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RAY KURZWEIL ON HOW TO COMBAT AGING

Joanie July 8th, 2009

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RAY KURZWEIL ON HOW TO COMBAT AGING
By Ray Kurzweil
Technology Review
July 6, 2009

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/guest/23802/

………….

Submitted in response to Technology Review’s interview with Leonard Hayflick
– see Can Aging Be Solved?

http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/22954/

…………..

Entropy is not the most fruitful perspective from which to view aging. There are varying error rates in biological information processes depending on the cell type and this is part of biology’s paradigm. We have means already ofdetermining error-free DNA sequences even though specific cells will contain DNA errors, and we will be in a position to correct those errors that matter.

The most important perspective in my view is that health, medicine, and
biology is now an information technology whereas it used to be hit or miss.
We not only have the (outdated) software that biology runs on (our genome) but we have the means of changing that software (our genes) in a mature individual with such technologies as RNA interference and new forms of gene therapy that do not trigger the immune system (I am a collaborator with a company that performs gene therapy outside the body, replicates the modified cell a million fold and reintroduces the cells to the body, a process that has cured a fatal disease — Pulmonary Hypertension–and is undergoing human trials).

We can design interventions on computers and test them out on increasingly sophisticated biological simulators. One of my primary themes is that information technology grows exponentially, in sharp contrast to the linear growth of hit or miss approaches that have characterized medicine up until recently. As such, these technologies will be a million times more powerful in 20 years (by doubling in power and price-performance each year). The genome project, incidentally, followed exactly this trajectory.

Hayflick cites the automobile as an example to support his thesis that you
cannot stop aging. Yes automobiles will wear out if you don’t maintain them adequately. However, we do have the knowledge to perfectly maintain automobiles and completely prevent aging. There are century old automobiles around in vintage (perfect) condition that are still driven around. That is because the maintenance was sufficiently aggressive for those cars. Most people don’t think it’s worth the trouble with regard to an automobile but it will be worth the trouble for our bodies. With regard to automobiles we have all of the knowledge and tools needed to completely stop aging. We do not yet have all of the knowledge and tools to do this with the human body but that knowledge is growing exponentially.

As for the implications of radical life extension, Hayflick assumes that
nothing else would change. But the same technologies that will bring radical life extension will also bring radical expansion of resources
(nanoengineered solar panels, water and food technologies) and radical life
expansion (merging with the intelligent machines that we are creating,
virtual reality from within the nervous system, etc.). We have already
democratized the tools of creativity so that kids in their dorm room can
create a full length high definition motion picture or write software that
results in disruptive change (e.g., Google). Hayflick has not considered the
implications of these recent developments. We don’t have to do any of these things perfectly (and there is no such thing as perfection in the real
world), but just well enough to stay ahead of the curve.

Our intuition is linear so many scientists, such as Hayflick, think in
linear terms and expect that the slow pace of the past will characterize the
future. But the reality of progress in information technology is exponential
not linear. My cell phone is a billion times more powerful per dollar than
the computer we all shared when I was an undergrad at MIT. And we will do it again in 25 years. What used to take up a building now fits in my pocket, and what now fits in my pocket will fit inside a blood cell in 25 years.

With regard to Hayflick’s own limit, he acts as if that limit is impossible
to engineer. Just in recent years we have discovered that it just one enzyme that controls the telomeres and that cancer cells use telomerase to become immortal. Now I realize that it is not a simple matter to just apply
telomerase to overcome this particular aging limit as we have to figure out
how to administer it, and we don’t want to encourage cancer, but these are
all solvable engineering problems.

…………

NHNE Singularity Resource Page:
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Singularity University:
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NHNE Ray Kurzweil Resource Page:
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Kurzweil New Book: “Transcend: Nine Steps To Living Well Forever”
http://bit.ly/b8mFP

Transcendent Man (movie):
http://transcendentman.com/

The Singularity Is Near (movie):
http://singularity.com/themovie/

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Published by David Sunfellow
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THE GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS PROJECT

Joanie July 8th, 2009

THE GLOBAL CONSCIOUSNESS PROJECT

The Global Consciousness Project is an international collaboration of
scientists, engineers, and artists. We maintain a global network that has
been collecting data continuously since 1998 from sensitive instruments
which produce random sequences. Our purpose is to examine subtle
correlations and structure in the data that seem to reflect the presence and
activity of consciousness in the world. Looking at major global events
including both tragedies and celebrations, we have learned that when
millions of us share thoughts and emotions the GCP network shows
correlations. We interpret this as evidence for interconnections at a deep,
unconscious level. An implication is that we are part of a growing global
consciousness or oneness. From a CBS2 news item recorded by Brian Keefe in
July 2005. For more information on the GCP, go to:

http://noosphere.princeton.edu/

Watch a great 3-minute introduction to this project on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itQMALL__bE

HUGE PRE-STONEHENGE COMPLEX FOUND VIA “CROP CIRCLES”

Joanie June 17th, 2009

A 1,000 years older than Stonehenge and we were directed to it by a crop circle!!!!!!!!  Ya gotta love it!   Joanie

HUGE PRE-STONEHENGE COMPLEX FOUND VIA “CROP CIRCLES”
By James Owen in London
National Geographic News
June 15, 2009

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/pf/49021910.html

Given away by strange, crop circle-like formations seen from the air, a huge
prehistoric ceremonial complex discovered in southern England has taken
archaeologists by surprise.

