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lavender orchid
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« Reply #240 on: April 28, 2017, 01:03:13 am »

https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-04/m-df042617.php
Quote

This is an entrance to the archaeological site of Vindija Cave, Croatia.

DNA from extinct humans discovered in cave sediments

Researchers have developed a new method to retrieve hominin DNA from cave sediments -- even in the absence of skeletal remains


While there are numerous prehistoric sites in Europe and Asia that contain tools and other human-made artefacts, skeletal remains of ancient humans are scarce. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have therefore looked into new ways to get hold of ancient human DNA. From sediment samples collected at seven archaeological sites, the researchers "fished out" tiny DNA fragments that had once belonged to a variety of mammals, including our extinct human relatives. They retrieved DNA from Neandertals in cave sediments of four archaeological sites, also in layers where no hominin skeletal remains have been discovered. In addition, they found Denisovan DNA in sediments from Denisova Cave in Russia. These new developments now enable researchers to uncover the genetic affiliations of the former inhabitants of many archaeological sites which do not yield human remains.

By looking into the genetic composition of our extinct relatives, the Neandertals, and their cousins from Asia, the Denisovans, researchers can shed light on our own evolutionary history. However, fossils of ancient humans are rare, and they are not always available or suitable for genetic analyses. "We know that several components of sediments can bind DNA", says Matthias Meyer of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "We therefore decided to investigate whether hominin DNA may survive in sediments at archaeological sites known to have been occupied by ancient hominins."

To this aim Meyer and his team collaborated with a large network of researchers excavating at seven archaeological sites in Belgium, Croatia, France, Russia and Spain. Overall, they collected sediment samples covering a time span from 14,000 to over 550,000 years ago. Using tiny amounts of material the researchers recovered and analyzed fragments of mitochondrial DNA - genetic material from the mitochondria, the "energy factories" of the cell - and identified them as belonging to twelve different mammalian families that include extinct species such as the woolly mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, the cave bear and the cave hyena.

The researchers then looked specifically for ancient hominin DNA in the samples. "From the preliminary results, we suspected that in most of our samples, DNA from other mammals was too abundant to detect small traces of human DNA", says Viviane Slon, Ph.D. student at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig and first author of the study. "We then switched strategies and started targeting specifically DNA fragments of human origin." Nine samples from four archaeological sites contained enough ancient hominin DNA for further analyses: Eight sediment samples contained Neandertal mitochondrial DNA from either one or multiple individuals, while one sample contained Denisovan DNA. Most of these samples originated from archaeological layers or sites where no Neandertal bones or teeth were previously found.

A new tool for archaeology

"By retrieving hominin DNA from sediments, we can detect the presence of hominin groups at sites and in areas where this cannot be achieved with other methods", says Svante Pääbo, director of the Evolutionary Genetics department at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and co-author of the study. "This shows that DNA analyses of sediments are a very useful archaeological procedure, which may become routine in the future".

Even sediment samples that were stored at room temperature for years still yielded DNA. Analyses of these and of freshly-excavated sediment samples recovered from archaeological sites where no human remains are found will shed light on these sites' former occupants and our joint genetic history.

###

Original publication

Viviane Slon, Charlotte Hopfe, Clemens L. Weiß, Fabrizio Mafessoni, Marco de la Rasilla, Carles Lalueza-Fox, Antonio Rosas, Marie Soressi, Monika V. Knul, Rebecca Miller, John R. Stewart, Anatoly P. Derevianko, Zenobia Jacobs, Bo Li, Richard G. Roberts, Michael V. Shunkov, Henry de Lumley, Christian Perrenoud, Ivan Guši?, ?eljko Ku?an, Pavao Rudan, Ayinuer Aximu-Petri, Elena Essel, Sarah Nagel, Birgit Nickel, Anna Schmidt, Kay Prüfer, Janet Kelso, Hernán A. Burbano, Svante Pääbo, Matthias Meyer
Neandertal and Denisovan DNA from Pleistocene sediments

Credit: MPI f. Evolutionary Anthropology/ J. Krause
Science; 27 April, 2017
« Last Edit: April 28, 2017, 01:15:12 am by lavender orchid » Report Spam   Logged

Sumerianrain
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« Reply #241 on: April 28, 2017, 09:58:50 am »

Interesting lavender , I had been listening
To a radio program about the abilities of dogs , a point made that they had a sense of smell , about 3 million times greater than peoples .
The ability to even sniff out ancient bones ,
The man said , there are only a handful of dogs in the world with the ability to do certain things ,
Also mentioning the abilities of labradors in particular being talented in these tasks .
Many times its labradors who bring home human bones to their owners .

