Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Grizzly Bags Another Hunter

 A grizzly is not something that you tackle lightly as this item reminds us. We do not know the story yet, but the bear likely stalked them first and then charged from cover. At that moment of recognition and adrenalin you have seconds to react correctly at best and this while instinct is taking charge as well. You need to be trained.

Perhaps they had made a kill and were dressing the game. The grizzlies have figured out that a shot means that a meal is waiting and stalking is then natural behavior.

Grizzly country is now becoming much more risky.

Hunter Killed by Grizzly, Guide Survives Attack in Northwest Territories

Thu, 18 Sep, 2014

NORMAN WELLS, - A hunter has been killed by a grizzly bear in the Northwest Territories.

RCMP said they received a call Wednesday night about the attack southwest of Norman Wells near the Yukon boundary.

Weather and darkness hampered search efforts until Thursday morning.

Cathy Menard, the chief coroner for the N.W.T., said the hunter was out with a guide when he was attacked.

"We understand the guide was the one who made the initial call for assistance."

Another coroner, along with a wildlife officer and Mounties, were investigating the scene throughout the day and were to return to Norman Wells with the guide later Thursday.

Menard said she doesn't believe the guide was injured.

She hasn't yet confirmed the hunter's identity and couldn't say where he is from.

Judy McLinton with the N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources said a wildlife incident response team was also to go to the site

"They'll be working with our partners on investigating the incident and they will begin a search for the grizzly bear."

Australian Man Wakes From Coma Speaking Fluent Mandarin




  Even better is that just recently i have become comfortable in the correct explanation of this rare phenomena.   

As i have been posting, the spirit or light body component of our  existence is physical and manages our physical existence as well as been the source of our thoughts.  The information density is multiple orders of magnitude greater than that of our physical component that we achieve awareness through.

Yet language must be hardwired into our physical selves through a learning process.

In this case physical disruption blocked use of English and the spirit chose then to wire in Mandarin likely because it had been using this language during a previous incarnation.  This was also a serious benefit to this individual and it is working for him.  

No other opportunity existed for him to pick up the vocabularly even if the sound system arose spontaneously.

Australian Man Wakes From Coma Speaking Fluent Mandarin Proving Again the Brain is a Wondrous Thing


Australian Ben McMahon studied Mandarin in high school but is the first to admit he was far from fluent. Then, after a car crash left him in a coma his parents feared he would never come out of it.
Luckily McMahon pulled through, but something strange happened upon his awakening — he only spoke Mandarin. Fluent Mandarin. It took him several days to regain his English-speaking abilities, and the Mandarin was there to stay.
McMahon’s Mandarin-speaking friends say he is the best non-native speaker they have ever heard. He has co-hosted a Chinese TV show, led Mandarin tours of Melbourne, and is attending university in Shanghai where he now lives.
Neurosurgeon Dr. Pankaj Sah says there is a likely explanation for what happened, but that it isn’t 100% provable. Sah explains the brain is a mass of electrical circuits. McMahon’s English “circuits were damaged,” so when he woke up his “Mandarin circuits got engaged” like they never had before.
McMahon considers himself very blessed to have not only made it out of the coma, but also to have such a positive silver lining from it all. Despite all of our modern knowledge, the human brain is truly one of the last unknown frontiers on this Earth.

Textbook Theory Behind Volcanoes May be Wrong


This is important because it eliminates a very important issue.  Just how consistent is the thickness of the upper crustal material. This informs us that it is very consistent well beyond expectation.  That is a real surprise.

Better, my expectation of a general global thickness of around one hundred miles just became way more plausible.  In the meantime a lot of geology needs to be rethought.  We are clearly reworking the same surface layer over and over again and none of it goes too deep.  Thus all we have information on is that first one hundred miles.

We thus have no clue about what really lies below.  We live on a scant skin.
Textbook theory behind volcanoes may be wrong

Date:      September 8, 2014

Source:      California Institute of Technology

Summary:        In the typical textbook picture, volcanoes, such as those that are forming the Hawaiian islands, erupt when magma gushes out as narrow jets from deep inside Earth. But that picture is wrong, according to a new study from researchers who conclude that seismology data are now confirming that such narrow jets don't actually exist.


In the typical textbook picture, volcanoes, such as those that are forming the Hawaiian islands, erupt when magma gushes out as narrow jets from deep inside Earth. But that picture is wrong, according to a new study from researchers at Caltech and the University of Miami in Florida.

