Saturday, April 24, 2010

Death an end or a new beginning?


Death is an enlightening start (of course don't try to pinpoint start with a time point), instead of a frightening end. 
Here is the proof.
Death in medical term is brain dead. When your brain dies, your consciousness vanishes along with the "self". Self creates the illusion of "I" your identity which makes you think that you are not part of the universe. At sub-atomic level everything is built upon electrons, up and down quarks (matter = energy). So, when the mind shuts down, and the self is gone.. you are back to your roots, i.e., you are truly part of the universe - back home.. Getting back home is always exciting isn't it? So, how can it be frightening?


Read more : Self, The Origin - Identity

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The power of the mind


It's all in your head. No, really: How mental imagery training aids perceptual learning



This is Elisa Tartagalia from EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, with her experiment proving that learning through mental imagery is possible. Credit: Alain Herzog/EPFL
Practice makes perfect. But imaginary practice? Elisa Tartaglia of the Laboratory of Psychophysics at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and team show that perceptual learning—learning by repeated exposure to a stimulus—can occur by mental imagery as much as by the real thing. The results, published in Current Biology, suggest that thinking about something over and over again could actually be as good as doing it. Read more.

'Mind's eye' influences visual perception

A graphic depiction of the sequence of events in the experiment from top left to bottom right. First, a person looks at a blank screen and imagines a green pattern. Next, she puts on the red-green glasses and looks at a screen with two superimposed patterns: one green and one red. The green pattern is visible to one eye and the red image is visible to the other eye. The longer she has spent imagining the green pattern, the more likely it is that she will see the green pattern, demonstrating that what people imagine can influence what they see later in time. Credit: Joel Pearson

Letting your imagination run away with you may actually influence how you see the world. New research from Vanderbilt University has found that mental imagery—what we see with the "mind's eye"—directly impacts our visual perception. Read more


Placebo Effect - A cure in the Mind

Belief is powerful medicine, even if the treatment itself is a sham. New research shows placebos can also benefit patients who do not have faith in them. By Maj-Britt Niem, February 2009 Scientific American - MIND



In recent decades reports have confirmed the efficacy of various sham treatments in nearly all areas of medicine. Placebos have helped alleviate pain, depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, inflammatory disorders and even cancer.


Placebo effects can arise not only from a conscious belief in a drug but also from subconscious associations between recovery and the experience of being treated—from the pinch of a shot to a doctor’s white coat. Such subliminal conditioning can control bodily processes of which we are unaware, such as immune responses and the release of hormones.

Researchers have decoded some of the biology of placebo responses, demonstrating that they stem from active processes in the brain. Read more


Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drug makers Are Desperate to Know Why. 
By Steve Silberman - August 24, 2009


Merck was in trouble.
 In 2002, the pharmaceutical giant was falling behind its rivals in sales. Even worse, patents on five blockbuster drugs were about to expire, which would allow cheaper generics to flood the market. The company hadn't introduced a truly new product in three years, and its stock price was plummeting.

In interviews with the press, Edward Scolnick, Merck's research director, laid out his battle plan to restore the firm to preeminence. Key to his strategy was expanding the company's reach into the antidepressant market, where Merck had lagged while competitors like Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline created some of the best-selling drugs in the world. "To remain dominant in the future," he told Forbes, "we need to dominate the central nervous system."
His plan hinged on the success of an experimental antidepressant codenamed MK-869. Still in clinical trials, it looked like every pharma executive's dream: a new kind of medication that exploited brain chemistry in innovative ways to promote feelings of well-being. The drug tested brilliantly early on, with minimal side effects, and Merck touted its game-changing potential at a meeting of 300 securities analysts.
Behind the scenes, however, MK-869 was starting to unravel. True, many test subjects treated with the medication felt their hopelessness and anxiety lift. But so did nearly the same number who took a placebo, a look-alike pill made of milk sugar or another inert substance given to groups of volunteers in clinical trials to gauge how much more effective the real drug is by comparison. The fact that taking a faux drug can powerfully improve some people's health—the so-called placebo effect—has long been considered an embarrassment to the serious practice of pharmacology.
Ultimately, Merck's foray into the antidepressant market failed. In subsequent tests, MK-869 turned out to be no more effective than a placebo. In the jargon of the industry, the trials crossed the futility boundary.
MK-869 wasn't the only highly anticipated medical breakthrough to be undone in recent years by the placebo effect. From 2001 to 2006, the percentage of new products cut from development after Phase II clinical trials, when drugs are first tested against placebo, rose by 20 percent. The failure rate in more extensive Phase III trials increased by 11 percent, mainly due to surprisingly poor showings against placebo. Despite historic levels of industry investment in R&D, the US Food and Drug Administration approved only 19 first-of-their-kind remedies in 2007—the fewest since 1983—and just 24 in 2008. Half of all drugs that fail in late-stage trials drop out of the pipeline due to their inability to beat sugar pills.
History of the Placebo Effect


