There are things that were lost that were meant to stay lost. There were things that were lost that it is time to rediscover. This is a day for knowing that and knowing which is which. You will find hints in odd places. You may find yourself disinclined to take heed, but it would be well to follow the hints to their sources. There is a craziness and an unraveling that is happening today. You can find yourself going from one extreme to another. Things might seem good, and then, in the next instance totally unacceptable. And then you will find that things you loved so much in the past are no longer pleasing to you, that piece of music, that color combination, that voice on the other end of the line. The shift is happening now, and there are many things that are up in the air today. Step back from it all if you can. Best of all take the longer view. Breathe. Deal with one thing at a time and let the rest take care of itself. There can be some difficult moments today, but you can learn much from them if you are open and do not close down, do not fall into old patterns of rejection. There is much still to learn.
A photo taken just ten minutes ago looking out in the back at the trees:
A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our universe could be just one big projection.
In 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed that an audacious model of the Universe in which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings could be reinterpreted in terms of well-established physics. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter cosmos where there is no gravity.
Maldacena’s idea thrilled physicists because it offered a way to put the popular but still unproven theory of strings on solid footing—and because it solved apparent inconsistencies between quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity. It provided physicists with a mathematical Rosetta stone, a “duality,” that allowed them to translate back and forth between the two languages, and solve problems in one model that seemed intractable in the other and vice versa. But although the validity of Maldacena’s ideas has pretty much been taken for granted ever since, a rigorous proof has been elusive.
In two papers posted on the arXiv repository, Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan and his colleagues now provide, if not an actual proof, at least compelling evidence that Maldacena’s conjecture is true.
In one paper, Hyakutake computes the internal energy of a black hole, the position of its event horizon (the boundary between the black hole and the rest of the Universe), its entropy and other properties based on the predictions of string theory as well as the effects of so-called virtual particles that continuously pop into and out of existence. In the other3, he and his collaborators calculate the internal energy of the corresponding lower-dimensional cosmos with no gravity. The two computer calculations match.
“It seems to be a correct computation,” says Maldacena, who is now at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and who did not contribute to the team’s work.
The findings “are an interesting way to test many ideas in quantum gravity and string theory,” Maldacena adds. The two papers, he notes, are the culmination of a series of articles contributed by the Japanese team over the past few years. “The whole sequence of papers is very nice because it tests the dual [nature of the universes] in regimes where there are no analytic tests.”
“They have numerically confirmed, perhaps for the first time, something we were fairly sure had to be true, but was still a conjecture — namely that the thermodynamics of certain black holes can be reproduced from a lower-dimensional universe,” says Leonard Susskind, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University in California who was among the first theoreticians to explore the idea of holographic universes.
Neither of the model universes explored by the Japanese team resembles our own, Maldacena notes. The cosmos with a black hole has ten dimensions, with eight of them forming an eight-dimensional sphere. The lower-dimensional, gravity-free one has but a single dimension, and its menagerie of quantum particles resembles a group of idealized springs, or harmonic oscillators, attached to one another.
Nevertheless, says Maldacena, the numerical proof that these two seemingly disparate worlds are actually identical gives hope that the gravitational properties of our universe can one day be explained by a simpler cosmos purely in terms of quantum theory.
This article is reproduced with permission from the magazine Nature. The article was first published on December 10, 2013.
The 1.8-million-year-old skull unearthed in Dmanisi, Georgia, suggests the earliest members of the Homo genus belonged to the same species, say scientists in a paper published Oct. 18, 2013 in the journal Science.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Georgian National Museum
The existence of a mysterious ancient human lineage and the possibility that the earliest humans were actually all one species were among the human-evolution-related discoveries of 2013. Other breakthroughs include the sequencing of the oldest human DNA yet.
Here’s a look at what scientists learned about humanity and human origins this year:
Recent analyses of fossil DNA have revealed that modern humans occasionally had sex and produced offspring not only with Neanderthals but also with Denisovans, a relatively newfound lineage whose genetic signature apparently extended from Siberia to the Pacific islands of Oceania.
These findings come from Denisova Cave in southern Siberia, where the first evidence of Denisovans was discovered in 2008. To learn more about the Denisovans, scientists examined DNA from a toe bone unearthed there in 2010.
