This article is a bit of fun, but also quite serious, and it seems apropos of the season that when Christians are celebrating the ultimate “portal opening” that scientists are trying to come up with their own version. This story was spotted and shared by J.K. (thank you), and since we’ve discussed such topics many times in our vidchats and occassionally in public blogs on this site, it seems appropriate to do so again.
The fun part of this article comes from the fact that it’s a tabloid newspaper, The NY Post, that’s reporting it from last July:
In spite of the headline here, that scientists are trying to open a “portal”, the experiment involves, I rather suspect, something else entirely, namely, quantum tunneling. Here’s what’s said about the experiment:
Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in eastern Tennessee are trying to open a portal to a parallel universe.
The project — which has been compared to the Upside Down in the Netflix blockbuster “Stranger Things” — hopes to show a world identical to ours where life is mirrored.
Leah Broussard, the physicist leading the experiment, told NBC the plan is “pretty wacky” but will “totally change the game,” ahead of a series of experiments she plans to run this summer.
Broussard’s experiment will fire a beam of subatomic particles down a 50-foot tunnel. The beam will pass a powerful magnet and hit an impenetrable wall, with a neutron detector behind it.
If the experiment is successful, particles will transform into mirror images of themselves, allowing them to burrow right through the impenetrable wall. (Emphasis added)
Now why do I suspect that this is about quantum tunneling and not “opening portals”? Because quantum tunneling is the phenomenon whereby small atomic or sub-atomic particles somehow burrow their way through impenetrable barriers, usually very thin ones. In classical pre-quantum mechanical era physics, they should not be able to do this. What’s interesting here, however, is that the “wall” appears to be thicker, and that the experiment is predicated on a hypothesis that many have thought to be the reality behind the phenomenon: the creation of “mirror images” of the particle impacting the barrier emerging on the other side of it. In other words, the particle doesn’t really burrow through the barrier, but rather, knocks a particle in the barrier – a mirror image of itself – loose. In a way, it’s a kind of entanglement. What the article is suggesting is that this experiment is being conducted on much larger levels and scales than previous tunneling experiments, perhaps to see if the tunneling phenomenon itself can occur at much larger scales than hitherto thought. If so, then it would dovetail nicely with recent experiments demonstrating that entanglement itself can occur at much larger scales than previously thought.
But at the very end of the article, there’s a statement that forms the matrix for today’s high octane speculation:
However, there wouldn’t be an alternate version of you. Current theory, the outlet explains, only hypothesizes that mirror atoms and mirror rocks are possible — and perhaps even mirror planets and stars.
It’s that statement that I take is the clue for the idea that the tunneling phenomenon may work at larger scales than once thought. But it’s that statement that “there wouldn’t be an alternate version of you,” that really sent my high octane speculation motor into overdrive, for what it suggests is that there’s no reason to expect that conscious intention has anything to do with the tunneling phenomenon.
Here I beg to differ, and strongly suspect that the exact opposite might be true. After all, at the heart of quantum mechanics is the Uncertainty Principle that one cannot measure the position and momentum of an electron at the same time, one must choose one or the other. And it’s that act of choosing one or the other than put the Observer squarely in the center of modern physics,for before an experiment is even performed, one has already determined the quality of its outcome based on that choice. This has led to a whole new focus on the Observer not only within physics, but within scientific studies of “the paranormal” (for want of a better expression). Anyone familiar with the work of retired materials science professor at the University of California, Dr. William Tiller, will be familiar with the astonishing results of his experiments in the ability of mere human intention to alter material or chemical states with measurable results. Similar experiments were performed during the USA’s covert and highly classified “remote viewing” experiments of the 1970s and 1980s.
Now apply that idea to the tunneling phenomenon: could it be rendered more, or less, efficient by human intentionality? I suspect so, and if I can think of it, rest assured, they have too, but we’ll probably never hear about the results of those experiments…
Do you envision a future filled with nanotechnology, robots, and faster, smarter computers?
Dreams for this type of future may be slowed to a halt, as groups of concerned citizens resist the increasingly present self-checkout. Fear of economic downturn and job loss ward off shoppers from using such automated tellers.
Canadians Proudly Resist Self-Checkout
A Canadian university, sharing results from a national grocery shopping study, was the first to raise the red flag on mounting consumer worries of the rapidly multiplying self-checkout kiosks.
Of Canadians surveyed in the study, more than 1/4 said they had never used the self-checkout stall, not even for a small purchase at the grocery store. Their motivations for avoiding the machines?
The primary mission of these Canadians is to save cashier jobs.
One northern shopper, Dan Morris, told CBC, “They’re trying to basically herd everyone in, get everyone used to the self-checkouts to continuously cut down on staff”.