The roots of the placebo problem can be traced to a lie told by an Army nurse during World War II as Allied forces stormed the beaches of southern Italy. The nurse was assisting an anesthetist named Henry Beecher, who was tending to US troops under heavy German bombardment. When the morphine supply ran low, the nurse assured a wounded soldier that he was getting a shot of potent painkiller, though her syringe contained only salt water. Amazingly, the bogus injection relieved the soldier's agony and prevented the onset of shock.
Returning to his post at Harvard after the war, Beecher became one of the nation's leading medical reformers. Inspired by the nurse's healing act of deception, he launched a crusade to promote a method of testing new medicines to find out whether they were truly effective. At the time, the process for vetting drugs was sloppy at best: Pharmaceutical companies would simply dose volunteers with an experimental agent until the side effects swamped the presumed benefits. Beecher proposed that if test subjects could be compared to a group that received a placebo, health officials would finally have an impartial way to determine whether a medicine was actually responsible for making a patient better.
In a 1955 paper titled "The Powerful Placebo," published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Beecher described how the placebo effect had undermined the results of more than a dozen trials by causing improvement that was mistakenly attributed to the drugs being tested. He demonstrated that trial volunteers who got real medication were also subject to placebo effects; the act of taking a pill was itself somehow therapeutic, boosting the curative power of the medicine. Only by subtracting the improvement in a placebo control group could the actual value of the drug be calculated. The article caused a sensation. By 1962, reeling from news of birth defects caused by a drug called thalidomide, Congress amended the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, requiring trials to include enhanced safety testing and placebo control groups

Placebo and Pharma Industry's Response

Ten years and billions of R&D dollars after William Potter first sounded the alarm about the placebo effect, his message has finally gotten through. In the spring, Potter, who is now a VP at Merck, helped rev up a massive data-gathering effort called the Placebo Response Drug Trials Survey.
Under the auspices of the FNIH1, Potter and his colleagues are acquiring decades of trial data—including blood and DNA samples—to determine which variables are responsible for the apparent rise in the placebo effect. Merck, Lilly, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, Johnson & Johnson, and other major firms are funding the study, and the process of scrubbing volunteers' names and other personal information from the database is about to begin.
In typically secretive industry fashion, the existence of the project itself is being kept under wraps. FNIH staffers2 are willing to talk about it only anonymously, concerned about offending the companies paying for it.
For Potter, who used to ride along with his father on house calls in Indiana, the significance of the survey goes beyond Big Pharma's finally admitting it has a placebo problem. Read more ....  

Placebo and Alternative medicines (Natural cures) By Associated Press November 10, 2009



People looking for natural cures will be happy to know there is one. Two words explain how it works: "I believe." It's the placebo effect — the ability of a dummy pill or a faked treatment to make people feel better, just because they expect that it will. It's the mind's ability to alter physical symptoms, such as pain, anxiety and fatigue.
The placebo effect looms large in alternative medicine, which has many therapies and herbal remedies based on beliefs versus science. Often the problems they seek to relieve, such as pain, are subjective.
"It has a pejorative implication — that it's not real, that it has no medicinal value," said Dr. Robert Ader, a psychologist at the University of Rochester in New York who has researched the phenomenon.
But placebos can have real and beneficial effects, he said.
"Much of the results of certain alternative procedures are largely placebo effects, unless you believe there are people who exert magical powers so they can hold their hands over your body and cure you of disease," Ader said. "Make you feel better? That's entirely possible, especially if you believe it."
The placebo effect accounts for about a third of the benefits of any treatment — even carefully tested medicines, scientists say. This dates to a landmark report in 1955 called The Powerful Placebo. Viewed as groundbreaking, the analysis of dozens of studies by H.K. Beecher found that 32 percent of patients responded to a placebo. Read more
Other related articles
  1. Scientific American - A cure in the mind
  2. Times of India - Practicing in the mind can make you perfect
  3. Mind's eye influences visual perception.
  4. Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne - Its all in your head
  5. Wired Magazine - Placebos are getting more effective. Drug makers are desperate to know why.
  6. MSNBC - Placebo effect behind many natural cures
  7. New Scientist - Placebo effect caught in the act in Spinal Nerves
  8. Wikipedia - Placebo