A thousand years older than nearby Stonehenge, the site includes the remains of wooden temples and two massive, 6,000-year-old tombs that are among “Britain’s first architecture,” according to archaeologist Helen Wickstead, leader of the Damerham Archaeology Project.

For such a site to have lain hidden for so long is “completely amazing,”
said Wickstead, of Kingston University in London.

Archaeologist Joshua Pollard, who was not involved in the find, agreed. The
discovery is “remarkable,” he said, given the decades of intense
archaeological attention to the greater Stonehenge region.

“I think everybody assumed such monument complexes were known about or had already been discovered,” added Pollard, a co-leader of the Stonehenge Riverside Project, which is funded in part by the National Geographic Society.

Six-Thousand-Year-Old Tombs

At the 500-acre (200-hectare) site, outlines of the structures were spotted
“etched” into farmland near the village of Damerham, some 15 miles (24
kilometers) from Stonehenge.

Discovered during a routine aerial survey by English Heritage, the U.K.
government’s historic-preservation agency, the “crop circles” are the
results of buried archaeological structures interfering with plant growth.
True crop circles are vast designs created by flattening crops.

The central features are two great tombs topped by massive mounds — made
shorter by centuries of plowing — called long barrows. The larger of the two tombs is 70 meters (230 feet) long.

Estimated at 6,000 years old, based on the dates of similar tombs around the United Kingdom, the long barrows are also the oldest elements of the
complex.

Such oblong burial mounds are very rare finds, and are the country’s
earliest known architectural form, Wickstead said. The last full-scale long
barrow excavation was in the 1950s, she added.

The Damerham tombs have yet to be excavated, but experts say the long
barrows likely contain chambers — probably carved into chalk bedrock and
reinforced with wood — filled with human bones associated with ancestor
worship.

During the late Stone Age, it’s believed, people in the region left their dead in the open to be picked clean by birds and other animals.

Skulls and other bones of people who were for some reason deemed significant were later placed inside the burial mounds, Wickstead explained.

“These are bone houses, in a way,” she said. “Instead of whole bodies, [the
tombs contain] parts of ancestors.”

Later Monuments, Long Occupation

Other finds suggest the site remained an important focus for prehistoric
farming communities well into the Bronze Age (roughly 2000 to 700 B.C. in
Britain).

Near the tombs are two large, round, ditch-encircled structures — the
largest circular enclosure being about 190 feet (57 meters) wide.

Nonintrusive electromagnetic surveys show signs of postholes, suggesting
rings of upright timber once stood within the circles — further evidence of
the Damerham site’s ceremonial or sacred role.

Pollard, of the University of Bristol, likened the features to smaller
versions of Woodhenge, a timber-circle temple at the Stonehenge World
Heritage site.

Damerham also includes a highly unusual, and so far baffling, U-shaped
enclosure with postholes dated to the Bronze Age, project leader Wickstead
said.

The circled outlines of 26 Bronze Age burial mounds also dot the site, which
is littered with stone flint tools and shattered examples of the earliest
known type of pottery in Britain.

Evidence of prehistoric agricultural fields suggest the area was at least
partly cultivated by the time the Romans invaded Britain in the first
century A.D., generally considered to be the end of the regions’ prehistoric
period.

Riches Beneath Ravaged Surface?

The actual barrows and mounds near Damerham have been diminished by
centuries of plowing, but that, ironically, may make them much more valuable archaeologically, according to Pollard, of the University of Bristol.

The mounds would have been irresistible advertisements for tomb raiders, who in the 18th and 19th centuries targeted Bronze Age burials for their ornate grave goods.

And “even if the mounds are gone, you are still going to have primary
burials [as opposed to those later added on top] which will have been dug
into the chalk, so are going to survive,” Pollard added.

The contents of the Stone Age long barrows should likewise have survived, he said. “I think there’s good reason to assume you might have the main wooden mortuary chambers with burial deposits,” he said.

Redrawing the Map

An administrative oversight may also be partly responsible for the site
remaining hidden — and assumedly pristine, at least underground — project
leader Wickstead said.

When prehistoric sites in the area were being mapped and documented in the 1890s, a county-border change placed Damerham within Hampshire rather than Stonehenge’s Wiltshire, she said.

“Perhaps people in Hampshire thought [the monuments] were someone else’s problem.”

This lucky conjunction of plowing and politics obscured Damerham’s
prehistoric heritage until now.

The site shows that “a lot of the ceremonial activity isn’t necessarily
located in these big centers,” such as Stonehenge, Pollard said. “But there
are other locations where people are congregating and constructing
ceremonial monuments.”

————

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DEFINITIVE NOAA-LED REPORT ON U.S. CLIMATE WARNS OF HELLISH TEMPS

Joanie June 16th, 2009

DEFINITIVE NOAA-LED REPORT ON U.S. CLIMATE WARNS OF HELLISH TEMPS
Climate Progress
June 15, 2009

http://climateprogress.org/2009/06/15/us-global-change-research-program-noaa-global-climate-change-impacts-in-united-states/

Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns
of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year — and that isn¹t the worst case, it¹s business as usual!

