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View Article  Auroville entrepreneurs: Use Segway Personal Transporters for AV tours?
Here's an interesting article on how "Segway in Paradise," a company in Pittsburgh, PA [USA], is very successfully using Segway PTs (Personal Transporters) for tours around town. Perhaps these could be used for tours around Auroville? Are any AV entrepreneurs listening? ...   more »
View Article  Piet Mondrian: Painting; the subtle physical or the science of aesthetics?
Well with the Pollock, fractal controversy raging, we went to the Tate collection of Modern art in London yesterday. Interestingly next to their Pollack painting they reference the Taylor article on fractals so maybe they still find the idea attractive. But more interesting was the note next to the work of the Dutch expressionist Piet Mondrian. If you know his works you can visualize his rather sparse canvases with only straight lines formed into rectangles with a bit of primary color here and there. Mondrian who was much influenced by Theosophist in the 1930s was attempting to paint the underlying form of nature, which he reduced to straight lines and rectangles. Well the interesting factoid at the Tate was that according to neurobiologist the visual system most readily responds to straight lines and rectangles. So Mondrian was intuiting the ordering of nature according to how we actually perceive it some 50 years before science discovered the reason.

Although I hate to reduce aesthetics to scientific explanations it would be interesting however if Mondrian using his meditation on the underlying forms of nature had not stumbled on to a truth about how we organize natural forms in our consciousness.

Anyway here is an article that goes into Mondrian and some other Modern masters such as Klee and Calder and their influence on the science of neurobiology.   more »
View Article  "One Cosmos," Robert Godwin's Blog
This is the personal blog of Robert Godwin, the author of "One Cosmos under God," which he discussed in the WIE interview in my previous SCIY posting. Godwin describes his book as: "the fruit of a lifetime of thought attempting to synthesize material from a number of diverse domains, including cosmology, theoretical biology, quantum physics, developmental psychoanalysis, attachment theory, anthropology, history, mysticism and theology, into a coherent, self-consistent, non-reductionistic whole." — In "One Cosmos," Dr. Godwin reveals a humorous alter-ego whom he calls: 'Gagdad Bob.' His posting for today begins as follows:

Now, I'm not an anthropopogist. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn, and I do know a thing or two about a thing or three. And one of the things I know is that pre-human hominids only became human because of the specifically trinitarian nature of the human developmental situation: mother-father-helpless baby. This, by the way, is one of the many reasons I do not believe intellignt life will ever be found on other planets, because genes and natural selection are only the necessary but not sufficient cause of our humanness.
In other words, even supposing that life arose elsewhere and began evolving large brains, a large brain would never be sufficient to allow for humanness. Rather, the key to the entire enterprise -- the missing link, so to speak -- is the extremely unlikely invention of the helpless and neurologically incomplete infant who must be born approximately 12 months "premature" so that his brain can be assembled at the same time it is being mothered. If we had come out of the womb neurologically complete, then there would be no "space" for humanness to emerge or take root. We would be Neanderthals. Literally. ...
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View Article  "The Only Journey There Is: An Exploration of Cosmic & Cultural Evolution," Robert Godwin Interview (WIE)
Robert Godwin is ... an “outsider” thinker, and a masterful litterateur to boot. In his book "One Cosmos under God," he attempts nothing less than to reenvision the entire story of creation, both scientifically and spiritually, and audaciously and stunningly presents an often poetic, quasi-scriptural rendering of what a new cosmic narrative could be. It’s a book that breaks boundaries, thrills and teases, and ultimately makes very much sense in its Herculean embrace of cosmology, biology, quantum physics, psychology, anthropology, history, mysticism, theology, and more.

A practicing clinical psychologist, Godwin, in his words, became voraciously interested in everything at some point in his mid to late twenties. He also credits himself with having a synthetic versus analytic mind. So in order to make sense of what he was learning, he sought to find relationships and patterns among the truths he had gleaned from disparate fields of study. In short, he wanted to know. To that end, he recognized that the only way to grasp spiritual truths was through direct experience and he became a serious practitioner of Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga. One Cosmos under God is the result of what he discovered as a follower of the Indian sage’s teachings, together with the fruits of his relentless curiosity. ...
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View Article  Gene Tied To Longevity Also Preserves Ability To Think Clearly
A gene variant linked to living a very long life--to 90 and beyond--also serves to help very old people think clearly and retain their memories, according to new research by scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Their findings are published in the December 26, 2006 issue of Neurology. ...   more »
View Article  "Ilium" and "Olympos," by Dan Simmons
The Christmas Holidays are an opportunity for me to relax by reading some fun books unrelated to my normal research or work. This year, Kim and I have been absorbed in two books by Dan Simmons, one of my favorite science fiction authors: "Ilium" and "Olympos." Here's part of the slip-cover description:

