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Nature of Reality Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Nature of Reality Media Articles in Major Media


Below are key excerpts of highly revealing the nature of reality articles reported in the major media. Links are provided to the full articles on major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These the nature of reality articles are listed by article date. You can also explore the articles listed by order of importance or by date posted. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


Coral Castle: Mysterious Monument to Lost Love
2008-02-01, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=4225517

Like the ancient wonders of Stonehenge or the Great Pyramids of Egypt, there is an incredible and mysterious creation right here in the United States. Coral Castle, in Homestead, Fla., just south of Miami, is an intricate rock garden made of enormous pieces of coral, many of them weighing several tons. But more amazingly, Coral Castle was built entirely by one man -- Latvian immigrant Ed Leedskalnin, who stood just 5 feet tall and weighed 100 pounds. To this day, no one knows how he did it. The castle is an extraordinary feat of engineering, and experts have puzzled over how Leedskalnin, who only had a fourth-grade education, constructed Coral Castle by himself. For example, how did this little man build a 9-ton coral gate constructed so precisely that you can push it open using one finger? There are many theories on how Leedskalnin accomplished this amazing feat. Some say he had help from extraterrestrials, others believe he discovered the secrets behind anti-gravity and levitation. Leedskalnin was a self-taught expert on magnetic currents, and one theory holds that he positioned the site to be perfectly aligned with Earth's poles to eliminate the forces of gravity, allowing him to move stones weighing several tons each. Even Albert Einstein couldn't figure it out.

Note: For a good video of this wonder, click here. For more information on this most intriguing phenomenon, click here. The unusual builder of this site claimed to know the secrets of the pyramids and even Einstein could not imagine how he did it.


DNA is Blueprint, Contractor and Construction Worker for New Structures
2008-01-30, Northwestern University News Center
http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2008/01/dnamirkin.html

Northwestern University researchers report they have used DNA as the blueprint, contractor and construction worker to build a three-dimensional structure out of gold, a lifeless material. Using just one kind of nanoparticle (gold) the researchers built two common but very different crystalline structures by merely changing one thing -- the strands of synthesized DNA attached to the tiny gold spheres. A different DNA sequence in the strand resulted in the formation of a different crystal. The technique ... is a major and fundamental step toward building functional "designer" materials using programmable self-assembly. "We are now closer to the dream of learning, as nanoscientists, how to break everything down into fundamental building blocks, which for us are nanoparticles, and reassembling them into whatever structure we want that gives us the properties needed for certain applications," said Chad A. Mirkin, one of the paper's senior authors. The structures that finally form are the ones that maximize DNA hybridization. DNA is the stabilizing force, the glue that holds the structure together. "These structures are a new form of matter," said Mirkin, "that would be difficult, if not impossible, to make any other way."


Supernatural studies in the material world
2008-01-29, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/29/DDNEUL5LD.DTL

A two-day event in San Francisco's Cowell Theater [was] billed as the first scientific conference on the afterlife for a general audience. [Loyd] Auerbach holds a master's degree in parapsychology, [and] has written seven books on the subject. He - and several other speakers at the conference, titled Investigations of Consciousness and the Unseen World: Proof of an Afterlife - exist in a strange professional realm that encompasses rigorous academic training, spiritualism and sometimes fraud. There was Dean Radin, who began his career in electrical engineering and cybernetics at the University of Illinois before moving on to psychic phenomena. Also [there] were Gary E. Schwartz ... who now teaches psychiatry, psychology, medicine, neurology and surgery at the University of Arizona, and University of Virginia Division of Perceptual Studies researchers Dr. Jim Tucker and Dr. Bruce Greyson. These academics take their paranormal work seriously; they also risk ridicule on campus and struggle to find sources of funding to investigate what happens after we die. One of the issues they face is whether an afterlife is provable by scientific method. Julie Beischel, who co-founded Arizona's Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential, [thinks] it is. "This is how science works," Beischel said. "There's a question and science investigates it. You can't draw a line and say, no, that's outside of science. Science doesn't have any boundaries in what it can investigate." The conference topics ... were designed to explore the disconnect between the "mind" and the "brain." If one could be shown to operate without the other ... then a case could be made for consciousness existing outside of the physical body.