New seismology data are now confirming that such narrow jets don't actually exist, says Don Anderson, the Eleanor and John R. McMillian Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, at Caltech. In fact, he adds, basic physics doesn't support the presence of these jets, called mantle plumes, and the new results corroborate those fundamental ideas.

"Mantle plumes have never had a sound physical or logical basis," Anderson says. "They are akin to Rudyard Kipling's 'Just So Stories' about how giraffes got their long necks."

Anderson and James Natland, a professor emeritus of marine geology and geophysics at the University of Miami, describe their analysis online in the September 8 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to current mantle-plume theory, Anderson explains, heat from Earth's core somehow generates narrow jets of hot magma that gush through the mantle and to the surface. The jets act as pipes that transfer heat from the core, and how exactly they're created isn't clear, he says. But they have been assumed to exist, originating near where Earth's core meets the mantle, almost 3,000 kilometers underground -- nearly halfway to the planet's center. The jets are theorized to be no more than about 300 kilometers wide, and when they reach the surface, they produce hot spots.

While the top of the mantle is a sort of fluid sludge, the uppermost layer is rigid rock, broken up into plates that float on the magma-bearing layers. Magma from the mantle beneath the plates bursts through the plate to create volcanoes. As the plates drift across the hot spots, a chain of volcanoes forms -- such as the island chains of Hawaii and Samoa.

"Much of solid-Earth science for the past 20 years -- and large amounts of money -- have been spent looking for elusive narrow mantle plumes that wind their way upward through the mantle," Anderson says.

To look for the hypothetical plumes, researchers analyze global seismic activity. Everything from big quakes to tiny tremors sends seismic waves echoing through Earth's interior. The type of material that the waves pass through influences the properties of those waves, such as their speeds. By measuring those waves using hundreds of seismic stations installed on the surface, near places such as Hawaii, Iceland, and Yellowstone National Park, researchers can deduce whether there are narrow mantle plumes or whether volcanoes are simply created from magma that's absorbed in the sponge-like shallower mantle.

No one has been able to detect the predicted narrow plumes, although the evidence has not been conclusive. The jets could have simply been too thin to be seen, Anderson says. Very broad features beneath the surface have been interpreted as plumes or super-plumes, but, still, they're far too wide to be considered narrow jets.

But now, thanks in part to more seismic stations spaced closer together and improved theory, analysis of the planet's seismology is good enough to confirm that there are no narrow mantle plumes, Anderson and Natland say. Instead, data reveal that there are large, slow, upward-moving chunks of mantle a thousand kilometers wide.

In the mantle-plume theory, Anderson explains, the heat that is transferred upward via jets is balanced by the slower downward motion of cooled, broad, uniform chunks of mantle. The behavior is similar to that of a lava lamp, in which blobs of wax are heated from below and then rise before cooling and falling. But a fundamental problem with this picture is that lava lamps require electricity, he says, and that is an outside energy source that an isolated planet like Earth does not have.

The new measurements suggest that what is really happening is just the opposite: Instead of narrow jets, there are broad upwellings, which are balanced by narrow channels of sinking material called slabs. What is driving this motion is not heat from the core, but cooling at Earth's surface. In fact, Anderson says, the behavior is the regular mantle convection first proposed more than a century ago by Lord Kelvin. When material in the planet's crust cools, it sinks, displacing material deeper in the mantle and forcing it upward.

"What's new is incredibly simple: upwellings in the mantle are thousands of kilometers across," Anderson says. The formation of volcanoes then follows from plate tectonics -- the theory of how Earth's plates move and behave. Magma, which is less dense than the surrounding mantle, rises until it reaches the bottom of the plates or fissures that run through them. Stresses in the plates, cracks, and other tectonic forces can squeeze the magma out, like how water is squeezed out of a sponge. That magma then erupts out of the surface as volcanoes. The magma comes from within the upper 200 kilometers of the mantle and not thousands of kilometers deep, as the mantle-plume theory suggests.

"This is a simple demonstration that volcanoes are the result of normal broad-scale convection and plate tectonics," Anderson says. He calls this theory "top-down tectonics," based on Kelvin's initial principles of mantle convection. In this picture, the engine behind Earth's interior processes is not heat from the core but cooling at the planet's surface. This cooling and plate tectonics drives mantle convection, the cooling of the core, and Earth's magnetic field. Volcanoes and cracks in the plate are simply side effects.