Some Canadians have taken additional action against the self-checkouts, starting petitions and sharing memes on social media, to get the word out: “never use a self-checkout – they kill jobs.” (1)
Shopping In America
Federal data shows that store cashier is the second most common job in the U.S., employing about 3.5 million Americans. (2)
Despite the significant number of cashiers nationwide, it is surprisingly not all doom and gloom in the U.S. on the self-checkout front.
In fact, the self-checkout concept is spreading and growing at a rapid pace. Sure there have been setbacks, as seen with Wal-mart’s Scan & Go services, but Stores like Sam’s Club and Amazon Go have already presented a working model for completely cashier-less stores.
A few Americans dislike the prospect of job downturn due to automation, but it has not been as pronounced as in Canada or stopped the momentum of the movement. (3)
Shoppers seem to enjoy the experience at these automated stores, marveling at the technology, and they still see a few humans during their visit. For example, cashier-less stores employee ‘Hosts’ who offer in-store assistance to shoppers and software developers.
Overall, embracing technology can reduce your time needed to shop and still bring you in contact with dedicated employees who will meet your customer service needs. (1, 4)
Fighting Automation – An Uphill Battle?
The grocery store is not the only place of business modernizing and automating redundant jobs with machines.
Roles like the bank teller and payroll clerk, as per the World Economic Forum, are “expected to become increasingly redundant” over the next four years.
Are the many people staving off self-checkouts fighting ATM use too? (5)
Ultimately, increasing competition with online stores and mounting labor costs (increasing minimum wage) challenge the financial success of nearly all brick-and-mortar stores.
Automatic tellers could keep the doors open longer, and among more grocery businesses in small cities across America, who already work on thin profit margins.
As evidenced by other technological advances of the past, there is a strong reason to believe that more jobs will be created in the same or other sectors as automation increases.
Ultimately, no machine can replace the services provided by one human for another. (1)
A magnitude 6.4 earthquake shook southwestern Puerto Rico this morning (Jan. 7), according to the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS); this is the largest yet in a series of quakes that have hit the region.
At least one person died as walls collapsed around the area, and eight more people were injured, according to NPR. Electricity went out across Puerto Rico as automated systems shut down the island’s power plants, recalling power outages that lasted 11 months after Hurricane Maria, which caused the worst blackout in US history. The North American and Caribbean tectonic plates meet in this area, but the quake doesn’t appear to be the result of those plates grinding together, according to USGS. Instead, a release of energy and stress inside the Caribbean plate seems to have caused the shaking.
A day earlier, a smaller, 5.8 magnitude quake in the same area destroyed a natural rock archway along the coast known as the Punta Ventana, NPR reported. Since a 4.7 magnitude earthquake struck the area on Dec. 28, 2019, more than 400 quakes of at least magnitude 2 have hit Puerto Rico’s southwest region. Eleven have been magnitude 4 or greater, according to USGS.
(The numbers used to measure quakes are nonlinear. A magnitude 3 quake is 10 times as powerful as a magnitude 2 quake, and a magnitude 4 quake is 10 times as powerful as a magnitude 3 quake and so on.)
Puerto Rico’s governor, Wanda Vázquez, suspended work for the day for public sector workers who aren’t first responders.
PhD Candidate in the Study of Religion, University of California, Davis
Aaron French does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
You’ve likely used the internet to help you remember something, like a quote from a movie, only to discover the answer differed from what you had anticipated. Maybe you shrugged, telling yourself your memory was faulty, and went on with your life.
But what if you found thousands of people online had this same experience about this same movie quote – and misremembered it in exactly the same way?
Could all these people be wrong? What if their memories were actually correct, and someone – or something – had slightly altered the past?
That’s the theme of the new film “The Mandela Effect.” The movie’s title refers to a real internet phenomenon – some might call it a conspiracy theory – that has become increasingly popular over the past few years.
Those who believe in the Mandela Effect are convinced that small details from the past are being altered.
As a scholar of religion, I see the growing interest in the Mandela Effect as one offshoot of a larger trend in conspiratorial and alternative thinking. But it also signals a change in the way people are experiencing history and a general distrust of the collective historical narrative.
The origin story
The phrase appears to have been coined around 2009 by a paranormal researcher named Fiona Broome.
On her website, Broome explained how, during a science fiction and fantasy convention, someone mentioned to her that former South African president Nelson Mandela was still alive. And yet Broome was convinced that he had died in prison in the 1990s. She even remembered watching his funeral on TV. Of course, Nelson Mandela was very much alive at the time.
During the convention, she probed others about commonly misremembered historical details. The phrase “the Mandela Effect” was born.