Bolt leads to key moment
2008-01-23, Daily Star (Oneonta, NY)
http://www.thedailystar.com/local/local_story_023040035.html

An Oneonta surgeon who survived a lightning strike in 1994 and suddenly began craving piano music will make his public debut as a composer and pianist next week. Dr. Anthony Cicoria said the lightning bolt that came out of a pay phone during a family outing near Albany caused a near-death experience that changed his life forever. Nearly 14 years later, Cicoria will perform concerts at ... the State University College at Oneonta. After seeing his body lying on the ground and his family rushing to him, Cicoria was surrounded by a bluish-white light, the 55-year-old orthopedic surgeon said. He began drifting up and away from his body and entered a state of bliss. Cicoria said he eventually came to and had no lasting physical effects from the strike. But he soon began having an intense desire to hear piano music. A short time after that, he said, he had a dream. "In this dream, I was playing in a concert hall," Cicoria said. The music in that dream stayed with him after he woke up. It and other music would be revealed to him in whole sections that would come into his mind at once, he said. While playing other composers' music, the notes from his dream would come out. "This music would suddenly come to the foreground and butt in," Cicoria said. When asked where the music comes from, Cicoria said it came from a divine place. "As Mozart said, it comes from heaven," Cicoria said. One of the greatest realizations he said he had from the near-death experience is the knowledge that there is life after death. "Whatever we are, our consciousness goes with the spirit," Cicoria said.

Note: Anthony Cicoria's story has appeared in The New Yorker magazine and in a new book by Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia. The first chapter, which tells Cicoria's story, is available here.


Mystery Behind the Damanhur Temples
2008-01-21, ABC News
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=4216350

Hidden away in a country renowned for its architectural beauty lies a massive hand-built place of worship many tourists never see. An entrance that looks like a mineshaft opens up to a maze carved inside the mountain holding the Damanhur Temples of Humankind in the Valchiusella Valley, about 30 miles north of Turin, [Italy]. Damanhur narrates the history of human potential through art. With at least nine rooms — some with 25-foot high ceilings — it looks as if the secret doors and passageways were built centuries ago. In truth, the unlikely temple is no ancient wonder and was built piecemeal by 150 people over a 15-year period beginning in 1978. The work was so secret, the Italian government never knew it was going on and never gave permission for it. The handcrafted structure is full of dramatic beauty, and each apparent dead end really leads into another mysterious hall. "You have to think that we did that without any engineer or architect," Ananas said. "Everything has been excavated by hand." At least as mysterious as the temple itself is the utopian society to which it belongs, The Federation of Damanhur. Damanhur, which means city of light, comprises 800 people who live in communal homes. Founded in 1975, the Federation of Damanhur thinks of itself as the builders of a new civilization that stands for peace and human potential. It prides itself on being an eco-society based on ethical and spiritual values. Falco, as the group's founder is known, said that he always dreamed of the elaborate temples. The group wanted the temple to be "a gift to humanity" once it was completed. Visitors to the halls of the temple have expressed awe, delight and intrigue.

Note: To see photos of the stunning beauty of these temples, click here. Damanhur's visionary Falco died of cancer on June 23, 2013. For more on this great visionary, click here. To watch a one-minute ABC News video giving a glimpse of the beauty of these temples, click here. Watch an awesome video tour of Damanhur and the Temples of Humankind available here. And for an intriguing 15-minute video of experiments done at Damanhur attaching plants to synthesizers to make angelic music, click here.


What Kucinich Saw: Witnesses Describe His Close Encounter
2008-01-02, Wall Street Journal
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119923872081461417.html

