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My Relativity Journey: A Series Of Unlikely Events

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The name Einstein is synonymous with “someone who is really smart.” His name crops up frequently in pop culture and perhaps even more in scientific discussions about the nature of matter, energy, space and time. As someone with a science background (evolutionary biology and ecology) and a deep curiosity about how our universe works, I began to dive into the world of Einstein about six years ago. I’ve been pretty surprised by what I discovered and this little essay is about my own personal journey and some thoughts on modern physics and the nature of time specifically.

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I’m scientifically literate but my physics math isn’t well developed so after seeing Einstein’s popular book, Relativity: The Special and the General Theories at the bookstore in the SFO airport I snapped this little tome up and was pleasantly surprised to find it quite accessible and interesting to read. It was also a nice introduction to his technical papers on his theories.

I learned in his little book about Einstein’s two relativity theories. The first, special relativity, was proposed by Einstein in 1905; the second, general relativity, in 1915. I’m going to focus on Special Relativity in this essay.

Special Relativity was Einstein’s first foray into upending our long-standing notions on the nature of space and time. Counter-intuitively, Special Relativity holds that both space and time are malleable and the speed of light is absolute (i.e., constant for all observers, no matter what their speed). In our normal life, of course, space and time seem pretty absolute in a physical sense. Yes, time can seem to pass more quickly or more slowly based on our mental state but generally we realize that this feeling is psychological and not indicative of an actual change in the passage of time in the world around us.

Einstein’s “time dilation” was not, however, merely psychological. He suggested that time dilation was real and is a function of the speed of the observer. The faster you go the more time slows down. “Moving clocks run slow” is the shorthand for this phenomenon. If a person in a spaceship were able somehow to get to the speed of light, time would literally stop. This isn’t actually possible in Special Relativity because the mass of the spaceship increases the closer it is to the speed of light, requiring more and more energy to go even faster. So massive things can never reach the speed of light. Only massless particles, like photons and neutrinos, can travel at the speed of light.

tambookSimilarly, “length contraction” is a function of the speed of an object. This means that what you would measure as a one-meter stick when the stick is at rest would be measured as shorter than one meter when it is in motion. And if that stick were accelerated to almost the speed of light it would be very short indeed when measured by you as a stationary observer.

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Why do these things happen? Well, Einstein describes it very clearly in his little book: it all comes down to his choices in defining simultaneity. As described also in Peter Galison’s excellent book, Einstein’s Clocks; Poincaré’s Maps: Empires of Time, clock synchronization was a big issue when Einstein was writing on relativity. Railroads, map-making, colonization and other economic activities all depended in various ways on the ability to synchronize clocks. This is what is meant by simultaneity: how do we know when two events occur at the same time? Einstein chose to define simultaneity operationally, that is, by how we can measure it, rather than as a more abstract notion about when events are “really” simultaneous. Einstein’s approach was part of a tendency toward “positivism,” the scientific choice of focusing only on what can be measured, and downplaying or eliminating entirely those concepts that can’t be measured directly.

Einstein suggested that simultaneity should be defined operationally as the perception of simultaneous events, and this perception would include an assumption that the information being perceived traveled at the same speed no matter where it came from. The example he gives relies on a passenger on a moving train. If the passenger sees two lightning strikes at the same time, one in front and one in the rear of the train (using mirrors if necessary in order to see both ways), they will be considered simultaneous.

But for a person on the embankment next to the moving train these same two lightning flashes would not be simultaneous because of the time it takes for those flashes of light to reach each observer. This is because the train is moving toward one flash and away from the other. But that’s not the case, of course, for the person on the embankment. In this way, simultaneity becomes relative and depends on the motion of the observer. This is a key point and is literally the origin of the entire structure of Einstein’s relativity theories and the strange relativistic effects of time dilation and length contraction.