The researchers found that the fossil belonged to a Neanderthal woman. Her DNA helped refine the human family tree, as it revealed that about 1.5 to 2.1 percent of the DNA of modern people outside Africa is Neanderthal in origin, whereas about 0.2 percent of DNA of mainland Asians and Native Americans is Denisovan in origin.
The scientists also discovered that the Denisovans interbred with an unknown human lineage, getting as much as 2.7 to 5.8 percent of their genomes from it. This newfound relative apparently split from the ancestors of all modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans between 4 million and 900,000 years ago, before these latter groups started diverging from each other. It’s possible that this mysterious lineage could even be Homo erectus, the earliest known undisputed predecessor of modern humans. However, there are no signs that this unknown group interbred with modern humans or Neanderthals.
Genetic analysis also revealed that the parents of this Neanderthal woman were closely related — possibly half-siblings, or another close relative. (Inbreeding may have been common among early humans — it remains uncertain as to whether it was some kind of cultural practice or whether it was unavoidable due to small community populations at the time.)
Researchers have discovered a 1.42-million-year-old hand fossil that possesses the styloid process, a vital anatomical feature that allows the hand to lock into the wrist bones, giving humans the ability to make and use complex tools.
Credit: University of Missouri
Were earliest humans all one species?
Modern humans, Homo sapiens, are the only living member of the human lineage, Homo, which is thought to have arisen in Africa about 2 million years ago at the beginning of the Ice Age. Many now-extinct human species were thought to once roam the planet, such as Homo habilis, which is suspected to be among the first stone-tool makers; the relatively larger-brained Homo rudolfensis; the relatively slender Homo ergaster; and Homo erectus, the first to regularly keep the tools it made.
The level of variation seen in Homo fossils is typically used to define separate species. However, analysis of 1.8-million-year-old skulls excavated from the Republic of Georgia revealed the level of variation seen among those skulls was about the same as that seen among ancient African Homo fossils. As such, researchers suggest the earliest Homo fossils may not be multiple human species, but rather variants of a single lineage that emerged from Africa. In other words, instead of Africa once being home to multiple human species such as Homo erectus, Homo habilis, Homo ergaster and Homo rudolfensis, all of these specimens may actually simply be Homo erectus.
The genetic material, some 400,000 years old, came from a human thighbone unearthed in the Sima de los Huesos, or “Pit of Bones,” an underground cave in northern Spain. Until now, the previous oldest known human DNA had come from a 100,000-year-old Neanderthal from a Belgian cave.
The fossils unearthed at the site resembled those of Neanderthals, so researchers expected the ancient DNA they analyzed to be Neanderthal as well. Surprisingly, the DNA revealed that this fossil’s closest known relatives were not Neanderthals but Denisovans. This finding is strange, scientists said, because studies to date currently suggest the Denisovans lived in eastern Asia, not in western Europe, where this fossil was uncovered. One possible explanation is that a currently unknown human lineage brought Denisovan-like DNA into the Pit of Bones region, and possibly also to the Denisovans in Asia.
A pit in a French cave that may have been an intentional grave dug by Neanderthals to bury one of their number.
Credit: C. Beauval, Archéosphère company
Evolution of tool use
The capability to make and use complex tools is a critical trait distinguishing modern humans from all other species alive today. Now, scientists have found an ancient hand-bone fossil that reveals that the modern human ability to make and use complex tools may have originated far earlier than previously thought.
A key anatomical feature of the modern human hand is the third metacarpal, a bone in the palm that connects the middle finger to the wrist. A little projection of bone known as a styloid process in this bone helps the thumb and fingers apply greater amounts of pressure to the wrist and palm. Researchers had thought the styloid process was a relatively recent feature, perhaps evolving close to the origin of modern humans. However, scientists have discovered a 1.4-million-year-old fossil that possesses this vital anatomical feature, meaning it existed more than 500,000 years earlier than it was previously known to have existed and was perhaps fundamental to the evolution of the whole genus Homo, not just modern humans.
This hand bone may not be the only key trait for tool use that evolved near the origin of the human lineage. Humans are the only species that can throw with great speed and precision, and scientists found this ability first evolved nearly 2 million years ago with anatomical changes to the shoulder, arm and torso. This advance likely boosted the hunting prowess of now-extinct human ancestors, helping them effectively and safely kill big game.
