New Civilization News - Category: Science    
 Annular solar eclipse on October 3rd18 comments
picture 30 Sep 2005 @ 10:00, by silviamar. Science
Next Monday we will be watching how the Sun and the Moon turn off the light down here, look at each other direcly into the eyes and dance together for a few minutes. Isn't it lovely? :-) Everytime there is an astronomic event I realize how small we are in this huge Universe.
[Picture of Earth taken from the NASA website.]  More >

 The Alien Orb II, #82 comments
picture5 Aug 2005 @ 01:29, by bushman. Science
This would be the back side of The Alien Embryo, from The Alien Orb, we believe, The Alien Embryo, is dead. The Team still think it prudent to keep a can of Raid at the ready. You might note that The Alien Embryo has wings, you may also note, you can see The Alien Embryo is capable of seeing rear view.




Tomarrow: The End.  More >

 The Alien Orb, #42 comments
picture25 Jul 2005 @ 01:42, by bushman. Science
Ha, found the X-Acto knife, with a fresh blade, of corse. Cutting thru The Alien Orb is..., like trying to cut thru a ping-pong ball, with an X-Acto knife. It's skin is like a thin polished celulose. Whew, so far no blood.









Tomarrow: We will pull the lid off, The Alien Orb.  More >

 How does soap clean?38 comments
picture 17 Jul 2005 @ 09:27, by silviamar. Science
Soap is a part of our daily life, it has different shapes and perfumes, it can be solid or liquid... But have you ever thought about how this common substance works? Here is a little explanation. I've used a minimum number of scientific terms, so I hope that everybody can understand it.  More >

 Depleted Uranium, Get the Facts.
picture 26 May 2005 @ 02:04, by jmarc. Science
I won't take your time with a long winded article full of hot air. Just a link or two to some facts, and by facts, I don't mean the facts you find in your fellow traveler rags  More >

 Automatic Academics12 comments
picture 13 Apr 2005 @ 23:59, by ming. Science
Some clever grad students have used an automatic computer science paper generator to create a gibberish paper, which they've gotten submitted to a conference. They now plan on randomly generating a gibberish speech which they can go and deliver there.

Now, I generally think such pranks are hilarious, and very useful in blowing the cover of people who take themselves too damned seriously, but who accept things that look and sound right, but which aren't. I remember examples like a comedian succeeding in passing himself off as a doctor and giving a speech at a medical conference, saying nothing but gibberish, and nobody noticed. And there are those guys who made a fake WTO website and managed to be invited to conferences where they created quite a havoc.

And, hey, that paper is pretty damn good. I don't understand a word of it, even though I understand most of the words. But it kind of sounds like it is saying something, and it is kind of a lively read. There are a few akward sentences that might give it away, but they're well hidden. I don't know what kind of expert one has to be to catch that this isn't real, as it isn't entirely clear what it is talking about in the first place. And that is probably one of the factors that let's things like that slip through. Lots of people are experts in a particular field, but not in many others, and they have no time to check everybody's references. So if you hear something that isn't exactly in your field, and it sounds like that kind of things should sound, you think it is real.

But now I notice that their agenda actually is to put down a certain type of conference which they regard as fake, because they accept papers that aren't reviewed. Which, for that matter, it says clearly on their website, so it isn't really that big a caper to succeed in submitting a paper. Anyway now I notice, somewhat to my horror, that the conference they would like to embarrass is the Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics. Which I don't know, so I can't make any statement about whether it really just is fake conference for money making purposes as they say, but I notice that I know some of the affiliated organizations and a number of the people listed as advisory board members, so I would guess it is what it says it is.

Systems thinking is probably a field that some hardcore scientific types would love to debunk. And they might feel they have an easy time at it in a multi-disciplinary setting where organizers are trying to be open to different types of views, and where it isn't a criterion that everything you say has to be proven years ago. For that matter, systems thinking doesn't necessarily go well with the approach of taking things apart into their components and analyzing them and proving them and peer reviewing them. And it is full of angles and possibilities that easily can be ridiculed by materialist folks who'd like such things to not exist. The Gaia Theory, morphogenetic fields, implicate order, synergetics - there'd be plenty of folks who'd find all of that to be utter nonsense. Evolution would be in the same category if it didn't happen to be juxtaposed with creationism.

One of the items listed from the hoaxers' site is the wellknown "Sokal Hoax". Which was a physicist who wrote a paper he meant to be utter nonsense, and got submitted to some prestigious scientific journal, based on his own considerable reputation, in order to then embarrass them. Except for that his article is pretty good, and not as utterly nonsensical as he pretends. But it refers to a bunch of these things that the author considers new age nonsense, like morphogenetic fields. So he considered that anybody who'd accept that he'd write about such things and not be up in arms about it would be a complete idiot and worthless academic.

