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IONS 16th International Conference: The Science Of Consciousness & Spirit

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 I first became aware of IONS (Institute of Neotic Sciences) through the work of Dr. Charles Tart, who studied altered states and as a noted psychiatrist delved into areas that science finds “irrelevant.” Then I was privileged to meet Cassandra Vieten, the current head of the Institute, at last year’s Science and Nonduality conference.

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Cassi opened this year’s IONS conference by describing some of the amazing attendees and remarking that IONS and the conference attendees “make the paranormal normal.”

By way of background, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, founded in 1973 by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, is a nonprofit research, education, and membership organization whose mission is supporting individual and collective transformation through consciousness research, educational outreach, and engaging a global learning community in the realization of our human potential. “Noetic” comes from the Greek word nous, which means “intuitive mind” or “inner knowing.”

Dr. Edgar Mitchell welcomed us on video by describing how the experience of seeing earth from space palpably made him aware that consciousness is primary, and “we are all one.”

Emanuel Kunzelman, President of Greenheart, described the issue in a way that resonated with me: Imagine if a tornado went through a junk yard and blew the parts together and it assembled an airplane, that’s what science would have you believe created the universe (Chance).  The goal of IONS is to “bring consciousness to the forefront of scientific inquiry.”  In speaking with Emanuel later I found out that his example originated with the famed astronomer Fred Hoyle.

quote-the-chance-that-higher-life-forms-might-have-emerged-in-this-way-is-comparable-with-the-chance-that-fred-hoyle-238945

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The first person I met socially was Allene Symons, author of the upcoming Aldous Huxley’s Hands; we talked about how Huxley’s other biographers stayed away from his “woo woo” side but her father had known Huxley well and she discovered more and more of his work in the nature of consciousness.

A nice touch to the conference was a small card every attendee got to give to someone whom they met that read: “You Inspire Me!” My first encounter with Ms. Symons earned her my card.

Lou Ferrante gave a rousing presentation about being “freer in prison” than he had been as a high ranking member of the Mafia. “In my cell I felt better about myself even though I had to put tissue in my ears to keep out cockroaches.”

He described a dream where he was told he was finally free to go but said, “no, I’ll pass” because he realized he was terrified of freedom and his cell was a bizarre comfort zone where he was free to do what he loved – he read 18 hours a day.

Dancing in the aisles at IONS 2015.

Dancing in the aisles at IONS 2015.

Upon release he wrote several best-sellers and then decided he wanted to write on what he had discovered through his inner work in a book on Dream Theory, but his agent and publisher balked because he had no credibility in that field. “You can’t write a book about the brain, you’re not a scientist.”

Ferrante said that he deserved his prison chains and this made him sensitive to those who didn’t.  He wrote about his need to accept responsibility for his crimes and how his conscience torments him, and that he became deeply aware of the injustices of the Holocaust and Racism.

Still Ferrante kept true to his inner code, he “never snitched.” His first hit book was about what the Mafia can teach a legitimate businessman and he described the ethics of the mob and how in many ways they transcended the lack of integrity he found when getting a loan on the outside.

“When you strip away the violence the mob had a deep code. For example you couldn’t go into a man’s house and hurt his family.”

Now Ferrante has written about about dreams and brain and his work resonated with that of another speaker, Dean Radin of IONS, in taking into account the possibility that dreams refer to “an external stimulus that the brain actually senses before it happens.”  Check out Three Pound Crystal Ball:  How the Dreaming Brain can Sense the Future.

Sometimes the interludes at such conferences contain amazing surprises.  Two IONS members, Dr. Bob Schwarz and Michael Ray, sang duets based on the songs of Bob Dylan and Don MacLean that made me sing along and brought me to tears. Here are the incredible lyrics and this is a sample of their performance at another conference with similar effect. Sing them in your head…

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of the classic The Four Agreements, was a major highlight and I had the privilege to get not one but three hugs from him.

Speaking without notes or slides Don Miguel spun an amazing analogy of being the protagonist of your own Dream Story but often allowing the “secondary characters” the power to derail your dreams and convince you of illusory beliefs.

He asked with humility for help in achieving his goal for presenting: “Please help me to change the world. You create the reality of your world. Only you can change your world. Try to control secondary characters and learn to love unconditionally.”