Monday, October 26, 2009

Self, the Origin - Identity

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 - Read the Part 1 first.
The Story of the ‘Self’  - Who am I?
Why do we all look different? What happens if we all look alike? Will the concept of you and me will be there? To elaborate that concept - how do you explain the concept of color to a person born blind? The answer is you cannot. So, if we all started to look same the identity of 'self' will be not be created which is required to understand the nature to even enjoy the beauty of the nature.
The state of Being
Being is a state of connectedness with something immeasurable – almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet its beyond or greater than you.  The inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the illusion of separation from yourself and from the world around you.
Being is deep within you but you can’t grasp it with your logical mind. Logical mind is full of thoughts and restless. When the mind is free of thoughts you are in the present – In the Now.
Rene Descartes made his famous statement Cogito Ergo Sum – I think, therefore I am. The basic error in this philosophy is equating thinking with Being.  I feel the Descartes statement needs to be redefined as follows
 ‘I think, therefore I created my Self
 Thinking creates the self which traps us in our mind’s prison. This makes us believe that we are nothing but our ‘Self’ which is in our mind.
Our Emotions
Emotions are our mind’s reflection on our body. Anger is the result of a hostile thought which (our actions) can be linked to our past or our future (threatening your existence). If you stay in the present (In the Now) state and not thinking about past or future then this hostile thought will never result in Anger.
When you experience pure love or happiness, you actually experience stillness in your mind – you are in Now. Being in Now is negating the Self. Pure love must negate the self, otherwise its infatuation wrapped under the cover of love. Meeting of like minds will eventually results in negating the self. O Henry's short story Gift of Magi is an example of pure love.
Buddha says that the pain or suffering arises through desire or craving. To free from pain we need to cut off our desires
Different forms of fear like anxiety, stress, tension, worry etc are the after effect of spending too much time in future. While different forms of nonforgiveness like bitterness, grievances, regret, guilt, resentment etc are the affect effect of living in the past. This is much worse than living in the future, because as you grow up chances of your past increases if you start living in your past.
So, if you see – only the emotion of pure Love results in being in the present – In the Now. Rest of the emotions pushes you down in the past and makes you carry a large baggage as you move forward or always in the uncertain future worrying about things that never happened.  The key is to understand the essence of pure love – negation of self – means you are ready to sacrifice your ‘self’ in pursuing the happiness of the other ‘self’.
It’s interesting to look at some references from religious texts: check for the Bible – Mathew 22:36-40 Christ's message of "Love thy neighbor". Experts (religious) say, that’s what all the religions say. If that’s the case then why don’t man from ‘A’ religion or caste can’t get married to woman from ‘B’ religion or caste according to any religious laws. So, all these are exclusive clubs meant to built and strengthen their on clubs – a collection of ‘self’ evolving into a bigger self rather than negating the self – achieving the exactly opposite of what all religions preaches.
Mankind’s greatest delight was "Kindness", declared the Roman philosopher / emperor Marcus Aurelius. Philosophers and thinkers echoed his views down the centuries.  In the age of flat world, free market and the selfish gene, kindness / compassion is seen as a weakness while  we fight in the name of religion / caste, colour, country, language etc – and doing exactly the opposite of Love Thy neighbor.
The Mind
Does the mind control you or you control your mind? The obvious answer is ‘of course I control my mind!’  The delusion is if we believe that I am nothing but my mind – exactly what Descartes said ‘I think, therefore I am’. If you feel you control your mind, then can you switch off your mind? Switch off means – Zero thoughts. It’s going to be difficult and most probably you will end up saying no we can’t. Here is an exercise by Eckhart Tolle – Close your eyes and think about the next thought which is going to come to your mind. If it takes time for your next thought then you know what it is. You have experienced the present – Now.
Consciousness and Thinking are synonymous. Consciousness is a vast ocean and the process of thinking is a small island in it. Thinking gives us capability to learn, analyze and decide. Thought cannot exist without consciousness. Enlightenment is a state where you rise above the thought into the wider realm of consciousness.

The Mind and Time
The mind is in love with ‘Time’. Without the concept of Time the thought can’t survive. Thoughts shuttle between the past and the future. The happiness resulting from the thought of the past or the future is an illusion. In the oscillation between the past and the future the mind denies the present – ‘Now’. The Time stands still when you encounter pure love. Your mind is in the state of 'Now'.

