Nature of Reality News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on the nature of reality
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.
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 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?
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."
Cameron Macaulay was a typical six-year-old, always talking about his mum and family. He liked to draw pictures of his home too — a long single-storey, white house standing in a bay. But it sent shivers down his mum’s spine — because Cameron said it was somewhere they had never been, 160 miles away from where they lived. And he said the mother he was talking about was his “old mum.” Convinced he had lived a previous life Cameron worried his former family would be missing him. [He] said they were on the Isle Of Barra. Mum Norma, 42, said: “Ever since Cameron could speak he’s come up with tales of a childhood on Barra. He spoke about his former parents, how his dad died, and his brothers and sisters. Eventually we just had to take him there to see what we could find. It was an astonishing experience. Cameron wouldn’t stop begging me to take him to Barra. It was constant. When we got to the island and DID land on a beach, just as Cameron had described, he turned to ... me and said, ‘Now do you believe me?’ He got off the plane, threw his arms in the air and yelled ‘I’m back.’" The Macaulays booked into a hotel and began their search for clues to Cameron’s past. Norma said: “We contacted the Heritage Centre and asked if they’d heard of a Robertson family who lived in a white house overlooking a bay." Next the family received a call from their hotel to confirm that a family called Robertson once had a white house on the bay. Norma explains: “We didn’t tell Cameron anything. We just drove towards where we were told the house was and waited to see what would happen. He recognised it immediately and was overjoyed. But as we walked to the door all the colour drained from Cameron’s face and he became very quiet."
Six decades ago, a 21-year-old Navy fighter pilot on a mission over the Pacific was shot down by Japanese artillery. His name might have been forgotten, were it not for 6-year-old James Leininger. Quite a few people, including those who knew the fighter pilot, think James is the pilot, reincarnated. James' parents, Andrea and Bruce, a highly educated, modern couple, say they are "probably the people least likely to have a scenario like this pop up in their lives." But over time, they have become convinced their little son has had a former life. From an early age, James would play with nothing else but planes, his parents say. But when he was 2, they said the planes their son loved began to give him regular nightmares. "I'd wake him up and he'd be screaming," Andrea [recalled]. She said when she asked her son what he was dreaming about, he would say, "Airplane crash on fire, little man can't get out." Over time, James' parents say he revealed extraordinary details about the life of a former fighter pilot. They say James told them his plane had been hit by the Japanese and crashed. Andrea says James told his father he flew a Corsair, and then told her, "They used to get flat tires all the time." James also told his father the name of the boat he took off from, Natoma, and the name of someone he flew with, Jack Larson. After some research, Bruce discovered both the Natoma and Jack Larson were real. The Natoma Bay was a small aircraft carrier in the Pacific. And Larson is living in Arkansas. "It was like, holy mackerel," Bruce said. "You could have poured my brains out of my ears. I just couldn't believe it."
Note: For a fascinating follow up over three years later by a Fox News affiliate watch the five-minute video clip available here. Another intriguing, well documented case is available here. For an excellent survey of powerful evidence of life and death, click here.
Scientists have discovered a way of manipulating a gene that turns animals into drones that do not become bored with repetitive tasks. The experiments, conducted on monkeys, are the first to demonstrate that animal behaviour can be permanently changed, turning the subjects from aggressive to "compliant" creatures. The genes are identical in humans and although the discovery could help to treat depression and other types of mental illness, it will raise images of the Epsilon caste from Aldous Huxley's futuristic novel Brave New World. The experiments... involved blocking the effect of a gene called D2 in a particular part of the brain. This cut off the link between the rhesus monkeys' motivation and reward. Instead of speeding up with the approach of a deadline or the prospect of a "treat," the monkeys in the experiment could be made to work just as enthusiastically for long periods. The scientists say the identical technique would apply to humans. [They] found that they could make the monkeys work their hardest and fastest all the time, without any complaint or sign of slacking, just by manipulating D2 so that they forgot about the expectation of reward. Methods of manipulating human physical and psychological traits are just around the corner, and the technology will emerge first as a lucrative add-on available from in vitro fertilization clinics. "There's no doubt we will be able to influence behaviour," said Julian Savulescu, a professor of ethics at Oxford University.
Note: For lots more reliable information on how human behavior is already being manipulated, click here.
Prahlad Jani, an 82-year-old Indian yogi, is making headlines by claims that for the past 70 years he has had nothing -- not one calorie -- to eat and not one drop of liquid to drink. To test his claims, Indian military doctors put him under round-the-clock observation during a two-week hospital stay that ended last week, news reports say. During that time he didn't ingest any food or water – and remained perfectly healthy, the researchers said. But that's simply impossible, said Dr. Michael Van Rooyen, ... the director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative – which focuses on aid to displaced populations who lack food and water. Van Rooyen said he's clearly getting fluid somehow. Jani, dubbed "the starving yogi" by some, did have limited contact with water while gargling and periodically bathing, reported the news wire service AFP.