What exactly did Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich see hovering above actress Shirley MacLaine's house 25 years ago? Now, after keeping quiet about the incident for a quarter of a century, the two people who say they were at Mr. Kucinich's side that evening have come forward to describe an event which they say left them convinced that there's intelligent life in outer space. "At no time did I feel afraid, even though I felt very small," says ... Paul Costanzo. "I sensed that I was in the presence of a greater technology and intelligence." The close encounter ... took place in September 1982 at Ms. MacLaine's former home in Graham, Wash. [Kucinich] ... lived there for the better part of a year. Also in residence was Mr. Costanzo, a Juilliard-trained trumpet player and jujitsu black belt, who worked as Ms. MacLaine's assistant, personal trainer and bodyguard. Mr. Costanzo's girlfriend at the time ... was visiting when the UFO incident took place. The day was strange from the start. For hours, Mr. Kucinich, Mr. Costanzo and his companion noticed a high-pitched sound. "There was a sense that something extraordinary was happening all day," says the girlfriend. Mr. Kucinich spotted a light in the distance, to the left of Mount Rainier. What they saw in the far distance, according to both witnesses, was a hovering light, which soon divided into two, and then three. After a few minutes, the lights moved closer and it became apparent that they were actually three charcoal-gray, triangular craft, flying in a tight wedge. The craft approached to within 200 yards, suspended over the field just beyond the swimming pool. Both witnesses say it emitted a quiet, throbbing sound -- nothing like an airplane engine. The craft held steady in midair, for perhaps a minute, then sped away, Mr. Costanzo says. "Nothing had landed," he says. "No strange beings had disembarked. No obvious messages were beamed down. When they were completely out of sight, we all looked at each other disbelieving what we had seen."

Note: This article amazingly was published on the front page of the Wall Street Journal!


Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms
2007-12-17, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/16/AR20071216019...

Until recently ... even the most sophisticated laboratories could make only small snippets of DNA -- an extra gene or two to be inserted into corn plants, for example, to help the plants ward off insects or tolerate drought. Now researchers are poised to cross a dramatic barrier: the creation of life forms driven by completely artificial DNA. Scientists in Maryland have already built the world's first entirely [artificial] chromosome -- a large looping strand of DNA made from scratch in a laboratory. In the coming year, they hope to transplant it into a cell, where it is expected to [be able to direct] the waiting cell to do its bidding. And while the first synthetic chromosome is a plagiarized version of a natural one, others that code for life forms that have never existed before are already under construction. The cobbling together of life from synthetic DNA, scientists and philosophers agree, will be a watershed event, blurring the line between biological and artificial -- and forcing a rethinking of what it means for a thing to be alive. That unprecedented degree of control over creation raises more than philosophical questions, however. What kinds of organisms will scientists ... make? How will these self-replicating entities be contained? And who might end up owning the patent rights to the basic tools for synthesizing life? Some experts are worried that a few maverick companies are already gaining monopoly control over the core "operating system" for artificial life and are poised to become the Microsofts of synthetic biology. That could ... place enormous power in a few people's hands. "Ultimately synthetic biology means cheaper and widely accessible tools to build bioweapons, virulent pathogens and artificial organisms that could pose grave threats to people and the planet," concluded a recent report by the Ottawa-based ETC Group, one of dozens of advocacy groups that want a ban on releasing synthetic organisms pending wider societal debate and regulation.

Note: Remember that top secret government programs are usually at least a decade ahead of anything reported to the public. To read more on the dangers of genetically modified organisms, click here.


Eggheads: How bird brains are shaking up science
2007-09-16, Boston Globe
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/09/16/eggheads/

The New Caledonian crow is surprisingly smart about its food. Its favorite insects live in tiny crevices that are too narrow for its beak. So the crow takes a barbed leaf and, using its beak and claws, fashions a primitive hook. It then lowers the hook down into the cracks, almost like a man fishing, and draws up a rich meal. Some scientists even suggest that crows are more sophisticated tool builders than chimps, since they can transmit their knowledge on to successive generations and improve the tools over time. These birds have a culture. The world lost its most famous bird brain this month: Alex, an African gray parrot who lived in a Brandeis laboratory and possessed a vocabulary of nearly 150 words. Yet as remarkable as Alex was - he could identify colors and shapes - he was not alone. The songs of starlings display a sophisticated grammar once thought the sole domain of human thinking. A nutcracker can remember the precise location of hundreds of different food storage spots. And crows in Japan have learned how to get people to crack walnuts for them: They drop them near busy intersections, then retrieve the smashed nuts when the traffic light turns red. These feats are part of a growing recognition of the genius of birds. Scientists are now studying various birds to explore everything from spatial memory to the grammatical structure of human language. This research is helping to reveal the secrets of the human brain. But it is also overturning the conventional evolutionary story of intelligence, in which all paths lead to the creation of the human cortex. The tree of life, scientists are discovering, has numerous branches of brilliance. "It used to be that people would only talk about intelligence in terms of primates," says Nicola Clayton, a professor of comparative psychology at the University of Cambridge. "But now I think that birds have achieved a sort of honorary ape status, just with a few feathers attached."


