Saturday, 27 February 2010

Amazing Dog

I am moved. You will be too!

You thought the dog was imitating the man? ...

Entertaining the children? ...

Now have a closer look at it.... Got the message???

Although an animal, he is respected, loved and welcomed everywhere he goes.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Unusual Sightings

Monday, 22 February 2010

Is Sunscreen Good or Bad?

The claim: Sunscreens can increase the risk of melanoma, which in its malignant form is deadly skin cancer.

The facts: Is it possible that a product meant to protect against skin cancer might actually cause it?

Several studies have investigated claims that zinc oxide and other compounds in some sunscreens might have harmful effects.

Some laboratory studies show that zinc oxide and titanium oxide – compounds that block ultraviolet rays – can also create free radicals in the presence of sunlight, leading to cell damage.

Others point to research showing a general rise in melanoma cases over the years, particularly in people who use sunscreen

However, for these compounds to cause harm, they must penetrate skin cells and research by health officials in Australia, which has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, found that this does not happen.

"The weight of current evidence is that they remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer dead layer (stratum corneum) of the skin,” one report said.

In other studies researchers followed thousands of people, looking for connections between melanoma and sunscreen. They found no evidence of greater risk.

They also noted that people who sunbathe often or have greater sun sensitivity are more likely to use sunscreen possible explaining the associations in earlier studies.

The bottom line: Studies suggest zinc oxide and other compounds in sunscreen do not damage cells or increase melanoma risk.

- The New York Times 

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Self Healing

This article is more for the student of mysticism, spirituality, and alternative healing. But if you have an open mind, you might find this interesting. There is certainly no harm in following the steps to self heal - if you should want to try it. 

Anyone who has had treatment from a metaphysician realizes that such a physician always insists that the patient aid in the cure of a condition if the most efficient results are to be obtained. It is possible to change the physical body without the knowledge of the patient, and therefore without his cooperation. It is equally true that such a method takes longer and is more difficult. 

In many cases, had the patient attempted to do something for himself at the very beginning, he would quickly have found there was no necessity for asking for outside help. 

The first consideration in self-healing is to recognize the law that every mental or physical manifestation of illness is only a culminating outer manifestation of something that has occurred previously within. It matters little what the condition is. 

The primary cause for all abnormal or subnormal mental and physical conditions in the human body is lack of attunement with the creative, constructive, harmonious forces of nature. We have a brief term for the condition: out of harmony. Perfect health we call a condition of harmonium. This lack of attunement and harmony is the primary physical cause; yet there is another cause even more remote than this. This is the mental or physic cause. This cause will be found in the mind of the patient, or in other words, in his mental and psychic attitude previous to the inharmonious condition. 

The moment we allow ourselves to think or talk about anything of an envious, jealous, revengeful, critical, or destructive nature the mental attitude is out of harmony with the Divine Mind. The next result will be a lack of harmony in the physical forces of the body with the physical forces of the universe. Such a state invariable results in the physical forces of the body becoming somewhat destructive or inharmonious, and in some part of the body an outer manifestation will gradually occur. A person may be convinced that losing one’s temper is disastrous to the nerves and blood of the body and is sure to produce a physical or mental reaction. Yet he does not realize that when thoughts are unkind, critical, or destructive, they are sure to bring a reaction in the mental and physical states of the body. 

Inharmonious Attitudes 
Whenever a man or women spends any thought energy in venting his wrath, criticism, or unkind remarks toward any individual or group, sooner or later the reaction from this inharmonious attitude produces a physical or mental condition that is more or less serious. The person who believes someone has done him an injustice and feels he must make critical remarks about him, or who constantly finds an opportunity to tear someone to pieces, is sure to bring ill-health and often ill fortune into his life. It is a metaphysical fact that for each minute of time spent by man in thoughts of unfavorable impressions, unkind criticism, or hate toward any person, there will be hours of physical and mental suffering as a reaction. 

The thing to do then is to immediately eliminate any negative thoughts and replace them with love and kindness instead. The poison from the mind that has been eating at the very heart of every cell in your body must be eliminated before any treatment can be given to relieve the ultimate and outer manifestations. Any other process is merely treating the outer manifestations as though giving them a drug to nullify the senses without removing the actual cause. 

Therefore after analyzing your inner self and discovering what destructive thoughts you have actually held, purge yourself of any possible poison by holding thoughts of love, goodness, kindness, and spiritual oneness with all human beings and with every living thing on the face of the earth. Fill yourself with the thought that all is good, everyone is loving and kind, and that none are bad, only different, and that no one is evil, for all are Children of Light and Children of the Cosmic. 

Restoring Harmony 
If you have felt otherwise toward anyone, immediately send him good thoughts and try to undo the evil or unkind thoughts you have held in your mind. If you are dissatisfied with any condition, any group of persons, any action on the part of anyone, immediately purge that from your mind by reversing your opinion and filling your being with thoughts of toleration, sympathy, kindness, and love. To the degree that you eliminate this mental poison within your own being, to the same degree you remove the cause for any condition from which you are suffering at the present time. 

