Tag: state (page 23 of 72)

7 Types of Non-Believers Who Don’t Need Religion

Valerie Tarico, AlterNetReligious labels help shore up identity. So what are some of the things non-believers can call themselves?Catholic, born-again, Reformed, Jew, Muslim, Shiite, Sunni, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist…religions give people labels. The downside can be tribalism, an assumption that insiders are better than outsiders, that they merit more compassion, integrity and generosity or even that violence toward “infidels” is acceptable. But the upside is that religious o [...]

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The Light Side of the Dark Night of the Soul

by Kim Hutchinson Clayhut Healing CentreThe phenomenon known as the Dark Night of the Soul is something which many spiritual seekers experience on their journey to re-enlightenment. It can be a painful and frightening process, but it can also be liberating and empowering. It all depends on your perspective and your ability to remain detached. Peeling the Onion The word ‘night’ is misleading. This is a process, and thankfully so. I doubt you would want to experience [...]

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Ascension and the Intuitive Ability of Clairvoyance

by Trish LeSageThose who are on the path of ascension may eventually possess the ability of clairvoyance. Clairvoyance is the ability to see beyond that which is perceived with the physical eyes. Clairvoyance includes seeing with the third eye, also known as the psychic eye, the inner eye, or the mind's eye.For example, words, symbols, or other information may appear in the mind's eye of a person who possesses the ability of clairvoyance. This may happen as a form of guidance unexpectedly [...]

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India’s Mars mission a step closer to success with engine test

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25), carrying the Mars orbiter, blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, about 100 km (62 miles) north of the southern Indian city of Chennai November 5, 2013. REUTERS/B...

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Cosmic dust may have distorted cosmic inflation breakthrough


The 10-meter South Pole Telescope and the BICEP (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) Telescope at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, which detected evidence of gravitational waves, is seen against the night sky with the Milky Way in this National Science Foundation picture taken in August 2008.

By Ben P. Stein, Inside Science

Harvard researchers rocked the science community last March with an apparent discovery of gravitational ripples that gave credence to cosmic inflation theory – a finding that met as much skepticism as enthusiasm. Now, further analysis raises more doubts.


"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." This phrase, popularized by the late Carl Sagan, kept going through my head on March 17, the day that researchers involved with BICEP2, a telescope in Antarctica, made a big announcement at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The researchers reported that BICEP2 detected gravitational waves from the first moments after the big bang, a feat, which if confirmed, would open up a new field of study and would surely be recognized in a future Nobel Prize.

Gravitational waves are ripples in space and time. They're created when any object with mass accelerates. However, they're extremely weak, making them very hard to detect directly. Even for the most massive and cataclysmic events, such as the collision of two black holes, their effects, observed from Earth, are very hard to detect.

If you're looking for a detectable gravitational wave signal, what bigger event can there be than cosmic inflation? According to inflation theory, the universe multiplied its size by as much as 10 trillion trillion trillion times in the first fractions of a second after the big bang.  Inflation would have generated lots of gravitational waves. In turn, gravitational waves can subtly change the properties of light that they pass through. Specifically, they can slightly affect the polarization of light, the direction in which light's electric fields vibrate. The universe's rapid expansion during inflation would have amplified the waves' imprint on the early light in the universe.

The state-of-the-art BICEP2 experiment, which uses super-sensitive superconducting sensors, could detect tiny changes in polarization in the cosmic microwave background, the very first light released in the universe, which is still reaching us today. The BICEP2 researchers reported a very high polarization signal, known as B-mode polarization after its characteristics, in the cosmic microwave background, which they interpreted as a strong gravitational wave signal in the early universe.

Detecting this polarization signal was a striking result, announced in a series of scientific talks and a press conference shortly after a preprint of the paper was posted online. Notice these last two points: announced at a press conference, and a preprint posted online. A preprint is a written paper that has not been formally reviewed by independent peers or published in a scientific journal.

Nonetheless, scientists and reporters alike reported excitement over the results. If true, they would provide the greatest experimental support yet of cosmic inflation, and the first direct detection of gravitational waves. Previously, gravitational waves have been detected indirectly, such as in observations of pairs of stars falling towards each other: they were losing energy in the form of gravitational waves.