Robot wars are a reality
2007-08-18, Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/armstrade/story/0,,2151357,00.html

The deployment of the first armed battlefield robots in Iraq is the latest step on a dangerous path - we are sleepwalking into a brave new world where robots decide who, where and when to kill. Robots are integral to [the U.S.'s] $230bn future combat systems project, a massive plan to develop unmanned vehicles that can strike from the air, under the sea and on land. Congress has set a goal of having one-third of ground combat vehicles unmanned by 2015. Over 4,000 robots are serving in Iraq at present, others in Afghanistan. And now they are armed. Predators and the more deadly Reaper robot attack planes have flown many missions ... with inevitable civilian deaths, yet working with remote-controlled or semi-autonomous machines carries only the same ethical responsibilities as a traditional air strike. But fully autonomous robots that make their own decisions about lethality are high on the US military agenda. They are cheap to manufacture, require less personnel and, according to the navy, perform better in complex missions. This is dangerous new territory for warfare, yet there are no new ethical codes or guidelines in place. Policymakers seem to have an understanding of [Artificial Intelligence] that lies in the realms of science fiction and myth. Their answer to the ethical problems is simply, "Let men target men" and "Let machines target other machines". In reality, a robot could not pinpoint a weapon without pinpointing the person using it or even discriminate between weapons and non-weapons. Autonomous robots are not like other weapons. We are going to give decisions on human fatality to machines that are not bright enough to be called stupid.


Author investigates Roswell
2007-08-05, Philadephia Enquirer (Philadelphia's leading newspaper)
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/pa/montgomery/nabes/20070805_Author_inve...

Tom Carey has dedicated the last 16 years of his life to uncovering what exactly happened on July 4, 1947, outside Roswell, N.M. Now, along with coauthor Don Schmitt, [he] has published Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the 60-year Cover-Up, documenting his findings concerning the alleged extraterrestrial event. "The goal was to write a book for those not already initiated in the Roswell case," said Carey, 66. "We wanted to do something that would interest the general public." Though originally rejected by 11 of 12 publishers contacted, the book is in its fourth printing of 10,000 copies. And curiosity continues to grow. After a recent interview on Art Bell's Coast to Coast AM show, Carey said Amazon.com logged 2,000 sales the next day. What has made the book so explosive, Carey said, are two previously unreleased "smoking-gun documents." The new testimony includes the heretofore sealed affidavit of recently deceased First Lieutenant Walter G. Haut attesting to the bizarre debris and bodies recovered from the crash site. The second, a note scribbled by former Roswell Army Air Field base adjutant Patrick Saunders ... appears to confirm the Air Force's coverup of the incident. Carey acknowledges that there are some "kooks" involved in the field of UFOlogy, but his mission has been to use science to take the fiction out of science fiction. "This is a historical mystery that just happens to involve UFOs," he said. A former anthropology student at the University of Toronto, Carey said he has always been more interested in the empirical evidence as opposed to intangibles such as alien abductions and crop circles.

Note: For a succinct summary of powerful testimony on UFOs by military personnel and pilots, click here.


Who’s Minding the Mind?
2007-07-31, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/31/health/psychology/31subl.html?ex=1343534400...

Improbable [findings] have poured forth in psychological research over the last few years. New studies have found that people tidy up more thoroughly when there’s a faint tang of cleaning liquid in the air; they become more competitive if there’s a briefcase in sight, or more cooperative if they glimpse words like “dependable” and “support” — all without being aware of the change, or what prompted it. Psychologists say that “priming” people in this way is not some form of hypnotism, or even subliminal seduction; rather, it’s a demonstration of how everyday sights, smells and sounds can selectively activate goals or motives that people already have. More fundamentally, the new studies reveal a subconscious brain that is far more active, purposeful and independent than previously known. Goals, whether to eat, mate or devour an iced latte, are like neural software programs that can only be run one at a time, and the unconscious is perfectly capable of running the program it chooses. The give and take between these unconscious choices and our rational, conscious aims can help explain some of the more mystifying realities of behavior, like how we can be generous one moment and petty the next, or act rudely at a dinner party when convinced we are emanating charm. John A. Bargh, a professor of psychology at Yale, [said] “We’re finding that we have these unconscious behavioral guidance systems that are continually furnishing suggestions through the day about what to do next, and the brain is considering and often acting on those, all before conscious awareness. Sometimes those goals are in line with our conscious intentions and purposes, and sometimes they’re not.” Scientists have spent years trying to pinpoint the exact neural regions that support conscious awareness, so far in vain.


