Some projects involve technology that the United States is developing; others pull together tools that have already been created by hackers in a so-called liberation-technology movement sweeping the globe. The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, according to participants in the projects. In one of the most ambitious efforts, the State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million to create an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country. It is intended to offset the Taliban's ability to shut down the official Afghan services.

Latest Hacks Could Set Stage for Cyberwar - (NPR - June 6, 2011)
In March, unidentified hackers penetrated RSA, a top U.S. cybersecurity company, and stole complex security codes. At the same time, intruders broke into Google's Gmail system and stole passwords, enabling them to potentially gain access to sensitive facilities or information. "I think what we're seeing today are the reconnaissance activities of cyberwar," said Herbert Thompson, who teaches cybersecurity at Columbia University. Security experts cite several features of the recent attacks as distinguishing them from intrusions more typically attributed to individual hackers. The RSA and Google attacks (as well as the more recent IMF attack) are thought to have been carried out by a foreign government, or by actors associated with a foreign government. Both seem to be examples of multistage operations, in which the initial intrusion makes possible subsequent attacks against entirely separate targets. The big question is: Where is this all headed?"



SHELTER/ARCHITECTURE

Michael Pawlyn: Using Nature's Genius in Architecture - (You Tube - February 11, 2011)
How can architects build a new world of sustainable beauty? By learning from nature. In this video clip of a TED talk, Michael Pawlyn describes three habits of nature that could transform architecture and society: radical resource efficiency, closed loops, and drawing energy from the sun.

Tiny Homes: Micro Houses Reflect Social Reform - (Univ. of Phoenix - March 16, 2011)
After years of houses getting progressively bigger, the pendulum seems to have begun swinging in the opposite direction. People have become more environmentally conscious and aware of their effects on the planet. From recycling and composting to simply buying less, they are foregoing conspicuous consumption in favor of downsizing and reducing waste. Whether it's the recession, consumer fatigue, social consciousness or a combination of factors driving this movement, one thing is clear: Many people are opting for a simpler life and fewer possessions. A tiny house with room only for the basics is the perfect symbol of this simplicity. The tiniest of these tiny houses is only about 65 square feet. Most people don't take their downsizing quite to this extreme, though. The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company offers small houses up to 837 square feet. That is enough room for two people and even a pet.



TRANSPORTATION

Breakthrough in Battery Technology Could Revolutionize Electric Vehicles - (Raw Story - June 9, 2011)
A new battery design developed by researchers at MIT could transform the way electric vehicles and the power grid store and discharge energy. The new architecture suspends the active electrical components of a battery, such as positive and negative electrodes, as particles in a liquid. This black electric sludge, which resembles petroleum, has been dubbed "Cambridge crude" by its inventors. The new design, called a "semi-solid flow cell," could allow electric vehicles to refuel by pumping the used electric sludge out and replacing it with fully charged electric sludge.



AGRICULTURE/FOOD

Pork in a Petri - (Conservation - March, 2011)
Mark Post, who works at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, is at the leading edge of efforts to make in vitro meat by growing animal muscle cells in a dish. In the near terms, he hopes to make a palatable sausage of ground pork, showcased next to the living pig that donated its starter cells-if he can secure funds for his research. Post started out as a tissue engineer interested in turning stem cells into human muscle for use in reconstructive surgery, but he switched to meat a few years ago. "I realized this could have much greater impact than any of the medical work I'd been doing over 20 years-in terms of environmental benefits, health benefits, benefits against world starvation," he says. Largely because of the inefficiency of growing crops to feed livestock, a vegetarian diet requires only 35% as much water and 40% as much energy as that of a meat-eater. Future "in-vitrotarians" should be able to claim similar savings.

'Super' Wheat to Boost Food Security - (CBS - June 10, 2011)
Scientists say they're close to producing new "super varieties" of wheat that will resist a virulent fungus while boosting yields up to 15 percent, potentially easing a deadly threat to the world's food supply. The research is part of a global drive to protect wheat crops from the Ug99 strain of stem rust. Scientists will also report that Ug99 variants are becoming increasingly virulent and are being carried by the winds beyond Uganda and other East African countries where they were first identified in 1999. The fungus has now spread across all of eastern and southern Africa. Winds can transport spores as many as 100 miles per day, raising concerns among scientists about where the epidemic could turn up next. For more background information, see this.