The next step is to assist nature in the physical purging of the bodily condition. Several fundamentals must be considered in this process. First, since all life force of a constructive nature comes through the air we breathe, the patient should at once begin to breathe deeply of good fresh air. Go to a window or out in the open a few minutes of each hour and take many deep breaths, holding them as long as possible, and exhaling as greatly as possible. This will change the air in the lungs and allow new vitality and powers of the cosmic vibrations to enter the lungs and carry on nature’s vitalizing processes. 

Five or ten minutes of such deep breathing every one hour with the chest thrown out and lungs expanded to the utmost will be wonderful help. If the breathing can be done in the sunshine and with the head thrown back so that the sun’s rays will enter the open mouth and strike against the walls of the throat for a moment or two of each hour, it will be especially helpful. 

After that take a drink of fresh water. It need not be purified in any special way. Use ordinary drinking water, cool enough to be enjoyable. Drink one or two glasses every hour until the physical condition is changed. Nature requires the water and the elements in it in conjunction with the air you breathe to carry on her reconstructive processes. You cannot overdo drinking water, even if you consume three or four quarts in a day. It will flush the kidneys, bowels, and bladder, and it is like internal bathing. 

Nature’s Work 
Then sit down or lie down in a relaxed manner and give nature every opportunity for reconstruction, instead of expending energy in moving about or doing unnecessary work. Resting the body and relaxing it, with the eyes closed and with that thought of peace and nothing else in the mind, will give nature the opportunity to carry out the work of the Cosmic in changing your physical condition. Do not concentrate your thoughts upon the nature of your illness, its location, or its pathological or histological cause in a physiological sense, or in the diagnosis that a physician or a friend has given. All of these mean nothing to nature and the Cosmic, and should mean nothing to you. 

While you are relaxed, bring your finger tips together leaving the hands separated. This will short-circuit the emanations of energy from the fingers and prevent it from going off into space. It will keep the extra energy in your body from leaving, causing it to re-circulate through the body to help in healing and constructive work. If the feet are bare, allow them to touch each other while relaxing. 

If you are incline to fall asleep, keep in your mind the thought of peace and of the healing currents of the Cosmic passing through your body while you breathe. With only this thought in mind, allow yourself to sleep. Do not have anyone awaken you for drinking water or breathing exercises if you want to sleep more than an hour, for the sleep will be just as helpful, if not more so than drinking water each hour or the breathing. If you are awake, however, do not neglect these things. 

If you go to sleep at night and have a peculiar sensation around two or there o’clock in the morning that your temperature is rising, do no get up and attempt to make yourself cool or suddenly lower your temperature. Keep your self well covered and allow nature’s purging process through perspiration to continue. You will find that by sunrise or shortly thereafter the temperature will lower, and by seven or eight o’clock you will find a marvelous change in your condition. 

This may occur either the first, second or third night of your healing process, according to the seriousness of the condition, or its length of duration. In mild conditions, this may not occur at all, for it may not be necessary. If you have taken a drink of cold water just before retiring as should be done by every person carrying on any healing process of his own, this purging through an increased temperature during the night will be very beneficial, but it may not always occur. If one is under the care of a physician, he should continue such professional care in addition to the suggestions offered here. 

- Author Unknown

Friday, 19 February 2010

Minutes Of Sun Exposure Boosts Vitamin D Levels

A few minutes a day of midday sun ca raise most fair-skinned people’s vitamin D levels to sufficient, though not optimal, levels.

The skin’s production of vitamin D, upon exposure to ultraviolet B radiation in sunlight, is the body’s main source of nutrient, which is scarce in most foods, Dr Lesley Rhodes of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Hospital in Manchester and colleagues noted in their report.

Vitamin D is requited for healthy bones and muscles, the researchers added, and there is also evidence it may help reduce the risk of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases.

To test whether such casual exposures would be enough, the researchers exposed 109 fair-skinned men and women to light equivalent to 13 minutes of midday summer sun three times a week for six weeks.

The study was done during the winter months, when people would be getting very little vitamin D from sunlight, to focus on the effects of the sun baths. All participants had low vitamin D intakes and none were taking vitamin D supplements.

Participants’ average blood level of vitamin D rose from around 18 nanograms per millilitre to 28 nanograms per millilitre.

Recent studies have suggested that 20 nanograms per millilitre and above is sufficient, while 32 nanograms per millilitre and above is optimal.

The findings do not apply to darker-skinned people, who need longer stretches of sun exposure because their skin colour acts as a natural sunblock.

- Reuters

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Gong Xi Fa Cai

It's the Lunar New Year! The Year of the Tiger!
Here's wishing one and all a Happy, Healthy and Propserous Lunar New Year!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Life Breath

A very long article but, certainly something to think about 

Life Breath: The Vital Principle 
Birth is transition from a state of dependency to one of relative independence. Whether psychic or physical, birth represents an emergence from a realm of inner darkness to one of greater light, and is always accompanied by greater vitality. Mystics contend that the greater vitality accompanying physical birth is a manifestation of the vital force associated with the soul personality, which enters the body with the first breath. From a mystical point of view, then, the first breath marks the transition from the fetus to child. The Breath of Life makes the newborn a living expression of the Universal Soul. 