Cat plays furry grim reaper at nursing home
2007-07-27, MSNBC
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19959718

Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live. “He doesn’t make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die,” said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in [the July 26] issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. “Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one,” said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University. The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses. After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He’d sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours. Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. “This is not a cat that’s friendly to people,” he said. Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill. Most families are grateful for the advanced warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure.


Touching Heaven and Hell
2007-07-10, ABC News
http://www.abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3359251

Matthew Dovel says he calls himself "a hostile witness to heaven and hell." Dovel is one of the thousands of Americans who have reported what are called near-death experiences. Many people brought back from the brink of death swear they've been to heaven. Far fewer report visiting hell, but Dovel believes he's seen both. Dovel's first near-death experience happened when he was 12 years old and was trying to swim the entire length of a pool underwater. As he surfaced, his friends playfully pushed him back under. "I was completely out of breath," he said. "The instant that I took the breath of water in, a white light engulfed me. And I flashed back over my life. It was just all these good moments in my life. I was completely happy to be at this place." In that moment, Dovel says, a "beautiful creature" came out of the light. He said you've got to go back." Dovel had been rescued by his friends, but that glimpse into the afterlife left him confused and profoundly depressed. "A rage came over me and an uncontrollable anger towards God that I had to come back." The next decade became a constant cycle of booze and cocaine-fueled binges [ending in a suicide attempt]. Dovel's lifelong wish to return to heaven ... ended in a personal vision of hell. "It was extremely hot and very humid and dense," he said. The experience then became extremely painful not physically, but emotionally. "I'm living in my past," he said. "And all the people that I had met throughout my life, they would come to me and ... start pushing and screaming and I would relive a moment that I had caused them pain. This is something so horrific that when I came out of that, I quit a $1,000-a-week drug habit cold turkey." Dovel sobered up and devoted his life to suicide prevention through International Suicide Prevention, his nonprofit organization.

Note: To see an ABC News "20/20" report on Matthew Dovel's near-death experiences, click here.


A Challenge to Gene Theory, a Tougher Look at Biotech
2007-07-01, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/business/yourmoney/01frame.html?ex=13409424...

The $73.5 billion global biotech business may soon have to grapple with a discovery that calls into question the scientific principles on which it was founded. Last month, a consortium of scientists published findings that challenge the traditional view of how genes function. The exhaustive four-year effort was organized by the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute and carried out by 35 groups from 80 organizations around the world. To their surprise, researchers found that the human genome might not be a “tidy collection of independent genes” after all, with each sequence of DNA linked to a single function, such as a predisposition to diabetes or heart disease. Instead, genes appear to operate in a complex network, and interact and overlap with one another and with other components in ways not yet fully understood. According to the institute, these findings will challenge scientists “to rethink some long-held views about what genes are and what they do.” Biologists have recorded these network effects for many years in other organisms. But in the world of science, discoveries often do not become part of mainstream thought until they are linked to humans. With that link now in place, the report is likely to have repercussions far beyond the laboratory. The presumption that genes operate independently has been institutionalized since 1976, when the first biotech company was founded. In fact, it is the economic and regulatory foundation on which the entire biotechnology industry is built. The principle that gave rise to the biotech industry promised benefits that were equally compelling. Known as the Central Dogma of molecular biology, it stated that each gene in living organisms, from humans to bacteria, carries the information needed to construct one protein.


Intricate Toiling Found In Nooks of DNA Once Believed to Stand Idle
2007-06-14, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/13/AR20070613024...