Radioactive Food? Not with Biodynamics - (Josephine Porter Institute - no date)
Food grown biodynamically using the BC-Biodynamic Compound preparation results in crops free of radioactive contamination. That preparation is popularly known as the Barrel Compost recipe of Maria Thun. It has also been called Manure Concentrate, Fladenpreparate, and CPP or Cow Pat Preparation. This preparation was in development by Maria Thun from 1958 to 1972. In 1986, after the Chernobyl disaster, certain biodynamic farms using the BC did not show radioactivity readings although neighboring conventional farms as well as biodynamic farms not using the BC were showing radioactive contamination. (Editor's note: Mainstream science has not confirmed this, but gardeners concerned about the airborne contamination from the Fukushima meltdown of three reactors may wish to pursue this further.)

NutriSmart System Would Put RFIDs into Your Food for Enhanced Information - (PhysOrg - May 31, 2011)
Hannes Harms, a design engineering student at the Royal College of Art in London, has designed the NutriSmart system based on edible RFID tags that will tell you more about your food then you ever wanted to know. The system would be able to give you complete nutritional data on the food that you are about to consume. This could be very helpful for diabetics, people with serious food allergies, and vegans, it also has applications outside of the medical. The system can also be paired with a "Smart plate", which would allow the embedded reader in the dish to tell you about the caloric and nutrition information about what you are eating. The edible tags would be about the size of a grain of rice.



SECURITY

A Russian A.T.M. With an Ear for the Truth - (New York Times - June 8, 2011)
Russia's biggest retail bank, Sberbank, whose majority owner is the Russian government, is testing automated bank equipment with a built-in lie detector intended to prevent consumer credit fraud. Consumers with no previous relationship with the bank could talk to the machine to apply for a credit card, with no human intervention required on the bank's end. The machine scans a passport, records fingerprints and takes a three-dimensional scan for facial recognition. And it uses voice-analysis software to help assess whether the person is truthfully answering questions that include "Are you employed?" and "At this moment, do you have any other outstanding loans?" The voice-analysis system was developed by the Speech Technology Center, a company whose other big clients include the Federal Security Service - the Russian domestic intelligence agency descended from the Soviet K.G.B.

For A Navy SEAL, Balance Between 'Heart' And 'Fist' - (NPR - June 11, 2011)
This article is a profile of Rhodes scholar and former Navy SEAL, Eric Greitens. While still an undergraduate, he was in the Balkans working in refugee camps. After retiring from active duty, he founded a group called The Mission Continues, which works with wounded or disabled war veterans to contribute to their communities at home. In a new book, The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL, Greitens makes the case that humanitarianism and military missions need each other. It's extraordinarily important for humanitarian workers who are working in war zones and places like it was in Bosnia, in Rwanda, working even in places like Cambodia, or today in Iraq and Afghanistan, they need to understand what's happening in terms of the security dynamic that's actually affecting individuals and families and communities," Greitens says.



TRENDS OF GOVERNANCE

100% Scared: How the National Security Complex Grows on Terrorism Fears - (AlterNet - June 11, 2011)
Americans don't expect 100% safety from illness, car crashes, or even shark attacks. But the government's obsession with 100% safety from terrorism is fueling the military-industrial complex. In fact, in terms of damage since 9/11, terror attacks have ranked above shark attacks but below just about anything else that could possibly be dangerous to Americans, including car crashes which have racked up between 33,800 and 43,500 deaths a year since 2001. (Editor's Note: The opening paragraphs of the article feature a possible scenario, NOT an actual event.)

Our Crumbling Infrastructure - (Huffington Post - June 2, 2011)
We have major infrastructure deficits in this country, including an electricity grid that's demonstrably unreliable. Included in this article is the 2009 Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers. With grades like these, a kid would be grounded for the next term. With Aviation getting a "D", perhaps some planes should be as well.



GLOBAL RELATIONS

External Review of Pandemic Response - (World Health Organization - May 5, 2011)
Here is the official report prepared by outside reviewers at the request of the WHO. In full government-speak, it details the fact that the WHO seriously mismanaged the 2009 global Swine Flu "Pandemic". The PDF is 180 pages long, but the Executive Summary, pages 8-24, includes the committee's 15 specific recommendations.

Global War on Drugs Has Failed - (BBC News - June 2, 2011)
The global war on drugs has "failed" according to a new report by a group of politicians and former world leaders. The Global Commission on Drug Policy report calls for the legalization of some drugs and an end to the criminalization of drug users. The panel includes former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the former leaders of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, and the entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. The US and Mexican governments have rejected the findings as misguided. The Global Commission's 24-page report argues that anti-drug policy has failed by fuelling organized crime, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and causing thousands of deaths. It cites UN estimates that opiate use increased 35% worldwide from 1998 to 2008, cocaine by 27%, and cannabis by 8.5%.