Note: Military doctors had this man under 24-hour observation for two weeks, yet doctors not involved with the investigation claim it's impossible. How sad that many scientists can't accept the possibility of miracles.
If you ask Jill Price to remember any day of her life, she can come up with an answer in a heartbeat. She had always had a talent for remembering. Price was the first person ever to be diagnosed with what is now known as highly superior autobiographical memory, or HSAM, a condition she shares with around 60 other known people. She can remember most of the days of her life as clearly as the rest of us remember the recent past, with a mixture of broad strokes and sharp detail. Now 51, Price remembers the day of the week for every date since 1980; she remembers what she was doing, who she was with, where she was on each of these days. She can actively recall a memory of 20 years ago as easily as a memory of two days ago, but her memories are also triggered involuntarily. It is, she says, like living with a split screen: on the left side is the present, on the right is a constantly rolling reel of memories, each one sparked by the appearance of present-day stimuli. In order to figure out how HSAM worked, researchers first needed to understand what it was and was not. HSAM subjects turned out to be far better than people with average memories at recalling long-past autobiographical data; in memories that could be verified, they were correct 87% of the time. It is still unclear whether HSAM will turn out to be a fascinating curiosity, or a key that unlocks the deepest mysteries about how memory works.
Note: Explore another major media article on this unusual woman. And watch an excellent 14-minute segment from Australia's 60 Minutes on numerous individuals with the gift of perfect memory. How is this possible?
Matthew Fraser is an Internationally renowned psychic/medium and author of “The Secrets to Unlocking Your Psychic Ability”. He has conducted thousands of readings around the world, reconnecting friends & family with the spirits of those who are no longer with us. His messages of hope, comfort and reassurance have touched the lives of all who meet him, making Matt one of the most gifted and genuine psychics living today. He was no different than any other child although he was born with “The Sight”. As a child this extraordinary gift frightened him. He had kept his gift a secret for years, fearing that he would not be accepted. It wasn’t until Matt looked deeper into his abilities, that he understood being a medium was his calling and life’s mission. In the years that followed, Matt would become one of the world’s most respected Psychics. Now, as an adult, Matt is doing just that. Through his sold out live events, to the his one-on-one sessions and books, Matt is on a personal mission to reconnect as many people as possible with their loved ones in Heaven. He has answered questions for thousands of people with his incredible psychic gift and has been a highly sought after guest appearing on major media outlets across the nation ... due to his uncanny abilities. Today Matt continues his mission not only to share his gift with others, but also to provide assistance within the community through various fundraisers and benefits.
Note: Don't miss the incredibly touching video at the link above of Matt convincing two CBS News anchors that what he is doing is quite real.
Ryan’s stories were truly legendary. His mother Cyndi said [that] when he was 5 years old, he confided in her one evening before bed. He said, "mom, I have something I need to tell you. I used to be somebody else.” The preschooler would then talk about “going home” to Hollywood. “His stories were so detailed and they were so extensive, that it just wasn’t like a child could have made it up,” she said. Cyndi said she ... had never really thought about reincarnation. She checked out books about Hollywood from the local library, hoping something inside would help her son make sense of his strange memories. “Then we found the picture,” she said. That photo ... was a publicity shot from the 1932 movie. “She turns to the page in the book, and I say ‘that’s me, that’s who I was,’" Ryan remembers. Finally she had a face to match to her son’s strange “memories,” giving her the courage to ask someone for help. That someone was Dr. Jim Tucker ... at the University of Virginia. [Tucker] has spent more than a decade studying the cases of children ... who say they remember a past life. [His] office contains the files of more than 2,500 children— cases accumulated from all over the world by his predecessor, Ian Stevenson. Tucker has [discovered some] intriguing patterns. For instance, 70 percent of the children say they died violent or unexpected deaths in their previous lives, and males account for 73 percent of those deaths— mirroring the statistics of those who die of unnatural causes in the general population. “There’d be no way to orchestrate that statistic with over 2,000 cases,” Tucker said.