Seems to fit with themes of dreams sniffing it seems .
« Last Edit: April 28, 2017, 09:59:49 am by Sumerianrain » Report Spam   Logged
lavender orchid
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« Reply #242 on: May 03, 2017, 02:00:12 pm »


(3x7, 41x8, 169x13)


http://www.sciencealert.com/this-awesome-periodic-table-tells-you-how-to-actually-use-all-those-elements
Quote

This Awesome Periodic Table Tells You How to Actually Use All Those Elements

Americium could save your life.
BEC CREW
8 NOV 2016

Thanks to high school, we’ve all got a pretty good idea about what’s on the periodic table.

But whether you’re looking at something common like calcium, iron, and carbon, or something more obscure like krypton and antimony, how well do you know their functions? Could you name just one practical application for vanadium or ruthenium?

Lucky for us, Keith Enevoldsen from elements.wlonk.com has come up with this awesome periodic table that gives you at least one example for every single element (except for those weird superheavy elements that don’t actually exist in nature).

There’s thulium for laser eye surgery, cerium for lighter flints, and krypton for flashlights. You’ve got strontium for fireworks, and xenon for high-intensity lamps inside lighthouses.

Oh and that very patriotic element, americium? We use that in smoke detectors.

First unveiled in 1945 during the Manhattan Project, americium is produced by bombarding plutonium with neutrons in a nuclear reactor.

The resulting americium is radioactive, and while the tiny amounts of americium dioxide (AmO2) used in smoke detector produces alpha radiation to sniff out a fire, it will deliver approximately zero radiation to anyone living nearby.

I kinda want to tell you all about rubidium and how we use it in the world’s most accurate time-keeping devices, and how niobium can help make trains levitate, but you should just check out the periodic table for yourself.

We’ve included a sneak-peak below, but for the real interactive experience, click here to try it out.


You can also download the PDF if you’ve got a class to teach, or maybe you just want to be great and put it on your bathroom door.

And if this whole exercise has made you realise just how rusty you’ve become with your science basics, check out AsapSCIENCE’s Periodic Table Song below.

We’d like to see a better way of memorising the periodic table - it's even got the four brand new elements that earned a permanent spot in the seventh row back in January (which unfortunately have no cool uses outside of atomic research).

Check it out:




\!!
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« Reply #243 on: May 08, 2017, 09:59:48 am »

\!!

(25x9, 41x12)


« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 10:10:11 am by lavender orchid » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #244 on: May 09, 2017, 08:06:07 pm »





      https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/08/consuming-dairy-does-not-raise-risk-of-heart-attack-or-stroke-study?CMP=fb_gu      
\!!   

« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 09:25:40 pm by lavender orchid » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #245 on: May 11, 2017, 01:32:14 am »










(17x7, 45x9, 60x20)

« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 01:08:37 pm by lavender orchid » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #246 on: May 11, 2017, 02:59:32 am »



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The 528 hz tone-frequency is known by the ancients to be a "healing frequency," and many people believe it can be used to repair damaged DNA. Most recently, Dr. Horowitz, working with mathematician Marko Rodin, advanced the mathematical relationship to genetic structuring, as DNA segments reflect Rodin’s “infinity pattern,” that others predict will revolutionize everything.

According to John Hutchinson, an electro-magnetic energy expert from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, a selection of “music” has helped purify poisoned water. The frequencies included the “sound of Jupiter,” recently recorded by NASA, vibrating close to 528Hz frequency.
That sound energy has been determined to match the color greenish-yellow--the heart of the rainbow, the electromagnetic color spectrum, celebrated by the botanical world, according to Dr. Leonard Horowitz, who has published most on that pure tone. Nature obviously celebrates that shade, the pigment chlorophyll, to produce oxygen and energy needed for life.

The 528 frequency coupled with this Native American Sacred Spirit tune makes for a VERY powerful healing video sure to keep you grounded and take you to new spiritual heights.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/John_Hutchison   https://www.damninteresting.com/retired/the-hutchison-effect/

« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 03:27:48 am by lavender orchid » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #247 on: May 11, 2017, 11:42:05 am »



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_(atmospheric_phenomenon)
Quote
Steve (atmospheric phenomenon)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This image of Steve was taken Aug. 17, 2015 at Little Bow Resort, AB, Canada. Photo by Elfie Hall.