On the day of the BICEP2 announcement, and for many days afterward, people were largely accepting the results as correct and already jumping to the implications of the BICEP2 results for what appeared to be a new era of gravitational-wave cosmology.
In writing my story for Inside Science News Service, I was fortunate to get an early voice of skepticism from David Spergel, a theoretical cosmologist at Princeton University in New Jersey. He commented:

"Given the importance of this result, my starting point is to be skeptical. Most importantly, there are several independent experimental groups that will test this result in the next year."
Spergel explained that the new gravitational wave measurements did not appear to agree with those of previous experiments, known as WMAP and Planck, unless the simplest models of inflation were replaced by more complicated ones. On the first day and week of coverage, I became very disappointed with the many commentators who disregarded or underemphasized that the earlier measurements from instruments on WMAP and Planck, which had been reported and covered for years.

Sure enough, in the weeks that followed, other researchers pointed out that the signal that BICEP2 detected may have been attributable to the polarization of light caused by dust in our galaxy. The BICEP2 team certainly knew that dust could also polarize light in a similar way to gravitational waves, but they used a model, based on the data that was available from the Planck satellite, that, the other researchers pointed out, may have underestimated the amount of dust in the part of the sky they were studying.

The BICEP2 paper underwent peer review and was published in Physical Review Letters. As a result of the peer-review process, the researchers made revisions, including removing the model that contained the lower estimates of dust based on the earlier Planck data, and thereby reducing the certainty with which they could state that they accounted for signals from interstellar dust.

During the summer, the BICEP2 and Planck collaborations agreed to work together to analyze their data, to help determine if gravitational waves had really been detected.

This week, the Planck team issued a preprint, based on an analysis of much additional data, showing a comprehensive map of dust in the sky. According to their analysis, the signal in the part of sky that BICEP2 analyzed could be completely attributable to dust and not to gravitational waves.

But, the story is not over. For starters, keep in mind the new preprint, like all newly posted publications, still needs to undergo formal peer review.

And the latest data do not completely rule out the possibility that the BICEP2 group detected a gravitational wave signal. If the evidence holds up at all, it would likely be a weaker signal, after accounting for the dust. Or, the gravitational-wave signal may completely turn to dust.

It may be possible to detect primordial gravitational waves in a different, less dusty part of the sky, or with new measurements by BICEP2, Planck or the many other experiments that are looking for them.  Just as the first reported detections of exoplanets turned out to be false, perhaps this is a prelude to an actual detection of gravitational waves.

"You cannot ignore dust," he quotes from Planck scientist Charles Lawrence of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The biggest lesson, to me, is that no one should rush to make announcements and pronouncements, whether big or small, even in the face of intense competition and the alluring prospects of launching a new field of study and winning a Nobel Prize. 

Scientists, and the rest of the public, should follow the time-tested scientific practice of subjecting claims to sufficient levels of scrutiny, and waiting for other groups to validate results, before making bold statements. At the very least, there have been major caveats and qualifiers in announcing new data with potentially huge implications.

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Can You Fathom A World Without Money And Without Disease?

Michael Forrester, Prevent DiseaseIn many ways we’ve already selected monetary systems for termination. Money itself is not the root of all evil, however humans have bound money so tightly to contracts that it can no longer be used to benefit us in its current form and with the mindset to transcend all that it represents. Humanity has realized this and it’s only a matter of time before our monetary structures evolve to something else. That something will benefit all the struggl [...]