The results also have an important consequence for rock compositions -- notably the ratios of certain isotopes, Natland says. According to the mantle-plume idea, the measured compositions derive from the mixing of material from reservoirs separated by thousands of kilometers in the upper and lower mantle. But if there are no mantle plumes, then all of that mixing must have happened within the upwellings and nearby mantle in Earth's top 1,000 kilometers.

The paper is titled "Mantle updrafts and mechanisms of oceanic volcanism."

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by California Institute of Technology. The original article was written by Marcus Woo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
Don L. Anderson and James H. Natland. Mantle updrafts and mechanisms of oceanic volcanism. PNAS, September 8, 2014 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1410229111

The Virtue of Subtlety: A U.S. Strategy Against the Islamic State

What we are really seeing in the Middle East is the messy collapse of the original British French dispensation that the USA inherited and sustained for the sake of stability.  It could not last and it was always problematic as we are proving over and over again.  Fundamentally it appears impossible to sustain federalism at all.

Worse, if that is possible, is that ethnicity is a direct ride back into barbarism and all that means.  A big man is naturally promoted and his whims drive the debate.  Even Ataturk who got so much right had to rely on top down command and control with guns.  Thus Nationalism which has sorted out so much elsewhere is simply not up to it at all.  This is because of the additional stress of religions differences.

What has not been understood is that the past seventy years has been special to the middle East.  Oil has provided access to the global economy.  Yet they have mostly failed to take serious advantage of this.  Thus they have the costs of modernizing as far as they have come without the sustainable means to pay for it all.  Far worse, they keep half the population as an household servant losing any economic participation.  

We are now about to enter the post oil energy economy which is already happening and will soon experience exponential growth.  Only the well developed economies will be able to generally ride it out.  Oil based economies will have a very difficult transition startying with just understanding how serious it all is.

The best strategy for the west may be to allow this economic compression run its course and then establish some form of Imperial federalism defended by Western forces and local militias and their like.

The Virtue of Subtlety: A U.S. Strategy Against the Islamic State

Geopolitical WeeklyTuesday, September 9, 2014


By George Friedman

U.S. President Barack Obama said recently that he had no strategy as yet toward the Islamic State but that he would present a plan on Wednesday. It is important for a president to know when he has no strategy. It is not necessarily wise to announce it, as friends will be frightened and enemies delighted. A president must know what it is he does not know, and he should remain calm in pursuit of it, but there is no obligation to be honest about it.

This is particularly true because, in a certain sense, Obama has a strategy, though it is not necessarily one he likes. Strategy is something that emerges from reality, while tactics might be chosen. Given the situation, the United States has an unavoidable strategy. There are options and uncertainties for employing it. Let us consider some of the things that Obama does know. 

The Formation of National Strategy

There are serious crises on the northern and southern edges of the Black Sea Basin. There is no crisis in the Black Sea itself, but it is surrounded by crises. The United States has been concerned about the status of Russia ever since U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt negotiated the end of the Russo-Japanese war in 1905. The United States has been concerned about the Middle East since U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower forced the British to retreat from Suez in 1956. As a result, the United States inherited -- or seized -- the British position.

A national strategy emerges over the decades and centuries. It becomes a set of national interests into which a great deal has been invested, upon which a great deal depends and upon which many are counting. Presidents inherit national strategies, and they can modify them to some extent. But the idea that a president has the power to craft a new national strategy both overstates his power and understates the power of realities crafted by all those who came before him. We are all trapped in circumstances into which we were born and choices that were made for us. The United States has an inherent interest in Ukraine and in Syria-Iraq. Whether we should have that interest is an interesting philosophical question for a late-night discussion, followed by a sunrise when we return to reality. These places reflexively matter to the United States.

The American strategy is fixed: Allow powers in the region to compete and balance against each other. When that fails, intervene with as little force and risk as possible. For example, the conflict between Iran and Iraq canceled out two rising powers until the war ended. Then Iraq invaded Kuwait and threatened to overturn the balance of power in the region. The result was Desert Storm.

This strategy provides a model. In the Syria-Iraq region, the initial strategy is to allow the regional powers to balance each other, while providing as little support as possible to maintain the balance of power. It is crucial to understand the balance of power in detail, and to understand what might undermine it, so that any force can be applied effectively. This is the tactical part, and it is the tactical part that can go wrong. The strategy has a logic of its own. Understanding what that strategy demands is the hard part. Some nations have lost their sovereignty by not understanding what strategy demands. France in 1940 comes to mind. For the United States, there is no threat to sovereignty, but that makes the process harder: Great powers can tend to be casual because the situation is not existential. This increases the cost of doing what is necessary.