The Mandela Effect caught my attention in 2012 after I read a blog post about one of the better-known examples of it: the spelling of the popular children’s book series “The Berenstain Bears.”
The blogger, “Reece,” was convinced it had always been spelled “Berenstein.” To explain the change, the post floated the idea that our reality had been altered. According to Reece, in the past, the name actually had ended with “–ein.” But in this new reality, it had always been “–ain.” The blog concluded by proposing that we are living in a parallel universe.
Before Reece wrote this post, the spellings were already being discussed on the online message board 4chan, and many others also remembered it as “Berenstein.” As the idea migrated to YouTube, it took off, with one video garnering almost 10 million views.
If you build it…he will come?
Since then, hundreds of examples of the Mandela Effect have been documented. People are convinced that Darth Vader’s quote from “The Empire Strikes Back” – “No, I am your father” – was originally “Luke, I am your father.”
Some claim that in “Field of Dreams,” the line “If you build it, he will come” was changed from “If you build it, they will come.” And they’re certain that the Queen’s famous quote from “Snow White” – “Magic mirror on the wall” – was, at one point, “Mirror, mirror on the wall.”
It isn’t just movie quotes. Proponents of the Mandela Effect are convinced that “Sex and the City” was once actually titled “Sex in the City.” They also claim logos and product names, from Ford to Froot Loops, have changed, and that Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly once wore a monocle but now no longer does.
Among adherents, several explanations for this phenomenon have emerged.
Some theorize that the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research has been distorting the fabric of reality with its experiments, launching us into an alternative dimension. Others have interpreted it through a religious lens; to them, it’s a sign that the end times are imminent.
Cognitive scientists tend to give a more straightforward, psychological explanation: they’re examples of “schema driven errors,” which refer to distortions in the way memories are packaged and then recalled.
The internet has oversaturated the world with information, and it’s also radically democratized content to an extent we haven’t seen since the invention of the printing press. For this reason, people are more likely to question conventional ways of thinking – as Goethe once wrote, “We know accurately only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases.”
But this has also created an environment for conspiracy theories to thrive.
History’s metanarratives are malleable
Not everything about the Mandela Effect can simply be discounted as conspiracies or false collective memories.
In such cases, people are actually confronting something that historians have long grappled with – namely, an understanding that the historical narrative is, in part, a human construct, not an objective reality. There tend to be gaping holes and inconsistencies in the way history and science are formed, taught, learned, and understood.
Most people typically don’t concern themselves with the question of whether history is real. Yet they go through life with assumptions narrated by the powers that be, whether it’s a cultural trope like the American dream or the idea that capitalism arose through a natural progression of mercantile economics, rationalization and human nature.
Such metanarratives are manifest; all contain an element of truth. But all are human creations, and because they have been created, they can be changed.
In the movie “The Mandela Effect,” the main character descends into a world where nothing can be trusted and reality is constantly in flux.
As we plunge toward an unknown future that feels increasingly unstable, it’s a fitting parable for our time. Questioning the shared understanding of reality and history might provoke instability. But it may also induce answers to questions we never thought to ask.
New discoveries in the Valley of the Kings, looted art from Venezuela and evidence that humans were in Central America more than 20,000 years ago are just some of the stories Live Science will be watching out for in 2020.
Tombs of pharaohs and queens in Valley of the Kings
Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, which holds the tomb of King Tut and other Egyptian royalty, divulged several of its secrets in 2019, including a workshop complex, mummification cache, ostraca (pottery with writing on it) and newfound mummies. Excavations were carried out in both the east and west valleys of the Valley of the Kings and was funded in part by media companies that are paying for the right to film the excavations.
Excavations in the east and west valleys of the royal cemetery are ongoing; the artifacts found in 2019 are still being analyzed, and hieroglyphic writing on the ostraca is in the process of being deciphered. With all this work going on, it’s likely that more discoveries will be made in the Valley of the Kings in 2020. Zahi Hawass, the former Egyptian antiquities minister who is leading work in the valley, believes that several tombs built for the pharaohs and their queens have yet to be found.
Smelly problem ahead
The melting of permafrost in the Arctic and sub-Arctic is causing the remains of both humans and animals to thaw and decompose, giving local inhabitants a smelly problem to deal with.
The re-emergence of smallpox and other now-extinct diseases from these corpses is generally regarded by scientists as being extremely unlikely, and the World Health Organization (WHO) says that corpses don’t usually pose a major health problem. Even so, the emerging corpses bring with them some other issues. For instance, the corpses will inevitably smell and, if the dethawing corpses are underneath a building that humans still use, the corpses need to be dug up and re-interred to get rid of the smell. Additionally, if the corpses are near a water supply there is a risk of water becoming contaminated and causing illnesses such as gastroenteritis, according to the WHO.