If humanity stays near our current greenhouse gas emissions path, then
Americans face hell — every state will be red.

The thermometer in this landmark U.S. government report puts warming at 9 to 11°F over the vast majority of the inland U.S. — and that is only the
average around 2090 (compared to 1961-1979 baseline). On this emissions
path, the IPCC¹s A2 scenario, most of the inland United States will be
warming about 1°F a decade by century¹s end.  Worse, we are on pace to
exceed the A2 scenario (which is ³only² about 850 ppm in 2100): See U.S.
media largely ignores latest warning from climate scientists: ³Recent
observations confirm S the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even
worse) are being realised² — 1000 ppm.

http://climateprogress.org/2009/06/15/2009/04/25/2009/04/07/2009/03/17/media-copenhagen-global-warming-impacts-worst-case-ipcc/

So this part of my not-so-well-funded analysis appears to hold up well:
³Yes, the science says on our current emissions path we are projected to
warm most of U.S. 10 - 15°F by 2100.²

http://climateprogress.org/2009/06/15/2009/06/14/2009/04/13/american-thinker-marc-sheppard-global-warming-denier-joe-romm-projected-temperature-rise-sea-level-permanent-dust-bowl/

But I¹m getting ahead of the story. On Tuesday at 1:30 PM, the US Global
Change Research Program is releasing its long-awaited analysis of Global
Climate Change Impacts in United States with NOAA as lead agency.

But impatient CP readers need look no further than here for the third draft
of the report, which has been online since April 27. That¹s where I got the
figure above from. [You can see the letters F and T from "DRAFT" stamped
across the figure. I'll update this post with the final figures when they
are online.]

How hot will it be?  Here¹s another stunning figure from the report:

“The average number of days per year when the maximum temperature exceeded 90°F from 1961-1979 (top) and the projected number of days per year above 90°F by the 2080s and 2090s for lower emissions (middle [550 ppm]) and higher emissions (bottom). Much of the southern United States is projected to have more than twice as many days per year above 90°F by the end of this century.”

Look at Kansas. By 2090, it¹ll be above 90°F some 120 days a year — more
than the entire summer. Much of Florida and Texas will be above 90°F for
half the year.  These won¹t be called heat waves anymore.  It¹ll just be the
³normal² climate.

Again, this isn¹t news to CP readers. Last July I summarized the very modest U.S. ³heat wave² literature as follows (see ³When can we expect extremely high surface temperatures?³):

http://climateprogress.org/2009/06/15/2008/07/31/when-can-we-expect-extremely-high-surface-temperatures/

“Bottom line: By century¹s end, extreme [i.e. peak] temperatures of up to
122°F would threaten most of the central, southern, and western U.S. Even
worse, Houston and Washington, DC could experience temperatures exceeding 98°F for some 60 days a year.

“So this is truly Hell — to match the High Water: Greenland ice sheet
melting faster than expected and could raise East Coast sea levels an extra
20 inches by 2100 — to more than 6 feet.”

http://climateprogress.org/2009/06/15/2009/06/14/sea-level-rise-greenland-ice-sheet-melting/

The time to act is long past.

I will have much more to blog on this essential report this week.

………….

Related Posts:

Hadley Center:
³Catastrophic² 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path
http://climateprogress.org/2009/06/15/2008/12/21/hadley-study-warns-of-catastrophic-5%c2%b0c-warming-by-2100-on-current-emissions-path/

M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F
http://climateprogress.org/2009/06/15/2009/05/20/mit-doubles-global-warming-projections-2/

A (Hopefully) Clarifying Note on Temperature
http://climateprogress.org/2009/06/15/2009/05/20/2009/04/13/temperature-global-warming/

…………

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http://www.nhne.org/tabid/490/Default.aspx

NHNE’s 1000 Most Recent Climate Change Articles:
http://www.nhne.org/tabid/1050/Default.aspx

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SCIENTISTS UNVEIL MISSING LINK IN EVOLUTION

Joanie May 20th, 2009

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SCIENTISTS UNVEIL MISSING LINK IN EVOLUTION
By Alex Watts
Sky News Online
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

http://bit.ly/BSMae

Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a
monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution.

The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal
kingdom has taken 200 years — but it was presented to the world today at a
special news conference in New York.

The discovery of the 95%-complete ‘lemur monkey’ — dubbed Ida — is
described by experts as the “eighth wonder of the world”.

They say its impact on the world of palaeontology will be “somewhat like an
asteroid falling down to Earth”.

Researchers say proof of this transitional species finally confirms Charles
Darwin’s theory of evolution, and the then radical, outlandish ideas he came
up with during his time aboard the Beagle.

Sir David Attenborough said Darwin “would have been thrilled” to have seen
the fossil — and says it tells us who we are and where we came from.

“This little creature is going to show us our connection with the rest of
the mammals,” he said.

“This is the one that connects us directly with them.

“Now people can say ‘okay we are primates, show us the link’.

“The link they would have said up to now is missing — well it’s no longer
missing.”

A team of the world’s leading fossil experts, led by Professor Jorn Hurum,
of Norway’s National History Museum, have been secretly researching the 1ft
9in-tall young female monkey for the past two years.

And now it has been transported to New York under high security and unveiled
to the world during the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth.