Because it seems obvious that without the first filling of the lungs with air the newborn would be a lifeless mass, it is tempting to equate what mystics call the Breath of Life with the air we breathe. But the mystic asks: Is there something more to the air we breathe than molecules such as oxygen? Could there be some non-material, magnetic quality to the atmosphere which vitalizes our being? Before we can address this question, we must establish a framework in which we can explore possible answers. Therefore, we shall begin with a brief examination of the modes of expression of the vital force of life. 

The life force is dual in nature. It is both the organizing and the transforming principle of the Cosmic. The organizing aspect of the life force is expressed in the patterns of form populating our physical and psychic worlds. While the organizing aspect of the life force tends toward stability, its transforming aspect manifests in the progression and evolution of all forms of life. The interplay between stability and progression imparts to manifestation a vitality which mystics recognize in the term Vital Life Force (VLF). 

As the manifestation of a cosmic principle, Vital Life Force expresses on all planes of existence. At every level, VLF requires a medium through which to manifest. Therefore, at the most fundamental level, VLF organizes Spirit Energy in a manner recognizable as vibration. The modern scientist categorizes such vibrations as electromagnetic radiation. On the plane of inanimate matter, VLF has organized vibrations of Spirit Energy into electrons. Electrons, therefore, manifest both aspects of VLF, namely the dynamism of progression and the stability of organization. The stability of electrons qualifies them as the basis for the next level of organization, that of atoms and molecules. In turn, atoms and molecules serve as building blocks in the organization of animate matter into cells, plants, and animals. 

In the psychic realm, VLF organizes and integrates patterns of Spirit Energy into forms which we recognize as our thoughts, feelings, and innermost experiences. Combinations of thought and feeling patterns manifest as the attributes of individual soul personalities. In man, animate matter is the medium through which the life force manifests in the realization of Self. Vital Life Force, therefore, uses each level of organization as the basis on which to manifest the next, higher level. As a consequence, the action of life force is realized on all levels of manifestation. 

Harmony of Human Body 
As the highest manifestation of order on the physical plane, the human body incorporates the various levels of organization. Following fertilization of the human egg, the life force organizes and integrates the electromagnetic patterns of energy, inanimate matter, and animate matter (cells) into the tissues and organs of the unfolding human form. As tissues and organs are harmonized by the organizing aspect of VLF, the transforming aspect orchestrates the progression toward that level of organization characteristic of the human body. Therefore, from conception to birth, the fetus develops step-by-step as a consequence of the delicate interplay between the stabilizing and transforming tendencies of VLF. 

During its period of development, the fetus receives vitality through the placenta. At birth, as this physical connection between mother and child is severed, a psychic connection is established with the soul personality. This transition from dependence to relative independence makes the newborn a fuller expression of Universal Soul. Following birth, the characteristic patterns of soul personality and newborn body are progressively integrated by the transforming aspect of VLF. With experience, the personality evolves step-by-step toward a more perfect expression of Soul. 

The integration of psyche and body is achieve through the medium of our earthly atmosphere. The onset of this integrative process is marked by the force of motion called the first breath. Continued integration manifests in the rhythmic motions of breathing. The atmosphere and the air we breathe are therefore linked with the Breath of Life. But of what is the Breath of Life composed? Although it is tempting to equate the air we breathe with the Breathe of Life, mystical tradition suggests that the Breath of Life is dual, being composed of both material and non-material elements. Is there any scientific evidence today which supports this ancient concept? 

Preliminary experiments have shown that some life forms do not survive even in oxygen-containing atmospheres which have been depleted of ions. Clearly then, ions are also important components of the air. But what are ions? How are these mysterious ‘entities’ implicated with the vital force of life? Could atmospheric ions contribute some non-material, magnetic quality which vitalizes our beings? 

The Ionic Connection 
All life forms respond to the environment in which they find themselves. In fact, the manifestations of life is discernible only as a reaction of form to the surroundings in which form manifests. The manifestation of life in man is therefore recognizable only as the reactions of his physical and psychic natures to his environment. As a consequence, the manifestation of life in the human body is most readily recognized as a response to the atmosphere. This response we call breathing. 

By means of the breath, the soul personality establishes a connection between the finite and infinite aspects of man’s being. Through this connection, man experiences Self. The Breath of Life is therefore closely associated with human consciousness and, as such, merits close attention. Of what is the Breath of Life composed? Why is the Breath of Life attracted to the body in the first place? Is the oxygen of the air the only vehicle through which the infinite aspects of Self maintain a crucial connection with the body of man? 