Sweden is grappling with this problem on a growing scale. Centuries ago, there was a tradition in Sweden where people preferred to be buried under the floors of churches. However, as Earth’s temperature warms, these bodies are starting to thaw and decay. This problem can be exacerbated when churches install modern-day heating equipment that can warm a church more effectively (making it easier for corpses to thaw).
The problems associated with the thawing of long-buried bodies will likely get more attention in 2020 in the Arctic and sub-Arctic.
Archaeological treasure awaits at El-Assasif
In 2019, archaeologists discovered 30 sealed wooden coffins, their mummies still intact, in the ancient necropolis of El-Assasif near Luxor, Egypt. Dating back around 3,000 years, the haul of coffins has been called a “cachette of the priests” because some of the mummies are those of priests.
The decorations on the coffins are well preserved and none of the tombs had been robbed; grave looting in Egypt has been a common occurrence in both ancient and modern times, so to find 30 coffins and their mummies all untouched by grave robbers is extremely rare.
Archaeologists are continuing their excavations at El-Assasif. They are also analyzing the cachette in greater detail, translating the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the coffins and learning more about the mummies within. In 2020, they will likely dig up even more discoveries from this necropolis. Hopefully any new finds will also be untouched by looters.
Lost art of Venezuela
The situation in Venezuela is dire. Lack of food, medicine and rising violence all occurring after the country’s economic collapse has left the country in a terrible state. In 2018, Nicolás Maduro, the country’s president, was re-elected in what the country’s opposition said was a fraudulent vote, leading to a standoff between Maduro and the country’s opposition parties led by Juan Guaidó. The Brookings Institute estimates that more than 4.5 million people have fled Venezuela, a number that may jump to 6 million by the end of 2020.
While the world’s attention has, understandably, being focused on the humanitarian crisis and political strife, there is evidence that Venezuela’s rich historical treasures are being lost. Live Science has monitored large shipments of art leaving Venezuela. Documents from the U.S. Census Agency showed that in 2018 more than $12 million in art and antiques were shipped from Venezuela to the United States; and there are signs that some of this was stolen.
In September 2019, the Associated Press reported that the FBI was investigating stolen art from Venezuela that is being trafficked abroad. Venezuela’s opposition, led by Guaidó, claims that members of Maduro’s government are stealing the country’s art and selling it for their own personal benefit. Whether these claims are true or not is unclear.
In 2020, we can expect to hear more about the loss of Venezuela’s heritage.
Humans in Central America more than 20,000 years ago?
Live Science is aware of new research that suggests humans reached Central America more than 20,000 years ago. This would have occurred at a time when glaciers covered much of North America.
If this research is verified, it would be the oldest evidence for humans south of Alaska in the Americas. The new evidence the scientific team found includes a sizable number of stone tools as well as organic remains found in a cave. Various dating methods are being used to determine the age of the artifacts.
Previously, claims have been made of humans venturing south of Alaska before 20,000 years ago, though these claims have been found to be false or questionable. The scientists of the new study are aware of this and are taking the time to conduct additional fieldwork and analysis before publishing or widely disseminating their results.
If all goes well, this research will be published in a peer-reviewed journal sometime in 2020, and scientists not affiliated with the project will have a chance to evaluate its accuracy.
What if I told you that our universe was flooded with hundreds of kinds of nearly invisible particles and that, long ago, these particles formed a network of universe-spanning strings?
It sounds both trippy and awesome, but it’s actually a prediction of string theory, our best (but frustratingly incomplete) attempt at a theory of everything. These bizarre, albeit hypothetical, little particles are known as axions, and if they can be found, that would mean we all live in a vast “axiverse.”
The best part of this theory is that it’s not just some physicist’s armchair hypothesis, with no possibility of testing. This incomprehensibly huge network of strings may be detectable in the near future with microwave telescopes that are actually being built.
If found, the axiverse would give us a major step up in figuring out the puzzle of … well, all of physics.
A symphony of strings
OK, let’s get down to business. First, we need to get to know the axion a little better. The axion, named by physicist (and, later, Nobel laureate) Frank Wilczek in 1978, gets its name because it’s hypothesized to exist from a certain kind of symmetry-breaking. I know, I know — more jargon. Hold on. Physicists love symmetries — when certain patterns appear in mathematics.