What's Time? Time is nature's way of preventing all happening at once!

Experience requires analysis of multiple 'Nows' (atleast two Nows). This creates the impression of 'Time' moving forward.

watch out this space.... work in progress.....   

References

  1.  Power of Now By Eckhart Tolle
  2. End of Time By Julian Barbour
  3. Quantum Enigma By Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner
  4. On Kindness By Adam Philips and Barbara Taylor
  5. The 21st Century Brain (Explaining, mending and manipulating the mind) By Steven Rose
Links

  1. Rene Descartes – Wikipedia
  2. Issac Newton – Wikipedia
  3. http://www.allaboutgod.com/love-thy-neighbor.htm 
  4.  http://integral-options.blogspot.com/2009/01/love-thy-neighbour.html  

Monday, October 27, 2008

Self, the Origin

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3
The Self, the conscious mind (or the soul from a spiritual outlook) - How did we get this? or what are the fundamental prerequisites for the birth of 'self'? Before I get deep into that, let me share some of the questions, which bothered me since my high school days.

1.     Why is our vision tuned to the light spectrum (and not radio waves, x-rays, or infrareds) of the electro-magnetic wave?
2.     Why do we think in a rational way?
3.     Why do we (humans) all look different (except the identical twins)?
4.     Why do we have just 5 senses and not 3 or 7?
5.     Why do we have our own identity? Why cannot I see/know what others think?

Vision


There are many species, where their vision is tuned into different spectrum of the electro-magnetic wave. For example, Bats (dolphins, whales) cannot see the way we see our environment. It uses ultra sound signals (Echo Location) to see the objects in front of it and flies away if finds one in its path. So, think about it, if we had a vision where we got tuned into ultra-sound or x-rays. You could imagine how we can see things. Imagine seeing your friends as a skeleton (How do u differentiate them?) or a dark object (ultras-sound). Following image shows the electro-magnetic wave and different wavelengths in it.
.


As per the above picture our vision is tuned somewhere between a wavelength of 10-6 to 10-7 (m), while remotes of TV, DVD player etc are tuned into 10-6 to 10-3 and some of the bats are tuned into ultra violet spectrum 10-7 to 10-8 (m).  Your favorite FM station is tuned to 10 to 102 (m) in wavelength. So, the question remains, why did our vision tuned into this spectrum? Let us look at the second question (Why do we think in a rational way?) in the series and see if we can connect all these to our ultimate question the origin of ‘Self’.

Rational World – is it really rational ?
The thought of rational world is connected with the fact that it is ordered. The Earth goes around the Sun, The Moon goes around Earth, there is an order to all these. Events do not happen in the random order; they are related in some way. It is this connection gives birth to the notion of cause and effect. An example. The window breaks because, a cricket ball (a British game) strikes it and the ball were hit by a batsman and he hit the ball because a bowler bowled it and so on.

Closely related to causality is the idea of determinism. Determinism carries the implication that the state of the world at one moment suffices to fix its state at a later stage. Determinism was a key element in the Newtonian Laws of Mechanics proposed in the 17th century. Example. Positions and Velocities of planets can be determined at any point in our solar system using Newton’s Laws. Newton’s law doesn’t contain time as a direction. So, we can predict the eclipses in the future and also retrofit their occurrences in the past. So, if the world is strictly deterministic then all the events are build in a matrix of cause and effect. All the religion focuses on cause and effect as a fundamental principle in an effort to determine what’s good and bad. Now let us move forward into the 20th century and see what happened to Newtonian deterministic world. On a side note its interesting think about destiny when you think about causality. In fact, destiny can be defined as the reverse causality where cause is predated by an effect. Destiny in connection with fate can be discussed at later stage once we get some hold on the origin of the ‘Self’.

The matrix of cause and effect (as a fundamental principle) got into trouble with the discovery of Quantum Mechanics in the 1920’s. What we found in sub atomic world is the absence of deterministic world. In the atomic world, indeterminism is built into its fabric. Werner Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is an expression of this indeterminism. Numerous tests of quantum mechanics has proved / confirmed that the uncertainty is indeed inherent in quantum systems (at sub atomic level). So, does this mean that universe is irrational after all?

Not at all.

Effects of quantum mechanics are not noticeable at macroscopic scale. Which means in the observable universe nature tends to follow deterministic laws. Now what is observable universe? Who decides what can be observable? Who is observing whom? That’s another set of question, we need to think about.