There is a remarkable and telling passage in Einstein’s little book where he explains his reasoning for his proposed definition of simultaneity (p. 27 of the 1952 edition, emphasis in the original):

“There is only one demand to be made of the definition of simultaneity, namely, that in every real case it must supply us with an empirical decision as to whether or not the conception that has to be defined is fulfilled. That my definition satisfies this demand is indisputable. That light requires the same time to traverse the path [from the first lightning flash in front of the train and from the second lightning flash behind the train] is in reality neither a supposition nor a hypothesis about the physical nature of light, but a stipulation which I can make of my own free will in order to arrive at a definition of simultaneity.”

Einstein is, then, stating his view that he’s simply assuming (stipulating) that the speed of light is constant for all observers, no matter their speed, and then seeing where this assumption takes us. A key consequence of the relativity of simultaneity is the idea of a “block universe” in which past, present and future all in some manner exist already. As Einstein stated in a 1952 letter: “The distinction between past, present and future is a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

Einstein’s ideas became widespread after his theory of general relativity was spectacularly confirmed in 1919 by Sir Arthur Eddington’s scientific expedition to Sao Tomé and Principe during a solar eclipse. Eddington found that light did indeed appear to bend around the sun during the eclipse and by the amount Einstein predicted in his general theory. The rest is history.

But not so fast. Once I understood what Einstein had done in crafting his special theory, I objected to his logical moves. When I read and re-read the passage above, I objected to his statement that there is “only one demand” to be made of the definition of simultaneity: that the empirical demand of judging simultaneity in each case is fulfilled. There is also a need to avoid contradiction and to avoid contravening empirical facts. I’m going to focus here on the latter item: contravening empirical facts.

Here’s my beef with Einstein: Special Relativity leads to the idea that the flow of time we know intimately is actually an illusion, as suggested by the Einstein quote above. Even though in every moment of our experience time proceeds from moment to moment, with each present becoming a new present, Special Relativity says this flow is an illusion. And even though the past is, based on our common experience of time, only memory, and the future only imagined, Special Relativity says that the past and future co-exist in some manner with the present “in block.” Moreover, if the past, present and future are all in some manner already in existence then there is no room for free will. As with the flow of time, I sure feel like I have free will so there is an empirical issue when a theory suggests otherwise.

What are we to do?

What do we do when a widely accepted theory seems to clash so directly with our direct evidence of the world around us, particularly with our experience of the flow of time? Falsification is the gold standard of good science and this simply means that experiments that disprove (falsify) a prediction of a theory should lead to rejection of that theory. Now, with our experience of the passage of time there’s no experiment even required for a certain kind of falsification of Special Relativity. We can simply look around us and look to the heavens and see that there is indeed an arrow of time and a flow of time, everywhere we see. This isn’t a trivial issue for Special Relativity. Reconciling time’s arrow and the flow of time with special and general relativity remains a serious issue in physics today.

When asked by my colleague Jonathan Schooler how he reconciled the illusory nature of time in relativity theory with our experience of the flow of time, the physicist Brian Greene said that he sees a psychiatrist. This moment of humor highlights the very real problem that modern physics faces in reconciling the flow of time with our best physical theories about time. Lee Smolin’s 2013 book Time Reborn, examines these issues in detail and he asserts that perhaps relativity theory isn’t the last word about time. He suggests a number of ways in which time may be reclaimed.

We are, then, in a new era of debate about the nature of time. I’ve written a number of short essays challenging the completeness or accuracy of the interpretations of relativity theory that render time illusory and these are included in my book, Eco, Ego, Eros: Essays on Philosophy, Spirituality, and Science. My book also includes an interview with Smolin about his ideas.

Back to the present moment. I’m writing this little essay on a train to Seattle on the winter solstice. I’ve seen no lightning. Yet. Night has just fallen on this, the longest night of the year, a nice reminder of the historical importance of the passage of time and of the seasons.

It turns out that my ongoing interest in Einstein’s theories has led me to chairing a panel on these issues at a conference next June in Helsinki, Finland. Part of the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference, our panel will look at “The physics and metaphysics of time in relation to consciousness.” More interestingly, my colleague, Jonathan Schooler, who I mentioned above, will be joining me on that panel.