Because most forms of life on our planet do not survive in the absence of oxygen, it is tempting to equate the oxygen of the air with the Breath of Life. However, it is interesting to note that preliminary experiments have shown that some forms of life, such as plants, do not survive in oxygen-containing atmospheres which have been depleted of ions. Clearly then, ions are also important components of the air. But could ions represent a vehicle through which some aspect of the vitality inherent in the Breath of Life is brought to the body? What are ions? How are they formed? 
Ions are atoms or molecules which have either gained or lost electrons. 
When an atom or molecule gains electrons, it is converted to an ion of negative polarity – an anion. On the other hand, when an atom or molecule loses electrons, it is converted to an ion of positive polarity – a cation. Atmospheric ions are generated when electromagnetic vibrations form the Sun cause atoms or molecules to lose electrons, thereby creating ions of positive polarity, or positive ions. Dislodged electrons, being extremely active, attach themselves to neighboring atoms or molecules having the capacity to accept them. In accepting dislodged electrons, the atoms or molecules are converted to ions. Negative ions are also generated in the atmosphere when electrons emitted by radioactive substances in the Earth’s crust attach themselves to appropriate atoms and molecules. 

Movements of Ions 
Ions move under the influence of an electrical potential. When ions move, they generate electromagnetic fields. The polarity of the generated field is dependent upon the polarity of the ion generating it. Atmospheric ions move under the influence of an electric potential of 250,000 volts which exists between ionosphere and the Earth’s surface. The space between the ionosphere and the Earth therefore functions as an immense battery of which the Earth’s surface is the negative pole. Within this gigantic battery, positive ions of the atmosphere move toward the negative polarity of the Earth, while negative ions move toward the positive polarity of the ionosphere. As a consequence, there are more positive, atmospheric ions near the Earth’s surface than negative ones. Therefore, in man’s immediate environment there are, on the average, five positive ions for every four negative ones. 

The excess of positive ions in man’s immediate environment imparts a positive electromagnetic polarity to the air we breathe. Thus, atmospheric ions, along with oxygen gas, contribute to the positive polarity of the atmosphere. It is the positive polarity of the atmosphere, along with the physical entities of the air we breathe, that vitalizes the body. Man’s vitality therefore arises from the duality of physical entities and non-physical electromagnetic fields in his atmosphere. This point of view reflects the Rosicrucian principle which states that the Breath of Life is dual in nature. 

Man’s Body 
Like the atmosphere by which it is vitalized, the body of man embraces both physical elements and non-physical electromagnetic fields. The body’s fields are generated as a consequence of the movement of an enormous number of ions contained in the body fluids. Many of these ions constantly cross and re-cross cell membranes, and in so doing generate minute electric currents which manifest as nerve impulses, muscle movements, etc. As the body fluids course through arteries, veins, lymph ducts, and so on, their ions also contribute to the body’s fields. The potential which induces body-fluid ions to move is generated within the body by the Breath of Life. 

Like atmospheric ions, body-fluid ions vary, depending upon the nature of the atom or molecule which gains or loses electrons. Among the varieties of body-fluid ions is a particular pair which is intimately associated with maintaining the body’s electromagnetic polarity. This pair of ions, one positive, the other negative, is generated when a molecule of water is ionized. Ionization in this sense refers to the unequal splitting of a molecular of water to produce a hydrogen ion and a hydroxyl ion. 

Chemically pure water contains an equal number of hydrogen ions and hydroxyl ions. Therefore, it is neutral in polarity. This fact is reflected in the neutral pH value of 7 which has been assigned to chemically pure water. The term pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ins in a water-based solution. When the pH 7 value is greater than 7, it signifies a solution of negative polarity; pH value of less than 7 signify solutions of positive polarity. Body fluids have pH values of 7.2 to 7.4. Blood, lymph, and other body fluids are, therefore, a negative polarity. Indeed, each cell of man’s body, being largely composed of water (75% - 80%), also reflect this negative polarity. 

The Breath of Life is attracted to the body in the first place because the laws of polarity dictate that opposites attract. In accordance with this law, the body of a newborn baby, being predominantly of negative polarity, represents a powerful center of attraction for the positive polarity of the atmosphere. Therefore, a baby’s first breath is a manifestation of the contact between the positive and negative, or infinite or finite aspects of man’s being. As the baby continues to breathe, the Breath of Life repeatedly brings the positive polarity of the atmosphere into an intimate contact with the body fluids, and thence to every cell. In this way the negative polarity of our physical being is constantly challenged and vitalized by the positive polarity of the soul personality via the air we breathe. This positive, vitalizing influence of the Breathe can be demonstrated in the laboratory as changes in the body’s polarity following inhalation and exhalation. Using a sensitive voltmeter, it has been observed that mystical positive breathing exercises cause the body’s polarity to become less negative, that is, more positive. Conversely, negative breathing causes the polarity to become more negative. 

Man’s awareness of himself grows out of a vital connection between the finite and infinite aspects of his being. Ions, along with other physical entities within and without the body, serve as the vehicles through which these two aspects of Being are brought together in harmonious interaction to manifest the consciousness of man. Thus the body may be said to represent and electromagnetic pattern, a crucible, in which awareness of Self is forged and nurtured through experience of that state of being which we realize as matter. 