Steve is an atmospheric optical phenomenon, which appears as a light ribbon in the sky, discovered in 2017 by aurora watchers from Alberta, Canada. According to Eric Donovan's analysis of the Swarm satellite data, it was caused by a 25 km wide ribbon of hot gasses at an altitude of 300 km, temperature of 3000 °C and flowing at a speed of 6 km/s (compared to 10 m/s outside the ribbon). The phenomenon is not rare, but nobody had looked into it in detail prior to that.[1][2]

Originally the aurora watchers attributed the phenomenon to a proton aurora and erroneously called them "proton arcs",[3] but when physics professor Eric Donovan from the University of Calgary saw the pictures, he suspected that was not the case, as proton auroras are not visible.[4] As he correlated the time and location of the phenomenon with European Space Agency (ESA)'s Swarm satellite data, the phenomenon was very clearly distinguished. More details will be published by Donovan and his team later, including the suspected cause of the phenomenon.[1]

The name "Steve" was chosen from a clip in the Over the Hedge animated comedy movie of 2006, where characters are choosing a name for something unknown.[5]

A member of Alberta Aurora Chasers suggested "Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement" as a backronym of STEVE.[6]


« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 01:06:35 pm by lavender orchid » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #248 on: May 12, 2017, 11:02:00 pm »

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Why smart people are better off with fewer friends
by Christopher Ingraham   March 18, 2016

Hell might actually be other people — at least if you're really smart.

That's the implication of fascinating new research published last month in the British Journal of Psychology. Evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University dig in to the question of what makes a life well-lived. While traditionally the domain of priests, philosophers and novelists, in recent years survey researchers, economists, biologists and scientists have been tackling that question.

Kanazawa and Li theorize that the hunter-gatherer lifestyles of our ancient ancestors form the foundation for what make us happy now. "Situations and circumstances that would have increased our ancestors’ life satisfaction in the ancestral environment may still increase our life satisfaction today," they write.

They use what they call "the savanna theory of happiness" to explain two main findings from an analysis of a large national survey (15,000 respondents) of adults aged 18 to 28.

First, they find that people who live in more densely populated areas tend to report less satisfaction with their life overall. "The higher the population density of the immediate environment, the less happy" the survey respondents said they were. Second, they find that the more social interactions with close friends a person has, the greater their self-reported happiness.

[Yes, money really can buy happiness]

But there was one big exception. For more intelligent people, these correlations were diminished or even reversed.

"The effect of population density on life satisfaction was therefore more than twice as large for low-IQ individuals than for high-IQ individuals," they found. And "more intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently."

Let me repeat that last one: When smart people spend more time with their friends, it makes them less happy.

Now, the broad contours of both findings are largely uncontroversial. A large body of previous research, for instance, has outlined what some have called an "urban-rural happiness gradient." Kanazawa and Li explain: "Residents of rural areas and small towns are happier than those in suburbs, who in turn are happier than those in small central cities, who in turn are happier than those in large central cities."

Why would high population density cause a person to be less happy? There's a whole body of sociological research addressing this question. But for the most visceral demonstration of the effect, simply take a 45-minute ride on a crowded rush-hour Red Line train and tell me how you feel afterward.

Kanazawa and Li's second finding is a little more interesting. It's no surprise that friend and family connections are generally seen as a foundational component of happiness and well-being. But why would this relationship get turned on its head for really smart people?

Report: Denmark world's happiest country
Play Video1:07
A United Nation's report ranking the world's happiest countries puts Denmark at the top, and Burundi at the bottom of the 157 country list. (Reuters)

I posed this question to Carol Graham, a Brookings Institution researcher who studies the economics of happiness. "The findings in here suggest (and it is no surprise) that those with more intelligence and the capacity to use it ... are less likely to spend so much time socializing because they are focused on some other longer term objective," she said.

Think of the really smart people you know. They may include a doctor trying to cure cancer or a writer working on the great American novel or a human rights lawyer working to protect the most vulnerable people in society. To the extent that frequent social interaction detracts from the pursuit of these goals, it may negatively affect their overall satisfaction with life.