Secondary characters will love you if you meet their conditions but “real love is unconditional.”

One of the first things Don Miguel realized that led to awakening was that “I know that I am not what I pretend to be.”

His message is that love is a life force that moves matter. He said, “It’s energy that cannot be destroyed only changed. Truth exists long before humanity; no proof needed.”

We believe we are the body and our fear of death leads us to try to love with conditions. Even Humanity at large tries to love with conditions: nations, states, groups and so on.

His simple but profound message is that we can change ourselves by changing our story – trusting and loving life and ourselves and not paying attention to secondary characters and not fearing death of the body for our “main” character, because All is energy and life.

My most anticipated breakout session was with my friends Maurizio and Zaya Benazzo of the Science and Nonduality Conference and their colleague Nick Day, a “conscious filmmaker.”

Nick opened with a wonderful overview of the history of cinema and its effects on the mass psyche. He described how the very first film attracted crowds to watch fifteen seconds of a locomotive arriving and how crowds fled in terror because they could not distinguish between film and reality – they had no frame of reference.

Nick also showed an incredibly simple 2D animation with no dialogue – just two triangles, a circle and box, onto which audience members project multiple interpretations. From there he traced the history of cinema up to what today is the threshold of virtual reality, and intertwined the mythic and philosophical themes of Jung and Joseph Campbell as well as the Greek philosophers to trace the emergence of storytelling along with our view of the nature of reality and consciousness.

Nick and Maurizio have known one another since their collaboration on the award winning Short Cut to Nirvana.

Maurizio and Zaya provided an in depth preview of the SAND conference and “outtakes” from past conferences which featured physicists, neuroscientists, and philosophers exchanging ideas on the nature of consciousness and reality.

One of the participants, Dr. Rudy Tanzi, is working on Alzheimer’s and approaches his research now from the perspective of the Mind or consciousness NOT being localized anywhere specific in the brain, but rather existing as a “field” of infinite awareness or possibility.

The video and slides presented by Maurizio and Zaya gave a nice flavor of their amazing conference which complements IONS – Science and Nonduality is in San Jose in the fall of 2015.

Federico Faggin designed the world’s first microprocessor, the Intel 4004 (1971), and developed the design methodology and directed the design of all early Intel’s microprocessors. Now this brilliant scientist and mathematician is devoting himself to a scientific inquiry into the nature of consciousness.

Using mathematics and experimentation he has come to the conclusion that the “Universe responded to my desire to know” and that the “Self cannot be known by studying only its outer form. Consciousness is [no thing/nonmaterial] with “the capacity to experience itself.”

According to Faggin we are materialized selves whose purpose is to know [discover] ourselves by interacting with other selves and the environment. The physical universe acts like a Virtual Reality “world” in which objects are temporary illusions.

This “P-Space” is merely a projection of consciousness (P=physical) and “I-Space” (personal ego) exists within P-Space.

Within our own conceptual framework we each “see” a different universe which gives rise to our unique experience and we exist within a conditioned conceptual framework. Faggin is working on mathematical descriptions of how I-Space emerges within consciousness.

According to Faggin, along with I-Space, experience exists in P-Space. This is interpreted through language and its semantic, conditioned “programs,” so that there are hierarchical syntactical rules that govern language – this resonates with The Four Agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz.

“What gives meaning to all existence?” To Faggin, this remains the greatest question.

The audience next heard the poetry and insights of Drew Dellinger, author of A Love Letter to the Milky WayDrew’s message is simply that “we’re living on a planet that is shooting through space and it’s time we acted like it.”

Drew has a unique, almost musical presentation style that blends rhyme and rhythm with unique insights.

Another famed author, Barbara Marx Hubbard described her personal journey from “a housewife in Connecticut” and mother of five to feminist, humanist, and futurist. As I watched this amazing 85 year old dynamo it seemed to me that she literally embodies the Divine Feminine.

To Barbara, “The Universe is a Love Story” and evolution is consciously and lovingly self-organizing – echoing Bruce Lipton she talked about how each cell “evolves” and builds from parts to wholeness.