There’s one kind of symmetry, called the CP symmetry, that says that matter and antimatter should behave the same when their coordinates are reversed. But this symmetry doesn’t seem to fit naturally into the theory of the strong nuclear force. One solution to this puzzle is to introduce another symmetry in the universe that “corrects” for this misbehavior. However, this new symmetry only appears at extremely high energies. At everyday low energies, this symmetry disappears, and to account for that, and out pops a new particle — the axion.
Now, we need to turn to string theory, which is our attempt (and has been our main attempt for 50-odd years now) to unify all of the forces of nature, especially gravity, in a single theoretical framework. It’s proven to be an especially thorny problem to solve, due to a variety of factors, not the least of which is that, for string theory to work (in other words, for the mathematics to even have a hope of working out), our universe must have more than the usual three dimensions of space and one of time; there have to be extra spatial dimensions.
These spatial dimensions aren’t visible to the naked eye, of course; otherwise, we would’ve noticed that sort of thing. So the extra dimensions have to be teensy-tiny and curled up on themselves at scales so small that they evade normal efforts to spot them.
What makes this hard is that we’re not exactly sure how these extra dimensions curl up on themselves, and there’s somewhere around 10^200 possible ways to do it.
But what these dimensional arrangements appear to have in common is the existence of axions, which, in string theory, are particles that wind themselves around some of the curled-up dimensions and get stuck.
What’s more, string theory doesn’t predict just one axion but potentially hundreds of different kinds, at a variety of masses, including the axion that might appear in the theoretical predictions of the strong nuclear force.
So, we have lots of new kinds of particles with all sorts of masses. Great! Could axions make up dark matter, which seems to be responsible for giving galaxies most of their mass but can’t be detected by ordinary telescopes? Perhaps; it’s an open question. But axions-as-dark-matter have to face some challenging observational tests, so some researchers instead focus on the lighter end of the axion families, exploring ways to find them.
And when those researchers start digging into the predicted behavior of these featherweight axions in the early universe, they find something truly remarkable. In the earliest moments of the history of our cosmos, the universe went through phase transitions, changing its entire character from exotic, high-energy states to regular low-energy states.
During one of these phase transitions (which happened when the universe was less than a second old), the axions of string theory didn’t appear as particles. Instead, they looked like loops and lines — a network of lightweight, nearly invisible strings crisscrossing the cosmos.
This hypothetical axiverse, filled with a variety of lightweight axion strings, is predicted by no other theory of physics but string theory. So, if we determine that we live in an axiverse, it would be a major boon for string theory.
A shift in the light
How can we search for these axion strings? Models predict that axion strings have very low mass, so light won’t bump into an axion and bend, or axions likely wouldn’t mingle with other particles. There could be millions of axion strings floating through the Milky Way right now, and we wouldn’t see them.
But the universe is old and big, and we can use that to our advantage, especially once we recognize that the universe is also backlit.
The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is the oldest light in the universe, emitted when it was just a baby — about 380,000 years old. This light has soaked the universe for all these billions of years, filtering through the cosmos until it finally hits something, like our microwave telescopes.
So, when we look at the CMB, we see it through billions of light-years’ worth of universe. It’s like looking at a flashlight”s glow through a series of cobwebs: If there is a network of axion strings threaded through the cosmos, we could potentially spot them.
In a recent study, published in the arXiv database on Dec. 5, a trio of researchers calculated the effect an axiverse would have on CMB light. They found that, depending on how a bit of light passes near a particular axion string, the polarization of that light could shift. That’s because the CMB light (and all light) is made of waves of electric and magnetic fields, and the polarization of light tells us how the electric fields are oriented — something that changes when the CMB light encounters an axion. We can measure the polarization of the CMB light by passing the signal through specialized filters, allowing us to pick out this effect.
The researchers found that the total effect on the CMB from a universe full of strings introduced a shift in polarization amounting to around 1%, which is right on the verge of what we can detect today. But future CMB mappers, such as the Cosmic Origins Explorer, Lite (Light) satellite for the studies of B-mode polarization and Inflation from cosmic background Radiation Detection (LiteBIRD), and the Primordial Inflation Explorer (PIXIE) , are currently being designed. These futuristic telescopes would be capable of sniffing out an axiverse. And once those mappers come online, we’ll either find that we live in an axiverse or rule out this particular prediction of string theory.
(TMU) — Mysterious clusters of drones have been spotted over northeastern Colorado and southwest Nebraska for the past two weeks and no one has been able to figure out who they belong to.
Earlier this week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that they were launching an investigation into the strange occurrence after local investigations failed to produce any leads.
In a statement to Reuters, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said “multiple FAA divisions and government agencies are investigating these reports,” but provided no other details about the investigation, stating that it is against their policy to comment on an open case. Thus far, no government agencies or private companies have claimed responsibility for the drones.
