Nature of Reality News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on the nature of reality
Have you ever thought about someone for no apparent reason, and then that person rang on the telephone? Have you felt you were being watched, and turned round to find someone staring at you? Recent surveys show that a majority of the population in Britain have had these experiences. There is a growing body of evidence that telepathy and the sense of being stared at are real, with an active discussion of these topics in scientific journals. Telepathy [is] expressed in domesticated animals, many of which seem to be able to detect the feelings and intentions of their owners. For example, many dogs seem to know when their owners are coming home, and go to wait at a door. In a series of videotaped tests...dogs still went and waited at the door when the owners returned at times randomly selected by the experimenter. About 80 per cent of the population claim to have had experiences in which they think of someone for no apparent reason, then that person calls; or they know who is calling when the phone rings, before picking it up. [Researchers] have investigated telephone telepathy experimentally in hundreds of controlled trials. [In one experiment] volunteers were asked to give us the names and telephone numbers of four people. By chance, participants would have been right about one time in four. In fact, 45 per cent of the guesses were correct. This research has been replicated at the University of Amsterdam. Emotional closeness, rather than physical proximity, seemed to be the most important factor. Our minds may extend far beyond our brains, stretching out through fields that link us to our environment and to each other. Mental fields could help to explain telepathy, the sense of being stared at and other widespread but unexplained abilities.
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Sitting stone still under a skull cap fitted with a couple dozen electrodes, Austrian scientist Peter Brunner stares at a laptop computer. Without so much as moving a nostril hair, he suddenly begins to compose a message -- letter by letter -- on a giant screen overhead. "B-O-N-J-O-U-R" he writes with the power of his mind, much to the amazement of the largely French audience of scientists and curious onlookers gathered. Brunner and two colleagues from the state-financed Wadsworth Center in Albany, New York were demonstrating a "brain computer interface (BCI)," an astounding technology which digitalizes brain signals emitted as electrical impulses -- picked up by the electrodes -- to convey intent. Possible applications extend beyond the written word into physical movement -- it is only a matter of time, Sellers says, before the same technology is used to operate motorized wheel chairs.
Dr. Charles Townes, a physicist who shared the Nobel Prize for helping to invent the laser, added another and most unusual prize to a lifelong storehouse of honors yesterday. In a news conference at the United Nations, he was announced as the winner of the $1.5 million Templeton Prize, awarded annually for progress or research in spiritual matters. Dr. Townes, 89, a longtime professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has long argued that those old antagonists science and religion are more alike than different and are destined to merge.
Schizophrenia patients do as well, or perhaps even better, on older psychiatric drugs compared with newer and far costlier medications, according to a study published yesterday that overturns conventional wisdom about antipsychotic drugs, which cost the United States $10 billion a year. The results are causing consternation. The researchers who conducted the trial were so certain they would find exactly the opposite that they went back to make sure the research data had not been recorded backward. The study was requested by Britain's National Health Service to determine whether the newer drugs -- which can cost 10 times as much as the older ones -- are worth the difference in price. While the researchers had expected a difference of five points on a quality-of-life scale -- showing the newer drugs were better -- the study found that patients' quality of life was slightly better when they took the older drugs. There has been a surge in prescriptions of the newer antipsychotic drugs in recent years, including among children. In an editorial accompanying the British study, the lead researcher in the U.S. trial asked how an entire medical field could have been misled into thinking that the expensive drugs, such as Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel, were much better.
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For 2,000 years Judas has been reviled for betraying Jesus. Now a newly translated ancient document seeks to tell his side of the story. The "Gospel of Judas"...portrays Judas as a favored disciple who was given special knowledge by Jesus -- and who turned him in at Jesus' request. The text, one of several ancient documents found in the Egyptian desert in 1970, was preserved and translated by a team of scholars. It was made public in an English translation by the National Geographic Society. A "Gospel of Judas" was first mentioned around 180 A.D. by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon, in what is now France. The bishop denounced the manuscript as heresy because it differed from mainstream Christianity. The actual text had been thought lost until this discovery. Christianity in the ancient world was much more diverse than it is now, with a number of gospels circulating in addition to the four that were finally collected into the New Testament, noted Bart Ehrman, chairman of religious studies at the University of North Carolina. Eventually, one point of view prevailed and the others were declared heresy, he said, including the Gnostics who believed that salvation depended on secret knowledge that Jesus imparted. The newly translated document's text begins: "The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot."
Self-replicating robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction. Scientists at the Cornell University in Ithaca, New York have created small robots that can build copies of themselves. Each robot consists of several 4-inch (10-centimeter) cubes that have identical machinery, electromagnets to attach and detach to each other and a computer program for replication. The robots can bend and pick up and stack the cubes. "Although the machines we have created are still simple compared with biological self-reproduction, they demonstrate that mechanical self-reproduction is possible and not unique to biology," Hod Lipson said in a report in the science journal Nature on Wednesday.
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