Which reminds me of a caper that "Amazing" Randi did once. He's a stage magician who's a wellknown materialist "sceptic" who tries hard to disprove that anything supernatural exists. Often by the approach that if he can make some kind of magic trick or hoax that does the same thing as what somebody says they can do, they were obviously frauds too. Anyway, he had gotten an ally to pose as a channeler at some kind of new age expo. The guy put on a show of going into a trance and delivering some very general mumbo jumbo about the world changing and spiritual influences. And the audience seemed quite happy with it all, which was taken as a success by Randi, in showing that they're all gullible idiots. Anyway, the joke about it is that after Randi's ally triumphantly announced on the stage a little later that it was a hoax and he was just faking it, nobody really minded. The audience thought it was fun too, and they thought the channeling had been pretty good, whether he thought he faked it or not. Because it really didn't matter at all, unless you had some kind of point to prove. The result mattered.

So, in case that conference there is really for people who're into systems thinking and informatics, I think they might actually enjoy and appreciate the joke of somebody delivering a randomly generated paper and a speech. It certainly is a good comment on how human systems work. The ways in which false information often is accepted provides some insights into how systems work.

Better targets might be the types of folks who really take themselves too seriously, and who would freak out and be greatly embarrassed by being hoaxed like that.  More >

 Intelligent Design23 comments
picture 22 Feb 2005 @ 05:18, by ming. Science
Article in NY Times: Unintelligent Design, trying to debunk the idea of intelligent design.

Now, I've seen a lot of people complain about "Intelligent Design" being a term invented by Creationists, to covertly push the idea of Creationism, but I hadn't seen any of the materials. OK, I just searched around and found a few sites: Intelligent Design Network, Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center, Origins.

Hm, seems to be about right. Those are sites that seem to try to shoot down evolution, by positioning themselves as being very objective, and pointing out the lack of evidence for evolution.

That's a shame. Oh, there isn't really much evidence for evolution. Plenty of evidence that life is evolving, and for natural selection. But very little evidence for evolution being caused by the random bumbling about that is the core of Darwinism. Nobody has found any lifeform that drew any advantage from being a half-flying bird or having half an eye or anything like that. For that matter, last I looked nobody had really found any missing links between much of anything. Oh, there are many easy ones. If it is gradually getting colder, each generation would give an advantage to the more hairy members of the species and that kind of thing, so they would be more likely to carry on the race, to become more hairy. A whole lot harder to make the case for why a wolf would jump into the ocean and develop a blow hole on its head, you know sort of randomly, a little at a time. Or how lizards who jumped out of trees got an advantage, while randomly developing flappy arms, until a few hundred thousand years later they can fly. And then there's the eye, of course.

Creationists would like to have us believe that a guy named God created it all out of thin air, fully formed, ready to go, in an enjoyable variety. And somehow they hate the idea that all of this life evolves on its own. Not for any terribly good reason other than that the Bible says God did it in seven days, and it somehow fits their belief best if it is all utterly incomprehensible and beyond humans to understand, other than in the form of knowing who to credit.

Intelligent Design is such a good term, so, yeah, it is a bit of a waste if it is just highjacked to mean anti-evolutionary creationism.

I think it is a pretty damn intelligent design. A universe with billions of galaxies with billions of stars, lasting for billions of years, with planets circling nicely around stars that provide light and heat, with elements and conditions that combine gradually into life forms. Life forms that do the most amazing things in an amazing variety. And that evolve, over millions of years, to more and more intelligent creatures, more and more adapted to their environments. In an unbroken chain over several billions of years. Until it somewhere along the line leads to US. We're pretty intelligent, although we're also pretty dumb, and is not clear yet which aspect will win. But you can't say we don't have intelligence. And we're hard at work at evolving into something better, and we probably will. Because you and I each have that several billion year unbroken success record behind us.

If all of that isn't the most intelligent design you've ever heard of, I don't know what is.

Are you going to tell me that all that could happen without it being inherent in the design of the universe that it could happen? Where on earth does intelligence suddenly come from if it isn't what naturally emerges from the layout of the universe. Just like gravity doesn't suddenly appear out of the blue for no good reason, neither does intelligence. Unless you claim to come from somewhere else, which is perfectly alright with me, your intelligence is simply a property of the universe, or the omniverse, or however big you want to look. The design is intelligent, obviously, because YOU are.

And hopefully it is a lot more intelligent than you or me individually, because humans at this point have a bit of an overblown idea of how special they are, and how much smarter they are than the universe.

That article there is a good example of that. Its argument against creationism is how badly designed everything is. You know, species die out left right and center. Life forms have loads of useless features, like the peacock's feathers, or the nipples of male humans. And that the laryngeal nerve in mammals is just too damn long. So if there were a designer, he must have been some kind of idiot. Oh, and the "moral" failures. Humans and animals are continually tortured by disease and pain and mutual cruelty. How can the designer be so mean?

See, it is all really religious arguments, for or against. It is the same kind of stuff that doubting believers in dogmatic religions go through. If God is all powerful and just, why do people starve, and why did my Uncle Harry die in a car accident, way before his time, even though he was such a good man?