- Author Unknown

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Black Holes

Another article on Black Holes. 

A star is dying 
It is a giant star, ten times as massive as our Sun, a thousand times as bright. For millions of years, hydrogen has “burned” in nuclear reactions in the star’s core, powering the star. But now the supply of hydrogen is running out, and as it does, the star burns ever brighter. The outer layers expand until the star is a vast red giant, as large as our entire solar system. 

Deep within the core, hydrogen first reacts to produce energy, then helium, and then carbon. Even more complicated elements are then produced in nuclear processes scientists still do not completely understand. The core temperature keeps rising; the nuclear reactions proceed ever more quickly, until the element iron is formed deep within. And then a crisis point is reached. 

When hydrogen is “burned” in a nuclear reaction, it releases excess energy; it is this energy that makes the stars shine. Helium and carbon release energy in nuclear reactions as well. But iron is different. When iron is involved in a nuclear reaction, it absorbs nuclear energy like a sponge absorbing excess water. 

Imagine, if you will, the core of this giant star. The pressure is millions of times Dearth’s atmospheric pressure, so intense that even atoms are broken down into their component parts. The temperature is tens of billions of degrees Fahrenheit, far hotter than a normal star. To maintain this temperature, to keep the outer layers of the star from crashing inward, the nuclear reactions have been proceeding faster and faster. 

But when iron is formed, it does not produce more energy for the star. Instead, it absorbs energy. Production of energy within the star’s core stops. There is no longer any pressure to withstand the pull of gravity, there is no longer any radiation pressure to hold up the weight of the star’s outer layers, and the inevitable occurs – collapse. 

Within a remarkable short period of time – some astronomers say hours, some minutes, some even seconds – the star falls inward upon itself. As the outer layers rush inward, enormous heat is created by compression, and much of the star is blown off into space in a supernova explosion. 

But the inner core of the star remains. The explosion has an opposite effect on it. Instead of exploding outward, it is imploded inward. Incredibly, it is compressed until the very atoms are forced together into neutral subatomic particles. As the implosion continues, those particles are compressed even further, the core of the star growing much smaller, its gravitational pull becoming more concentrated, until nothing can halt the collapse. And then the matter of the star disappears from our universe entirely, literally compressed out of existence, leaving only the gravitational pull behind. 

What results is called a black hole. It can be neither seen nor sense, apart from the effects of its immense gravity. It is probably the strangest object we know of in all the universe. 

Not every star will, in its death throes, form a black hole. A smaller star, such as the Sun, will have a much quieter death; it will collapse to form a white dwarf, a dense star about 10,000 miles in diameter. Matter within a white dwarf is very tightly packed; a cubic centimeter of white dwarf material would weigh a ton. A star one and half times as massive as the sun would collapse much the same way, but its gravity would be too intense for a white dwarf to be formed. Instead, it would collapse yet further, forming an neutron star a dozen miles across. The material of a neutron start is the densest in the universe. 

But if a star is still more massive, more than 3.2 times the mass of the Sun, it encounters a third and strangest fate. Collapse of such a star will not halt at the white dwarf or neutron star stages. The star’s mass is just too great, its gravity too intense to allow that to happen. Instead, collapse continues – and there is nothing to stop it. Eventually the star’s gravity grows so intense that not even light can escape its clutches – and here the laws that govern the universe seem to break down. 

The black hole collapses, apparently, until its matter is compressed out of existence. Only the gravitational field is left to show where the star had been, just as the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland left only his grin behind as he disappeared. 

The Event Horizon 
The boundary of the black hole – if a black hole can be said to have boundaries – is the “event horizon.” This is the effective cut-off line between the black hole and the rest of the universe. Anything that goes through the event horizon into the center of a black hole can’t come back out. Once an astronaut passes the even horizon in his spaceship, he can’t return to the universe he knew. For him there is only one path – right down into the back hole. 

And what would he find there? It is difficult to say. In the center of a black hole, matter may have mass and yet not take up any volume. As an astronaut fell into a black hole, time for him would seem to run normally. But for outside observers watching him, his ship would seem to fall ever more slowly, until finally it would stop, poised on the edge of the event horizon. In a black hole, the laws of physics, and common sense, don’t seem to work. 

But if black holes exist, how are we going to find them? Radiating no light, a black hole is by definition invisible. First of all, we can observe the effect of a black hole on other objects around it. If the original star were part of a binary system – if it had a companion star – then after it collapses to form a black hole, the other member of the binary will still remain, radiating light and thus visible. Because of the black hole’s gravity, the visible star will seem to be orbiting some unseen center; its path through space will be affected by the invisible black hole. Astronomers on Earth, observing the change in the path of the other star, and not seeing a visible start that could be producing such an effect, will decide that the star in question must have a dark companion. By analyzing the motion of the visible star, astronomers can determine the mass of the companion. If that mass is less than 3.2 times the mass of the Sun, then the unseen companion is very likely a white dwarf or neutron star. If the mass of the companion, five or more times the mass of probably a black hole has been found. 