LIFE STYLE/SOCIAL TRENDS AND VALUES

Texas Movie Theatre Makes an Example (and a PSA) of a Texting Audience Member - (Yahoo - June 7, 2011)
Ever had that nail-biting darkened hallway scene ruined by someone turning on their phone to send a text? Alamo Drafthouse, a local chain of dine-and-screen movie theaters in Austin, Texas, has long waged a war against impolite moviegoers. And the latest customer to object to their firm rules against talking and texting during an evening out has become the unwitting star of the public service announcement screened by the company along with the previews.

What Are You Allowed to Say on China's Social Networks? - (IEEE Spectrum - June, 2011)
Last January, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Yu Jianrong opened an account on the Chinese microblog service Sina Weibo. Yu called it "Take a Photo to Rescue Child Beggars," and he encouraged readers to post snapshots of waifs on China's city streets. Yu hoped his project would help reunite missing children with their families. Within days, thousands of images and other clues were posted, and an audience numbering in the tens of thousands developed. The Chinese news media even reported several success stories of rescued children. In an interview, Yu described his new sense of empowerment. "Current technology has changed the social environment. Every person has a microphone; every person is a news center." But the media hubbub surrounding Yu's campaign soon led to official unease. Suddenly the "microphone" was turned off.



CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE

Massive Plasma Waves Sweep the Sun - (Daily Galaxy - June 10, 2011)
A huge storm on the sun unleashed what some have called the most massive eruption of solar plasma ever seen. NASA astronomers said the June 7 solar eruption, called a coronal mass ejection, probably wasn't the biggest ever, but it is notable both for its size and its odd behavior, as massive waves of plasma roared off the sun only to rain back down on the solar surface. "One of the biggest questions about the solar corona is the heating mechanism," says solar physicist Leon Ofman of NASA. "The corona is a thousand times hotter than the sun's visible surface, but what heats it up is not well-understood." See also: this link for video clips of the eruptions.

The Complete Far Side - (NASA - June 1, 2011)
See the first complete image of the solar far side, the half of the sun invisible from Earth. Captured on June 1, 2011, the composite image was assembled from NASA's two Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft. STEREO-Ahead's data is shown on the left half of image and STEREO-Behind's data on the right. The STEREO spacecraft reached opposition (180° separation) on February 6 but part of the sun was inaccessible to their combined view until June 1. This image represents the first day when the entire far side could be seen.

Edge of Solar System Filled with Bubbles - (Space.com - June 6, 2011)
The edge of our solar system is filled with a turbulent sea of magnetic bubbles, according to new NASA research. Scientists made the discovery by using a new computer model, which is based on data from NASA's twin Voyager probes. The unmanned Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, which launched in 1977, are plying the outer reaches of our solar system, a region known as the heliosheath. A more detailed picture of this region is key to our understanding of how fast-moving particles known as cosmic rays are spawned, and how they reach near-Earth space.

Ancient Runway Found on Mars - (Portland Journal - June 5, 2011)
Investigating strange structures on cosmic bodies has become quite a global phenomenon in amateur astronomy circles. Structures that seem to be man-made or alien in design are being found and blogged by theorists and shown on You Tube video clips. There is no doubt that these structure are there on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars, but what are they? Some theorists suggest that NASA is being substantially less than fully disclosing. However you look at the images of the structures, something is not as it seems. Certainly straight lines on the Martian surface suggest a made-structure of some sort. Article contains links to photographs. An un-named imaging specialist from a well known photographic store in the UK suggests that the photograph does not contain an image that is photoshopped or a lens apparition.



DEMOGRAPHICS

Steady Drop in Major Crime Baffles Experts - (New York Times - May 23, 2011)
The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years, a development that was considered puzzling partly because it ran counter to the prevailing expectation that crime would increase during a recession. The odds of being murdered or robbed are now less than half of what they were in the early 1990s, when violent crime peaked in the United States. The drop in violent crime not only calls into question the theory that crime rates are closely correlated with economic hardship, but another argument as well, said Frank E. Zimring, a law professor at UC, Berkeley. As the percentage of people behind bars has decreased in the past few years, violent crime rates have fallen as well. For those who believed that higher incarceration rates inevitably led to less crime, "this would also be the last time to expect a crime decline," he said.



NEW TOOLS/NEW PROCESSES

Bend Me, Shape Me: the Heavy Metal Version - (New York Times - June 3, 2011)
It's hard to beat the versatility of plastic on a production line. Melt and inject it into molds, let it cool and harden, and out comes an endless variety of parts at high rates of speed. But now in a laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, researchers have found an ingenious way to coax metal alloys to solidify into a range of shapes as though they were plastics being molded - and thus create stronger products. And, as such, molded metal might someday be useful as structural components or as casings to protect laptops and smartphones, for example.