Not only that, Schooler is on the same train with me now and we’ve been discussing the implications and alternatives to relativity theory for some time. There was a nice synchronicity in our discovering that we’d be on the same train. It’s the first time for both of us to take Amtrak from Santa Barbara to Seattle. My family is in Seattle and Jonathan’s girlfriend’s family is too. I only found out that he’d be on the train with me a few days ago, after we’d been discussing for a matter of months the Helsinki conference panel and our respective presentations. What’s even weirder about this particular synchronicity is that I got my days wrong with respect to when I was actually supposed to board my train. I boarded the train a day too early! I was able to avoid getting kicked off the train by calling Amtrak and changing my ticket. So the synchronicity of being on the same train with Schooler was even more striking because I wasn’t actually going to be on the same train until I made the mistake of thinking my train left on Sunday when it actually left on Monday.

Anyway, I bring up this personal anecdote because it relates directly to the nature of time and our experience of time. Synchronicities (“same-time”) are all about strange and meaningful coincidences. What do they mean? That’s for each of us to decide. But for now, I’m going to continue to take it as a cue from the universe that I’m on the right (train?) track in continuing to examine the nature of time in relation to consciousness. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Consciousness

New Study of Mind-Matter Interaction Via Double Slit Experiment Yields “Remarkable” Results

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new analysis of the double slit experiment shows, according to the author, "remarkable" results when it comes to analyzing the mind-matter interaction problem.

  • Reflect On:

    Why has most of this science been studied by the Department of Defense? Why are real life, documented and recorded examples never used in these studies? Why is the statistical significance of parapsychology never mentioned?

Does mind influence matter? The answer is an unquestionable yes, this fact is firmly established in scientific literature, and the only thing up for debate is just how much of an effect our minds can have on matter.

In what’s known as the double slit experiment, tiny bits of matter (photons, electrons, or any atomic-sized object) are shot toward a screen that has two slits in it. On the other side of the screen, a video camera records where each photon lands. When scientists close one slit, the camera will show us an expected pattern. But when both slits are opened, an interference pattern emerges — they begin to act like waves. This means that each photon individually goes through both slits at the same time and interferes with itself, but it also goes through one slit, and it goes through the other. Furthermore, it goes through neither of them. The single piece of matter becomes a “wave” of potentials, expressing itself in the form of multiple possibilities, and this is why we get the interference pattern.

How can a single piece of matter exist and express itself in multiple states, without any physical properties, until it is “measured” or “observed”? Furthermore, how does it choose which path, out of multiple possibilities, to take?

Then, when an “observer” decides to measure and look at which slit the piece of matter goes through, the “wave” collapses, and then things really get interesting.

The connection between human consciousness, or factors associated with human consciousness such as intention, thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the physical realm is fascinating. This is precisely why nearly all of the founding fathers of quantum physics were so preoccupied with learning more about consciousness and “non-material” science in general. For instance, the theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, Max Planck, regarded “consciousness as fundamental” and matter as a “derivative from consciousness.” Eugene Wigner, another famous theoretical physicist and mathematician, also emphasized how “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics Essays by Dean Radin, PhD explains how this experiment has been used multiple times to explore the role of consciousness in shaping the nature of physical reality. The paper showed that meditators were able to collapse quantum systems at a distance through intention alone. The meditators were the “observer” in this case.

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In fact, as Radin points out in his lecture, a “5 sigma” result was able to give CERN the Nobel Prize in 2013 for finding the Higgs particle (which turned out not to be Higgs after all). In this study, they also received a 5 sigma result when testing meditators against non-meditators in collapsing the quantum wave function. This means that mental activity, the human mind, attention, and intention, which are a few labels under the umbrella of consciousness, compelled physical matter to act in a certain way.

“Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it… We compel [the electron] to assume a definite position… We ourselves produce the results of the measurement.”

Fascinating, isn’t it?

The New Study

I recently came across a post on Radin’s Facebook page regarding a new study just published in PLOS ONE titled Independent re-analysis of alleged mind-matter interaction in double-slit experimental data.