In 2013, researchers also made important discoveries about Neanderthals, modern humans’ closest extinct relatives. For instance, analysis of a Neanderthal tomb in France suggests that, like modern humans, Neanderthals may have intentionally buried their dead. The new findings are further evidence that Neanderthals might have possessed complex forms of thought, enough for special treatment of the dead.
In addition, a cache of Neanderthal fossils discovered in a cave in Greece suggests the area may have been a key crossroad for ancient humans. The age of these fossils suggests Neanderthals and other humans may have had the opportunity to cross paths there, and even interact, the researchers added.
A girl goes nose-to-nose with a Neanderthal statue in Germany. Ancient DNA research is increasingly revealing the genetic links between modern humans and our extinct ancestors, including Neanderthals and the mysterious Denisovans.
Credit: Neanderthal Museum (Mettmann, Germany)
2013 was a year with major scientific breakthroughs — the Higgs boson was finally caught, and scientists managed to coax human DNA from 400,000-year-old fossil bones in Spain.
Along the way, however, scientists also found that the world is even stranger than we thought. From penis-snatching fears to the mystery daddies in humans’ genetic past, here are 10 of the most bizarre science stories of 2013.
1. Mystery ancestor
Ancient humans not only got busy with Neanderthals and Denisovans, they apparently had sex with mystery relatives as well. A new DNA analysis found that humans interbred with multiple close relatives as recently as 30,000 years ago. One scientist even described our ancient past as a “‘Lord of the Rings’-type world,” with many different human species living together. Let’s just hope we’re not part Orc.
2. Penis panic
Talk about penis anxiety. In March, anthropologists reported that penis panic was spreading through parts of West Africa. The fear, called koro, is that the genitals of the victims (mostly men, but sometimes women) are somehow shrinking into the body, or have been stolen. In an effort to stop the process, many people clamp or tie their genitals until they can seek help from shamans. The idea is that an accidental brush with a stranger caused the theft of the penis (or breast or vagina), and accusations of theft have occasionally resulted in lynchings of those accused. Koro is just one example of a mass hysteria that can spread to otherwise healthy people.
3. Quantum wormholes
Quantum mechanics, the strange laws that govern the very small, is baffling enough, but now researchers have recently raised the possibility of an even stranger phenomenon: that wormholes — shortcuts predicted by general relativity that could theoretically connect distant places in time and space — could help explain quantum entanglement, where the behavior of particles is linked across any distance. The new theory suggests that wormholes are just entangled black holes.
4. New boredom
As if the existing boredom isn’t enough, scientists have discovered a new type of boredom. Researchers previously knew there were different forms of boredom, from the slightly tired and lazy form that is slightly pleasant to the more negative feeling of being stuck in a boring lecture without the ability to escape. But it turns out that many youngsters now feel apathetic boredom — a kind of disengagement akin to depression that makes them flat and incapable of emotion. This type of boredom came with a host of negative emotions, but without the antsy-ness or irritability that comes with being trapped in a boring activity.
5. Yeti uncovered?
It’s the stuff of ancient lore — a mysterious shaggy beast known as the Yeti or the abominable snowman that walks upright throughout the snow-covered regions of the world. But in October, researchers claimed they had found genetic evidence to solve the mystery of the yeti. A DNA sample taken from a strange beast shot 40 years ago linked it to an ancient polar bear from Norway, raising the possibility that the Himalayas may have been home to an ancient form of polar bear that people mistook for a bipedal monster.
6. Pee power
If some scientists have their way, the future could be powered by pee. Researchers have developed a new fuel cell that pumps pee to generate electricity. The idea is to power robotic devices that could monitor everything from bridge safety to air pollution using the new devices.
A woman’s feet
Credit: Foot photo via Shutterstock
7. Foot orgasm
Many things — from a gym class to simple thoughts — can trigger orgasms in women, but a recent case report may take things to a new level. The case described a woman who experienced orgasmic sensations in her foot. Unfortunately, the orgasms were sudden and not spurred by lusty thoughts, making them an unwanted annoyance. Doctors suspect the “footgasms” happened after nerve damage caused by a bacterial infection led to crossed wires, with sensations from her vagina being interpreted as coming from her foot. To stop them, doctors injected an anesthetic into the foot, which seemed to do the trick.