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Fall Begins Monday: Equinox Myth Debunked


The start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere begins Sept. 22, 2014.
Excert from space.com
By Joe Rao, Space.com Skywatching Columnist 


Sick of long, hot summer days? Well, you're in luck. Astronomically speaking, autumn is about to begin in the north.
On Monday (Sept. 22), at 10:29 p.m. EDT (0229 Sept. 23 GMT) autumn begins astronomically in the Northern Hemisphere. This also marks the start of spring in the southern half of the globe.
This date is called an equinox, from the Latin for "equal night," alluding to the fact that day and night are then of equal length worldwide. But that is not necessarily correct. [Earth's Equinoxes & Solstices Explained (Infographic)] 

Not so equal

Referring to the equinox as being a time of equal day and night is a convenient oversimplification. For one thing, it treats night as simply the time the sun is beneath the horizon, and completely ignores twilight. If the sun were nothing more than a point of light in the sky, and if the Earth lacked an atmosphere, then at the time of an equinox, the sun would indeed spend one half of its path above the horizon and one half below.
But in reality, atmospheric refraction raises the sun's disc by more than its own apparent diameter while it is rising or setting. Thus, when the sun looks like a reddish-orange ball just sitting on the horizon, it's really an optical illusion. It is actually completely below the horizon.
In addition to refraction hastening sunrise and delaying sunset, there is another factor that makes daylight longer than night at an equinox: Sunrise and sunset are defined as the times when the first or last speck of the sun's upper or lower limbs — not the center of the disc — are visible above the horizon.
And this is why if you check your newspaper's almanac or weather page on Monday and look up the times of local sunrise and sunset, you'll notice that the duration of daylight, or the amount of time from sunrise to sunset, still lasts a bit more than 12 hours. 
In New York City, for instance, sunrise is at 6:43 a.m., and sunset comes at 6:54 p.m. So the amount of daylight is not 12 hours, but rather 12 hours and 11 minutes. Not until Sept. 26 are the days and nights truly equal. (On Sept. 26, sunrise is at 6:47 a.m., and sunset is 12 hours later).
At the North Pole, the sun currently is tracing out a 360-degree circle around the entire sky, appearing to skim just above the edge of the horizon. At the moment of this year's autumnal equinox, it should theoretically disappear completely from view, and yet its disc will still be hovering just above the horizon.  Not until 52 hours and 10 minutes later will the last speck of the sun's upper limb finally drop completely out of sight.      
This strong refraction effect also causes the sun's disc to appear oval when it is near the horizon. The amount of refraction increases so rapidly as the sun approaches the horizon that its lower limb is lifted more than the upper one, distorting the sun's disc noticeably.

Not as dark as it seems

Certain astronomical myths die hard. One of these is that the entire Arctic region experiences six months of daylight and six months of darkness. Often, "night" is simply defined by the moment when the sun is beneath the horizon, as if twilight didn't exist. This fallacy is repeated in innumerable geography textbooks, as well as travel articles and guides. 
But twilight illuminates the sky to some extent whenever the sun's upper rim is less than 18 degrees below the horizon. This marks the limit of astronomical twilight, when the sky is indeed totally dark from horizon to horizon.
There are two other types of twilight. Civil (bright) twilight exists when the sun is less than 6 degrees beneath the horizon. It is loosely defined as when most outdoor daytime activities can be continued. Some daily newspapers provide a time when you should turn on your car's headlights. That time usually corresponds to the end of civil twilight.
So, even at the North Pole, while the sun disappears from view for six months beginning Sept. 25, to state that "total darkness" immediately sets in is hardly the case. In fact, civil twilight does not end there until Oct. 8. 
When the sun drops down to 12 degrees below the horizon, it marks the end of nautical twilight, when a sea horizon becomes difficult to discern. In fact, at the end of nautical twilight, most people will regard night as having begun. At the North Pole, nautical twilight does not end until Oct. 25. Finally, astronomical twilight — when the sky indeed becomes completely dark — ends Nov. 13. It then remains perpetually dark until Jan. 29, when the twilight cycles begin anew. So, at the North Pole, the duration of 24-hour darkness lasts almost 11 weeks, not six months.

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10 Qualities Every Human Being Should Have

Luminita Saviuc, Purpose Fairy“I decided, very early on, just to accept life unconditionally; I never expected it to do anything special for me, yet I seemed to accomplish far more than I had ever hoped. Most of the time it just happened to me without my ever seeking it.” ~ Audrey HepburnIf you ask me, there are certain qualities each and every human being should have. Qualities that have the power to help each and every one of us to connect with our own selves and the wor [...]

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