The observable universe

The observable universe is the 3+1 dimensional (3 spatial – length, breadth and height) universe we live in and adding time as the 4th dimension makes our observable universe complete. However, according to String theory, there are 10+1 dimensions (10 spatial and 1 time) in the universe (that’s the mathematical prediction of string theory and not what we experience as the 3+1 dimensional universe). So, the current observable 3+1 Dimensional universe – is that only for the human species? An interesting question we may not able to find the answer soon. Think about a 2+1 dimensional world where you have 2 spatial dimensions (length and breadth and NO height) along with one time dimension. The planet in the 2+1D world (time 3rd Dimension) will be a flat land (Flatland: A romance of many dimensions 1884 fiction by Edwin Abbot), and the species in that land will be like circle, square, rectangle etc.

Think about how these species react when they encounter someone from our world (3+1D). Let us take the example from the flatland perspective: if a put a hole in flat paper (the 2+1 D world of the flatland people) using a pencil, the people in the flatland will see a small circle in their land becoming bigger and bigger then it stops. Now if we take someone out of that 2D land and bring him to our 3D world and show him exactly what happened, how will he go back and explain to his fellow beings about another dimension. They are going to call him crazy.  Following images shows the different spatial dimensions.





A 3D projection of a four-dimensional hypercube performing a simple rotation about a plane which bisects the figure from front-left to back-right and top to bottom. Created by Jason Hise with Maya and Macromedia Fireworks.





So, after looking at all these different dimensions – we can ask the question again – why are we in the 3+1 dimensional world. May be 3 spatial dimension is the minimum requirement for the consciousness to reach the level where it can see the universe and try to enjoy the beauty of the nature and unravel the mysteries one by one. Imagine if the time dimension is not there. Then the concept of past, present and future is gone and events are going to unfold in a random order. So, for rational thinking or to understand mysteries of the nature the consciousness require the time factor along with the 3 spatial dimensions. Without time the change will become constant. You can measure the change only if you can compare it (change) in two time frames. As we start to live in ‘now’, we do not see the change as it happens.

Let us recap some of the key points.
  1.  Why is our vision (mind) tuned to the light spectrum in the electro-magnetic wave? May be that is the best frequency to see and understand the 3+1 (3 spatial, 1 time) dimensional world.
  2. Three (spatial) dimensional space with time as the fourth dimension will be the basic fabric requirement for the brain to develop the concept of ‘self’ which will result in the ‘self’ trying to understand the universe and how the self itself got created in the first place!
  3. Time is a critical dimension (along with the 3 spatial dimensions) for the birth of ‘self’. Without the concept of past, present and future, it is difficult to learn and compare things in this 3+1 space.
Something more is required apart from the above three points for the concept of self to be projected by our mind. A forward direction of time becomes critical for the evolution of consciousness to assemble the required events together in a logical order. Before the consciousness (human mind) started to string things together, it needs to identify itself first. Let us look at that in the next section (part 2) and address the 3rd question in the series – why do we (humans) all look different (except the identical twins)? We will see that in the next section.


Read more in the Part 2 of the series.


References


Vision

Flower visiting bats seem to need UV-vision, as the flowers they visit in the rainforest are characterized by a strong reflection of UV-spectrum light at night.
Ultraviolet vision in mammals is a rarity, known only in a few rodents and marsupials. So the discovery of UV vision in an echolocating nectar-feeding bat is a surprise. Bats orientate primarily by echolocation but bats do have eyes and make some use of vision. The phyllostomid flower bat is colour-blind but UV-sensitive down to a wavelength of about 310 nm. 
Many fish, reptiles, birds, and insects are able to see ultraviolet light. Some even use pigments that reflect it to attract mates and communicate. But most mammals have lost the ability to see ultraviolet light and lack the cellular machinery necessary to detect it.
The use of UV vision is associated strongly with UV-dependent behaviors of organisms. When UV light is not available or is unimportant to organisms, the SWS1 gene can become nonfunctional, as exemplified by coelacanth and dolphin.


Sub Atomic world – Quantum Physics


1. Wikipedia – Quantum Physics

Internet videos

1. David Bohm on perception


 
2. Holographic Universe - Michael Talbot - 1 of 12


Holographic Universe - 2 of 12
 


Holographic Universe - 3 of 12


Holographic Universe - 4 of 12


Holographic Universe - 5 of 12


Holographic Universe - 6 of 12

Holographic Universe - 7 of 12


Holographic Universe - 8 of 12


Holographic Universe - 9 of 12


Holographic Universe - 10 of 12

Holographic Universe - 11 of 12

Holographic Universe - 12 of 12

Saturday, March 22, 2008

How our brains see what we cant.