8. New body part
After centuries of dissecting humans, you would think scientists would know all there is to know about the human anatomy. Not so. A new type of tissue was found in the eye, and was dubbed Dua’s layer after its discoverer, Harminder Singh Dua, a professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Nottingham. The structure sits at the back of the cornea, the structure in the eye that helps focus light.
9. Weird bats
2013 was the year when scientists made a stunning conclusion: Bats are just weird. Costa Rican bats use leaves as hearing aids, with the leaves amplifying sound like an ear horn. But bats also engage in lots of other weird behavior: Both male and female bats perform oral sex. In the male’s case, the procedure is meant to make sex last longer. And when they’re not busy using hearing aids or engaging in courtship rituals, bats use tongue erections to sop up nectar.
10. Honeybee buzz
Honeybees aren’t the only workers who need a mid-afternoon boost. The insects are more likely to remember plants, such as coffee and citrus flowers, that contain caffeine. The researchers believe the bees are drawn to caffeine-laced flowers by stronger memories. That’s a win-win for the plants and the bees, making the insects more effective at their jobs, while also making them more faithful pollinators for the plants.
CRACKLING SUNSPOT: AR1936 is waking up. The sunspot has a ‘beta-gamma’ magnetic field that harbors energy for strong eruptions, yet it has been quiet for days. Now AR1936 is beginning to crackle with flares. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash from an almost-M-class flare at 1800 UT on Dec. 28th:
Because the sunspot is facing Earth, any flares emanating from it are going to be geoeffective. So far, the extreme ultraviolet “crackles” have produced only minor waves of ionization in our planet’s upper atmosphere. Earth-effects will increase, however, if the activity continues to intensify
IMPORTANT UPDATE 18:59 UTC : RUMORS are currently circulating that a massive earthquake might strike soon along the Turkish coast. We want to stress that NOBODY in the world can currently predict the time and the strength of an earthquake. Aftershocks are a normal process and may go on for days and even weeks. Most of them will not be felt as they are occurring below the sea floor. So, PLEASE NEVER BELIEVE RUMORS AND BE ALWAYS PREPARED FOR A STRONG EARTHQUAKE.
Update 18:14 UTC : Somebody reported that the power failures in some places were due to a thunderstorm and NOT the earthquake
Update 17:14 UTC : Some shore locations in Turkey (like Sorgun) have a power failure and are hotels are currently working on emergency diesel generators.
Update 16:55 UTC : Numerous aftershocks are occurring in the epicenter area in the sea. Only a few of them will have been felt by people.
Update 16:41 UTC : Power failures are reported in parts of Cyprus. Until now we have not received (as expected) any report of injuries or serious damage.
Update 16:32 UTC : Instead of panicking during the shaking of an earthquake, people (also tourists) should read on “what to do if shaking starts”. Internationally accepted measures are definitely NOT running outside. In case of a very strong earthquake you can’t even walk anymore! Click here to read the instructions (in case it happens again)
Update 16:23 UTC : Reports of panic are being received. Other reports are confirming cracks in walls of hotels (and probably also of residential houses).
Update 16:22 UTC : Contrary to what could be expected based on the theoretical intensity values of the map below, our readers are reporting in average a light to moderate shaking (MMI IV and V) ! We know from our experience that earthquakes with a rupture point at an intermediate depth of 50 km are perceived as stronger than theoretically calculated.
Update 15:57 UTC : We have received an experience report from a reader in Side who has seen some small fissures in the wall. Anyone else seeing this kind of small damage, please send in your Experience report with the form below.
Update : This is how this earthquake looks like on a seismogram of the region.
The light blue shaded area on the map shows the theoretical shaking (max. weak shaking) of this earthquake.
Update 15:31 UTC : USGS has just published even better numbers than initially reported. The Magnitude has been decreased to 5.8 at a depth of 51 km. This makes that it was felt in a wide radius, BUT that it will normally NOT generate serious damage.
Update 15:28 UTC : There is NO danger for a tsunami at this magnitude.
Update 15:26 UTC : Based on the preliminary data we see at this moment, we expect NO serious damage in Cyprus or Turkey as the epicenter is below the Mediterranean Sea at a depth of 40 to 50 km.