Later this month, it will be exhibited for one day only at the Natural
History Museum in London before being returned to Oslo.

Scientists say Ida — squashed to the thickness of a beer mat by the immense
passage of time — is the most complete primate fossil ever found.

With her human-like nails instead of claws, and opposable big toes, she is
placed at the very root of human evolution when early primates first
developed features that would eventually develop into our own.

Another important discovery is the shape of the talus bone in her foot,
which humans still have in their feet millions of lifetimes later.

Ida was unearthed by an amateur fossil-hunter some 25 years ago in Messel
pit, an ancient crater lake near Frankfurt, Germany, famous for its fossils.

She was cleaned and set in polyester resin — and incredibly, was hung on a
mystery German collector’s wall for 20 years.

Sky News sources say the owner had no idea of the unique fossil’s
significance and simply admired it like a cherished Van Gogh or Picasso
painting.

But in 2006, Ida came into the hands of private dealer Thomas Perner, who
presented her to Prof Hurum at the annual Hamburg Fossil and Mineral Fair in
Germany - a centre for the murky world of fossil-trading.

Prof Hurum said when he first saw the blueprint for evolution — the “most
beautiful fossil worldwide” — he could not sleep for two days.

A home movie records the dramatic moment.

“This is really something that the world has never seen before, this is a
unique specimen, totally unique,” he says, clearly emotional.

He says he knew she should be saved for science rather than end up hidden
from the world in a wealthy private collector’s vault.

But the dealer’s asking price was more than $1 million (£660,000) — ten
times the amount even the rarest of fossils fetch on the black market.

Eventually, after six months of negotiations, he managed to raise the cash
in Norway and brought Ida to Oslo.

Prof Hurum — who last summer dug up the fossil remains of a 50ft marine
monster called Predator X from the permafrost on Svalbard, a Norwegian
island close to the North Pole — then assembled a “dream team” of experts
who worked in secret for two years.

They included palaeontologist Dr Jens Franzen, Dr Holly Smith, of the
University of Michigan, and Philip Gingerich, president-elect of the US
Paleontological Society.

Researchers could prove the fossil was genuine through X-rays, knowing it is
impossible to fake the inner structure of a bone.

Through radiometric dating of Messel’s volcanic rocks, they discovered Ida
lived 47 million years ago in the Eocene period.

This was when tropical forests stretched right to the poles, and South
America was still drifting and had yet to make contact with North America.

During that period, the first whales, horses, bats and monkeys emerged, and
the early primates branched into two groups — one group lived on mainly as
lemurs, and the second developed into monkeys, apes and humans.

The experts concluded Ida was not simply a lemur but a ‘lemur monkey’,
displaying a mixture of both groups, and therefore putting her at the very
branch of the human line.

“When Darwin published his On the Origin of Species in 1859, he said a lot
about transitional species,” said Prof Hurum.

“…and he said that will never be found, a transitional species, and his
whole theory will be wrong, so he would be really happy to live today when
we publish Ida.

“This fossil is really a part of our history; this is part of our evolution,
deep, deep back into the aeons of time, 47 million years ago.

“It’s part of our evolution that’s been hidden so far, it’s been hidden
because all the other specimens are so incomplete.

“They are so broken there’s almost nothing to study and now this wonderful
fossil appears and it makes the story so much easier to tell, so it’s really
a dream come true.”

Up until now, the most famous fossil primate in the world has been Lucy, a
3.18-million-year-old hominid found in Ethiopia in 1974.

She was then our earliest known ancestor, and only 40% complete.

But at 95% complete, Ida was so well preserved in the mud at the bottom of
the volcanic lake, there is even evidence of her fur shadow and remains of
her last meal.

From this they concluded she was a leaf and fruit eater, and probably lived
in the trees around the lake.

The absence of a bacculum (penis bone) confirmed she was female, and her
milk teeth put her age at about nine-months-old — in maturity, equivalent
to a six-year-old human child.

This was the same age as Prof Hurum’s daughter Ida, and he named the fossil
after her.

The study is being published and put online by the Public Library of
Science, a leading academic journal with offices in Britain and the US.

Co-author of the scientific paper, Prof Gingerich, likens its importance to
the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, an ancient Egyptian artefact found in
1799, which allowed us to decipher hieroglyphic writing.

One clue to Ida’s fate — and her remarkable preservation as our oldest
ancestor — was her badly fractured left wrist.

The team believes this stopped her from climbing and she had to emerge from
the trees to drink water from the 250-metre-deep lake.

They think she was overcome by carbon dioxide gas from the crater, and sunk
to the bottom where she was preserved in the mud as a time capsule — and a
snapshot of evolution.

But amazingly this final piece of Darwin’s jigsaw was almost lost to science
when German authorities tried to turn Messel into a massive landfill rubbish
dump.

Eventually, after campaigning by Dr Franzen, the plans were rejected and the
fossil-rich lake was designated a World Heritage Site.

But no doubt there would have been one person happy for the missing link to
have remained hidden.

When Darwin famously told the Bishop of Worcester’s wife about his theory of
evolution, she remarked: “Descended from the apes! My dear, let us hope that
it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally
known.”

Now, it certainly is.

