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Is Death Natural? Can We Extend Our Lives?

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Death is as natural as birth. So say the large majority of people today. But is death natural? This question is for now merely academic but we could very well be on the cusp of technological advances that make it far more than an academic question.

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Ray Kurzweil argues in his impressive books, The Fantastic Voyage and The Singularity Is Near, that the key now is to “live long enough to live forever.” His point is that our generation is the first that will be able to take advantage of new technologies and have a choice about living longer than the normal life span, possibly far longer. Kurzweil goes further in his follow up book Transcend and suggests that there will be three types of life extension made possible in coming decades: 1) medical techniques by the 2020s or so for slowing or even stopping aging; 2) some years later biological and medical techniques will appear that can turn back the clock to whatever age you want to be (biologically); 3) and even later we’ll see neuroscience techniques for uploading your consciousness into whatever form you want to take (robot, Internet, etc.).

Death certainly has been natural up until now. The large majority of creatures are born and live a life of finite duration, with that duration determined by how long their bodies can withstand inevitable breakdowns, predators or accidents. There are a few interesting exceptions. Hydras, for example, are small creatures related to sea anemones that live in freshwater. Hydras don’t die unless they’re eaten and stem cells seem to be involved in this unusual ability to keep on keeping on.

tambookHarvard’s medical school produced some very intriguing evidence in 2010 with an experiment that succeeded in reversing many signs of aging in lab mice by injecting telomerase, an enzyme that keeps the mice cells’ telomeres from degenerating, into their cells. Intact telomeres stop the chromosomes unraveling and this slows or stops cell death. The mice showed remarkable improvements from this treatment alone.

It’s not that simple, of course, because there are a great many ways for our bodies to go wrong, as is clear from reading Aubrey de Gray’s book, Ending Aging. So while telomerase treatments in humans will likely be part of rejuvenation techniques in years to come they won’t be the whole story.

Is It Unnatural To Extend Our Lives Through Technology?

I’ve been asking people for years now what they think about the potential to extend their lives with technology, or even to choose immortality if it’s a real option. I get varying answers but I often hear (from my mother, for example) that it just seems unnatural to extend our lives using technology.

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I can see their point but I don’t think I agree with it. We do, of course, extend our lives with technology all the time. When we fight cancer or any illness with medical technology we are using arguably unnatural techniques. So what’s unnatural about using new medical procedures to extend life even further?

There is an entirely different argument, however, about the naturalness of life extension that relates to the nature of evolution. The conventional view of evolution is that there is no directionality, no necessary progress, in evolution. Darwin himself thought that there was but the modern view is that such views are misguided and perhaps chauvinist. The data, it seems to me, however, strongly support the view that evolution is progressive in some ways. Eric Chaisson’s book Cosmic Evolution supports this notion.

One very interesting directionality in evolution is what Teilhard de Chardin called “an ascent toward consciousness.” In fact, he defined evolution as an ascent toward consciousness in his book, The Human Phenomenon. The biological world does indeed seem to exhibit a clear trend toward expanded perceptive abilities and greater cognitive abilities. There are always exceptions that we can highlight. For example, bats and some moles have evolved away their eyes for the most part as a result of disuse. But the general trend is pretty undeniable: most types of creatures have evolved over time more ways to perceive the world and better ways to process and act on that information.

Accepting this fact we can look to broader evolutionary themes for some relevant insights about the naturalness (or not) of death. This argument may seem a stretch but bear with me here.

The success of evolutionary processes, at least in terms of producing adaptive novelty, depends on the succession of generations: birth, death, birth, death… This is the case because novelty is thought to appear only in new organisms at birth (setting aside epigenetic novelties for the moment). Natural selection is all about culling random novelties that don’t provide any advantage to the organisms at issue, through death or an inability to reproduce. Most random mutations are negatively adaptive in that they actually lead to worse performance in terms of obtaining food, or avoiding predation, or finding more mates, etc. And because the large majority of mutations are not beneficial, species need to have a lot of births and deaths in order to find those beneficial adaptations in the space of possible adaptations.

The Ascent Of Consciousness

This situation is changing, however, with the ascent of consciousness—recall that this was Teilhard de Chardin’s way of characterizing evolution more generally. Now that consciousness has reached the level of human consciousness, which is a step change in the nature of consciousness, to be sure, we are taking evolution into our own hands. Cultural evolution is now increasingly trumping biological evolution. Let me unpack this statement a bit.

Biological evolution works through the random mutations and natural selection already discussed (genetic drift and some other mechanisms also play a part but for present purposes focusing on natural selection alone is sufficient). The conventional view is that biological evolution is an entirely vertical process because acquired characteristics can’t be passed on to offspring. Lamarck is still reviled in conventional circles today because he believed that acquired characteristics could be passed on and that individual striving was in fact the primary force behind evolution. We now know, with the advent of epigenetics, that some evolutionary change is indeed Lamarckian because epigenetic changes can be acquired and passed on to offspring. For example, new research suggests that humans and chimps differ so remarkably, despite sharing 99 percent of their genes, due to epigenetic differences.

More generally, cultural evolution is uncontroversially Lamarckian. What I mean is that cultural evolution, which is all about ideas and the evolution of ideas, operates through acquisition of ideas by individuals and then the passing on of those ideas in slightly changed form to friends, co-workers and family. Language, for example, is a good example of cultural evolution. Languages are always changing, and we can look to the Oxford English Dictionary’s list of new words each year as proof positive of this phenomenon even in an era of written language.

Here’s the crux of my argument: because cultural evolution is now taking over from biological evolution in terms of the future of the human species we don’t need individuals to die anymore to ensure that evolutionary change continues. Rather, ideas can and do change in a Lamarckian manner and this happens horizontally (person to person) as well as vertically (parent to offspring). We individuals don’t need to die in order to keep evolving as a species. So if evolutionary change is the sine qua non of what is “natural,” we are now at the point where it may be more natural for individuals to stick around and be part of the play of ideas for far longer than is possible under our heretofore natural lifespans.

In other words, if humans are now characterized by our ideas as much or more than our physical forms then there’s no need anymore for our physical forms to undergo the same processes of birth and death if life is to keep ascending toward new forms of consciousness. We can individually evolve and continue that arc of evolution as individuals.

Whether we do in fact continue to evolve in such a manner is entirely our individual choice. But it would be nice, it seems to me, to at least have that choice. So I personally am looking forward to having more options in terms of extending my life beyond the 80 or so years we can normally expect. It should be a fun ride.

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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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Discover

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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