A study on monkeys has shed new light on blindsight, a phenomenon in which patients with damage in the primary visual cortex of the brain can tell where an object is, even when they are unable to see it.
Professor Tadashi Isa and Dr. Masatoshi Yoshida, who led the study at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan, said that they had uncovered compelling evidence that blindsight occurs because visual information is conveyed bypassing the primary visual cortex.
Published in the Journal of Neuroscience, their findings have been backed by Japan Science and Technology Agency supported. For their research, the researchers recorded eye movements of the monkeys that had damage in one side of the primary visual cortex.

The animals were trained with an eye movement task for two to three months, enabling them to move their eyes to the correct direction where an object was even in the affected side of their visual fields. The researchers said that the animals' brains became able to feel where an object was without 'seeing' it.  read more ...

Monday, August 14, 2006

New Neurons Need Signals to Survive

The human brain continues to produce new nerve cells throughout its life and these neurons may be key to learning new information. But many of these novice neurons wither and die before joining the vast signaling network of their mature peers. Now new research seems to show that the presence or absence of new information--represented by the neurotransmitter glutamate--may determine a young neuron's survival.
Image: © VISUALS UNLIMITED/CORBIS
Read more in Scientific American

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Lost Gospel

Judas Iscariot a name synonymous with the word ‘traitor’. Here is the history – Judas betrayed Jesus Christ to his enemies (the Roman soldiers) for a mere 30 pieces of silver.

However, in the late 1970’s farmers made a startling discovery in the Egyptian desert which contained a set of crumbling papyrus documents ‘The Gospel of Judas’ and many others, which is dated around AD 200-400 (using carbon dating).
As per National Geographic the manuscript was also authenticated through Ink Analysis, Multispectral imaging, content and linguistic style and handwriting style apart from Carbon Dating.

In an international effort, National Geographic Society in collaboration with the Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art and the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery, to translate and authenticate a text called James (also known
as First Apocalypse of James), the Letter of Peter to Philip, a fragment of a text called ‘Book of Allogenes’ and the only known surviving copy of the Gospel of Judas.

According to the four Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament in which Judas is portrayed as a traitor.
However, The Gospel of Judas shows that he was not only Jesus’ favorite disciple, but also that Judas betrayal was a plan between Jesus and Judas. According to Youssef Sidhom editor of the Coptic Weekly in Cairo, “There is an old school of thought that says one should not persecute Judas because his role was to complete the prophecies. It seems that the new manuscript (The Gospel of Judas) will support this point of view.

Religious and lay readers alike will debate the meaning and truth of the manuscript. But it does show the diversity of beliefs in early Christianity, said Marvin Meyer, professor of Bible studies at Chapman University in Orange, California


World News

National Geographic:
The Lost Gospel - Time Line
Times Online: April 06, 2006 Judas did not betray Jesus, lost Gospel claims

USA
Today: April 6, 2006 10:13 PM Long Lost Gospel of Judas recasts Traitor
LA Times: April 7, 2006
Judas is no Traitor in Long-Lost Gospel
BBC: April 7, 2006 09:42 GMT
Judas ‘helped Jesus save mankind’
ABC Online: April 7, 2006 08:28:00 AM
Lost Gospel casts Judas in new Light
The New York Times: April 7, 2006 09:35 AM
Ancient text shows a different Judas
Times of India: Judas did not betray Jesus, says ancient documents


Friday, December 02, 2005

The Future of the Brain

Picower Institute for Learning and Memory held a major scientific symposium entitled “The Future of the Brain” on December 1st , 2005. The symposium focused on the future of neuroscience research. MIT president Susan Hockfield opened the days discussion.

The morning session featured talks by five Nobel Laureates including Susumu Tonegawa, Director of Picower Institute, and James D Watson. The afternoon session entitled “Change your mind” focused on the impact of Neuroscience of learning and memory on human health. The second session in the afternoon entitled “Expand your Mind” looked at the relationship between the human brain and mind.

You can view the entire event here using realplayer.