What is more, even though black holes are invisible, what falls into them is not. The gravity of the black hole is likely to drag in a great deal of material – dust, gas, even other stars, if the black hole is large enough. When matters falls into the black hole, it is accelerated to extremely high speeds, and as this happens x-ray radiation is released. Any large-scale x-ray source in the sky is possibly material being pulled into a black hole. 

As a matter of fact, astronomers may have found a black hole, using both the above methods of observation. In the constellation of Cygnus is a certain star that is a binary star. It is not visible to the naked eye, and has no name, only a number: HD 226868. The visible member of the binary is a large, hot blue star with about thirty times the mass of the Sun. It seems to be orbiting another invisible object once every 5.6 days. And this other, unseen object has a mass of five to eight times that of the Sun. 

Additionally, this binary star corresponds to an extremely powerful source of x-ray radiation. An invisible companion, five or more times the mass of the Sun, could very well be a black hole. The x-ray radiation which would be produced as material from the larger star is sucked into the black hole. 
Astronomers have done what might seem, at first glance, to be impossible – locating a black hole in the vast back night of interstellar space. 

And how many more might there be? 
Black holes are formed from very large stars, and such stars are not really common. On the other hand, such stars are short-lived – many of them have died already – and the galaxy is very large. Most estimates put the number of black holes in our galaxy at about one billion. The odds are, then, that a black hole is located within twenty light years of us – or five times the distance of the nearest star. 

Of course black holes can be much larger than a single star. Indeed, black holes can only grow in size, for while anything can fall into a black hole, nothing ever comes out. Some astronomers suggest a giant black hole may exist in the center of our galaxy. In the galactic core, the stars are very concentrated, separated by only a tenth or a hundredth of the distance that lies between stars in our region of space. Collisions between stars in such a crowded area of space are common, and once a black hole formed, every star it collided with would be absorbed. As the black hole grew in size, a “chain reaction” would occur, more and more stars being pulled in, until eventually an immense black hole would be formed. Indeed, some astronomers say this super black hole may have the mass of 100 million stars – 1/1000 the mass of our entire galaxy! As stars approached such a mammoth black hole, its immense gravity would tear them apart: if they approached quickly enough, they would be swallowed whole. 

We can take solace in the fact that if such an immense black hole exists at the center of the galaxy, it is very far away – 30,000 light years, or 18 quadrillion miles! It should take a long time in getting to our neighborhood! 

It has even been suggested that black holes may serve as a route to another universe; that by entering a black hole, one would be carried billions of light years away, to surface in another galaxy. Whether black holes really act as such a universal subway system is pure speculation. It is hard to believe that one could survive the immense pressures at the center of a black hole to emerge from the other side. But, as we have said before, in the center of a black hole both the laws of physics and common sense apparently break down. 

In any case, black holes are useful in that they have reshaped our ideas of what the universe is like, and how it works. The back hole is a mind-stretching and exciting concept: who can imagine a place where matter is squeezed out of existence? The existence of back holes, their dramatic formation, and their lives as cosmic vacuum cleaners are witness to the wonder and complexity of our universe. Black holes, quite simply, lie outside the realm of our experience, and in that fact lies their fascination. 
The English scientist J. B. S. Haldane said it best: The universe is not only stranger than we imagine; it is stranger than we can imagine. 

- By Dave Stover 

Monday, 8 February 2010

Quasars/Black Holes

An interesting article on Quasars and Black Holes. These are not something we can fully comprehend but it is good to have a general idea of what these are and how they come about. It is also good to know what’s out there - not in the streets, not in another country, not on the other side of the Earth - but out there in the Milky Way. It also gives us a perspective of how small we are - and of the mysteries, the unknown out there.


They are the oldest objects we know of in all the universe. So far out on the edge of creation that their light has taken ten billion years – twice the age of Earth – to reach us, they are one of the great mysteries of modern astronomy. Each of them outshines a hundred galaxies, ten thousand billion stars, and yet may be little larger than our solar system. What makes them shine so brightly? How were they formed? What, in fact, are they? We do not know. 

We call them “quasars,” an abbreviation of “quasi-stellar radio sources.” In other words, they look like stars and they give off radio waves. These stars, in fact, were seen and photographed by astronomers for decades and they seemed to be merely distant members of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. In the early 1960s, however, radio astronomers detected powerful sources of microwaves in the sky. When optical telescopes were turned toward these radio sources, nothing unusual was found – just these seemingly ordinary stars. 

But, with further observations, the seemingly ordinary stars turned out to be quite un-ordinary – not even stars at all … 

Astronomers analyze the light of a star by breaking it up into a “spectrum,” a rainbow, accomplishing with lenses and prisms what nature does with water molecules suspended in the air. By examining this spectrum, scientists can tell how hot a star is, what it is made of, how fast it is rotating on its axis, and so on. However, when astronomers tried to examine the spectra of quasars, they found something surprising. Quasars were unlike any other object observed in the sky; their spectra were completely strange. 