But Kanazawa and Li's savanna theory of happiness offers a different explanation. The idea starts with the premise that the human brain evolved to meet the demands of our ancestral environment on the African savanna, where the population density was akin to what you'd find today in, say, rural Alaska (less than one person per square kilometer). Take a brain evolved for that environment, plop it into today's Manhattan (population density: 27,685 people per square kilometer), and you can see how you'd get some evolutionary friction.

Similarly with friendship: "Our ancestors lived as hunter–gatherers in small bands of about 150 individuals," Kanazawa and Li explain. "In such settings, having frequent contact with lifelong friends and allies was likely necessary for survival and reproduction for both sexes." We remain social creatures today, a reflection of that early reliance on tight-knit social groups.

The typical human life has changed rapidly since then — back on the savanna we didn't have cars or iPhones or processed food or "Celebrity Apprentice" — and it's quite possible that our biology hasn't been able to evolve fast enough to keep up. As such, there may be a "mismatch" between what our brains and bodies are designed for, and the world most of us live in now.

To sum it all up: You've heard of the paleo-diet. But are you ready for paleo-happiness?

There's a twist, though, at least as Kanazawa and Li see it. Smarter people may be better equipped to deal with the new (at least from an evolutionary perspective) challenges present-day life throws at us. "More intelligent individuals, who possess higher levels of general intelligence and thus greater ability to solve evolutionarily novel problems, may face less difficulty in comprehending and dealing with evolutionarily novel entities and situations," they write.

[Are smarter people actually less racist?]

If you're smarter and more able to adapt to things, you may have an easier time reconciling your evolutionary predispositions with the modern world. So living in a high-population area may have a smaller effect on your overall well-being — that's what Kanazawa and Li found in their survey analysis. Similarly, smarter people may be better-equipped to jettison that whole hunter-gatherer social network — especially if they're pursuing some loftier ambition.

It's important to remember that this is an argument Kanazawa and Li are proposing and that it's not settled science. "Paleo-" theories — the idea that our bodies are best adapted to the environment of our earliest ancestors — have come under fire in recent years, especially as food companies and some researchers over-hyped the alleged benefits of the paleo-diet fad.

Kanazawa and Li's main findings about population density, social interaction and happiness are relatively uncontroversial. But Brookings's Carol Graham says one potential flaw in their research is that it defines happiness in terms of self-reported life satisfaction ("How satisfied are you with your life as a whole?"), and doesn't consider experienced well-being ("How many times did you laugh yesterday? How many times were you angry?" etc.). Survey researchers know that these two types of questions can lead to very different assessments of well-being.

For their part, Kanazawa and Li maintain that that distinction doesn't matter too much for their savanna theory. "Even though our empirical analyses ... used a measure of global life satisfaction, the savanna theory of happiness is not committed to any particular definition and is compatible with any reasonable conception of happiness, subjective well-being, and life satisfaction," they write.

Kanazawa himself is no stranger to controversy. In 2011 he wrote a blog post for Psychology Today entitled "Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?" The post ignited a firestorm of criticism and was swiftly taken down.

His current research on well-being is not likely to generate as much criticism as that blog post. But the evolutionary perspective on happiness and intelligence is likely to prompt some heated discussion in the field.

In an email, Kanazawa said that his approach to understanding happiness is fundamentally different than the arguments about, say, the benefits of a paleo-diet. "Blindly introducing our ancestors’ diet when we do not have other aspects of the ancestral life seems like a dangerous and nonsensical prescription to me," he said.

"I only explain nature; I do not tell people what to do or not to do," he added.





(fri may 12, 2017: 16x7, 20x8, 35x19, 45x21)
« Last Edit: May 12, 2017, 11:18:16 pm by lavender orchid » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #249 on: June 25, 2017, 12:50:40 pm »

https://www.thoughtco.com/longest-day-of-the-year-1435339
Quote
The Longest Day of the Year
Learn Sunrise, Sunset, and Daylight Information for United States Cities
   
by Matt Rosenberg
Updated March 03, 2017

In the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year will always be on or around June 21. On this date, the rays of the sun will be perpendicular to the Tropic of Cancer at 23°30' North latitude. This day is the summer solstice for all locations north of the equator.

On this day, the earth's "circle of illumination" will be from the Arctic Circle on the far side of the earth (in relation to the sun) to the Antarctic Circle on the near side of the earth.

The equator receives twelve hours of daylight, there's 24 hours of daylight at the North Pole and areas north of 66°30' N, and there's 24 hours of darkness at the South Pole and areas south of 66°30' S.