Morning Session ( approximately 3:35)

Afternoon Session (approximately 3:15 hours)

MIT opens world's largest neuroscience research center

On Friday afternoon, Dec. 2, MIT officially opened the new Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex (BCS), the largest neuroscience research center in the world. The complex will advance MIT's efforts to address one of the great scientific challenges of the 21st century: the understanding of the human brain and mind.
For the first time in history, we now possess the research tools to fully understand the complexities of human consciousness and to find cures for diseases like Alzheimer's and autism," commented MIT President Susan Hockfield. "These spectacular new facilities will allow MIT scientists to take advantage of the intellectual opportunities offered by new technologies and to realize the full promise of neuroscience for human health and behavior.
read more http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2005/bcs-dec2.html

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Neuroscientists break code on sight

By Cathryn M. Delude, MIT News Office Correspondent, November 3, 2005

In the sci-fi movie "The Matrix," a cable running from a computer into Neo's brain writes in visual perceptions, and Neo's brain can manipulate the computer-created world. In reality, scientists cannot interact directly with the brain because they do not understand enough about how it codes and decodes information.

Now, neuroscientists in the McGovern Institute at MIT have been able to decipher a part of the code involved in recognizing visual objects. Practically speaking, computer algorithms used in artificial vision systems might benefit from mimicking these newly uncovered codes.

The study, a collaboration between James DiCarlo's and Tomaso Poggio's labs, appears in the Nov. 4 issue of Science.

"We want to know how the brain works to create intelligence," said Poggio, the Eugene McDermott Professor in Brain Sciences and Human Behavior. "Our ability to recognize objects in the visual world is among the most complex problems the brain must solve. Computationally, it is much harder than reasoning." Yet we take it for granted because it appears to happen automatically and almost unconsciously.

read more in http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2005/visualcode.html

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Consciousness and Mathematics

What makes us different from other species (birds, animals, insects, fish etc)?

Is it the look and feel or the intelligence or the ability to adapt the environment to suite our needs rather than adapting to the environment?

The answer lies in one single word. The most dreaded subject we learned in our school.

“Mathematics”

Mathematics is the language of science. Should we say the language of a highly developed consciousness? It is the only Universal language; using mathematics, you can even talk to an Alien civilization.

“An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God”
- Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887 – 1920)

“Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present but an equation is something for eternity.”
- Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)


So, what makes us different from other species is our ability to understand the simple counting to complex equations.

As Ramanujan expressed – “God must be a mathematician then”. Math is ingrained in our every day life even though we are not aware of it.

0101101000100000010010010101011001010111001000000100111101001100
0101010001001100001000000100011101010010010011010010000001010110
0101101001011000010100110010000001001001010101100100100001000110
01001111010001110010000001000111010001100100110101010110

The above zero’s and ones looks like a nice pattern, isn't it?. However, it could be your email getting transmitted across the globe. The above data is represented using the binary number system (Computers use
binary number system). There is a hidden message in the above zeros and one’s see if you can decode the message.

Clues to decode the message
- I used a cipher, which was used in the biblical times.
- The total number of words in the message equals to a Fibonacci number

The following table shows two interesting number sequences in mathematics. These Sequences has lot of impact in our daily life and the surroundings.

Two interesting number sequences

Fibonacci Numbers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597.......
Prime Numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61…........



Now, let us look at the some of the wonders / puzzles of mathematics. It includes Fibonacci Number & Golden Ratio, Number Zero, Pi, Imaginary number and the Infinite number (read more about these 5 Numbers by Simon Singh). Among these, Fibonacci number considered as part of the nature.


Fibonacci Series

Leonardo da Pisa (aka Leonardo Fibonacci) an Italian mathematician (1175-1250) introduced the Hindu-Arabic number system to Europe the system we use today with ten digits decimal system with the symbol for zero. He discovered a number series where you add the previous two values to get the new value which later known as the Fibonacci series. He wrote a famous book ‘Liber Abaci’ on how to do arithmetic using the decimal system in 1202.

Here are some of the interesting facts of Fibonacci number related with nature. Let us take a close look at flowers; the interesting fact over here is the number of petals on flower is often one of the Fibonacci numbers.

1 petal white calla lily flower, 2 petals euphorbia flower are rare, 3 petals trillium flowers are common, Hundred of species of 5 petals columbine flower in wild and cultivated, 8 petals bloodroot flowers are not common but there quite a number of species, 13 petals black-eyed susan. The outer ring of ray florets in the daisy family illustrates the Fibonacci sequence well. Daisies with 13, 21, 34, 55 or 89 petals are common. 21 petals Shasta daisy flower. Ordinary field daisies have 34 petals. (
Read more).