His Facebook post reads,

Just published. “… this paper is the third independent statistical analysis … showing significant differences in fringe visibility between concentration and relaxation epochs of human subjects….”. The author made several assumptions that differed from ours, which resulted in reduced statistical power. That in turn led to a more conservative conclusion. Even so, anomalies were clearly found in these data that defy ordinary explanations.

In that study, they provided a “two year long experimental dataset in which authors of Radin, et al., 2016 claim to find evidence of mind-matter interaction is independently re-analyzed. In this experiment, participants are asked to periodically shift their attention towards or away from a double-slit optical apparatus. Shifts in fringe visibility of the interference pattern are monitored and tested against the common sense null hypothesis that such shifts should not correlate with the participant’s attention state.”

They concluded that:

The thorough analysis pursued in this paper gives a much broader and full picture of the data than the ones previously published in [1] and [19]. On the one hand, we find undeniable anomalies in the human data with shifts of the fringe visibility in the direction expected by human intention. The fact that fringe visibility decreases when human intention tries to make it decrease, and increases when human intention tries to make it increase is remarkable.

That being said, the authors concluded that they still cannot give a definitive conclusion on mind-matter interaction. However, publications like this are still a huge step forward.

They also mention a very important point: The stigma behind these findings and how it encroaches on belief systems have perhaps not allowed a more rigorous scientific investigation into these subjects.

Given the controversial aspect of this research, attempts to reproduce such an experiment should be done by groups of experts from different fields of research including quantum mechanics, neuroscience and statistics, both skeptics and believers, collaborating to design the most rigorous protocol. Personal beliefs, may they be strongly in favour or against the mind-matter interaction hypothesis, have to be put aside, to collectively pursue a clear and objective investigation of this particular interpretation of the quantum measurement problem.

Here’s another great quote alluding to the same thing:

There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing. —Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (source)

What The Authors Failed To Recognize

Never in these studies do they mention real world examples. Cases of mind influencing matter have been reported throughout history and across many cultures, more specifically in regards to ‘supernormal’ abilities such as telepathy, psychokinesis, and other phenomena that lie within the realms of parapsychology. This is evident in ancient literature, from the Vedic texts and the yoga sutras to Jesus, Moses, Milarepa, Mohammed, and more.

In 1987, researchers at the Institute of Space-Medico Engineering, as mentioned in the CIA document earlier in the article, publicized a fraction of their work in the form of a film showcasing their work and what they had accomplished.

The film showed a medicine pill moving through an irreversibly sealed glass vial, which occurred in three frames of a 400 frame per second film. (source)

Another release (about Zhang) from the CIA (Research Into Paranormal Ability To Break Through Spatial Barriers) states:

A wooden cabinet 120 by 180 by 60 centimeters was used as a sealed container. Sheets of papers and boards with one  of a kind markings were used as the target objects and placed inside the cabinet on the upper shelf. Without damaging the cabinet or opening the door, the person with ESP was able to remove the target objets and also was able to put them back inside. This demonstrates that even when using especially large container it is possible to completely break through spacial barriers, however, the success rate was much lower and was exceptionally difficult. (Source)(source)

The CIA document linked above provides more examples.

According to Eric Davis, Ph.D, FBIS, from a declassified US Air Force document obtained via the Federation of American Scientists, Shuhuang reported that ‘gifted children’ were responsible for the teleportation of small, physical objects from one place to another. (source)

A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, as seen in the the US National Library of Medicine, demonstrated that a woman with special abilities was able to accelerate the germination of specific seeds for the purposes of developing a more robust seed stock.  You can read that here.

There are many fascinating examples within the lore of parapsychology.

Many of these results are just as strong, if not stronger, than a lot of the results that come from hard sciences like physics and mechanical engineering. As far back as 1999, the head of the statistics department at UC Irvine, Jessica Utts, published a paper showing that results dealing with parapsychology and mind-body connection are a lot stronger than the results used to approve some of our medications!

The Takeaway

The idea that mind influences matter is not new. From a hardcore scientific perspective, the results may be questionable, but we have to transcend science as its current parameters have become some sort of religion, failing to take into account many factors. A lot of science today has been dominated and taken over by the corporate world. The politicization of science is a real thing, and new science has confirmed the metaphysical world and is breaking down current and old paradigms. Everything from the mind-body connection to quantum physics and parapsychology are showing us how much more we have to learn about ourselves and what we are capable of.