Note: Don't miss the fascinating video of Ryan's story at the link above. His family and Dr. Tucker were able to confirm amazing details five-year-old Ryan described from his past life. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Why do people think about someone right before they call, for example, or ‘have a feeling’ something is about to happen before it does? It may be due to something called collective consciousness - a term used by certain scientists to describe the practice of humans, and animals, sharing behaviours and ideas with each other telepathically. The "Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon", for example, was an idea put forward by South African zoologist and ethologist Lyall Watson and his scientific author colleague Lawrence Blair in 1975. During the 1950s, macaques on the island of Koshima learned to wash sweet potatoes and explicitly passed this skill onto younger members of the group. This behaviour then spread and was observed on neighbouring islands among groups of macaques who had never [come] into contact with each other. [Watson and Blair] chalked this up to the monkeys sharing a collective consciousness, often referred to as a ‘shared mind’ or ‘hive mind’, in which the practices were shared telepathically. More recently ... blue tits ... taught themselves [to] break into milk bottles and drink the cream from the top. Similar groups of the same [non-migratory] species [later] exhibited the same skills in other countries throughout Europe and Asia. A science journal in 2010 published [the results of experiments] by Professor Daryl Bem, a physicist from Cornell University, that [indicated] humans have similar psychic abilities supposedly seen in the birds and monkeys. Professor Bem carried out nine different experiments involving more than 1,000 volunteers and all but one came down on the side of these so-called psychic theories.
Note: For a most astounding and moving documentary on a woman named Anna Breytenbach who communicates directly with animals, click here, or watch the three-minute trailer at this link. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
On the morning of Nov. 10, 2008, I awoke with the early symptoms of what proved to be an extremely severe case of bacterial meningitis. As I wrote here three weeks ago, and as I narrate in my book Proof of Heaven, over the next several hours my entire cerebral cortex shut down. Yet in spite of the complete absence of neural activity in all but the deepest, most primitive portions of my brain, my identity—my sense of self—did not go dark. Instead, I underwent the most staggering experience of my life, my consciousness traveling to another level, or dimension, or world. Brain activity and consciousness are indeed profoundly tied up with one another. But that does not mean that those bonds can’t be loosened, or even cut completely. Modern physics is pushing us [to believe] that it is consciousness that is primary and matter secondary. Totally objective observation remains a simple impossibility. And while in our ordinary earthly life we miss this fact completely, it becomes much more apparent in near-death experiences, when the body and brain cease to mediate our encounter with the larger reality and we encounter it directly. Make no mistake: consciousness is a total mystery. We simply do not know what it is. My seven-day odyssey beyond my physical body and brain convinced me that when the filter of the brain is removed, we see the universe clearly for the first time. And the multidimensional universe revealed by this trans-physical vision is not a cold, dead one, but alive with the force that, as the poet Dante wrote some 600 years ago, “moves the sun and other stars.”
Note: The author of this article, Dr. Eben Alexander, has been a neurosurgeon for the past 25 years. His engaging, best-selling book on this life-changing experience is Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. For video interviews and other information on Dr. Alexander, click here. For other highly inspiring resources and stories related to near-death experiences, click here.
By now, you likely know David Seidler, who won an Oscar on Sunday for best original screenplay for "The King's Speech," was a stutterer just like King George VI, whose battle with the speech disorder is portrayed in the film. What you might not know is that Seidler, 73, suffered from cancer, just like the king did. But unlike his majesty, Seidler survived the cancer, and he says he did so because he used the same vivid imagination he employed to write his award-winning script. Seidler says he visualized his cancer away. "I know it sounds awfully Southern California and woo-woo," he admits when he describes the visualization techniques he used when his bladder cancer was diagnosed nearly six years ago. "But that's what happened." Seidler says when he found out his cancer had returned, he visualized a "lovely, clean healthy bladder" for two weeks, and the cancer disappeared. He's been cancer-free for more than five years. Whether you can imagine away cancer, or any other disease, has been hotly debated for years. One camp of doctors will tell you that they've seen patients do it, and that a whole host of studies supports the mind-body connection. Other doctors, just as well-respected, will tell you the notion is preposterous, and there's not a single study to prove it really works. Seidler isn't concerned about studies. He says all he knows is that for him, visualization worked.
Note: The article goes on to quote a couple doctors who explain how chemically hope and visualization can cause the changes in the body's chemistry which could lead to spontaneous remission in cancer. For other fascinating major media articles listing potential cancer cures, click here.
MIT scientists have shown that they can alter our moral judgments simply by magnetically interfering with a certain part of the brain. Studies have shown that the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) lights up with activity when we engage in moral judgments like evaluating the intentions of another person, indicating the region is important to making moral decisions. But while we like to think we're very consistent in our morality, the MIT team showed that an electromagnetic field applied to the scalp impairs our ability to evaluate the intentions of others, leaving us with little by which to hand down a moral judgment. The study relied on non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to interfere with the right TPJ, temporarily impeding the normal firing of neurons in that region. Control subjects were able to evaluate the harmfulness and morality of characters' intentions, whereas those exposed to TMS made judgments based purely on outcome. For example, one common question asked whether or not it was morally permissible for a man to allow his girlfriend to cross a bridge he knows is unsafe, even if in the end she makes it across safely. Control subjects found the intention to do harm morally impermissible, but those exposed to TMS largely based their judgment solely on the outcome.