The ground where we are talking about applying this model is Syria and Iraq. Both of these central governments have lost control of the country as a whole, but each remains a force. Both countries are divided by religion, and the religions are divided internally as well. In a sense the nations have ceased to exist, and the fragments they consisted of are now smaller but more complex entities.

The issue is whether the United States can live with this situation or whether it must reshape it. The immediate question is whether the United States has the power to reshape it and to what extent. The American interest turns on its ability to balance local forces. If that exists, the question is whether there is any other shape that can be achieved through American power that would be superior. From my point of view, there are many different shapes that can be imagined, but few that can be achieved. The American experience in Iraq highlighted the problems with counterinsurgency or being caught in a local civil war. The idea of major intervention assumes that this time it will be different. This fits one famous definition of insanity. 

The Islamic State's Role

There is then the special case of the Islamic State. It is special because its emergence triggered the current crisis. It is special because the brutal murder of two prisoners on video showed a particular cruelty. And it is different because its ideology is similar to that of al Qaeda, which attacked the United States. It has excited particular American passions.

To counter this, I would argue that the uprising by Iraq's Sunni community was inevitable, with its marginalization by Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite regime in Baghdad. That it took this particularly virulent form is because the more conservative elements of the Sunni community were unable or unwilling to challenge al-Maliki. But the fragmentation of Iraq into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions was well underway before the Islamic State, and jihadism was deeply embedded in the Sunni community a long time ago.

Moreover, although the Islamic State is brutal, its cruelty is not unique in the region. Syrian President Bashar al Assad and others may not have killed Americans or uploaded killings to YouTube, but their history of ghastly acts is comparable. Finally, the Islamic State -- engaged in war with everyone around it -- is much less dangerous to the United States than a small group with time on its hands, planning an attack. In any event, if the Islamic State did not exist, the threat to the United States from jihadist groups in Yemen or Libya or somewhere inside the United States would remain.

Because the Islamic State operates to some extent as a conventional military force, it is vulnerable to U.S. air power. The use of air power against conventional forces that lack anti-aircraft missiles is a useful gambit. It shows that the United States is doing something, while taking little risk, assuming that the Islamic State really does not have anti-aircraft missiles. But it accomplishes little. The Islamic State will disperse its forces, denying conventional aircraft a target. Attempting to defeat the Islamic State by distinguishing its supporters from other Sunni groups and killing them will founder at the first step. The problem of counterinsurgency is identifying the insurgent.

There is no reason not to bomb the Islamic State's forces and leaders. They certainly deserve it. But there should be no illusion that bombing them will force them to capitulate or mend their ways. They are now part of the fabric of the Sunni community, and only the Sunni community can root them out. Identifying Sunnis who are anti-Islamic State and supplying them with weapons is a much better idea. It is the balance-of-power strategy that the United States follows, but this approach doesn't have the dramatic satisfaction of blowing up the enemy. That satisfaction is not trivial, and the United States can certainly blow something up and call it the enemy, but it does not address the strategic problem.

In the first place, is it really a problem for the United States? The American interest is not stability but the existence of a dynamic balance of power in which all players are effectively paralyzed so that no one who would threaten the United States emerges. The Islamic State had real successes at first, but the balance of power with the Kurds and Shia has limited its expansion, and tensions within the Sunni community diverted its attention. Certainly there is the danger of intercontinental terrorism, and U.S. intelligence should be active in identifying and destroying these threats. But the re-occupation of Iraq, or Iraq plus Syria, makes no sense. The United States does not have the force needed to occupy Iraq and Syria at the same time. The demographic imbalance between available forces and the local population makes that impossible.

The danger is that other Islamic State franchises might emerge in other countries. But the United States would not be able to block these threats as well as the other countries in the region. Saudi Arabia must cope with any internal threat it faces not because the United States is indifferent, but because the Saudis are much better at dealing with such threats. In the end, the same can be said for the Iranians.

Most important, it can also be said for the Turks. The Turks are emerging as a regional power. Their economy has grown dramatically in the past decade, their military is the largest in the region, and they are part of the Islamic world. Their government is Islamist but in no way similar to the Islamic State, which concerns Ankara. This is partly because of Ankara's fear that the jihadist group might spread to Turkey, but more so because its impact on Iraqi Kurdistan could affect Turkey's long-term energy plans. 

Forming a New Balance in the Region

The United States cannot win the game of small mosaic tiles that is emerging in Syria and Iraq. An American intervention at this microscopic level can only fail. But the principle of balance of power does not mean that balance must be maintained directly. Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia have far more at stake in this than the United States. So long as they believe that the United States will attempt to control the situation, it is perfectly rational for them to back off and watch, or act in the margins, or even hinder the Americans.