80km (50mi) SSW of Avsallar, Turkey
86km (53mi) SW of Alanya, Turkey
89km (55mi) S of Manavgat, Turkey
93km (58mi) SE of Tekirova, Turkey
204km (127mi) WNW of Nicosia, Cyprus
The air is full of thick memories and heavy emotions. You can find yourself being in joy one moment and the next feeling as though everything has changed. The wind blows warm one minute and cold the next. There are scufflings behind you, while you are looking at the light. There are things you have not though of for so long coming forth and scratching at the periphery of your senses. This is a day for being quiet and accepting, while at the same time, knowing your power, knowing how powerful you are ,and how you have always within you the reserves to deal with anything and everything that comes your way, whether it comes in drips or as a wave. This is a day for knowing your focus. This is a time for setting your focus and your resolve and knowing that through all, this will keep you strong in where you are going and light the way. You must be ready, however, to accept the truth of what you see along the way and be ready to deal with it from your point of strength, centered in your core and working with the deep knowledge of the inner knowing of the heart.
This shot was taken on December 26, 2013 in my backyard.
A special thanks to Vice and The Creators Project for filming an awesome behind the scenes video and finally letting me tell my story about my learning disability and how art has helped me find my path in life.
You can check out the video here: youtube.com/watch?v=lxxV5mIcI9E&;
*The “3 Suns Rising” In 2 of the Milky Way clips are off shore oil rigs.*
“Into The Atmosphere,” is my tribute to the state of California and the beautiful deserts, mountains and coastlines that exist there. This video showcases a variety of national/state parks as well as less recognized natural areas. The video also focuses on clouds, fog and interesting atmospheric conditions. Although California is known for blue sunshine skies, seeing a colorful storm cloud over Half Dome or an incredible sunset at the La Jolla Coves is really a sight to see. The goal of this video is to show these environments in their best possible light.
Living in California all my life, I had as much time as I needed to really capture the essence and beauty it provides. This video was an ongoing project for about a year with an estimated 75,000 images taken, and about 12,400 made it into the 3.5 minute piece.
My Grandmother Alice Harpin passed away during the last two weeks of shooting this video. The film is dedicated to her memory. Without her and the love of my family this video would not have been possible.
To create this video there were many nights sleeping outside, and many days spent in the wild to embrace the environment and get to know the surroundings. There is a common misconception about Timelapse shooters that we quickly set up cameras and go sleep in the car for hours at a time, which is far from the truth. We are constantly hiking heavy equipment through dangerous areas and spending time camping in uncomfortable situations, I love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Some of the locations are Mono Lake, Anza Borrego Desert, Alabama Hills, Trona Pinnacles, Big Sur, Mount Laguna, Santa Maria, Yosemite, Gaviota, The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, La Jolla Coves, Santa Ynez, the San Francisco Coast, and the Santa Barbara Mountains.
What would you do if a cop pulled you over for no reason other than to convince you to submit to a DNA swab test inside your mouth? And then offered you money but not much of a choice in the matter? Would you claim it to be unconstitutional or acquiesce?
Kim Cope, a driver pulled over in Texas said, “I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but he wouldn’t let me and forced me into a parking spot.”
Attorney Rory Ellinger pointed out, “To the average person, all the authority and prosecutorial demeanor of an officer directing you to pull over amounts to an order, not a voluntary act.”
St. Charles County, Missouri, Sheriff Tom Neer said his department had been “duped” into cooperating with the government subcontractor conducting the study. He said, “We will not cooperate with one of these federal checkpoints again. And we would not have contracted with the subcontractor on this one if we had known in advance that our officers would be asked to flag down motorists. In essence, we got duped, and shame on me.”
Civil liberty attorney Frank Colosi said, “You can’t just be pulled over randomly or for no reason. They’re essentially lying to you when they say it’s completely voluntary, because they’re testing you at that moment.”
There are things in the air today that can leave you wondering just what is happening. The energies are swirling around, reaching a crescendo as the year draws to the end. This is a day in which the truth will be uncovered in different areas. You can respond as you will. Things that are true remain so, it is your reaction and desires which color the truth according to how you are able to deal with it in a given time period. Be kind to yourself and others today. The sense of ease that is around can be accessed by you if you are open, allowing, and accepting. Know what you know and use your intuition, the inner knowing of your heart as your guide. Listen to what it being said there and know that the messages coming forth are for you to assist you in these most chaotic times.