U.S. National Academies Press Books Now Free in PDF Format - (African Views - June 2, 2011)
All PDF versions of books published by the National Academies Press (NAP) will be downloadable free of charge to anyone. This includes the current catalog of more than 4,000 books plus future reports published by NAP (www.nap.edu). Free access to the online content supports the mission of NAP - publisher for the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council - to improve government decision making and public policy, increase public education and understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in matters involving science, engineering, technology, and health.



ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

The Bitcoin Triples Again - (Smart Money - June 9, 2011)
The world's fastest-gaining currency has tripled in price again. Bitcoin has exploded from an exchange rate near zero to more than $10 in about a year, making it one of the top-returning assets of any kind. Recently the currency topped $30. Bitcoin is a purely online currency with no intrinsic value; its worth is based solely on the willingness of holders and merchants to accept it in trade. In that respect, it's not so different from fiat currencies like the dollar or Euro, but whereas governments back such money, Bitcoins lack central control. The currency runs on software similar to the file-sharing software used to download music and movies, technology the entertainment industry has been trying unsuccessfully to quash for years. There's no headquarters, main server or central bank to visit, just a network of thousands of users. It's also not clear whether U.S. regulators have any jurisdiction over a global, virtual currency.

The Underground Website Where You Can Buy Any Drug Imaginable - (Gawker.com - June 1, 2011)
On the heels of the inception of Bitcoin was the start of a 'hidden' web site. Silk Road is a digital black market that sits just below most internet users' purview and resembles something from a cyberpunk novel. Through a combination of anonymity technology and a sophisticated user-feedback system, Silk Road makes buying and selling illegal drugs as easy as buying used electronics-and seemingly as safe. It's what Amazon would be if Amazon sold mind-altering chemical substances.



PROVOCATIVE IDEAS

Tech Mogul Pays Bright Minds Not to Go to College - (Business Week - May 30, 2011)
San Francisco tech tycoon Peter Thiel is the founder of the "Twenty Under Twenty" fellowship that comes with a unique catch: The recipients are being paid not to go to college. Instead, these 20 teenagers and 20-year-olds are getting $100,000 each to chase their entrepreneurial dreams for the next two years. Thiel himself hand-picked the winners based on the potential of their proposed projects to change the world. All the proposals have a high technology angle but otherwise span many disciplines. Thiel himself hand-picked the winners based on the potential of their proposed projects to change the world. All the proposals have a high technology angle but otherwise span many disciplines.The prizes come at a time when debate in the U.S. over the value of higher education has become heated. Turning people into debt slaves when they're college students is really not how we end up building a better society," Thiel says. Thiel made his fortune as a co-founder of PayPal shortly after graduating from Stanford Law School. He then became the first major investor in Facebook.

Does Our Brain Really Create Consciousness? - (Huffington Post - June 9, 2011)
Western science has had remarkable success in explaining the functioning of the material world, but when it comes to the inner world of the mind, it has very little to say. And when it comes to consciousness itself, science falls curiously silent. There is nothing in physics, chemistry, biology, or any other science that can account for our having an interior world. In a strange way, scientists would be much happier if minds did not exist. Yet without minds there would be no science. However, developments in quantum physics and several fields are now showing that consciousness cannot be so easily sidelined. One possibility that is gaining increasing attention is the view that the capacity for experience is not itself a product of the brain.



FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH - articles off the beaten track which may - or may not - have predictive value.

The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us - (RSA Animate - April 1, 2011)
The bigger the reward, the more motivated we are to excel. Right? Only up to a point. Once the task gets beyond requiring a rudimentary cognitive skill, money as a motivator doesn't work. Check out this animation to see what does work.



JUST FOR FUN

Madoff's Underwear Fetch $200 at Florida Auction - (Reuters - June 5, 2011)
Roughly speaking, economic theory defines worth as that price at which a seller is willing to sell and a buyer is simultaneously willing to buy. Under certain circumstances, 14 pairs of boxer shorts are apparently worth $200. (And if the shorts were custom made, they may even have priced below retail).



A FINAL QUOTE...

Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia. - Charles Schultz



A special thanks to: Thomas Bergin, Bernard Calil, Jackie Capell, Kevin Clark, Kevin Foley, Chas Freeman, Ursula Freer, Brandon Fugal, Matthew Kolanski, Kurzweil AI, Richard Lippin, Sergio Lub, Susan Marx, Diane Petersen, Petra Pieterse, Bobbie Rohn, Stu Rose, Cory Shreckengost, Craig Siska, John Stewart, Gary Sycalik 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.
johnp@arlingtoninstitute.org



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Edited by John L. Petersen
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