The United States must turn this from a balance of power between Syria and Iraq to a balance of power among this trio of regional powers. They have far more at stake and, absent the United States, they have no choice but to involve themselves. They cannot stand by and watch a chaos that could spread to them.

It is impossible to forecast how the game is played out. What is important is that the game begins. The Turks do not trust the Iranians, and neither is comfortable with the Saudis. They will cooperate, compete, manipulate and betray, just as the United States or any country might do in such a circumstance. The point is that there is a tactic that will fail: American re-involvement. There is a tactic that will succeed: the United States making it clear that while it might aid the pacification in some way, the responsibility is on regional powers. The inevitable outcome will be a regional competition that the United States can manage far better than the current chaos. 

Obama has sought volunteers from NATO for a coalition to fight the Islamic State. It is not clear why he thinks those NATO countries -- with the exception of Turkey -- will spend their national treasures and lives to contain the Islamic State, or why the Islamic State alone is the issue. The coalition that must form is not a coalition of the symbolic, but a coalition of the urgently involved. That coalition does not have to be recruited. In a real coalition, its members have no choice but to join. And whether they act together or in competition, they will have to act. And not acting will simply increase the risk to them.

U.S. strategy is sound. It is to allow the balance of power to play out, to come in only when it absolutely must -- with overwhelming force, as in Kuwait -- and to avoid intervention where it cannot succeed. The tactical application of strategy is the problem. In this case the tactic is not direct intervention by the United States, save as a satisfying gesture to avenge murdered Americans. But the solution rests in doing as little as possible and forcing regional powers into the fray, then in maintaining the balance of power in this coalition.

Such an American strategy is not an avoidance of responsibility. It is the use of U.S. power to force a regional solution. Sometimes the best use of American power is to go to war. Far more often, the best use of U.S. power is to withhold it. The United States cannot evade responsibility in the region. But it is enormously unimaginative to assume that carrying out that responsibility is best achieved by direct intervention. Indirect intervention is frequently more efficient and more effective.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Islamic Non Compete Clause

 One of the hallmarks of opposition to Islam and it is not properly a religion either is the mistakan idea that rational human beings will compromise based on what I prefer to describe as natural law. In practise Islam is a scheme to introduce a primitive barbaric code of conduct into a civilized community to the advantage only of males and generally Arab males.

In this way it explicitly compares to Nazism which was in fact inspired by Islam. Communism walked the same path in the end as well although they made athism the underlying religion. Both took extraordinary measures to extirpiate. Please remember thaat as we slide more and more into militant conflict with these ongoing eruptions of Islamic militancy.

The good news though is that no Islamic society has been able to modernize. Think about what I have just said. Even Turkey has modernized only to the extent that they severely suppressed Islam and that is no longer true.

Yery shortly, the money train will end for Islam. The oil industry is about to be rendered obsolete, or more properly it is now obsolete and is literally the walking dead and simply does not know it yet. The rest of the world will face severe distress over this changeover, but Islam will suddenly wake up to an economic situation much like that of Jordan. They are not prepared for it at all and expect to see the elites and the professional classes to flee Islam.

In the meantime our reponse needs to be legal. Jihad and other significant aspects need to be simply banned and enforced. Islam itself needs to be forced to confront itself and successfully deal with its history.

Islam’s Non-Compete Clause

Kenneth Roberts

Imagine a football league where only one team is allowed to score goals or win. That’s the premise of political Islam.

Islam is the only religion with a non-compete clause. Non-compete agreements in today’s business world defend proprietary information. Proprietary ideas give companies their leading edge. Islam goes beyond branding itself ‘the best’ (which all ideologies do); Islam forbids other ideologies from competing with Islam in a number of areas. It’s like a modern corporation, but more ruthless.

Islam’s Unique Idea

Islam’s unique, proprietary idea is jihad, the holy war to eliminate competition with Islam. According to Ibn Khaldun,
the holy war of jihad is not permitted to other religions or ideologies.

Non-Compete Regulations

Islam’s non-compete restrictions are summarized in the infamous Pact of Omar and Sharia law. They regulate non-Muslims from competing with Muslim males in the following areas:
proselytizing, politics, employment opportunities, social status, prestige or ‘honor’, public events, using the Arabic language, teaching about Islam, marrying Muslim women, the security of possessions and the elegance or height of buildings…even in how the Kafirs dress. Nor may women compete with Muslim males, since Allah made women constitutionally inferior to men ‘in reason and religion’.