The issue was first officially recognized by law enforcement on December 20, when the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado made a Facebook post saying that there were “multiple reports of drone sightings in the county over the last week.”
On the day that the report was made, officers from Phillips county and nearby Yuma county “tracked over 16 drones between the two counties.” The post went on to say, “we believe that the drones, though startling, are not malicious in nature.”
Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliot described the drone clusters to Reuters, saying that they flew in square grid patterns multiple nights in a row and usually appeared during the same times each day, between 5pm and 10pm. At night, the drones can be identified by their lights.
“They now have moved into Morgan County (Colorado) and have been spotted in Perkins County, Nebraska,” Elliot said.
Elliot suggested that it could be possible that oil or gas companies have been using the drones for land exploration, but no private companies have come forward to claim them. Local residents have attempted to track down the drones for more clues about their origin, but haven’t had any luck. In one case, Wyatt Harman and his girlfriend Chelsea Arnold chased the drones down the highway for 15 miles, driving as fast as 70mph, but they eventually lost sight of the elusive drones.
In the midst of this investigation, the FAA proposed for all drones operating in the United States to be registered and tracked.
“Remote ID technologies will enhance safety and security by allowing the F.A.A., law enforcement and federal security agencies to identify drones flying in their jurisdiction,” the federal transportation secretary, Elaine L. Chao, said in a statement to the New York Times last week.
Many People Are Now Celebrating “Buy Nothing Day” Instead of “Black Friday”
Advocates of Buy Nothing Day say that they hope to encourage mindfulness about consumption habits.
(TT) — Each year in the United States, millions of people participate in a mass ritual in consumerism that has come to be known as Black Friday.
Less than 24 hours after people claim to contemplate on what they are thankful for, many of them engage in battle with their neighbors over discounted plastic or electronic goods. As the years go on, the scenes at Black Friday sales have become increasingly chaotic and violent, with deaths and injuries becoming commonplace.
Many people decide to stay home and shop online instead, while others have decided to boycott the sales altogether. The most popular Black Friday boycott is known as “Buy Nothing Day,” and it has been going strong for 24 years now. The boycott was initially organized by Vancouver-based artist Ted Dave, who wanted to promote a “day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.”
The first official boycott kicked off on the same day as Black Friday in 1997, and has spread all over the world in the decades since.
The website of the UK chapter for Buy Nothing Day states that:
“The rules are simple, for 24 hours you will detox from buying stuff – anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending! Instead of shopping, people around the world will take part in a 24-hour moratorium on consuming, either as a personal experiment or public statement. The anarchy that ensues on Black Friday has now become an absurd dystopian phenomenon … Black Friday sucks the life out of small businesses, who cannot compete against this ruthless price cutting. If you really need to shop on Buy Nothing Day, ignore the big retailers … make commitment to support local independent shops and businesses.”
Advocates of Buy Nothing Day say that they hope to encourage mindfulness about consumption habits that will last for years to come.
According to the National Retail Federation, more than 174 million Americans shopped from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday in 2016. The average amount that each shopper spent that year was around $335.
This year, experts predict that 165 million people plan on shopping for Black Friday this year.
A smattering of small galaxies appear to be missing a whole lot of dark matter.
Most of a typical galaxy is invisible. This elusive mass, known as dark matter, seems to be an indispensable ingredient for creating a galaxy — it’s the scaffolding that attracts normal matter — yet reveals itself only as an extra gravitational tug on gas and stars.
But now, researchers have found 19 dwarf galaxies — all much smaller than the Milky Way — that defy this common wisdom. These newly identified outliers have much less dark matter than expected. The finding, published November 25 in Nature Astronomy, more than quintuples the known population of dark-matter renegades, adding fuel to an already simmering mystery.
“We are not sure why and how these galaxies form,” says Qi Guo, an astrophysicist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Typical dwarf galaxies concentrate dark matter far more than their larger cousins, she notes. Their smaller size leads to weaker gravity, which has trouble holding on to tenuous clouds of gas. That usually shifts the balance of mass in dwarf galaxies away from normal matter and toward dark matter.
“This new class of galaxy is straining our ability to explain all galaxies in one cohesive framework,” says Kyle Oman, an astrophysicist at Durham University in England who was not involved in this research.
In 2016, Oman and his colleagues identified two galaxies that appeared to be missing dark matter. In short order, two more oddballs turned up (SN: 3/28/18).
Guo and her colleagues wondered if these galaxies had more company. So using existing data from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, the team weighed dwarf galaxies by looking at how fast hydrogen whipped around each one. Higher speed means more total mass. The researchers then combined the mass of the hydrogen and of all the stars, inferred from starlight, to estimate how much of each galaxy’s mass is made up of normal matter.