Her belief is in “Evolutionary Spirituality” – the Christification of Earth – or the evolution toward Christ Consciousness of the Whole Planet but from a secular perspective.

She told the story of how as a young girl she met President Eisenhower and asked him how can this new atomic power be used for good?  The President replied that he did not know and it led her on a journey to discover how the vast power of intellect can be refined for the greatest good.

She went through a description of the “Four E’s”:

  • Eternal
  • Embody
  • Emerge
  • Eros

Which leads to a needed new vocabulary and the word “Telerotic” – combining teleos and eros.

Teleology is akin to Phenomenology in “explaining” phenomena by their outcomes rather than by cause and effect, so that the result of the four E’s, presumably, is a philosophy that sees Love or Eros as the necessary outcome of a fully lived existence.

Ms. Marx-Hubbard suggested that we “shift” from an emphasis on procreation, which was the ethos of when she was a mother and housewife to – “co-creation” and recognition that we are evolving toward a higher purpose in a unity with the planetary consciousness also articulated by astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who founded IONS.

Dean Radin, PhD, is Chief Scientist at IONS and the author of the best-selling books The Conscious Universe, Entangled Minds, and Supernormal.

Dr. Radin described how he had attended a conference on thinking the unthinkable with world leaders in Australia, and they included him because they were focused on diseases like Alzheimers and Ebola and even runaway Artificial Intelligence.

Dr. Radin suggested that the answers lie in a realm where we finally address the reality that consciousness is not in the brain, but some”where” outside of Space/Time.

Two Q’s Of The Next Century For Science Replacing Quantum Physics & Relativity

Qualia – how do we experience

Quantia – quantum – how does observation influence phenomena

We don’t know what we don’t know – the bigger questions

Radin described many of the former psychic “technologies” which were generally drugs but also include medtiation and chanting – “things” that change our state.

Emerging in this area he discussed electro magnetic stimulation of the brain, and especially the temporal lobe which presumably is the home of the “Self.”

He mentioned that when these technologies also get the frontal lobe – the area of analysis and logic – out of the way it also opens up as Huxley said, the “Doors of Perception.”

He went on to talk about methods of inducing psychic ability including  Consciousness Hacking, which is the work of Mikey Siegel and Nootropics – new drugs that may make one smarter.

Interestingly, of the more than 100 psychedelic substances known, more than half are artificial.

One drug he mentioned along with several magnetic technologies was Preacetam, and all of these methods essentially act upon the Mind/Matter relationship which in the “normal” state we deem separate.

He also devoted a great deal of his talk to the mass media and film, and how in most if not all cases these abilities must be hidden by those who possess them (or are possessed) because they can no longer function in normal society.

Radin lamented the fact that so much of the popular mythology around these powers make them dystopian and that the SciFi genre generally is overlapped by horror.

He showed clips from films like Next, Lucy, and of course Star Wars to illustrate how these powers are generally treated in cinema.

Marianne Williamson gave a rousing follow up talk that concluded the major presentations on a huge high. She said that while Consciousness is neutral her belief is that it is the human endeavor that chooses always between fear and love and that this is crucially NOT neutral. True spiritual enlightenment is consciously choosing intentionally to serve Love and not Fear (the ego).

She mentioned her early fascination with the artist Edward Burns Jones who created artistic Angels during the rise of the technical age and said that for “every machine he would create an Angel.” Like Marianne and others at IONS he foresaw how technology is outdistancing the spirit.

Marianne mentioned the film Ex Machina and addressed the underlying assumption currently prevalent that machines will one day become “human” – able to meditate and feel. Like this writer she vehemently opposes this viewpoint and urged the audience to open itself to the forces of life (as opposed to wanting “more” and mechanistically achieving it).

As a proponent of the Course in Miracles her call to action was to awaken each day with the recognition that there is an active, intentional Power of Love not metaphorically but actually at work in the universe – and that this is the true force of Evolution.

Her admonition to keep the human race from becoming like the Titanic and knowingly hitting the iceberg of extinction was for each individual to ask at all times, in the present moment, “how may I be used by the Power of Love.”

Marianne’s presentation (or performance) was a wonderful climax to an amazing weekend which I truly feel privileged to have attended.  I am left with a feeling of hope and immense gratitude.