Ida’s discovery has been made into an Atlantic Productions’ documentary,
presented by Sir David Attenborough. See more at:

http://www.revealingthelink.com/

…………..

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-Evolution-Human.aspx

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THE GARDEN OF EDEN?

Joanie March 1st, 2009

DO THESE MYSTERIOUS STONES MARK THE SITE OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN?
By Tom Cox
Daily Mail
February 28, 2009

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1157784/Do-mysterious-stones-mark-site-Garden-Eden.html

For the old Kurdish shepherd, it was just another burning hot day in the
rolling plains of eastern Turkey. Following his flock over the arid
hillsides, he passed the single mulberry tree, which the locals regarded as
’sacred’. The bells on his sheep tinkled in the stillness. Then he spotted
something. Crouching down, he brushed away the dust, and exposed a strange, large, oblong stone.

The man looked left and right: there were similar stone rectangles, peeping
from the sands. Calling his dog to heel, the shepherd resolved to inform
someone of his finds when he got back to the village. Maybe the stones were
important.

They certainly were important. The solitary Kurdish man, on that summer’s
day in 1994, had made the greatest archaeological discovery in 50 years.
Others would say he’d made the greatest archaeological discovery ever: a
site that has revolutionised the way we look at human history, the origin of
religion — and perhaps even the truth behind the Garden of Eden.

A few weeks after his discovery, news of the shepherd’s find reached museumcurators in the ancient city of Sanliurfa, ten miles south-west of the
stones.

They got in touch with the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul. And
so, in late 1994, archaeologist Klaus Schmidt came to the site of Gobekli
Tepe (pronounced Go-beckly Tepp-ay) to begin his excavations.

As he puts it: ‘As soon as I got there and saw the stones, I knew that if I
didn’t walk away immediately I would be here for the rest of my life.’

Schmidt stayed. And what he has uncovered is astonishing. Archaeologists
worldwide are in rare agreement on the site’s importance. ‘Gobekli Tepe
changes everything,’ says Ian Hodder, at Stanford University.

David Lewis-Williams, professor of archaeology at Witwatersrand University
in Johannesburg, says: ‘Gobekli Tepe is the most important archaeological
site in the world.’

Some go even further and say the site and its implications are incredible.
As Reading University professor Steve Mithen says: ‘Gobekli Tepe is too
extraordinary for my mind to understand.’

So what is it that has energised and astounded the sober world of academia?

The site of Gobekli Tepe is simple enough to describe. The oblong stones,
unearthed by the shepherd, turned out to be the flat tops of awesome,
T-shaped megaliths. Imagine carved and slender versions of the stones of
Avebury or Stonehenge.

Most of these standing stones are inscribed with bizarre and delicate images
– mainly of boars and ducks, of hunting and game. Sinuous serpents are
another common motif. Some of the megaliths show crayfish or lions.

The stones seem to represent human forms — some have stylised ‘arms’, which angle down the sides. Functionally, the site appears to be a temple, or
ritual site, like the stone circles of Western Europe.

To date, 45 of these stones have been dug out — they are arranged in
circles from five to ten yards across — but there are indications that much
more is to come. Geomagnetic surveys imply that there are hundreds more
standing stones, just waiting to be excavated.

So far, so remarkable. If Gobekli Tepe was simply this, it would already be
a dazzling site — a Turkish Stonehenge. But several unique factors lift
Gobekli Tepe into the archaeological stratosphere - and the realms of the
fantastical.

The first is its staggering age. Carbon-dating shows that the complex is at
least 12,000 years old, maybe even 13,000 years old.

That means it was built around 10,000BC. By comparison, Stonehenge was built in 3,000 BC and the pyramids of Giza in 2,500 BC.

Gobekli is thus the oldest such site in the world, by a mind-numbing margin.
It is so old that it predates settled human life. It is pre-pottery, pre-writing, pre-everything. Gobekli hails from a part of human history that is unimaginably distant, right back in our hunter-gatherer past.

How did cavemen build something so ambitious? Schmidt speculates that bands of hunters would have gathered sporadically at the site, through the decades of construction, living in animal-skin tents, slaughtering local game for food.

The many flint arrowheads found around Gobekli support this thesis; they
also support the dating of the site.

This revelation, that Stone Age hunter-gatherers could have built something
like Gobekli, is worldchanging, for it shows that the old hunter-gatherer
life, in this region of Turkey, was far more advanced than we ever conceived
– almost unbelievably sophisticated.

It’s as if the gods came down from heaven and built Gobekli for themselves.

This is where we come to the biblical connection, and my own involvement in the Gobekli Tepe story.

About three years ago, intrigued by the first scant details of the site, I
flew out to Gobekli. It was a long, wearying journey, but more than worth
it, not least as it would later provide the backdrop for a new novel I have
written.

Back then, on the day I arrived at the dig, the archaeologists were
unearthing mind-blowing artworks. As these sculptures were revealed, I
realised that I was among the first people to see them since the end of the
Ice Age.

And that’s when a tantalising possibility arose. Over glasses of black tea,
served in tents right next to the megaliths, Klaus Schmidt told me that, in
his opinion, this very spot was once the site of the biblical Garden of
Eden. More specifically, as he put it: ‘Gobekli Tepe is a temple in Eden.’