"From the multiple award-winning author of the 'Hyperion Cantos' — one of the most acclaimed and popular series in contemporary science fiction — comes a huge and powerful epic of high-tech gods, human heroes, total war, and the extraordinary transcendence of ordinary beings.
From the towering heights of Olympos Mons on Mars, the mighty Zeus and his immortal family of gods, goddesses, and demigods look down upon a momentous battle, observing — and often influencing — the legendary exploits of Paris, Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, and the clashing armies of Greece and Troy. ..."

And here are the first few paragraphs of "Ilium":

Rage.
Sing, O Muse, of the rage of Achilles, of Peleus' son, murderous, man-god, fated to die, sing of the rage that cost the Achaeans so many good men and sent so many vital, hearty souls down to the dreary House of Death. And while you're at it, O Muse, sing of the rage of the gods themselves; so petulant and so powerful here on their new Olympos, and of the rage of the post-humans, dead and gone though they might be, and of the rage of those few true humans left, self-absorbed and useless though they may have become. While you are singing, O Muse, sing also of the rage of those thoughtful, sentient, serious but not-so-close-to human beings out there dreaming under the ice of Europa, dying in the sulfur-ash of Io, and being born in the cold folds of Ganymede. ...
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View Article  The Challenge of Our Moment: A Roundtable Discussion with Don Beck, Brian Swimme, Peter Senge, & Andrew Cohen (WIE)
This seemed like an appropriate article to post in honor of Christmas Day. ~ ron

...if you've been following the evolutionary trajectory of What Is Enlightenment? over the past couple of years, you may have noticed that a new kind of thinking has indeed been finding its way onto more and more of our pages. Call it integral, second tier, holistic, or systemic, this new thinking is the hallmark of a growing wave of visionaries with the eyes to look beyond the surface turbulence and grapple with the multilayered complexities undergirding our global dilemmas. Challenging us to face the elaborate interwoven forces that are shaping our destiny for better or worse, these evangelists of higher-order thinking offer what many feel may be the best chance we have at meeting the demands of the years ahead.

So, in attempting to come to terms with our uncertain future, and particularly with the role that religion will play in it, for this issue we decided not just to speak with a number of these leading-edge thinkers but to bring them together and have them speak with each other. As firm believers in Plato's assertion that the highest form of knowledge is that which emerges in dialogue, we couldn't imagine what could give us a better chance of seeing the biggest possible picture than a roundtable discussion between some of today's brightest integral minds, who are each attempting, in their own way, to forge a more evolved course through our present and future world. ...
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View Article  "Together They Run:" An Inspiring Christmas Story
Kim sent me the link for this story a couple of days ago. At first I was a bit skeptical; it seemed almost too much to really be true. I checked it out, and it's in fact a true story, with its own website, lots of independent news stories, YouTube videos, and a segment next week (Dec. 26) on the NBC Today Show. It's a wonderful testimony to the human spirit, and a real life love story. So I thought to share it with you all during this Holiday season.

*** MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL! ***

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.
It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can't walk or talk.
For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing. When Dick cycles, Rick is in the seat-pod from his wheelchair, attached to the front of the bike. When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick.
At Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his neck and cut off oxygen to his brain. Dick and his wife, Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their child’s development.
"It’s been a story of exclusion ever since he was born," Dick told me. "When he was eight months old the doctors told us we should just put him away — he’d be a vegetable all his life, that sort of thing. Well those doctors are not alive any more, but I would like them to be able to see Rick now." ...
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View Article  The Vedic Vision and the Triple Transformation.
There are many myths in the Veda which describe the Beginning of Creation from different angles or stages. Some of them start with the description of the Supreme Person, Atman, Self (4), others - of the Impersonal Spirit, Brahman (5), some start from Nothingness or Darkness (6), which they call “night”, ratri-, or apas, apraketam salilam (7), “dark waters”, or sometimes as mrityu (8), “death”, etc., etc. They all refer to different stages of Creation, where Darkness or Nothingness was depicted as our beginning, but not as our Origin. We can easily reconcile these myths, knowing that Darkness was the result of the Fall of the Supreme Light, (Involution): ...   more »
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View Article  "This Quantum World," by Ulrich Mohrhoff
This is a fascinating website. Ulrich Mohrhoff teaches math, physics, and quantum philosophy at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in Pondicherry, India. He has developed a new perspective re the ontological implications of quantum mechanics known as the "Pondicherry Interpretation," which has been called "startingly original." ~ ron