Islam’s non-compete restrictions are the Kafirs’ terms of surrender to the Islamic state. The Pact of Omar was made by eighth-century caliphs to be forced on non-Muslims against their wills.
Wherever Islamists become the ruling class, the Pact of Omar is dragged out to crush whatever challenges Islamic monopolies. That makes Kafirs and women permanent underclasses in Sharia-ruled societies.

Islamists want to insinuate Sharia into Kafir societies before Kafirs and women are aware of its non-compete implications.

In a Sharia society, non-competition applies everywhere, even in the law courts where
Sharia favors the inconvenience, impoverishment and humiliation of Kafirs and the inferior status of women.

How Islam defends non-competition

Islamic non-competition is defended by jihad.
Jihad is a monopoly on aggression. Allah forbids Kafirs from resisting jihad in any way, since counterjihad is a way of competing with Islam.

What makes Islam’s non-compete system draconian is the normative means to enforce it: vigilantism. Since murder is reprehensible, Sharia law craftily hides the murder of Kafirs and apostates behind verbiage, mumbo jumbo and silence. Silence should not be overlooked as a powerful legal weapon!

America’s emancipation of slaves did not entirely end slavery. American slavery slyly continued as late as 1928 because no punishment was on the books for slave-owners, even though slavery was illegal. Similarly, Sharia law has no punishment for a vigilante who murders an apostate or a blasphemer. Islamic vigilantes in such cases are ‘killing by right’, that is, Allah authorizes killing apostates and blasphemers on the example of Mohammed. Vigilantes are considered auxiliary police enforcing Allah’s non-compete laws. Such vigilantes are heroes, rather than criminals.

Islam’s top authority on Sharia, the fatwa department of Al Azhar University in Cairo has sanctioned Islamic vigilantism. In theory, the death sentence for blasphemy is imposed by the Islamic state, but if the state isn’t available to act, a private Muslim vigilante may carry out a death sentence against a blasphemer. This is where Islamic law gets interesting. A self-directed vigilante may execute a fatwa issued by an imam, but even a fatwa is not necessary. When a Kafir competes with Islam or its prophet, a vigilante may murder the blasphemer even without a fatwa being issued.

We cannot imagine a Christian pastor issuing a death warrant, yet two hundred thousand imams are authorized to do so and over a billion Muslims are deputized to kill. Many writers and cartoonists around the world (such as Salman Rushdie, Robert Redecker, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Kurt Westergaard, Lars Vilks, Molly Norris, Trey Parker and Matt Stone) have a clear understanding of Islamic vigilantism, since they live with full-time security guards. Almost everyone writing about Islam has received anonymous death threats. Writing about Islam breaches Islam’s non-compete clause.

Results of Non-Compete

The cost of Islam’s non-compete contract is stagnation. ‘Innovation’ (an evil word in Islam) is forbidden, because Islam’s alleged perfection cannot be improved. The 7th century is deemed the time of perfection, so Muslims cannot progress past it. Sharia leads the world backwards to the 7th century, not forwards to progress.

Muslims want to be world leaders, but their non-compete makes them followers. Competition has everything and produces everything that the Islamic world craves and needs for its survival, but the Muslim world produces little because of its philosophy of non-competition.

Jihadists curb their cognitive dissonance by repeating their certainty of Islam’s moral perfection until they all but drown out the images and voices of modernity. They want Islamic terrorism removed from discussion, so that 7th-century-loving Muslims are not contrasted with progress-loving Kafirs. Jihadists live in denial, but many burn out: they half-heartedly see backwardness is not the answer.

What should we do?

First of all,
Kafirs need to see Islam’s non-compete clause is a real threat to progress and democratic values. Islamic belief in non-competition means that no progress is needed or possible. But Islam’s allegedly perfect society never existed, unless slavery, misogyny, vigilantism, inequality and genocide are ‘perfect’. Non-competition is bad for people. Societies that imposed monopolies on thought and political power have had cycles of revolution and counter-revolution or have stalled in poverty, disease and superstition.

we should fault Islam’s non-compete system because it spreads fear; we should ban jihad because it has caused more than 270 million deaths and always creates tyrannies.

Recognizing political Islam’s dysfunction, today’s Muslims flee from it to live in free non-Islamist countries. Surveys show 65% of Muslims are Islamists in theory, but not in practice. This contradiction is Islam’s Achilles’ heel. Westerners should highlight it, rather than flattering the Islamism of oil-rich countries in order to keep oil prices low.

