2014 in the Rear-View Mirror

Most of my 2014 was pretty geeky. One of the coolest things I did in 2014 was test my DNA through 23andme.com. For a quick refresher on genomics, check out these videos. I am, unsurprisingly 99.8% European. However, I'm also 0.2% Sub-Saharan African. This totally made my day when I found out. It's not much but it's cool to know that somewhere in my family tree is a little diversity - even if it is only 0.2%.Another interesting fact that I learned is that an estimated 3.2% of my DNA is from Neanderthals. Even thought Neanderthals disappeared about 30,000 years ago, ...

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I Shall Pass This Way Again

"When the big bang happened, all the atoms in the universe, they were all smashed together into one little dot that exploded outward. So my atoms and your atoms were certainly together then, and, who knows, probably smashed together several times in the last 13.7 billion years. So my atoms have known your atoms and they've always known your atoms. My atoms have always loved your atoms." - IanI Origins, directed by Mike Cahill, is one of the best films of the year. I really liked Another Earth and Brit Marling is back. As Karen, Marling stays in the background for the ...

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What is Diwali?

Can you imagine a festival that combines the best features of the most popular festivals in the United States? New year's day is the day to make new resolutions and renew friendships. Independence day is the day of patriotism and fireworks. Halloween is the time for trick or treats. Thanksgiving is the festival to count our blessings. Christmas is the holiday to exchange gifts and decorate the houses with strings of electric bulbs. The spirit and magic of each of these festivals is borrowed and blended into a single festival called Diwali in India. This does not mean that ...

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What if Age Is Nothing but a Mind-Set?

Placebo effects have already been proven to work on the immune system. But this study could show for the first time that they work in a different way — that is, through an act of will. “As far as we know today, the placebo responses in the immune system are attributable to unconscious classical conditioning,” says the Italian neuroscientist Fabrizio Benedetti, a leading expert in placebo effects. In Benedetti’s experiments, a suggestion planted in the minds of test subjects produced physiological changes directly, the way a dinner bell might goose the salivary ...

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Spain Confirms First Ebola Transmission Outside of Africa

Health authorities in Spain have confirmed that a health worker at the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid, Spain has been infected with the Ebola virus. This is the first time anyone has contracted the virus outside of Africa.The woman, a nurse technician, had worked in the room where two Ebola patients—both missionaries—were treated at separate times. Miguel Pajares, who was evacuated from Liberia, died on August 12; Manuel García Viejo, who worked in Sierra Leone, passed away on September 26.[via Scientific American]

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The Phenomenon of Consciousness

From The Consciousness Chronicles. The phenomenon of consciousness is fundamental to our existence, yet it remains the most profound mystery we can imagine. Down through the ages, generations of scientists, philosophers, mystics and poets have gone in search for a deeper understanding of consciousness and the true nature of reality, whether through scientific research, reasoning or introspection.Western biologists and neuroscientists have studied brains down to the atomic level, but so far an enduring theory of consciousness that combines the physical with the phenom...

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Do Natural Laws Evolve Over Time?

This 30 min talk from the How The Light Gets In festival, 2014, is one of the best non-technical summaries of the idea that nature forms habits rather than laws, evolving overtime through morphic resonance.

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Fire Walk With Me

Directors like David Lynch aren’t supposed to have hit TV shows and appear on the cover of Time; they’re supposed to tunnel ever deeper into their private obsessions, even if it means testing fan goodwill and bewildering or annoying everybody else. After ABC pressured Lynch and Peaks co-creator Mark Frost to unmask Laura Palmer’s killer midway through Season 2, Lynch lost interest and wandered off, leaving other people to interpret his vision and keep the soap-opera wheels spinning; hence the curious story lines about Project Blue Book, a mysterious cave painting ...

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Colorado Students Walk Out to Protest Censorship of History

On Tuesday, hundreds of high school students in Jefferson County, Colorado walked out of classes this week to protest conservative censorship of the national Advanced Placement U.S. history class curriculum.According to the Denver Post, students and teachers are protesting the removal of all mentions of civil disobedience from texts and classroom materials intended for the teaching of AP U.S. history.Tensions have run high in Jefferson County schools since three conservative candidates were elected to the school board. These new board members have suggested an ...

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Epigenetics: The Sins of the Father

The roots of inheritance may extend beyond the genome, but the mechanisms remain a puzzle. As a postdoc in Kerry Ressler's laboratory at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, Brian Dias had spent much of the two years before his son's birth studying these kinds of questions in mice. Specifically, he looked at how fear associated with a particular smell affects the animals and leaves an imprint on the brains of their descendants.Dias had been exposing male mice to acetophenone — a chemical with a sweet, almond-like smell — and then giving them a mild foot shock. ...

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Rupert Sheldrake on Joe Rogan Experience

From Rupert's newsletter: "In Los Angeles I had a remarkable two-and-a-half hour conversation with Joe Rogan, the host of an immensely popular podcast, with a mainly young-male demographic. Joe is a martial arts expert and commentator on UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). Not my usual scene. Joe was very keen for me to be on his show, and he turned out to be intelligent, open-minded and thoughtful. Our discussion was far-ranging, covering wolves. morphic resonance, epigenetics, Christianity, atheism, psychedelics, telepathy, intuition, and our experiences with our own ...

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Who We Are When We Think No One’s Looking?

The funniest chart of the day from Christian Rudder of OKCupid.When you consider the supermodels, the porn, the cover girls, the Lara Croft–style fembots, the Bud Light ads, and, most devious of all, the Photoshop jobs that surely these men see every day, the fact that male opinion of female attractiveness is still where it’s supposed to be is, by my lights, a small miracle. It’s practically common sense that men should have unrealistic expectations of women’s looks, and yet here we see it’s just not true. In any event, they’re far more generous than the ...

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