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Consciousness

The Study of Fundamental Consciousness Entering the Mainstream

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Consciousness is appearing to be a fundamental property, just like liquids, solids and gas, consciousness and its connection to the physical material world is now gaining big time credibility.

  • Reflect On:

    How much do we have yet to discover? Are we ready to abandon what we thought we knew in light of new discoveries and evidence?

The world-renowned neuroscientist Christof Koch, spent nearly two decades working alongside the co-discoverer of the DNA molecule, Francis Crick. Their mission was to find the neurobiological basis of consciousness. They discovered many insights into cognition and the functioning of perception, yet the central enigma, the nature of consciousness itself, remained mysteriously elusive.

In 2009, Koch shocked the scientific community by publishing his conviction that consciousness probably isn’t just in brains, but is a fundamental feature of reality. This is a view known to philosophers as ‘panpsychism.’ The theory Koch is now dedicating his research to is called ‘Integrated Information Theory’ or ‘IIT.’ It is the brainchild of neuroscientist Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In explaining his theory, Tononi asks us to consider a simple light sensitive photo diode like those found in a digital camera. A simple diode might respond to just two states: light or dark. We could present our diode with any number of images, yet regardless of the picture, the diode conforms to one of only two possible states. Is it light, or is it dark?

Now consider yourself looking at the same picture, lets say, of the Eiffel Tower on a beautiful spring day in Paris. For us, looking at this image results in a reduction from a near infinity of possible states. Not an image of the Andromeda galaxy, not a childhood picture of your mother, not cells dividing in a Petri dish and so on.  Because of the vast number of images we are capable of recognizing, each one is highly informative. For Tononi, the vast amount of information capable of being integrated in the brain means that we have a comparatively huge capacity for consciousness.

Tononi’s theory, that consciousness is born out of networks with high integrated information, has novel ways of being tested in the laboratory.

In studies with sleeping participants, Tononi and his colleagues used transcranial magnetic stimulation to send a ripple of activity through the cortex of sleeping participants. The researchers found that when dreaming, this ripple reverberated through the cortex longer than when participants were in stages of dreamless sleep. This demonstrated that during dreaming, when the brain is conscious, the cortex has a higher degree of integration.

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In another experiment, the researchers built tiny robots known as ‘animats’ that were placed into mazes. The animats used simple integrated networks capable of evolving over sequential generations. To their surprise, the greater the degree of integration that the animats evolved, the quicker they were able to escape the mazes. For Tononi this finding suggested that consciousness may play a more central role in evolution than had previously been thought.

The mathematical value of integrated information in a network is known as phi. But Tononi’s theory, now the topic of serious mainstream discussion, has an extraordinary implication. Phi didn’t just occur in brains, -it is a property of any network with a total informational content greater than its individual parts. Every living cell, every electronic circuit, even a proton consisting of just three elementary particles have a value of phi greater than zero. According to Integrated Information Theory, all of these things possess something, albeit but a glimmer of ‘what it is like’ to be them. Tononi states:

“Consciousness is a fundamental property, like mass or charge. Wherever there is an entity with multiple states, there is some consciousness. You need a special structure to get a lot of it but consciousness is everywhere, it is a fundamental property.”

Integrated information theory is in its infancy and there are still many questions it must face. Did the information of brains operate at the level of the neuron, or the protein, or something deeper still? The electromagnetic field of the brain, as observed by psi researcher Dean Radin, is always re-establishing its quantum connection to the entire universe. Could a much richer informational interaction exist than has yet been imagined?

Physicists such as John Wheeler have laid the groundwork for a radical new understanding of reality, in which matter, the laws and constants of nature, and indeed the entire universe is best described, not in terms of physical objects, but through the play and display of a fundamental dynamic information.

Quantum mechanics suggests that at the deepest level of nature, the entire physical universe is interconnected. Might the total information of the universe be integrated in some deep sense? Is it in a mysterious way conscious of itself?

As spiritual traditions throughout the ages have long asserted, instead of isolated and separate experiencing beings, we may experience on behalf of the greater evolving system in which we find ourselves.

