Archive | April 1, 2013

NASA Wants $100 Million To Catch An Asteroid

2007wd5And just what do you think they’ll do with the damn thing if they actually catch it? From Aviation Week:

NASA’s fiscal 2014 budget request will include $100 million for a new mission to find a small asteroid, capture it with a robotic spacecraft and bring it into range of human explorers somewhere in the vicinity of the Moon.

Suggested last year by the Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology, the idea has attracted favor at NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. President Obama’s goal of sending astronauts to a near-Earth asteroid by 2025 can’t be done with foreseeable civil-space spending, the thinking goes. But by moving an asteroid to cislunar space — a high lunar orbit or the second Earth-Moon Lagrangian Point (EML2), above the Moon’s far side — it is conceivable that technically the deadline could be met.

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Linguistics Identifies Anonymous Users

Chaos pattern in 1DCVCN left-influential rule=147 gI = 0.14

Chaos pattern in 1DCVCN left-influential rule=147 gI = 0.14

via SCMagazine

Being anonymous online may become more challenging for those who wish to be unknown. A new data mining technique is being developed to reveal identities of people by writing style.

Imagine that the social networks which require real names will be used as a standard to delve the deep dark alleys of the internetAlthough it appears there may be ways to add white noise to a writing style, if indeed one is that concerned about being revealed.

Up to 80 percent of certain anonymous underground forum users can be identified using linguistics, researchers say.The techniques compare user posts to track them across forums and could even unveil authors of thesis papers or blogs who had taken to underground networks. “If our dataset contains 100 users we can at least identify 80 of them,” researcher Sadia Afroz told an audience at the 29C3 Chaos Communication Congress in Germany.”Function words are very specific to the writer.

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God and The Transcendental Object At The End Of History

Preparing a moka pot of coffee this morning, I decided to continue my reading of Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces. The primary thrust of the book is to show the world-wide correlation of all holy texts from tribal tales to what we consider canonized texts of antiquity. There is indeed a unifying theme of the human experience, the drive toward religion and the seeking of a personal quest for enlightenment.

Terence McKenna once spoke of what he referred to as the transcendental object at the end of history as the unifying vision that all seekers see in the hallucinations of mushrooms, LSD, DMT, Mescaline and Ayahuasca. He described this object as the same thing, book looking different. In describing this monolithic object, he cited the mathematical concept of a free floating cone in blank space. He added that if we were to imagine this simple object viewed by many, we would see that no two people would see it in the exact same light, shape and form.… Read the rest

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Ancient ‘Gateway To Hell’ Unearthed In Turkey

Ancient oracles approached the ancient portal and received hallucinations and visions from the noxious fumes belching forth, reports Discovery News:

A “gate to hell” has emerged from ruins in southwestern Turkey, Italian archaeologists have announced. Known as Pluto’s Gate — Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin — the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition.

Historic sources located the site in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, and described the opening as filled with lethal mephitic vapors. “This space is full of a vapor so misty and dense that one can scarcely see the ground. Any animal that passes inside meets instant death,” the Greek geographer Strabo (born 64/63 BC) wrote.

The site revealed a vast array of broken ruins once it was excavated. The archaeologists found Ionic semi columns and, on top of them, an inscription with a dedication to the deities of the underworld — Pluto and Kore.

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Medical History and the ‘Monster’

Medical history so often includes intersections and byways that seem to take us into folklore, fiction, and the Gothic imagination itself.

While researching “monstrous” births from the early 1800s, I came across the following reprint of Kirby’s wonderful and scientific museum: or, Magazine of remarkable characters. The story tells of a child “covered with long hair” and “grovel[ing] upon the ground.” This young man is fastened to a post like a dog and is described as “wild and ferocious.” [i] In birth histories from the medieval period to Abrose Paré’s Monsters and Marvels (in the 16th century), you frequently see tales of “dog children” or frog children, goat children and the like. And yet, this later narrative has been embellished with tone and phrasing made famous by the Gothic narratives like Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otronto and Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho. The “gentleman” who reports the scene in Kirby’s insists that “he never say so wild and wretched a spot as the situation of the poor hut where [the dog boy] resides” and that “a most horrible mystery seems to hang over the whole.”[i] Just as in early Gothic fiction, the landscape becomes a repeated trope of wretched wildness, and the “mystery” has to do not only with the lad’s strange comportment, but with his paternity.… Read the rest

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Embalming Time – The Photography of Invisible Things

It is an egregious,  unavoidable fact that much of the material evidence for unexplained experience is the result of easily explained technical glitches, intentionally or unintentionally invoked. Apparitional double exposures, pollen produced orbs, apophenial faces, and other replicable effects mar the minds of seekers and skeptics confronted with photographs, and other forms of ostensibly objective proof, said to contain traces of some transcendent order of nature.

The latest episode of The Midnight Archive, an award winning documentary series from film maker Ronni Thomas, features an interview with photographer Shannon Taggart  who takes this fact as given, and, moving beyond questions of real or unreal, uses it to capture a more narrative experience of the event. In the interview she discusses her art, and the broader history of Spiritualist spirit photography, in the process providing an alternative approach to understanding these areas of experience that steps past questions of proof:

As an artist and photojournalist Taggart is able to eschew issues of authenticity, in order to embrace the psychological and storytelling aspects of the event.… Read the rest

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One In Five Teenage Boys Is Now Diagnosed With ADHD

The New York Times on mentally-imbalanced becoming the new normal:

Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise in the past decade. About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with A.D.H.D. but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis.

Even more teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the near future because the American Psychiatric Association plans to change the definition of A.D.H.D.

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Bitcoin Currency Tops $1 Billion In Total Value

Are we living in a video game? Quartz writes:

Digital currency bitcoin continues its remarkable and somewhat inexplicable run. It’s up 152% this month, and today the total value of all outstanding bitcoins topped $1 billion for the first time before settling back down.

That’s quite a milestone, considering bitcoin isn’t backed by any real asset or faith in any government. What makes bitcoin so maddening to explain—no, there’s no central bank; yes, it really is just a bunch of people creating money out of thin air—is precisely what makes it so powerful.

The estimated margin on “mining,” or creating, new bitcoins has already recovered from December, when the rate at which new bitcoins could be minted was cut in half, part of the currency’s intentionally deflationary design. Anyone, from hobbyists to bankers to thieves, can mine bitcoins, which requires raw computing power dedicated to solving cryptographic puzzles.

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