Thing about the implications this could have for our planet? Imagine if billions of people all over the world found peace within themselves, what type of world would we create?

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Alternative News

Research Reveals Plants Can Think, Choose & Remember

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    This article was written by Sayer Ji, founder of Greenmedinfo.com where it was originally published. Posted here with permission.

  • Reflect On:

    Does all form of life poses some type of 'consciousness' regardless of its biological structure? If so, what does this mean?

Modern science is only beginning to catch up to the wisdom of the ancients: plants possess sentience and a rudimentary form of intelligence. 

Plants are far more intelligent and capable than we given them credit. In fact, provocative research from 2010 published in Plant Signaling & Behavior proposes that since they cannot escape environmental stresses in the manner of animals, they have developed a “sophisticated, highly responsive and dynamic physiology,” which includes information processes such as “biological quantum computing” and “cellular light memory” which could be described as forms of plant intelligence. Titled, “Secret life of plants: from memory to intelligence,” the study highlights one particular “super power” of plants indicative of their success as intelligent beings:

“There are living trees that germinated long before Jesus Christ was born. What sort of life wisdom evolved in plants to make it possible to survive and propagate for so long a time in the same place they germinated?”

According to the researchers, “plants actually work as a biological quantum computing device that is capable to process quantum information encrypted in light intensity and in its energy.” This information processing includes a mechanism for processing memorized information. For example:

“plants can store and use information from the spectral composition of light for several days or more to anticipate changes that might appear in the near future in the environment, for example, for anticipation of pathogen attack.”

According to the study, “plants can actually think and remember.”

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Moreover, plant not only possess a mechanism for information gathering and processing, but appear to exercise agency or “choice” vis-à-vis different scenarios:

“different group of chloroplasts and cells in the same leaf under identical constant and stable light, temperature and relative humidity condition have different opinion “what to do” in such conditions and tests different scenarios of possible future development.”

The study also offers an explanation for why plants absorb more light energy than is needed for photosynthesis alone:

“Another possible answer to the above question is a light training of young naïve leaves. Let’s imagine when young leaf or flower is emerging out of a plant, it would be nice for that leaf or flower to know about the conditions in which it is going to emerge. Older, more experienced leaves that actually are acclimated to outside conditions can train naïve emerging young leaves with the PEPS [photoelectrophysiological signaling ]and cellular light memory mechanisms. This explains why plants possess a natural capacity to absorb more light energy than that required for photosynthetic CO2 assimilation. They need this absorbed energy in excess for optimization and training of light acclimatory and immune defenses.”

The authors leave us with the provocative conclusion:

“Our results suggest that plants are intelligent organisms capable of performing a sort of thinking process (understood as at the same time and non-stress conditions capable of performing several different scenarios of possible future definitive responses), and capable of memorizing this training.17 Indeed leaves in the dark are able to not only “see” the light,8,34 but also are able to differently remember its spectral composition and use this memorized information to increase their Darwinian fitness.”

Why is this discovery important?

There are many reasons why recognizing the sentience and intelligence of plants may have positive implications for the future of humanity. For one, it helps us all to transcend the dominant worldview that non-human life forms are best defined in strictly mechanistic terms, and that attributing a “life essence” or consciousness to them is a form of magical thinking. French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Pointy called this world view the “Great Object,” namely, that everything in the universe is compromised of material objects externally related to one another, and with consciousness merely an ephemeral subjectivity found only in humans.

To the contrary, if we open ourselves to the possibility that we are all participants in an interconnected web of life, as many indigenous peoples believed and actually experienced things to be, destroying the natural world simply to serve the essentially suicidal infinite economic growth model will be identified for the insanity that it is. If we recognize, as biologist James Lovelock proposed, the Earth as a whole should be looked upon more like a self-regulating organism (Gaia hypothesis), or as mycologist Paul Stamet envisions, that there is a fungi-based internet within the ground connecting all living things on the planet in an information-sharing network, we will be less likely to both perceive and to treat the natural world as “other” to be dominated. We’ve also been reporting on the role of exosomes as cross-kingdom messengers, which provides a plausible mechanism for how all of the Earth’s inhabitants — plant, fungal, bacteria, animal, etc. — are linked together in an open access, information sharing network.