In Koch’s highly anticipated 2012 book, ‘Consciousness – Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist’, he states:

“I do believe that the laws of physics overwhelmingly favored the emergence of consciousness. The universe is a work in progress. Such a belief evokes jeremiads from many biologists and philosophers but the evidence from cosmology, biology and history is compelling.”

Regardless of the validity of Tononi’s theory, today increasing numbers of scientists and academics are convinced that the existence of consciousness simply cannot be sensibly denied. The study of fundamental consciousness is now entering the mainstream. This movement consists of thinkers in and outside of the mind sciences. Yet despite their different academic backgrounds, they are united by two common convictions: that consciousness is an intrinsic rather than incidental emergence in the universe, and that any complete account of reality must include an explanation of it.

 Sources:

 Koch, C. (2009, August 18). A complex theory of consciousness: Is complexity the secret to sentience, to a panpsychic view of consciousness? Scientific American.

 Tononi, G. (2008). Consciousness as integrated information: A provisional manifesto. Biological Bulletin, 215(3), 216-242.

 Edlund, J. A., Chaumont, N., Hintze, A., Koch C., Tononi G., & Adami, C. (2011). Integrated information increases with fitness in the evolution of animats. PLoS Computational Biology, 7(10).

 Radin, D. I. (2006). Entangled Minds: Extrasensory experiences in quantum reality. New York: Simon & Schuster.

 Koch, C. (2012). Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist. MIT Press Books.

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Alternative News

If You Could Power Your Entire Home With 60 Minutes Of Cycling, Would You Do It?

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Mechanical energy, converted into kinetic energy can provide the energy that we use on a regular basis to power our homes and electronic devices.

  • Reflect On:

    Rather than focusing on the current problems in our world it is great to change gears and have a look at all of the solutions that are popping up all over the world.

Imagine if your morning workout could power your home for the entire day, all the way until your next morning workout. Well, you may not have to imagine, as this technology exists now. Manoj Bhargava has invented a new exercise bike that can power some homes for 24 hours after use for only sixty minutes per day.

This invention was a part of a new initiative to bring electricity to places that undergo frequent power outages or may only have access to power for a few hours during the day. In our modern age, going without electricity can really separate a person from the rest of the world. Bhargava’s mission is to bridge the gap for those who suffer from poverty and make it easier for them to access the same information as the rest of the world, potentially giving them more opportunities in life.

The Free Electric

The above heading is also the name of this awesome and innovative bike serving as a solution to a pretty significant issue in the underdeveloped nations of the world.

According to Bhargava, the Free Electric is meant to lead to “better health, more leisure time, better access to education and opportunities for entrepreneurship.” He also feels that it could, “literally change the world.”

Power to change the world? Bold statement, but if this is able to be implemented worldwide, I would absolutely have to agree with him. This technology not only has the capacity to assist those in poverty, but can also be used by the rest of the world as well as more and more people around the world who are aiming to reduce their usee of fossil fuels. I have a feeling that Millennials (such as myself) and younger generations would be all over this if its made available! Not only is it a great way to get your cardio in, but it provides FREE electricity that produces no other pollution.

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As mentioned in the video, it is also a great solution in the face of natural, or even man made disasters because this type of electricity would not rely on that generated and sold by power companies. Perhaps even one day a way to stock up and store this energy will be possible — then, the opportunities here will be much more plentiful and could be a huge factor in reducing the amount of pollution our current methods of energy production are creating.

The Future Is Friendly

As much as there is sometimes destruction all around us, there is also innovation and ingenuity. Human beings have tremendous potential. Even though there are many problems that we as a society are facing, solutions are popping up and fast, and in most cases they already exist. Finding solutions doesn’t seem to be the problem, so ask yourself, what is?  It’s so great to see ideas such as these being conceptualized and then created and put into use so efficiently, it shows how our species is capable of stopping and potentially reversing some of the destruction that we have caused over the years.

This is absolutely a double win! We are constantly bombarded with news stories and articles that are telling us to be more active, stop sitting so much, and now with the Free Electric, we will have to be active before we can relax and enjoy the use of our precious technology.

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Discover

Physicists ‘Grow’ A Man Made Diamond From Nuclear Waste That’s Able To Generate Electricity

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Scientists have developed a technology that can convert leftover radioactive materials into diamond batteries to power a wide range of electronics.