...Scientists are the myth makers of our time. If a story is believed by a large fraction of the scientific community, it becomes part of our (socially constructed) reality.
Take electromagnetic waves. Even if you agree with me that we cannot observe them directly, you will probably insist that we can observe them indirectly: their effects are all over the place.
But it isn't their effects. The jiggling of that charge over there isn't the effect of an electromagnetic wave acting on it. It is the effect of my jiggling this charge here. The rest — the generation of an electromagnetic wave here, its propagation, and its action on that charge over there — is a myth. ...
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View Article  The Cafe at the Begining of the Universe, by Howard Bloom
...What I've basically been saying is, right now we carry a fourteen-billion-year history within us, a fourteen-billion-year history of surprises. You are a lump of quarks. So am I. Those quarks are joined in atoms. Those atoms are joined in something very complex called molecules. But we also carry fourteen billion years or more of another kind of time within us—future. The future's as real within us as the universe was real in those first tiny axioms of the Big Bang. I'm not predicting that you and I will be around to see that future. But in one form or another, our basic ingredients sure as heck will be.
And we have a unique responsibility. We're among the first batch of quarks we know trying out this new surprise called consciousness. Every new surprise—every new upgrade—is tested. Protons, for example, were tested to the nth degree. They've gone through every kind of catastrophe you can possibly imagine. They've gone through the bashing of the initial high-speed plasma soup. They've gone through the crunch and shattering of dying stars. And they've pulled through it all. Right? They're the ultimate survivors in this universe. But we'll see whether consciousness is able to survive. We will see. ...
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View Article  The Collective Yoga of Man: A World in Process - January 12-14, 2007 - Auroville, India
Announcing an Auroville Conference:

The Collective Yoga of Man: A World in Process
January 12-14, 2007 - Auroville, India

All the ‘knowings’ of the past pale in comparison. A ‘being’ emerges.. borne on the crest of a new wave.. that rises from the oceans of the Infinite. Parameters of convention cease – psychologically speaking. There is no known ‘psychology’ to determine what is happening. It is a veritable adventure into the ‘unknown’. An ‘unknown’ of ‘being’ itself…
What then are the ‘tools’ at our disposal? Are there any tools? Or, is there only the action.. of a movement forward.. into a future of hitherto unknown possibilities.
The seeds, possibly, of a new creation? Creation of a new man – who learns to live in another world? Or, who learns to live in the world in ‘another’ way!

To be, to live, to explore this ‘other’ way becomes the one pursuit of all our seekings. ...
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View Article  Siem Riep, Cambodia #s 2-5
Here are a few more of the email updates I've been receiving from a friend who's now traveling in SouthEast Asia. His writing is so vividly "on the spot" that I thought to share it here on SCIY.

Nearby (4 km. north) is the larger walled city of Angkor Thom. Within its 10 sq. km. area lies Bayon, a three tiered temple best know for its collection of 54 gothic towers decorated with 216 coldly smiling enormous faces of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Below on the first level are 16 intricate bas-relief panels relaying among other things naval battles, linga (phallic symbol) worship, every-day life and more. Amazing. ...   more »
View Article  "The Ascent of Sight in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri" - by J.K. Mukherjee
Debashish asked me to post this review by Prema Nandakumar of J.K. Mukherjee's book: "The Ascent of Sight in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri."

Re-reading Savitri is ever a new experience. One may keep reading the epic for half a century like Jugalda, and each reading brings a fresh insight into the inexhaustible springs of the narrative. The process of ascent from an ordinary seeing to the spiritual vision in the higher ranges of thought and beyond as stated in Savitri is a fascinating phenomenon. Especially so, when Jugalda is our Paraclete. As always, Jugalda does not tease us with an impossible mystic diction. He is the ideal acharya who swoops down like the eagle in the classroom and then rises slowly and majestically past the green crests of life holding the hands of the reader-student. ...   more »
View Article  More evidence that the basic "laws of physics" favor evolution of life?
More evidence that the basic "laws of physics" favor evolution of life? (ron)