To understand how a respected academic like Schmidt can make such a dizzying claim, you need to know that many scholars view the Eden story as
folk-memory, or allegory.

Seen in this way, the Eden story, in Genesis, tells us of humanity’s
innocent and leisured hunter-gatherer past, when we could pluck fruit from
the trees, scoop fish from the rivers and spend the rest of our days in
pleasure.

But then we ‘fell’ into the harsher life of farming, with its ceaseless toil
and daily grind. And we know primitive farming was harsh, compared to the
relative indolence of hunting, because of the archaeological evidence.
To date, archaeologists have dug 45 stones out of the ruins at Gobekli.

When people make the transition from hunter-gathering to settled
agriculture, their skeletons change — they temporarily grow smaller and
less healthy as the human body adapts to a diet poorer in protein and a more
wearisome lifestyle. Likewise, newly domesticated animals get scrawnier.

This begs the question, why adopt farming at all? Many theories have been
suggested — from tribal competition, to population pressures, to the
extinction of wild animal species. But Schmidt believes that the temple of
Gobekli reveals another possible cause.

‘To build such a place as this, the hunters must have joined together in
numbers. After they finished building, they probably congregated for
worship. But then they found that they couldn’t feed so many people with
regular hunting and gathering.

‘So I think they began cultivating the wild grasses on the hills. Religion
motivated people to take up farming.’

The reason such theories have special weight is that the move to farming
first happened in this same region. These rolling Anatolian plains were the
cradle of agriculture.

The world’s first farmyard pigs were domesticated at Cayonu, just 60 miles
away. Sheep, cattle and goats were also first domesticated in eastern
Turkey. Worldwide wheat species descend from einkorn wheat — first
cultivated on the hills near Gobekli. Other domestic cereals — such as rye
and oats — also started here.

But there was a problem for these early farmers, and it wasn’t just that
they had adopted a tougher, if ultimately more productive, lifestyle. They
also experienced an ecological crisis. These days the landscape surrounding
the eerie stones of Gobekli is arid and barren, but it was not always thus.
As the carvings on the stones show — and as archaeological remains reveal
– this was once a richly pastoral region.

There were herds of game, rivers of fish, and flocks of wildfowl; lush green
meadows were ringed by woods and wild orchards. About 10,000 years ago, the Kurdish desert was a ‘paradisiacal place’, as Schmidt puts it. So what
destroyed the environment? The answer is Man.

As we began farming, we changed the landscape and the climate. When the
trees were chopped down, the soil leached away; all that ploughing and
reaping left the land eroded and bare. What was once an agreeable oasis
became a land of stress, toil and diminishing returns.

And so, paradise was lost. Adam the hunter was forced out of his glorious
Eden, ‘to till the earth from whence he was taken’ - as the Bible puts it.

Of course, these theories might be dismissed as speculations. Yet there is
plenty of historical evidence to show that the writers of the Bible, when
talking of Eden, were, indeed, describing this corner of Kurdish Turkey.

In the Book of Genesis, it is indicated that Eden is west of Assyria. Sure
enough, this is where Gobekli is sited.

Likewise, biblical Eden is by four rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates. And Gobekli lies between both of these.

In ancient Assyrian texts, there is mention of a ‘Beth Eden’ — a house of
Eden. This minor kingdom was 50 miles from Gobekli Tepe.

Another book in the Old Testament talks of ‘the children of Eden which were
in Thelasar’, a town in northern Syria, near Gobekli.

The very word ‘Eden’ comes from the Sumerian for ‘plain’; Gobekli lies on
the plains of Harran.

Thus, when you put it all together, the evidence is persuasive. Gobekli Tepe
is, indeed, a ‘temple in Eden’, built by our leisured and fortunate ancestors — people who had time to cultivate art, architecture and complex ritual, before the traumas of agriculture ruined their lifestyle, and devastated their paradise.

It’s a stunning and seductive idea. Yet it has a sinister epilogue. Because
the loss of paradise seems to have had a strange and darkening effect on the
human mind.

A few years ago, archaeologists at nearby Cayonu unearthed a hoard of human skulls. They were found under an altar-like slab, stained with human blood.

No one is sure, but this may be the earliest evidence for human sacrifice:
one of the most inexplicable of human behaviours and one that could have
evolved only in the face of terrible societal stress.

Experts may argue over the evidence at Cayonu. But what no one denies is
that human sacrifice took place in this region, spreading to Palestine,
Canaan and Israel.

Archaeological evidence suggests that victims were killed in huge death
pits, children were buried alive in jars, others roasted in vast bronze
bowls.

These are almost incomprehensible acts, unless you understand that the
people had learned to fear their gods, having been cast out of paradise. So
they sought to propitiate the angry heavens.

This savagery may, indeed, hold the key to one final, bewildering mystery.
The astonishing stones and friezes of Gobekli Tepe are preserved intact for
a bizarre reason.

Long ago, the site was deliberately and systematically buried in a feat of
labour every bit as remarkable as the stone carvings.

Around 8,000 BC, the creators of Gobekli turned on their achievement and
entombed their glorious temple under thousands of tons of earth, creating
the artificial hills on which that Kurdish shepherd walked in 1994.