Because most of the materialist evolutionist anti-creationist guys agree perfectly well with the religious creationists that the only possible God and Designer of the Universe is this archetypical greybearded fellow who just made everything up out of his little toe. And both agree that it is either that or chaos. The Creationists decide that it is most comforting if that guy did it, and that's the end of the discussion. The Evolutionists decide that no way are they going to be subjugated to that, so they choose what they think is the only alternative - the opposite. That it all happened, completely randomly, as a series of lucky accidents, out of chaos, without any kind of purpose or meaning or system. Well, actually they do a little sleight of hand trick at the same time, and imply that there's a marvelously consistent set of laws and mechanisms at work, which have worked unfailingly since the beginning of the universe. Except for that it is all just supposed to be meaningless chaos, so we go quickly past the self-contradiction in that.

Now, I'm not religious, so I don't believe in either set of dogma. They're a bit cartoonish, and neither of them is consistent with itself.

That the Design is Intelligent - that I believe in. Or, rather, there's no need to believe in it, because it is readily observable. It is the stuff you don't see that requires convoluted explanations. Just like like the fundamentalist religious person tends to get lost in circular explanations when asked to explain why an all powerful god allows pain and suffering, the fundamentalist materialist gets lost in circular complexity when asked to explain where the natural laws came from, or how human eyes assembled by accident. And mostly it adds up to: just because! You just have to believe it.

It is a shame, because it could really be so simple. If the universe itself is intelligent and alive, you don't really need to invent wild stories about how things come about. You only need those when you think you somehow are separate from the rest of the universe. What arrogance. You aren't. You're a part of a bigger system. If you're intelligent and alive, and you're a product of a bigger system, as well as an integral part of it, then of course that system is intelligent and alive. That's simple math, unless you come up with the X factor that was added to the soup to create you. And if you rather lean towards having been created by God, then how can you think you're somehow suddenly something separate from it? That's a bit of an insult to what created you. The only separation that is there is what you might create in your mind.

As to the cartoonish God-in-the-picture-of-Man who created everything, yeah, that's not a very good foundation for reality. It is an easy target. Quite easy to answer any mention of Universal Intelligence by pretending that that's what people of course are talking about. Easy to avoid the real issues, because that one discussion quickly becomes heated. And both sides are wrong.

I'm an evolving intelligent universe. I'm a design in motion, designing itself, discovering the ramifications of the design as I go along. I don't know who you are. Well, I do, actually.  More >

 Global Consciousness Project36 comments
picture 15 Feb 2005 @ 15:39, by ming. Science
The Global Consciousness Project is getting some press recently.
DEEP in the basement of a dusty university library in Edinburgh lies a small black box, roughly the size of two cigarette packets side by side, that churns out random numbers in an endless stream.

At first glance it is an unremarkable piece of equipment. Encased in metal, it contains at its heart a microchip no more complex than the ones found in modern pocket calculators.

But, according to a growing band of top scientists, this box has quite extraordinary powers. It is, they claim, the 'eye' of a machine that appears capable of peering into the future and predicting major world events.

The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened - but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But last December, it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.

Now, even the doubters are acknowledging that here is a small box with apparently inexplicable powers.

'It's Earth-shattering stuff,' says Dr Roger Nelson, emeritus researcher at Princeton University in the United States, who is heading the research project behind the 'black box' phenomenon.

'We're very early on in the process of trying to figure out what's going on here. At the moment we're stabbing in the dark.' Dr Nelson's investigations, called the Global Consciousness Project, were originally hosted by Princeton University and are centred on one of the most extraordinary experiments of all time. Its aim is to detect whether all of humanity shares a single subconscious mind that we can all tap into without realising.

It is simply a random number generator. It generates a lot of random ones and zeros. And a bunch of separate devices in different places do the same thing. And the thing is that the results are influenced by big global events. The numbers suddenly become less random and more coherent. And one can easily calculate how much they deviate from what they were "supposed" to be. And how unlikely that would be to be pure coincidence. And the fun thing is also that the results show a little before the actual events happen.

That isn't terribly strange, if we assume that everything is connected, and exists in the same unified quantum field. But it makes many scientists very nervous. Apparently they're becoming more comfortable with the idea, as the can't really get around the results, however much they try.

It isn't really worth much in predicting the future. All it shows is that something big is going on, or is going to happen shortly, which will be important to many people. But it gives no clue as to what it is going to be. So, mainly it probably serves to make consciousness something that science can't ignore. Which is a valuable aim in itself.  More >

 A Leak in the Tank of Eternity
10 Feb 2005 @ 13:17, by beto. Science
I want to show how a lattice formed by three dimensions of space and three dimensions of time can account for all physical and psychical phenomena and possibilities contained in wholeness, at least until the horizons our intelligence, intuition and feeling permit us to reach.  More >

 The Eight Blunders of Albert Einstein
4 Feb 2005 @ 09:35, by beto. Science
Albert Einstein was as a great man and scientist, a genius, undeniably. However, we can find a few but crucial points where his extraordinary intuition wasn't enough to make him aware of some facts of reality as they really are, and later research proved to be different of the master's view.  More >



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