Nanoscale ice formations resembling the double helices of DNA will form when water molecules are frozen inside carbon nanotubes, detailed computer simulations suggest.
Researchers at the University of Nebraska, US, used a supercomputer to run detailed mathematical models of the behaviour of water molecules. In their simulations, they inserted the molecules into carbon nanotubes under high pressure, before cooling them to -23°C.
The scientists were surprised to see the molecules organise themselves into "spiral staircase" arrangements similar to those of a DNA helix. "It was very unexpected," Xiao Cheng Zeng, the computational nanotechnology expert who led the research told New Scientist. ...
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View Article  Ex-VP Al Gore calls for scientific research to be used for policy change
Al Gore, who emerged from political defeat to attain celebrity status as a harbinger of the hazards of global warming, told thousands of scientists Thursday in San Francisco that they have a responsibility to translate their research into possible policy solutions.
Former Vice President Gore, presidential candidate turned climate crusader, spoke at the annual meeting of the world's largest scientific society, the American Geophysical Union.
He urged scientists to communicate the climate crisis "in ways that arouse appropriate alarm that can motivate changes in behavior.'' ...
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View Article  Cometary Conundrum: Comets contain materials from inner solar system
Comets formed nearly 4.6 billion years ago, at the same time as the sun and planets. Some comets, such as Wild 2 and Tempel 1, were thought to have developed exclusively in the outer solar system from ice and dust particles similar to those found in interstellar space. After forming, they were pulled into orbit in the planetary neighborhood where some comets are visible to us here on Earth. But when researchers recently analyzed the comet dust, they discovered that it contained minerals that likely originated in the inner regions of the solar system as well as particles typically found in materials formed farther away. ...   more »
View Article  Jaron's World, April'06. "Why Not Morph?: What cephalopods can teach us about language."
Jaron Lanier is one of my heroes. Graced with an off-the-scale IQ, he is sometimes known as the "Father of Virtual Reality," in deference to his invention of the 'Data Glove,' one of the first practical interfaces between "meat reality" and VR (which landed him a front page article in the Wall Street Journal, with a photo of his now famous unruly dreadlocks). He is both a top computer scientist and a virtuoso musician who can play over 100 different instruments, including virtual instruments of his own invention. He has held research and teaching positions at a host of prestigious academic institutions, and is on a first name basis with many of the world's elite intellectuals, with whom he has an ongoing dialogue about a wide range of scientific and philosophical topics. For me, his monthly columns in 'Discover Magazine' are a continuing source of fascinating new ideas, so I'm pleased to share some of them here on SCIY. I hope you enjoy them. (ron)

... If cephalopods someday evolve to become intelligent creatures with civilizations, what might they do with their ability to morph? Would we be able to communicate with them? Perhaps they offer a useful surrogate for thinking about one way that intelligent aliens, if and wherever they are out there, might one day present themselves to us. By trying to develop new ways of communicating using morphing in virtual reality, we do at least a little to prepare for that possibility. We humans think a lot of ourselves as a species; we have a tendency to suppose that the way we think is the only way to think. Maybe we need to think again.    more »
View Article  Mammals may have flown before birds
During the age of dinosaurs, tiny squirrel-like creatures climbed trees and jumped into the darkness. Then they spread their limbs and glided away - the first known mammals to take to the air, a new report says.
The species is revealed by a fossil find in northeastern China, which pushes the known history of mammalian gliding or flying back by more than 75 million years. — The creature may have even beaten birds into the air. ...
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View Article  "Trialogues at the Edge of the West," Chap. 5, part a: Light and Vision
I'm posting this portion of Chap. 5 of "Trialogues at the Edge of the West" because I think it may relate to the discussion presently under way re the article titled: "Instruments of Knowledge and Post-Human Destinies." My hope is that some of the new theories now surfacing in contemporary science may support our work in deconstructing the insights presented both in traditional Hindu and Buddhist texts and in Sri Aurobindo's more recent writings.
For example, the initial section of "Trialogues" that I quote below raises some interesting ideas about the possible relationship between light, perception, mind and consciousness. (ron)   more »
View Article  New Computer Model Says Arctic Summer Ice to Disappear by 2040
Summers in the Arctic Ocean may be ice-free by 2040—decades earlier than previously expected, according to a new study of the effects of global warming on sea ice. The scenario is predicted by computer models that assume greenhouse gas emissions will continue unabated. -- Gases such as carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere by coal-fired power plants and automobiles are considered major drivers of global warming. According to [the new] computer models, if the gases continue to build up in the atmosphere at the current rate, sea ice will steadily decline for decades and then abruptly disappear.