Mohammed declared endless war on competition giving Muslim males monopolies on everything. Jihadists expect to win this war through high birthrates and terrorism.

Many Western leaders shield jihad and supremacism from ideological scrutiny because they underestimate the pervasiveness of Islamism. Are they fit to lead?

As Islamism spreads, the vibrancy of the competitive world will gradually be dampened by Islam’s non-competition and terrorism.

It is self-refuting to fight the jihadists militarily, without blaming Islam’s non-compete philosophy. Non-competition is what ignites the jihadist culture, so refuting the non-compete philosophy of Islam should be a top priority.

Consciousness: The Beginning and the End


I was dragged kicking and screaming into a clearer understanding of the physical machinery of our consciousness.  It is not what we thought it was.  It is way greater.   It is also way more impressive as well.

Our real physical self has a companion component that  is constructed of neutral particles that we understand today as dark matter and whose physical density is at least three orders of magnitude less than our identified physical reality, yet whose information content is also three orders of magnitude greater than our own.  This physical Dark Matter component is bound together with what we would recognize as photonic energy whose information content again multiple orders of magnitude greater that what i have just described.

This spirit operates our physical selves in order to interact with the physical world itself and that is what we experience along with the natural limitations that this imposes.  Quite a trick really.

All the evidence out there supports this conjecture and it disposes of a number of obvious difficulties as are listed in this article.  It is ironic that we imagine producing robot bodies to support our brains after the destruction of our own.  This suggests that this will not be too good an idea and a waste of time.


Consciousness: The Beginning and the End

Michael Grosso

 September 23, 2014


Nothing is more certain than the fact that we are conscious. And yet there is something very puzzling, even uncanny, about being conscious; and the learned talk of the mystery of consciousness. The mystery centres around the origin of consciousness; the prevailing scientific view is that consciousness is a property that emerges from complex brains. The problem is that we haven’t the foggiest idea of how the stuff of our minds could conceivably come forth from anything physical. Bits of electrified meat don’t easily translate into episodes of consciousness – we have it, we know it, in some sense we are it – but what it is and where it came from escapes us.

There is also a mystery about the future of consciousness – I mean for each one of us there is the mystery of what comes after death. There’s no easy answer to the ‘after’ question, but I will offer my opinion, based on my own experience and research. We might begin by saying that the imagination of the human race is clearly in the affirmative about the ongoing journey after death. The mythic consensus is that consciousness continues after death, and does so in many forms and styles; accounts are recorded in the history of religion and poetry and more recently in the annals of psychical research. No doubt individuals have always had their private views and hunches on the great mystery. But a crucial turn of events took place in the seventeenth century; the scientific revolution began to overthrow the entire mythical worldview of humanity with its instinctive sense of gods and souls and spirits. The sky was disrobed of its divinity and turned into meaningless emptiness; according to Leopardi’s Story of the Human Race, all the illusions of the imagination were exposed and a great void of meaning settled down triumphantly in their place. Our consciousness, the new prophets of reductive materialism declared, will vanish with the brain’s entropic rot.

Are we really forced into this worm’s-eye view of reality? People generally go along with the stories, rites, and customs for dealing with death that they inherit. But some break free and think for themselves. Some are exposed to modern scientific ideas (possessed by the conceits of reductive materialism) and the idea of another world starts to seem unreal. And yet, our views (apart from fashion) continually change in the face of new and unexpected experiences. So how we view death and the fate of our consciousness is sometimes based on the kinds and intensities of experience we have. For example, I am at least open to the idea of something going on after death because of some odd experiences I’ve had. (For an account of some of these, see my Soulmaking [1997] Hampton Roads: Charlottesville, VA.) A person who has had an unusual experience is likely to be more receptive to the idea of postmortem survival. Of course, one might have such a vivid encounter, and still in the end dismiss it as some seductive delusion. Others, on the other hand, may embrace great cosmic schemes on the basis of trivial coincidences.

I have come to form my own view based on my experiences and my own thinking. My attitude toward this question of life after death is slightly odd. Three times I had encounters that were clear evidence for something smacking of survival, (including on one occasion being attacked and physically paralysed by a ghost), and yet I have doubts; I lack robust confidence that I will survive. Nevertheless, I would insist there are good reasons not to be cowed into premature disbelief.