The first concerted effort to understand all the inner workings of the DNA molecule is overturning a host of long-held assumptions about the nature of genes and their role in human health and evolution, scientists reported yesterday. The new perspective reveals DNA to be not just a string of biological code but a dauntingly complex operating system that processes many more kinds of information than previously appreciated. The findings ... confirm growing suspicions that the stretches of "junk DNA" flanking hardworking genes are not junk at all. But the study goes further, indicating for the first time that the vast majority of the 3 billion "letters" of the human genetic code are busily toiling at an array of previously invisible tasks. The new work also overturns the conventional notion that genes are discrete packets of information arranged like beads on a thread of DNA. Instead, many genes overlap one another and share stretches of molecular code. The new picture of the inner workings of DNA probably will require some rethinking in the search for genetic patterns that dispose people to diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, the scientists said, but ultimately the findings are likely to speed the development of ways to prevent and treat a variety of illnesses. One implication is that many, and perhaps most, genetic diseases come from errors in the DNA between genes rather than within the genes, which have been the focus of molecular medicine. Complicating the picture, it turns out that genes and the DNA sequences that regulate their activity are often far apart along the six-foot-long strands of DNA.


The wave that destroyed Atlantis
2007-04-20, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6568053.stm

The legend of Atlantis, the country that disappeared under the sea, may be more than just a myth. Research on the Greek island of Crete suggests Europe's earliest civilisation was destroyed by a giant tsunami. Until about 3,500 years ago, a spectacular ancient civilisation was flourishing in the Eastern Mediterranean. The ancient Minoans were building palaces, paved streets and sewers, while most Europeans were still living in primitive huts. But around 1500BC the people who spawned the myths of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth abruptly disappeared. Now the mystery of their cataclysmic end may finally have been solved. A group of scientists have uncovered new evidence that the island of Crete was hit by a massive tsunami at the same time that Minoan culture disappeared. "The geo-archaeological deposits contain a number of distinct tsunami signatures," says Dutch-born geologist Professor Hendrik Bruins. "Minoan building material, pottery and cups along with food residue ... were mixed up with rounded beach pebbles and sea shells. "The latter can only have been scooped up from the sea-bed by one mechanism - a powerful tsunami," says Professor Bruins. The scientists have obtained radiocarbon dates for the deposits that show the tsunami could have hit the coast at exactly the same time as an eruption of the Santorini volcano. It caused massive climatic disruption and the blast was heard over 3000 miles away. The [resulting] wave would have been as powerful as the one that devastated the coastlines of Thailand and Sri Lanka. The myth of Atlantis, the city state that was lost beneath the sea, was first mentioned by Plato over 2000 years ago.

Note: So the "myth" of Atlantis may not have been just a myth after all. How many other myths might eventually be found to be based in fact?


Why do ordinary people commit evil deeds?
2007-04-18, BBC News
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6567335.stm

Prof Phil Zimbardo, creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment: "In 1971 I became superintendent of the Stanford Prison, a mock prison. I was a young psychology professor at Stanford University. I wanted to understand what happens when you put good people in a bad place. [We] selected college-student volunteers - normal, healthy young men with no history of crime or violence - and randomly assigned them the roles of prisoner or guard. To increase the real-life feel, we arranged for actual mass arrests and booking by the Palo Alto police; visits by a prison chaplain, a public defender, and parents. Though not part of the plan, there were also prisoner rebellions. And, notoriously, there was chilling abuse and torture by the guards. The experiment was supposed to last two weeks, but we had to pull the plug after only six days because nearly half the prisoners had emotional breakdowns. Fast-forward to April 2004. Horrific images flash across our television screens - nightmarish abuses of Iraqi prisoners by young American soldiers. The images were ... strikingly similar to what I had seen at Stanford - prisoners naked, bags over their heads, forced into sexually humiliating poses. Historical inquiry and behavioural science have demonstrated ... that given certain conditions, ordinary people can succumb to social pressure to commit acts that would otherwise be unthinkable. In the prisons at Stanford and Abu Ghraib, men and women did terrible things to other people in part because responsibility for their actions was diffused. We find ourselves in a similar situation whenever we witness someone else's trouble but fail to help because we assume others will."

Note: When each one of us takes responsibility for doing our part to build a brighter future, we will see tremendous positive changes both in our lives and our world.