Recognizing that plants, for instance, have consciousness, or that their simple presence in our environment has healing effects, reintroduces an element of wonder and mystery back into the experience of the natural world. A perfect example of this can be found in the singing plants of the sacred forest of Damanhur. Damanhurian researchers in the mid-70’s reported using custom equipment to capture electromagnetic changes on the surface of leaves and roots and transforming them into audible signals. The researchers also observed that the plants learned to control their electrical responses, indicating they had some rudimentary awareness of the music they were creating. To learn more visit the Damanhur project website, and watch the video below.


Sayer Ji is founder of Greenmedinfo.com, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation.


Original Article


If you’d like more information from Greenmedinfo, you can sign up for their newsletter here

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Meet The Kenyan Engineer Who Created Gloves That Turn Sign Language Into Audible Speech

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Innovator Roy Allela has invented gloves that read the unique hand movements involved in sign language and turn them into audible speech through an Android app. He calls his gloves Sign-IO.

  • Reflect On:

    We are creating a world where we can all truly communicate, but imagine what our world could be like if inventions like these, and many others, were not limited by costs and start-up processes. Think of what we'd solve if we all worked together.

Imagine a world where communication between everyone is THAT much easier. Well, we’re getting closer and closer to that as every year passes by.

25-year-old Kenyan engineer and innovator, Roy Allela, recently helped humanity take another step in this direction. Allela designed new gloves that will improve communication between those who are deaf and those who cannot understand sign language. His new invention is called the ‘Sign-IO’ gloves, which can translate sign language movements into audible speech.

Allela’s gloves contain sensors located on each finger that are able to detect the positioning of each finger, including how much each finger bends into a given position. This is important, as sign language contains many unique movements that require small details to be detected accurately. The gloves connect via Bluetooth to an Android phone, which then uses text-to-speech technology to allow the person witnessing the sign language to understand what is being said through audio.

Roy was inspired to create the gloves because he has a young niece who is deaf. No one in his family including Roy knows sign language, and thus they often struggled to communicate with her.

“My niece wears the gloves, pairs them with her phone or mine, then starts signing. I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” Allela said.

“People speak at different speeds and it’s the same with people who sign: some are really fast, others are slow, so we integrated that into the mobile application so that it’s comfortable for anyone to use it,” he continued, referring to the creative engineering involved in his project.

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The Sign-IO app, which vocalises words signed by the person wearing the gloves. Photograph: Brett Eloff/Royal Academy of Engineering.

Early on, Allela sees his gloves in schools for special needs children throughout his home country of Kenya. From there, he hopes to expand his business and invention to impact as many deaf people and children around the world as possible. As mentioned, the Sign-IO gloves are just one of many innovations furthering the connection of humanity, no matter what unique aspects of life we are experiencing.

Allela’s gloves are currently in the prototype phase of development and are not yet available to the public. Regardless, they are creating quite the buzz around the world given what they propose to do. Sign-IO was the 2018 grand winner of the “Hardware Trailblazer Award” at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) global finals in New York, and also took home a second runner-up acknowledgement at the Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders in Innovation Fellowship in London.

The Takeaway

Imagine the world we could create if we did not have the limitations imposed by businesses, start-up costs, and so forth. There are incredible people out there who are able to do incredible things for the world, and they’re finding ways to do so even within a society that limits humanity’s potential. If we could bring these amazing minds together and blow off these limitations, then we could truly create a world where communication is not only possible for all, but that would just be the beginning!

As we discussed in our Hidden Energy technologies interview with Susan Manewich on CETV, it’s important to note that the suppression of new, life-changing technologies is not just as a result of the elite, it’s due to our level of consciousness as well. You can check out the interview to learn more on CETV. 

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