No one knows why Gobekli was buried. Maybe it was interred as a kind of
penance: a sacrifice to the angry gods, who had cast the hunters out of
paradise. Perhaps it was for shame at the violence and bloodshed that the
stone-worship had helped provoke.

Whatever the answer, the parallels with our own era are stark. As we
contemplate a new age of ecological turbulence, maybe the silent, sombre,
12,000-year-old stones of Gobekli Tepe are trying to speak to us, to warn
us, as they stare across the first Eden we destroyed.

DNA FOUND TO HAVE “IMPOSSIBLE” TELEPATHIC PROPERTIES

Joanie February 28th, 2009

DNA FOUND TO HAVE “IMPOSSIBLE” TELEPATHIC PROPERTIES
Daily Galaxy
February 3, 2009

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/02/dna-found-to-ha.html

Dna47_3_2 DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself
together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn’t
be able to. Explanation: None, at least not yet.

Scientists are reporting evidence that contrary to our current beliefs about
what is possible, intact double-stranded DNA has the “amazing” ability to
recognize similarities in other DNA strands from a distance. Somehow they
are able to identify one another, and the tiny bits of genetic material tend
to congregate with similar DNA. The recognition of similar sequences in
DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is
no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a
current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.

Even so, the research published in ACS’ Journal of Physical Chemistry B,
shows very clearly that homology recognition between sequences of several
hundred nucleotides occurs without physical contact or presence of proteins.  Double helixes of DNA can recognize matching molecules from a distance and then gather together, all seemingly without help from any other molecules or chemical signals.

In the study, scientists observed the behavior of fluorescently tagged DNA
strands placed in water that contained no proteins or other material that
could interfere with the experiment. Strands with identical nucleotide
sequences were about twice as likely to gather together as DNA strands with
different sequences. No one knows how individual DNA strands could possibly be communicating in this way, yet somehow they do. The “telepathic” effect is a source of wonder and amazement for scientists.

Amazingly, the forces responsible for the sequence recognition can reach
across more than one nanometer of water separating the surfaces of the
nearest neighbor DNA, said the authors Geoff S. Baldwin, Sergey Leikin,
John M. Seddon, and Alexei A. Kornyshev and colleagues.

This recognition effect may help increase the accuracy and efficiency of the
homologous recombination of genes, which is a process responsible for DNA
repair, evolution, and genetic diversity. The new findings may also shed
light on ways to avoid recombination errors, which are factors in cancer,
aging, and other health issues.

NASA’S FERMI TELESCOPE SEES MOST EXTREME GAMMA-RAY BLAST YET

Joanie February 20th, 2009

NASA’S FERMI TELESCOPE SEES MOST EXTREME GAMMA-RAY BLAST YET
NASA
February 20, 2009

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2009/feb/HQ_09-033_Fermi_Gamma-ray_Blast.htm
l

WASHINGTON - The first gamma-ray burst to be seen in high-resolution from
NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is one for the record books. The
blast had the greatest total energy, the fastest motions and the
highest-energy initial emissions ever seen.

“We were waiting for this one,” said Peter Michelson, the principal
investigator on Fermi’s Large Area Telescope at Stanford University. “Burst
emissions at these energies are still poorly understood, and Fermi is giving
us the tools to understand them.”

Gamma-ray bursts are the universe’s most luminous explosions. Astronomers
believe most occur when exotic massive stars run out of nuclear fuel. As a
star’s core collapses into a black hole, jets of material — powered by
processes not yet fully understood — blast outward at nearly the speed of
light. The jets bore all the way through the collapsing star and continue
into space, where they interact with gas previously shed by the star and
generate bright afterglows that fade with time.

This explosion, designated GRB 080916C, occurred at 7:13 p.m. EDT on Sept.
15, in the constellation Carina. Fermi’s other instrument, the Gamma-ray
Burst Monitor, simultaneously recorded the event. Together, the two
instruments provide a view of the blast’s initial, or prompt, gamma-ray
emission from energies between 3,000 to more than 5 billion times that of
visible light.

Nearly 32 hours after the blast, Jochen Greiner of the Max Planck Institute
for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, led a group that searched
for the explosion’s fading afterglow. The team simultaneously captured the
field in seven wavelengths using the Gamma-Ray Burst Optical/Near-Infrared
Detector, or GROND, on the 2.2-meter telescope at the European Southern
Observatory in La Silla, Chile. In certain colors, the brightness of a
distant object shows a characteristic drop-off caused by intervening gas
clouds. The farther away the object is, the redder the wavelength where this
fade-out occurs. This gives astronomers a quick estimate of the object’s
distance. The team’s follow-up observations established that the explosion
took place 12.2 billion light-years away.

“Already, this was an exciting burst,” said Julie McEnery, a Fermi deputy
project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
“But with the GROND team’s distance, it went from exciting to
extraordinary.”

With the distance in hand, Fermi team members showed that the blast exceeded
the power of approximately 9,000 ordinary supernovae, if the energy was
emitted equally in all directions. This is a standard way for astronomers to
compare events even though gamma-ray bursts emit most of their energy in
tight jets.

Coupled with the Fermi measurements, the distance also helps astronomers
determine the slowest speeds possible for material emitting the prompt gamma
rays. Within the jet of this burst, gas bullets must have moved at 99.9999
percent the speed of light. This burst’s tremendous power and speed make it
the most extreme recorded to date.