Maestro a flop with rush hour audience
2007-04-13, Sydney Morning Herald
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/maestro-a-flop-with-rush-hour-audience/2007/...

Joshua Bell is one of classical music's most celebrated figures, but fame did not stop the Grammy Award-winning violinist's music from falling on deaf ears at a subway station in Washington. Bell, 39, received the most coveted prize in classical music, the Avery Fisher Prize ... two days after The Washington Post revealed he had failed to draw even a tiny crowd while playing in an anonymous setting. Bell swapped his formal concert garb for jeans, a T-shirt and a baseball cap to play six classical pieces outside a subway station in a test of perception and public taste conducted by the Post. Bell said he was surprised by the results of his 43-minute performance during morning rush hour - $US 32.17 and only one of 1097 people who passed by recognised him. "I was quite nervous and it was a strange experience, being ignored," said Bell, who attracts a young following and commands ticket prices of $US100 or more at his concerts. Playing a violin handcrafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari that cost about $US 3.5 million, Bell said he expected commuters might not be open to listening to music "or experiencing art". "I expected that, but it was still almost hurtful sometimes when somebody just walked by when I really did try to play my best," he said. Bell, who gained fame for playing the Academy Award-winning score for the film The Red Violin, is philosophical about the experiment. It made him realise that ... the musical experience was "a participatory thing" in which performer and listener must be involved. "Maybe once is enough for me for this kind of experiment. But I myself will certainly be paying more attention to street musicians when I walk by."

Note: To read the fascinating Washington Post story on this novel experiment, click here. To listen to Joshua Bell's spectacular Metro performance in its entirety, click here.


Japan’s Textbooks Reflect Revised History
2007-04-01, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/world/asia/01japan.html?ex=1333080000&en=3f...

In another sign that Japan is pressing ahead in revising its history of World War II, new high school textbooks will no longer acknowledge that the Imperial Army was responsible for a major atrocity in Okinawa, the government announced late Friday. The Ministry of Education ordered publishers to delete passages stating that the Imperial Army ordered civilians to commit mass suicide during the Battle of Okinawa, as the island was about to fall to American troops in the final months of the war. The decision was announced as part of the ministry’s annual screening of textbooks used in all public schools. The ministry also ordered changes to other delicate issues to dovetail with government assertions, though the screening is supposed to be free of political interference. The decision on the Battle of Okinawa ... came as a surprise because the ministry had never objected to the description in the past. The fresh denial of the military’s responsibility in the Battle of Okinawa and in sexual slavery — long accepted as historical facts — is likely to deepen suspicions in Asia that Tokyo is trying to whitewash its militarist past even as it tries to raise the profile of its current forces. The ministry’s new position appeared to discount overwhelming evidence of coercion, particularly the testimony of victims and survivors themselves.

Note: History many times is written -- or in this case re-written -- by those in power.


Lecturers Prey on Nigerian Women, Girls
2007-03-25, Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/25/AR20070325005...

When Nigeria's education minister faced an audience of 1,000 schoolchildren, she expected to hear complaints of crowded classrooms and lack of equipment. Instead, girl after girl spoke up about being pressured for sex by teachers in exchange for better grades. One girl was just 11 years old. "I was shocked," said the minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili. "I asked, was it that prevalent? And they all chorused 'yes.'" For years, sexual harassment has been rampant in Nigeria's universities, but until recently very little was done about it. From Associated Press interviews with officials and 12 female college students, a pattern emerges of women being held back and denied passing grades for rebuffing teachers' advances, and of being advised by other teachers to give in quietly. Most victims are college students such as Chioma, a slim, quiet 22-year-old with a B average, who repeatedly failed political science after refusing her teacher's explicit demands for sex. She said he was a pastor and old enough to be her grandfather. In a recent survey ... 80 percent of over 300 women questioned at four universities said sexual harassment was their no. 1 concern. But with a strong African tradition of respecting one's elders, families or teachers, harassed students can rarely expect support, even when repeated complaints are made against one individual. Yet attitudes are slowly changing. Ezekwesili, the education minister, says she wants to set up complaints programs and join forces with women's organizations. "We are going to take punitive measures against these teachers and give a voice to students," she promised.


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