  • Reflect On:

    Could this be the solution to use op all the radioactive materials on the planet and shut down nuclear power plants worldwide?

Currently there is more than 2 billion tons of nuclear waste across the globe. This nuclear waste is a hazardous threat to the environment if not disposed of correctly. Scientists have recently begun attempting to transform nuclear waste into batteries that could last for thousands of years. If they are successful with this conversion project it would be a double win, less nuclear waste contaminating our environment, and a way to reuse energy that was generated to give power to whatever requires it.

Diamond batteries that use the energy from leftover radioactive materials have been developed and tested by researchers at the University of Bristol. They are now hoping to be able to recycle the waste leftover from decommissioned nuclear power plants in the UK. According to the University, “New technology has been developed that uses nuclear waste to generate electricity in a nuclear-powered battery….A team of physicists and chemists from the University of Bristol have grown a man-made diamond that, when placed in a radioactive field, is able to generate a small electrical current.” (source)

How Does This Work?

According to The Independent,

Carbon-14 isotopes extracted from graphite blocks produced by the plant are infused with wafer-thin diamonds to create the batteries, which researchers say are capable of providing power on a “near-infinite basis”.

Potential applications range from powering hearing aids and pacemakers, to extending the range of spacecraft to distances much further than are currently possible.

“Eventually, a highly powerful version of a diamond battery could power a mobile phone,” James Barker, from the University of Bristol’s Faculty of Engineering, told The Independent.

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“Primarily though, they are best for devices requiring long lifetime, low power and where it is difficult to replace energy sources.”

In order to make these diamond batteries safe for medical and consumer use they are encased in a non-radioactive diamond layer, which will absorb any radiation given off by the C14 source.

According to the University,

Unlike the majority of electricity-generation technologies, which use energy to move a magnet through a coil of wire to generate a current, the man-made diamond is able to produce a charge simply by being placed in close proximity to a radioactive source.

Tom Scott, Professor in Materials in the University’s Interface Analysis Centre and a member of the Cabot Institute, said: “There are no moving parts involved, no emissions generated and no maintenance required, just direct electricity generation.  By encapsulating radioactive material inside diamonds, we turn a long-term problem of nuclear waste into a nuclear-powered battery and a long-term supply of clean energy.”

Could This Be The Solution We’ve Been Searching For?

“The ultimate aim is to have a factory based at one of the former power stations in the South West that takes Carbon-14 isotopes directly from the graphite blocks for use in diamond batteries. This would significantly reduce the radioactivity of the remaining material, making it easier and safer to manage,” said Professor Tom Scott, director of the South West Nuclear Hub.

“With the majority of the UK’s nuclear power plants set to go offline in the next 10-15 years this presents a huge opportunity to recycle a large amount of material to generate power for so many great uses.”

Time will tell how effective this method that scientists have come up with will be able to be implemented worldwide, but if it is, just imagine the implications of what this technology could represent.

Is It Time To Move Away From Nuclear Energy?

You’d think since the Fukushima disaster there would be a worldwide agreement for countries to stop generating power from nuclear reactors and to safely shut down these plants. Nuclear disasters have devastating effects on our planet and all of it’s inhabitants, recovery from such accidents can take tens of thousands of years to lose their hazardous radioactivity. Take the Chernobyl disaster that occurred in 1986 and is now contained under a metal shell, this site will likely remain radioactive for up to 20,000 years.

Instead of waiting for these disasters to occur, shouldn’t we be safely dismantling these sites before any more devastating disasters occur? Thankfully many countries are vowing to shut down their nuclear power plants and we can only hope that the rest of the world will follow suit.

The Future Is Here

There are so many amazing technologies that have the capacity to revolutionize the way we use energy on this planet. Of course many of those are hidden from us, especially if they cannot be in some way profited from, and unfortunately as it seems, if they don’t exploit the environment and our resources in some way.

As innovative ideas abound and technology continues to rapidly develop, we have to assume that safer and more innovative means of producing electricity will be uncovered. Hopefully these technologies will also have the capacity to undo some of the damage that we have done to our planet.

At the end of the day, using nuclear energy is not needed anymore, and in reality nuclear waste should not even exist at this point in our development as a collective.

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