One curious aspect of the burst is a five-second delay separating the
highest-energy emissions from the lowest. Such a time lag has been seen
clearly in only one earlier burst.

“It may mean that the highest-energy emissions are coming from different
parts of the jet or created through a different mechanism,” Michelson said.

The team’s results appear today in the online edition of the journal
Science.

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle
physics partnership mission, developed in collaboration with the U.S.
Department of Energy and important contributions from academic institutions
and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the U.S.

For images related to this release, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/high_grb.html

GALAXY HAS ‘BILLIONS OF EARTHS’

Joanie February 15th, 2009

GALAXY HAS ‘BILLIONS OF EARTHS’
BBC News
February 15, 2009

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7891132.stm

There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, a US
conference has heard.

Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science said many of these
worlds could be inhabited by simple lifeforms.

He was speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science in Chicago.

So far, telescopes have been able to detect just over 300 planets outside
our Solar System.

Very few of these would be capable of supporting life, however. Most are gas
giants like our Jupiter; and many orbit so close to their parent stars that
any microbes would have to survive roasting temperatures.

But, based on the limited numbers of planets found so far, Dr Boss has
estimated that each Sun-like star has on average one “Earth-like” planet.

This simple calculation means there would be huge numbers capable of
supporting life.

“Not only are they probably habitable but they probably are also going to be
inhabited,” Dr Boss told BBC News. “But I think that most likely the nearby
‘Earths’ are going to be inhabited with things which are perhaps more common
to what Earth was like three or four billion years ago.” That means
bacterial lifeforms.

Dr Boss estimates that Nasa’s Kepler mission, due for launch in March,
should begin finding some of these Earth-like planets within the next few
years.

Recent work at Edinburgh University tried to quantify how many intelligent
civilisations might be out there. The research suggested there could be
thousands of them.

————

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LEAP FOR TELEPORTING, BETWEEN IONS FEET APART

Joanie February 5th, 2009

LEAP FOR TELEPORTING, BETWEEN IONS FEET APART
By Kenneth Chang
New York Times
February 3, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/03/science/03teleportation.html

Without quite the drama of Alexander Graham Bell calling out, ³Mr. Watson,
come here!² or the charm of the original ³Star Trek² television show,
scientists have nonetheless achieved a milestone in communication:
teleporting the quantum identity of one atom to another a few feet away.

The contraption is a Rube Goldberg-esque mix of vacuum chambers, fiber
optics, lasers and semitransparent beam splitters in a laboratory at the
Joint Quantum Institute in Maryland.

Even in the far future, ³Star Trek² transporters will probably remain a
fantasy, but the mechanism could form an important component in new types of
communication and computing.

Quantum teleportation depends on entanglement, one of the strangest of the
many strange aspects of quantum mechanics. Two particles can become
³entangled² into a single entity, and a change in one instantaneously
changes the other even if it is far away.

Previously, physicists have shown that they could use teleportation to
transfer information from one photon to another or between nearby atoms. In
the new research, the scientists used light to transfer quantum information
between two well-separated atoms.

³It¹s that hybrid approach that we¹ve demonstrated that looks to be an
interesting way to proceed,² said Christopher Monroe, a University of
Maryland physicist and the senior author of a paper describing the research
in the Jan. 23 issue of the journal Science.

Present-day digital computers store information as zeroes and ones. In a
future quantum computer, a single bit of information could be both zero and
one at the same time. (In essence, a quantum coin toss would be both heads
and tails until someone actually looked at the coin, at which time the coin
instantly becomes one or the other.) In theory, a quantum computer could
calculate certain types of problems much more quickly than digital
computers.

In the experiment, two ytterbium ions, cooled to a fraction of a degree
above absolute zero, served as the two quantum coins. A microwave pulse
wrote quantum information onto one; a second microwave pulse placed the ion
into a state of equal probabilities of heads and tails.

A laser then induced each ion to emit exactly one photon, collected by a
lens and guided through fiber optics to a beam splitter that could reflect
the photons or let them pass through. Two detectors then captured and
recorded the photons. Because it was not known which photon came from which
atom, the photons became ³entangled,² meaning that the behavior of the two
particles became wrapped up in a single equation even though they were not
in the same place. And, oddly, because the photons were emitted by the ions,
the two ions also became entangled.

³That¹s the magic of entanglement,² Dr. Monroe said. ³Now, the atoms are
entangled. The photons are gone and out of the picture.²

The information in the first ion was then measured in a way that did not
reveal the information and that teleported the information to the second
ion. (If that did not make any sense, take a look at this animated graphic.)

By repeating the experiment many times and taking many measurements of the
second ion, the researchers, from Maryland and the University of Michigan,
confirmed that the second ion contained the information that had been
originally written to the first ion.

The method is not particularly practical at the moment, because it fails
almost all of the time. Only 1 of every 100 million teleportation attempts
succeed, requiring 10 minutes to transfer one bit of quantum information.

³We need to work on that,² Dr. Monroe said.

But he said that a success rate of just 1 in 10,000 would be high enough for
some uses. Such systems could be used as ³quantum repeaters² — reading the
information from one photon and then imprinting it on a new photon for the
next leg of its communications journey.

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