June 20-21 is start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere but simultaneously the start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. It's also the longest day of sunlight for places in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day for cities south of the equator.

However, June 20-21 is not the day when the sun rises earliest in the morning nor when it sets latest at night. As we'll see, the date of earliest sunrise or sunset varies from location to location.

We'll start our tour of the solstice in the north, with Anchorage, Alaska and head south in the U.S. and then move on to international cities. It's interesting to compare the difference in sunrise and sunset in various locales around the globe.

In the information below, the date ranges for the "longest day" have been rounded to the nearest minute.

If we were to round to the second, the solistice on the the 20th or 21st would always be the longest day.
Anchorage, Alaska

    Earliest Sunrise: 4:20 a.m. from June 17th through June 19th.
    Latest Sunset: 11:42 p.m. from June 18th to June 25th
    Longest Days: June 18th to June 22nd
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 19 hours and 21 minutes

Seattle, Washington

    Earliest Sunrise: 5:11 a.m. from June 11th through June 20th.
    Latest Sunset: 9:11 p.m. from June 19th to June 30th
    Longest Days: June 16th to June 24th
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 15 hours and 59 minutes

Portland, Oregon

    Earliest Sunrise: 5:21 a.m. from June 12th through June 17th.
    Latest Sunset: 9:04 p.m. from June 23rd to June 27th
    Longest Days: June 16th to June June 24th
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 15 hours and 41 minutes

New York City, New York

    Earliest Sunrise: 5:24 a.m. from June 11th through June 17th.
    Latest Sunset: 8:31 p.m. from June 20th to July 3rd
    Longest Days: June 18th to June June 22nd
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 15 hours and 6 minutes

Sacramento, California

    Earliest Sunrise: 5:41 a.m. from June 8th through June 18th.
    Latest Sunset: 8:34 p.m. from June 20th to July 4th
    Longest Days: June 17th to June June 23rd
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 14 hours and 52 minutes

Los Angeles, California

    Earliest Sunrise: 5:41 a.m. from June 6th through June 17th.
    Latest Sunset: 8:08 p.m. from June 20th to July 6th
    Longest Days: June 19th to June 21st
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 14 hours and 26 minutes

Miami, Florida

    Earliest Sunrise: 6:29 a.m. from May 31st through June 17th.

    Latest Sunset: 8:16 p.m. from June 23rd to July 6th
    Longest Days: June 15th to June 25th
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 13 hours and 45 minutes

Honolulu, Hawaii

    Earliest Sunrise: 5:49 a.m. from May 28th through June 16th.
    Latest Sunset: 7:18 p.m. from June 30th to July 7th
    Longest Days: June 15th to June 25th
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 13 hours and 26 minutes

Because it is closer to the equator than any of the other U.S. cities profiled here, Honolulu has the shortest length of daylight on the summer solistice. The city also has far less variation in daylight throughout the year, so even winter days have close to 11 hours of sunlight.

International Cities continue on Page Two
Reykjavik, Iceland

    Earliest Sunrise: 2:55 a.m. from June 18th through June 21st.
    Latest Sunset: 12:04 a.m. from June 21st to June 24th
    Longest Days: June 18th to June 22nd
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 21 hours and 8 minutes

If Reykjavik were just a few degrees further to the north, it would fall within the Arctic Circle and experience 24 hours of daylight on the summer solstice.
London, United Kingdom

    Earliest Sunrise: 4:43 a.m. from June 11th through June 22nd.

    Latest Sunset: 9:22 p.m. from June 21st to June 27th
    Longest Days: June 17th to June 24th
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 16 hours and 38 minutes

Tokyo, Japan

    Earliest Sunrise: 4:25 a.m. from June 6th through June 20th.
    Latest Sunset: 7:01 p.m. from June 22nd to July 5th
    Longest Days: June 19th to June 23nd
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 14 hours and 35 minutes

Mexico City, Mexico

    Earliest Sunrise: 6:57 a.m. from June 3rd through June 7th.
    Latest Sunset: 8:19 p.m. from June 27th to June 12th
    Longest Days: June 13th to June 28th
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 13 hours and 18 minutes

Nairobi, Kenya

    Earliest Sunrise: 6:11 a.m. from November 3rd through November 7th.
    Latest Sunset: 6:52 p.m. from February 4th to June 14th
    Longest Days: December 2nd to January 10th
    Hours of Daylight on Longest Day: 12 hours and 12 minutes

Nairobi, which is merely 1°17' south of the equator, has exactly 12 hours of sunlight on June 21 when the sun rises at 6:33 a.m. and sets at 6:33 p.m. Because the city is in the Southern Hemisphere, it experiences its longest day on December 21.