"There are tipping points in the system," said Bruno Tremblay, an assistant professor of atmospheric and ocean sciences at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

"When we reach them, things accelerate in a nonlinear way." ...
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View Article  "What I've Learned," Kofi Annan (Sec. General of United Nations) Farewell Address
Thanks to RY Deshpande for sending this text of Kofi Annan's farewell address, which he delivered today at the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, USA.

Nearly 50 years ago, when I arrived in Minnesota as a student fresh from Africa, I had much to learn -- starting with the fact that there is nothing wimpish about wearing earmuffs when it is 15 degrees below zero. All my life since has been a learning experience. Now I want to pass on five lessons I have learned during 10 years as secretary general of the United Nations that I believe the community of nations needs to learn as it confronts the challenges of the 21st century.
First, in today's world we are all responsible for each other's security. Against such threats as nuclear proliferation, climate change, global pandemics or terrorists operating from safe havens in failed states, no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others. Only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves. This responsibility includes our shared responsibility to protect people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. That was accepted by all nations at last year's U.N. summit. But when we look at the murder, rape and starvation still being inflicted on the people of Darfur, we realize that such doctrines remain pure rhetoric unless those with the power to intervene effectively -- by exerting political, economic or, in the last resort, military muscle -- are prepared to take the lead. It also includes a responsibility to future generations to preserve resources that belong to them as well as to us. Every day that we do nothing, or too little, to prevent climate change imposes higher costs on our children. ...
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View Article  Siem Riep, Cambodia #1
I received this email a couple of days ago, from a friend who's now traveling in SouthEast Asia. His writing is so vividly "on the spot" that I thought to share it here on SCIY. ~ ron

Here in Siem Riep (Angkor Wat) Cambodia, there is no shortage of entrepreneurial capitalism….just like in Thailand. Because of all the foreign dollars, euros and yen flowing into here because of Angkor´s famous temples, there´s a plethora of people catering to the foreigner´s needs. ...   more »
View Article  Nobel Winner Muhammad Yunus Warns of Dangers of Globalization
The Bangladeshi banker Muhammad Yunus, who invented the practice of making small, unsecured loans to the poor, warned today that the globalized economy was becoming a dangerous “free-for-all highway.
“Its lanes will be taken over by the giant trucks from powerful economies,” Dr. Yunus said during a lavish ceremony at which he was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. “Bangladeshi rickshaws will be thrown off the highway.”
While international companies motivated by profit may be crucial in addressing global poverty, he said, nations must also cultivate grassroots enterprises and the human impulse to do good. ...
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View Article  A Second Response to Daniel Gustav Anderson's "Towards a Critical Integral Theory"
Sri Aurobindo is not just the "foundational thinker" of "Integral Theory" – in Anderson’s back-handed compliment “To adapt a meme attributed to Whitehead: if European philosophy amounts to a footnoting of Plato, Integral theory may very well amount to a conversation about Aurobindo.” As I proceeded to read I could see how this is possible if one takes Sri Aurobindo’s Vedantic darshan, Purnadvaita Vedanta (inseparable from its corresponding yoga, Purna Yoga) as a western style speculative metaphysics purporting to be a Theory of Everything, an ideology which maintains itself as Truth through the Will-to-Power and becomes the defining hegemonic ideology of late Enlightenment Neoliberalism through the production of its world-subjects, something perhaps possible. But to attribute the foundation of such an ideological field to Sri Aurobindo is, certainly a new wrinkle to the abuses/misuses of his text which seem to be multiplying lately (as for instance through left and right perceptions of it as the foundational text for Hindutva). ...   more »
View Article  Instruments of Knowledge and Post-Human Destinies
The two postings on Techno-Capitalism and Post-Human Destinies (I and II) generated a thread on the relationship between physical instruments of observation and knowledge in the scientific sense (microscopes, telescopes, nuclear accelerators), human organs of observation and knowledge (mind, intelligence, sense organs) in the cognitive / psychological sense and possible mutations of human consciousness in the ontological / phenomenological / epistemological sense (change of being, change of consciousness, change of modalities of knowledge). The last (possibilities of a change of modalities of knowledge) opened up a consideration of Sri Aurobindo’s phenomenology of supramental knowledge and its subsidiary action in human forms and instruments of knowledge – specifically sense-knowledge through the sense organs with the “sixth-sense” of the “sense mind,” manas in the Indian Sankhya formulation behind them at/as their origin and the supramental Samjnana further behind/beyond but with a concealed and subsidiary operation in/through manas. Here we are reproducing the relevant parts of this very fertile thread for focused consideration.   more »