Golden Ratio (Phi = 1.618033988749894….)

You take any Fibonacci number and divide it by the previous number you will get a ratio around 1.618… It occurs in the nature as a golden angle 137.5 degrees (360-360/phi). Take any leaves on plant, the growth of the leaves on a stem follows a spiral path to the top at an angle 137.5 degrees. This angle helps the leaves to maximize the exposure to sun light and minimize the shadow it casts on other leaves. Euclid defined the Golden ratio around 300 BC. Luca Pacioli the 15th century Italian mathematician to equate the Golden Ratio with the incomprehensibility of the God. The most surprising case for the Golden Ratio is its association with Black Holes a discovery made by Paul Davies of University of Adelaide in 1989 (read the article ‘
The Golden Rule’).

The nautilus shell’s (cross section shown on the left side) growth pattern of its chambers is governed by the golden ratio. The Greeks incorporated the Golden Ratio into their Art and Architecture – many of their building’s including Parthenon, generally considered to be antiquity’s most perfect structure.

Prime Number

Every positive number is either a
Prime Number or a by-product of Primes. However, its been ages since hunt for the formula to predict the prime numbers is on and the complete formula to predict the prime numbers still eludes us. Following are the effects of finding the formula to predict prime numbers.
- Collapse of current cryptography (Public / Private Key infrastructure) standards (used in SSL / TLS).

- Collapse of Internet Secure Communications (Banking and Credit Card transactions)

Nature & Mathematics

After looking at the above 3 Numbers (Fibonacci, Golden Ratio, Prime), it is interesting to know that the Nature still hides lot of information from us or rather given subtle clue’s for us discover the ultimate truth and mathematics is one of the key science which helps us to understand the mysteries of the nature.

So, as a species our ability to understand the nature is far superior to other species in this planet.

What is the next level for our consciousness? Is it nirvana? Or perfection from the scientific point of view? Are there any species who has achieved the next level of consciousness?

Imagine an entire society in a state of nirvana!
A state where science in a frozen state, while the self blends with the Oneness

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himslef. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable."

- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)


Glossary

Prime NumberPrime Number is a positive integer not divisible without a remainder by any positive integer other than itself and one. Example. 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 are Primes.
Mersenne PrimeNamed after the French Monk and mathematician Marin Mersenne, who was born in 1588. He investigated a particular type of Prime Number 2P-1 where P is an ordinary prime number.
Fibonacci NumberFibonacci number is a series of number generated by adding the two preceding numbers. Example. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 etc Dividing a Fibonacci number by a previous one For Example., 21/13 or 8/5 results in an answer close to 1.61803 which is known as a Golden Ratio.
Golden Ratio1.618033988749894848204586834365638117720……. This special number approximately represents the Golden ratio, which is denoted by the Greek letter Phi. The digits of the Golden ratio go on forever without repeating.
PiPi represents the number 3.14159265… which is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. An irrational number that cannot be expressed as the ratio of two whole numbers and has a random decimal string of infinite length.



Further Reading

Internet
1. Plus Magazine –
The Life and numbers of Fibonacci
2. Guardian UK – The Golden Rule
3. Wolfram Research – Fibonacci Number
4. Math Forum – Fibonacci Number and the Golden Ratio
5. American Scientist – Did Mozart use the Golden Section?

6. Web – The Mathematical Magic of the Fibonacci Numbers
7. Web – Fibonacci Number & Golden Ratio in Art, Architecture & Music
8. Web – The Golden Mean in Art (Leonardo Da Vinci)
9. Answers.Com – Fibonacci Numbers
10. Answers.com – Golden Ratio
11. Web – The Golden Ratio
12. BBC – 5 Numbers by Simon Singh
13. Wolfram Research – Prime Number
14. Answers.Com –
Prime Numbers
15. University of Tennessee – The Largest Known Prime
16. Wikipedia – GIMPS – Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search
17. Clay Mathematics Institute – Riemann Hypothesis
18. Answers.com – Pi

Software Products
1. Wolfram Research –
Mathematica 5.2
2. Mersenne.org – Free GIMPS software to search for primes

Books
1. Mario Livio –
The Golden Ratio
2. Marcus du Sautoy – The Music of the Primes: Searching to solve the greatest mystery in mathematics
3. Simon Singh –
The Code Book
4. David Wells –
Prime Numbers: The most mysterious figures in Math
5. David Darling –
Equations of Eternity