How could this be? Astronomers grasped for explanations, and eventually they found one – but the explanation proved almost as mystifying as the observations. 

When a locomotive is approaching you, and it blows its whistle, the sound of that whistle is higher in pitch than it would be were the locomotive standing still. Conversely, as the locomotive moves on down the tracks away from you, its whistle is lower in pitch. This is the Doppler effect, and it applies to light waves just as it applies to sound waves. By analyzing a star’s spectrum, and noting which way the light waves are shifted, we can determine if that star is approaching us or receding from us. If the “pitch” is raised – if the light waves are shifted toward the blue end of the spectrum – then the object is approaching; if the waves are pitched lower, and shifted toward the red end of the spectrum, the object is receding. An object heading toward us thus shows a blue shift; an object moving away, a red shift. 

Now, as scientists analyzed the light of quasars, they found it had been re-shifted – and re-shifted to an enormous degree. 

Expanding Universe 
Earlier, scientists had found that the entire universe seems to be expanding outward, and they found that almost all the galaxies outside our own display red shifts, and thus are receding. Every other galaxy is not, of course, fleeing from our own; instead, the whole universe is expanding, and every galaxy is moving farther away from every other galaxy. It is as if we are seeing the aftermath of a great explosion – and, indeed, we are. According to some scientists a “Big Bang” took place 15 billion years ago; at that time all the matter in the universe, collected in one “cosmic egg,” exploded outward, and Creation began. 

The greater the red shift a galaxy displays, the farther away it is from us, and the faster it is moving away. The quasars displayed enormous red shifts, and thus they had to be very far away, and receding very quickly. 
In fact, the farthest quasars we have yet observed are over twelve billion light-years away, and are receding at over ninety percent of the speed of light. (A light-year is about six trillion miles. If you cannot imagine twelve billion light-years – or even just one – you are not alone. No one can.) This means that the quasars were formed soon after the birth of our universe. In effect, we are looking into the past as we look outward into the cosmos. And, as we see the quasars twelve billion light-years away, we are viewing the universe as it must have been when it was young. 

But what are quasars? 
They look like stars, but to be seen at such a great distance they must be far brighter than any star. In fact, the average quasar is a hundred times as bright as our galaxy – as bright as ten thousand billion stars put together. But a quasar is not a hundred times as large as our galaxy – far from it. Indeed, most quasars seem to be only a few light-years in diameter. 

Astronomers were perplexed. How can such small objects be so bright? What makes quasars shine? 

We live in a violent universe, a universe of powerful and uncontrollable energies. The quasars, so small and yet so bright, must be powered by these violent energies – and evidence of that violence is visible even at our distant vantage point. Some of the quasars have huge jets of gas spewing out of their cores – evidence of vast energies at play. What, then, is the source of these energies? 

Modern physics have shown that “antimatter” exists – matter that is reversed in electrical charge. When antimatter meets the ordinary matter of our universe, the opposite charges cancel out, both matter and antimatter are destroyed, and pure energy is created. 

Perhaps the quasars are where antimatter and matter meet, in mutual destruction, that would account for the huge amounts of energy created. But there are other theories as well, some even stranger …. 

Black Holes 

A “black hole” is created when a star collapses under the pull of its own gravity. If the gravity is intense enough – thousands of times as strong as the earth’s gravitational field – then the matter of the star will be literally crushed out of existence. Eventually an object will be formed that is so dense with such powerful gravity that not even light can escape from it. This is a black hole. 

Matter can fall into a black hole, but it can never get out; black holes act as cosmic vacuum cleaners, feeding on the dust and gas between the stars. As the dust or gas is pulled into the black hole, it is accelerated to incredible velocities, and as it’s pulled in radiation is emitted – x-rays. Thus a black hole is illuminated by the material it devours. 

Now, the larger a black hole becomes, the stronger its gravitational field grows and eventually it is swallowing not only dust and gas, but entire stars and planets. As the ever-increasing torrent of matter is sucked in, more and more radiation is given off. There is no limit to the size of a black hole; a black hole as massive as a billion suns might occupy the center of galaxy, pulling in more stars all the time. Such a black hole would be little larger than our solar system and yet it would produce more energy than all the rest of its galaxy. 

Such a black hole sounds very much like our description of a quasar – comparatively small, but producing incredible amounts of energy. Could it be then that the quasars are giant black holes greedily devouring their parent galaxies? 

Maybe. It is a bizarre and frightening image. But there is yet another explanation. 

Some astronomers speculate that there are short-cuts through space, “wormholes” in the fabric of the universe. Two points might be separated by billions of light years in space, but they might be connected by a wormhole, a sort of space warp, only a few million miles long … or less. 
Earlier I noted that holes are always drawing matter in, and never letting any of it back out again. That may not be quite true. Some scientists have speculated that a black hole is one end of a wormhole – departure stations for a sort of universal subway system, if you like. Matter would fall into a black hole, travel through a wormhole in space, and emerge – somewhere else. 

Could that “somewhere else” be the quasars? 
This is only speculation; there is no proof. Indeed, there may never be. It is hard to see how we could prove such a theory. 