Note: For more on this interesting research, click here.
A 50-year mystery over the 'cursed bread' of Pont-Saint-Esprit, which left residents suffering hallucinations, has been solved after a writer discovered the US had spiked the bread with LSD as part of an experiment. In 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were interned in asylums and hundreds afflicted. For decades it was assumed that the local bread had been unwittingly poisoned with a psychedelic mould. Now, however, an American investigative journalist has uncovered evidence suggesting the CIA peppered local food with the hallucinogenic drug LSD as part of a mind control experiment at the height of the Cold War. One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: "I am a plane", before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards. Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets.
Following the Supreme Court decision implicitly granting corporations the right to free speech (by determining that political spending is a kind of speech), a corporation has decided to take what it believes to be “democracy’s next step”: It is running for Congress. With more than a twinge of irony, Murray Hill Incorporated, a liberal public relations firm, recently announced that it planned to run in the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.
Note: To watch the company’s first “campaign” ad, click on the link above.
Is there life after death? Radiation oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long says if you look at the scientific evidence, the answer is unequivocally yes. He makes the case for that controversial conclusion in a new book, Evidence of the Afterlife. He talked to TIME about the nature of near-death experience. [TIME:] How do you respond to skeptics who say there must be some biological or physiological basis for that kind of experience, which you say in the book is medically inexplicable? [Dr. Long:] There have been over 20 alternative, skeptical "explanations" for near-death experience. The reason is very clear: no one or several skeptical explanations make sense, even to the skeptics themselves. Or [else] there wouldn't be so many. [TIME:] You say this research has affected you a lot on a personal level. How? [Dr. Long:] I'm a physician who fights cancer. My absolute understanding that there is an afterlife for all of us — and a wonderful afterlife — helps me face cancer, this terribly frightening and threatening disease, with more courage than I've ever faced it with before. I can be a better physician for my patients.
Note: For a deeply inspiring online lesson presenting incredibly powerful near-death experiences, click here.
Do you ever want to change the way you see the world? Wouldn't it be fun to hallucinate on your lunch break? Although we typically associate such phenomena with powerful drugs like LSD or mescaline, it's easy to fling open the doors of perception without them: All it takes is a basic understanding of how the mind works. Much of what we think of as being out there actually comes from in here, and is a byproduct of how the brain processes sensation. In recent years scientists have come up with a number of simple tricks that expose the artifice of our senses, so that we end up perceiving what we know isn't real. [Examples include:] The Ganzfield Procedure: Begin by turning the radio to a station playing static. Then lie down on the couch and tape a pair of halved ping-pong balls over your eyes. Within minutes, you should begin to experience a bizarre set of sensory distortions. Purkinje Lights: Jan Purkinje, a founding father of modern neuroscience stumbled upon a reliable hallucination as a child. First he closed his eyes (very important!), then tilted his head to face the sun and moved his hand quickly back and foth in front of his closed eyes. After a few seconds, Purkinje reported the appearance of "beautiful figures," which gradually became more intricate. The hallucinations are a side effect of our need to always make sense of reality.
Note: For exciting insights into the nature of reality from reliable sources, click here.
Six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey, Klaus Schmidt has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time: massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery. The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, is convinced it's the site of the world's oldest temple. In the [excavation] pits, standing stones, or pillars, are arranged in circles. Beyond, on the hillside, are four other rings of partially excavated pillars. Each ring has a roughly similar layout: in the center are two large stone T-shaped pillars encircled by slightly smaller stones facing inward. The tallest pillars tower 16 feet and, Schmidt says, weigh between seven and ten tons. Some are blank, while others are elaborately carved: foxes, lions, scorpions and vultures abound, twisting and crawling on the pillars' broad sides. Schmidt points to the great stone rings, one of them 65 feet across. "This is the first human-built holy place," he says. Prehistoric people would have gazed upon herds of gazelle and other wild animals; gently flowing rivers, which attracted migrating geese and ducks; fruit and nut trees; and rippling fields of wild barley and wild wheat varieties such as emmer and einkorn. "This area was like a paradise," says Schmidt, a member of the German Archaeological Institute. He believes this was a place of worship on an unprecedented scale—humanity's first "cathedral on a hill."
Note: For more on this fascinating find, see the Daily Mail article available here.
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