For every galaxy, total mass added up to more than the mass of the gas and stars — not surprising, as that extra mass is the dark matter. But in about 6 percent of cases, there wasn’t as much extra mass as expected.
One oddball, designated AGC 213086, weighs in at around 14 billion suns. If it were typical, about 2 percent of its mass — nearly 280 million solar masses — would be gas and stars. Instead, its actual inventory of normal matter is about 3.8 billion solar masses, or about 27 percent of its total mass.
Of 324 dwarf galaxies analyzed, 19 appear to be missing similarly large stores of dark matter. Those 19 are all within about 500 million light-years of Earth, and five are in or near other groups of galaxies. In those cases, the researchers note, perhaps their galactic neighbors have somehow siphoned off their dark matter. But the remaining 14 are far from other galaxies. Either these oddballs were born different, or some internal machinations such as exploding stars have upset their balance of dark matter and everyday matter, or baryons.
It may not be a case of missing dark matter, says James Bullock, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Irvine. Instead, maybe these dwarf galaxies have clung to their normal matter — or even stolen some — and so “have too many baryons.” Either way, he says, “this is telling us something about the diversity of galaxy formation…. Exactly what that’s telling us, that’s the trick.”
The world is increasingly complicated. This increased complexity is not helped by the fact that people are less aware of simple principles and simple practices. Simplicity is often overlooked, and yet simplicity is exactly the thing that tends to be effortlessly helpful and near endlessly applicable in situations of complexity. Complexity normally has limited applicability, while simplicity normally has unlimited applicability.
Complex principles and practices are as difficult to stand on as clouds and tend to result in clouded situations instead of clarity. Simple principles and practices, on the other hand, provide a great base to develop on, near endlessly. Complexity is often pursued because in the design of the status quo, complex practices and principles offer a quick means to ends, a way to win money.
The results of complex pursuits are complex problems. Simple pursuits do not result in complex problems. It’s not simplicity that blossoms from complexity, only more complexity. Simplicity blossoms from simplicity, as does our potential ability to solve complex problems.
The unsustainable status quo of humanity is illustrated in the allegory of the islander who leaves home. The proverbial ‘go-getter’ islander leaves home aiming to gain enough money to purchase an island home – but when he finally returns, the island has changed due to aggregate complexity. His island is no longer the same. Simplicity would have been remaining on the island or going to a different island to find work and a home there.
Why Do We Prefer Complexity?
Simply put, because complexity is more profitable than simplicity.
All too frequently simplicity is overlooked because the most profitable pursuits in an unsustainable world are complicated. Simplicity is often an intangible quality, whereas complexity yields mostly tangible quantities. This distinction makes complexity a preferable pursuit to win money. Many also find it preferable to stay busy with quantifying things, rather than performing sometimes uncomfortable qualitative inner work.
Sometimes complexity is preferred because complexity profits, and sometimes complexity is preferred because it is a distraction, a way to keep our attention on obtaining stuff rather than paying attention to our own inner stuff, rather than performing the difficult duty of performing the great work; the inner work.
This has resulted in many sensible systems, ideas, truth and fairness, and even the ability to obtain clean water on whole continents, being left behind in favour of complex profitable means with complex and dire results.
Truth and Fairness Suffer Under Complexity
Truth and fairness have been removed and shifted in order to uphold the profitability of various complexities globally. Sometimes we learn about these transgressions of truth and fairness, sometimes we do not, even though we are living through their consequence. The energy oligarchies and related institutions are among the most obviously guilty of gross lying about destructive actions with endless complex consequences.
Truth and fairness are generally overlooked in relation to gaining means towards ends. People will boldly exclaim that they are conducting their business for profit. Hardly any proclaim their pursuit of truth and fairness. We, collectively, presume most all other institutional functions are formed in order to profit, truth and fairness be damned. And it is apparent, clean water be damned. In fact, we have allowed some of the most preposterous greedy pursuits to infiltrate the institutions we trust with our maintenance, healing, and social development worldwide.
How Complexity Subdues Individuality
The majority prefer complexity and artificiality due to bureaucratic training. We end up institutionalized, in one form of survival mode or another, where questioning beyond the status quo is outside our scope. Seeking individuation or self-development is hardly considered. Most prefer not to think much and not to think much differently than the majority. The impulse to not think much and not think much differently are institutionally pushed from Beijing to London. Alternative and critical thinking has been continuously subtly punished, and is increasingly overtly punished. We are institutionalized to the point where we accept systems of individual detriment in order to progress institutional development. This is evidence of how we have been manipulated. This thinking must be removed for our collective good.