Nairobi's shortest days, in mid June, are just 10 minutes shorter than the longest days in December. The lack of diversity in Nairobi's sunrise and sunset throughout the year provides a clear example of why lower latitudes don't need Daylight Saving Time - sunrise and sunset are almost at the same time year-round.

This article was edited by Allen Grove in September, 2016
Watch Now: Summer Solstice Is Celebrated Around The World
« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 12:56:40 pm by lavender orchid » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #250 on: November 04, 2017, 10:02:58 pm »

\!!

wow! finding this 25 years after a vision quest. long-time shamanic wisdom ... <3   ***   https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/neuroscientist-adrian-owen-recounts-his-decades-of-research-for-new-book/article35321685/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/books/review-into-the-grey-zone-a-neuroscientist-explores-the-border-between-life-and-death-adrian-owen-faber-faber#survey-answer
Quote
Into the Grey Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death, by Adrian Owen

An unsettling study of patients in comas reveals that consciousness endures, says Shane O’Mara
October 12, 2017


   

Into the Grey Zone can be read on several levels: as an enthralling scientific detective story, as a story of broken minds and brains, or as a book that feels incomplete, because the story it tells is not yet scientifically, medically, ethically or philosophically complete. Owen presents one of the most remarkable scientific stories of recent decades: the investigation of the fractional human consciousness remaining in damaged brains situated in unmoving bodies. He and his colleagues have shown that a substantial percentage of patients thought to be in a coma (perhaps one in five) are in a “grey zone” somewhere between consciousness and coma. Such patients are not vegetative: they are in there somewhere, but what condition they are in is difficult to know.

Owen describes using the latest brain-imaging technology to communicate with these seemingly mute, inexpressive, comatose patients. Fragmentary consciousness (and often more than this) and a capacity for contact remain; sometimes these patients make a remarkable return from their submerged world to ours. They communicate by imagining activity in brain areas that perform distinctively different functions. Owen asks such patients questions and tells them to imagine playing tennis (relying on the premotor cortex) if the answer is “Yes” or walking about their homes (relying on the parahippocampal cortex) if the answer is “No”. Suddenly, disturbingly, formerly mute patients are able to communicate what they think and feel – if they are in pain, if they are in distress, if they want to die – and to do so reliably.

It is probably a good thing that Owen is no philosopher. There are no perorations here about qualia or the “hard problem” of consciousness; no extended minds, rejuvenated panpsychism or mysterianism litter the book. Instead, we meet a hard mind-brain identity equivalence: “we are our brains”. For Owen, consciousness is a biological problem, with consciousness (somehow) arising from the tiny robots that are the brain cells comprising our brains. He sets aside all the philosophical talk and counter-talk to focus on how a brain (especially a broken, damaged or compromised brain) gives rise to consciousness. As a result, he has shifted the terms of the philosophical and ethical debate. Biomedical ethicists now must ponder if living wills should be acted upon: “I said beforehand that I wished to die. Now, I lie here silent and unmoving, and tell you, through a machine, that I do not.” Which wish do you act on?

The book does feel incomplete: this is no criticism. We are beginning a strange new scientific revolution: one taking us into the deep, dark silence of the brain – the brain that renews our fragile consciousness every morning, turns it off every night, and that struggles through the fog of injury, disease and near-death to make itself heard. Into the Grey Zone deserves to be widely read, for it touches the core of what it means to be consciously human – and to lose human contact while conscious, while trapped and unmoving. Perhaps the closest we might come to this in everyday life is the condition of sleep paralysis, where you are conscious, dreaming and paralysed. Deservedly uncomfortable reading indeed.

Shane O’Mara is professor of experimental brain research at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Dublin, and author of Why Torture Doesn’t 
Work: The Neuroscience of Interrogation (2015).

Into the Grey Zone: A Neuroscientist Explores the Border Between Life and Death
By Adrian Owen
Faber & Faber, 320pp, £16.99
ISBN 9781783350988
Published 7 September 2017

« Last Edit: November 04, 2017, 10:24:32 pm by lavender orchid » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #251 on: December 15, 2017, 10:39:36 am »

Lavender we miss you
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Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it
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