But it is an awe-inspiring image. Imagine matter being sucked into a black hole here, in this part of the universe, then being carried, somehow, across a short-cut in space, to a point billions of light-years distant where it re-enters our universe in a torrent of light and energy. 

That emergence point, that other end of the worm hole, could be a quasar. If so, we have at least a partial answer to the question of quasars. And yet, as happens so often in astronomy, our answer only poses still more questions, and, in the end, reveals our universe to be a place of strangeness, complexity, and infinite wonder. 

By Dave Stover 

Sunday, 7 February 2010

His Arm Did It

              A lawyer defending a man accused of burglary tried this creative defence: 
              “My client merely inserted his arm into the window and removed a few trifling articles. His arm is not himself, and I fail to see how you can punish the whole individual for an offence committed by his limb.”
              “Well put,” the judge replied. “Using your logic, I sentence the defendant’s arm to one year’s imprisonment. He can accompany it or not, as he chooses.”
              The defendant smiled. With his lawyer’s assistance he detached his artificial limb, laid it on the bench, and walked out.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Senses Challenge

Put your senses to the test with these quizzes.

Click on the link. If that doesn't work, you will have to copy and pass it.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Sit Down for a While

Here are some Quotes on Meditation. 

Sitting silently, one should experience quietly all that is happening around and do nothing else. You are hearing sounds, listen to them silently; a bird is singing, listen to it silently; the breath is moving in and out, go on watching it silently – nothing else has to be done. - Osho

The art of meditation is the art of listening with your total being. If one can learn how to listen rightly, one has learned the deepest secret of meditation. - Osho

You have to learn meditation to enjoy your emptiness. - Unknown 

Meditation is to religion what the laboratory is to science. - Paramahansa Yogananda

Meditation tends to free a great deal of energy that is usually tied up in various kinds of mental and emotional tensions. When these tensions are released we have more energy available to live full and creative lives. Unknown 

Meditation is a method to access the insight and wisdom which lie hidden in your Divine Nature. It is a form of spiritual training that will help you find contact with God and harmony between body, mind and God.- Unknown 

Meditation aspires to rediscover the Light by removing the layers of unwanted thoughts that are covering it. Once you free yourself from unwanted thoughts, there will be room to observe learn, reflect and accept. - Unknown 

For 15 minutes, simply sit silently and think that the whole world is a dream…. And that there is nothing of any significance in it. - Osho

Sit quietly, doing nothing, springs comes, and the grass grow by itself. - Zen Koan

Empty yourself of everything, let the mind become still. - The book of Tao

The essence of meditation is ‘nowness’… (it) is not aimed at achieving a higher state or at following some theory or idea, but simply, without any object or ambition, trying to see what is here and now. - Chogyam Trungpa

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Can’t Sleep? Try Cooling Down

The claim: Cold temperatures improve sleep

The facts: Avoiding caffeine, sticking to a schedule and drinking a glass of warm milk are the usual tips for a good night’s rest. But the right room temperature can also play a crucial role.

Studies have found that, in general, the optimal temperature for sleep is quite cool, at around 16 to 20 deg C.

For some, temperatures that fall too far below or above this range, it seems, help facilitate the decrease in core body temperature that in turn initiates sleepiness.

A growing number of studies are finding that temperature regulation plays a role in many cases of chronic insomnia,. Researchers have shown, for example, that insomniacs tend to have a warmer core body temperature than normal sleepers just before bed, which leads to heightened arousal and a struggle to fall asleep as the body tries to reset its internal thermostat.

For normal sleepers, the drop in core temperature is marked by an increase in temperature in the hands and feet, as the blood vessels dilate and the body radiates heat.

Studies show that for troubled sleepers, a cool room and a hot water bottle placed at the feet, which rapidly dilates blood vessels, can push the internal thermostat to a better setting.

The bottom line: A slightly cool room and a lower core temperature are optimal for sleep.

- The New York Times 

Monday, 1 February 2010

Does Refrigeration Preserve Nutrients Of Fresh Produce?

The claim: Refrigeration preserves the nutrients of fruits and vegetables.

The facts: Consumers may not realize that many fruits and vegetables experience rapid losses in their nutritional value when stored for more than a few days.

In part, that is because the produce has usually already spent days in transport and on shelves before a consumer buys it, said Barbara Klein, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Once they hit the refrigerator, Prof Klein added, some fruits and vegetables can lose as much as 50 percent of their vitamin C and other nutrients in the ensuing week, depending on the temperature.

However, there are several ways around this. One, look for fresh produce that is locally grown – it has usually travelled shorter distances and is still near its nutritional peak – and try not to stock up on more than one week’s supple.

Another option is to buy frozen produce. While frozen fruits and vegetables may lack the flavour and aesthetic appeal of fresh produce, they are subjected to flash freezing immediately after being picked. That can slow or halt the loss of vitamins and nutrients.

The bottom line: Refrigerating produce does not prevent the loss of its nutrients.

- The New York Times