“Empty your cup so that it may be filled; become devoid to gain totality.” ~ Bruce Lee
To not question and not reason goes against our true nature. Asking ‘why’ repeatedly and near obsessively is perhaps distinct in human nature. It is our first impulse when we first are capable of communication. Following complexity and artificiality without question requires us to have been immersed in it to the point that we do not notice what is around us. Institutionalization rather than individuation damages and degrades the psyche to the point we do not observe self nor surroundings.
In this increasingly complex world we are trained to not consider, to not reason, and to not seek truth. We are further repetitively steered to think not as individuals, but as institutions, and perform all sorts of work which builds institutions, and not our own individuation.
Humanity’s Inhumanity Arises from Complexity
There are many ways humanity is steered to be inhumane, but a large portion of it all can be understood as the removal of, or distortion of, simplicity. If we stand on simple principles we are not so easily steered off base. When we know a few simple practices we are not so easily tricked with proverbial carrots on strings. If on the other hand we are immersed in complexity without principled roots and steady development practices, we easily topple to the winds of institutional and artificial influences.
Planetary pollution is the most blatant outcome of a complex world which lacks a majority of reasoned individuals. The artificiality destroying the planet and transforming ecosystems into lifeless zones is due to humanity celebrating complexity. Humanity has collectively decided that the complexity of being wasteful at the cost of our environment is preferable to simplicity of secured and sustained existence. Humanity altered the planet to the point that we are responsible for extinctions of species because of our illogical, unreasonable, unsustainable greed.
We collectively destroy and allow for the destruction of simplicity while enabling complexity. We collectively have obfuscated truth and authenticity for artificiality with dire results. Simple principles and practices are less easily manipulated. From a base of simplicity, we would not choose complexity. Simplicity enables us to shake off artificiality in part because it provokes curiosity rather than culling it.
The Simplicity of the Tao and the Tenets of Thoth
The knowledge and wisdom found in the teachings related to The Tao and to The Tenets of Thoth are denied importance and ridiculed as antiquated.
Yet, one of the simplest concepts leading to the most profound ideas and observations is The Taiji. The Taiji is what is typically known in The West as The Yin Yang symbol. The Taiji is the symbol of The Tao. The Taiji is made up of four parts. There is Major and Minor, Yin and Yang aspects. There is a set of four, or a duality of polarity displayed; this helps us in considering contrasts and transforming our observations into potential paradigm thought, energy and invention.
The innumerable ideas spawning from and related to these four parts all start with the simple contrasts of Major and Minor, Yin and Yang. The Major parts are the swirls and the Minor parts are the circles within the swirls. Try to utilize the contrasts presented in this format to face a perplexing situation. You may find a solution to problems or a new direction through your use of more balanced patterns.
There is usually an obvious positive and obvious negative, and often an unnoticed subtle positive and subtle negative too, which may offer preferable outcomes in numerous situations. You might consider the active and the passive and also the passive in the active and active in the passive as well.
The Tao of Thoth presents principles and practices based on deep simplicity. It is useful for shifting negative patterns and raising consciousness. Most systems of artificiality are based on complexity and limited applicability, but the simple principles put forth here are applicable toward both individual refinement and our collective betterment. The Tao of Thoth unites East and West through Thoth Energy and offers layered lessons for individuation and inspiration.
The Taiji symbol and Taiji practice represent the principles and practices embodied in what is commonly referred to as The Yin Yang symbol and Tai Chi. The Tenets of Thoth are among the simplest and most vividly potent philosophical approaches to understanding the world and the self. And The Taiji depicts the simplest and most potent practical approaches to understanding the world and developing self.
Both The Tao and The Tenets of Thoth lack ardency and in such promote expansion. The ideas of The Tao and The Seven Tenets of Thoth are simple and their lack of ardency means that the ideas can be applicable to innumerable situations, subjects, and objects. The Tao and Tenets of Thoth are entirely simple and yet near unlimited in their applicability and profundity.
“The possession of knowledge unless accompanied by manifestation and expression in action is like the hording of precious metals, a vain and foolish thing. Knowledge like wealth is intended for use, the law of use is universal and he who violates it suffers by reason of his conflict with natural forces.” ~The Kybalion
This article is an excerpt from The Tao of Thoth. The Tao of Thoth is based on the Taiji of The Seven Tenets of Thoth as illustrated in The Kybalion written by The Three Initiates. The Tao of Thoth is inspired by the relationships of The Tao and The Tenets of Thoth. The Tao provides parallel lessons with The Tenets of Thoth, and each aim towards enhancement and embodiment of lessons pertaining to self-development.