 We can be silent about the dreaded subject or we can discuss and confront it. Moreover, it seems natural enough to yearn for more life, for infinite life, and there is no reason to suppress, condemn, or feel embarrassed about these yearnings. Let me explain one reason I resist the idea of survival. If indeed consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, it’s hard to suppose it could go on when the brain dies. In spite of being acquainted with ghosts and telepathy and precognition, the initial dependence on and emergence from the brain weighs against the idea of survival. But there is a way to move ahead on this. It is to drop the assumption that consciousness must be a product of the brain. Consciousness, after all, is utterly different in kind from anything physical we are acquainted with (barring certain abstract resemblances to quantum states). If one thinks carefully about it, the idea that consciousness grows out of our brains is more a verbal construct than an intelligible idea.

Does the Brain DETECT OR Transmit Consciousness?

Some scientists and philosophers have indeed argued that consciousness is not produced by the brain; rather, they hold that the brain is more like an organ that detects or transmits consciousness than produces it. According to this view, consciousness pre-exists and transcends body and brain, although it interacts with them. The important move is this: if we deny that consciousness is born from the brain, there is no reason to believe it must disappear with the death of the brain. (This is similar to an argument used by Plato in the dialogue Phaedo.) Now this shift toward the idea that we possess or are constituted by an irreducible mental factor has certain advantages. One of them William James noticed in his Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality of 1898: we are no longer obliged to try to figure out how the brain could create consciousness. If it’s so hard trying to explain consciousness as an emergent property of brains, it may be because it does not emerge from brains in the first place. Henri Bergson makes a similar point by suggesting that the mind by its nature continually overflows the boundaries of brain and body.

This hypothesis of the irreducible nature of mind is consistent with the idea of postmortem survival. As pointed out, if the beginning of consciousness is not essentially tied to the brain, then death of the brain needn’t imply death of consciousness. This way of looking at consciousness as something basic in nature has other advantages. It is in tune with the great spiritual traditions that posit the primacy of some kind of greater mind. It also helps explain unusual mental functions like extrasensory perception. Consider something like telepathy, direct mind-to-mind contact. According to the view we have touched on, we are already mentally connected, it’s just that our minds generally cluttered with sensations and all kinds of distracting thoughts screen us (some would say protect us) from the mental life of others; if through some accident or discipline we could remove the clutter we would “see” things otherwise occluded.

But there is something else. Our revision provides a basis for a type of experimentation that promises to induce experiences, impressions, and insights into the mystery of life after death. For this very personal question of life after death, there are things we can do; alter our life style, revise attitudes and values, and adopt specific practices. Reading about case histories and weighing all the arguments and interpretations are necessary and admirable. We need to supplement this indirect method by practice. And we need to experiment with the most fascinating subject we can readily find – ourselves.

Break on Through to the Other Side

Throughout history people have engaged in practices designed to help them “break on through to the other side” (The Doors). Certain kinds of people are more suited for this kind of venture: edgy, neurotic, strong-willed. These are the people who practice divination and shamanism; inspired poets, dancers and musicians; prophets and mystics; or ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary, dangerous, life-threatening situations. By accident or by deliberate practice, human beings have and continue to have encounters with the transcendent. In terms of our practical hypothesis, they are either forced by circumstance or choose by discipline to remove the clutter of their ordinary mental life, so as to increase the likelihood of being struck by some form of transcendent lightning.

There is nothing terribly strange about calling for this kind of self-experimentation. Traditions of the world are full of such practices. The native peoples of the Americas have always cherished their vision quest in highly individual ways. In the ancient world there were all sorts of mystery religions, which were group inductions into what Aristotle called pathe, experiences, not episteme, rational cognition. Like the native Americans, techniques of fasting, dance, chant, manipulation of symbols, etc., were used to induce contact with spirits, gods, and goddesses. Most famous were the Eleusinian Mysteries that lasted two thousand years in ancient Greece, an annual rite whose most notable effect was to create confidence in the soul’s immortality; after a nine day fast, the ingestion of a kykeon or “brew” of beer and psychoactive ergot, the rite culminated in the telesterion: the Goddess Persephone appeared in a blaze of glory. The experience was transformative as we know from testimonials of various notables, including Cicero and Sophocles and (indirectly) Plato. Different mystery rites used different gods to induce their encounter with the powers suggestive of immortality.

 With the rise of Christianity, a new mystery was invented called the Mass. As Carl Jung has explained, the Mass is a classic mystery rite in which the divine and immortal powers temporarily become present on the altar and the human becomes one with the God. And in the ancient world, even philosophy, especially as practiced by Platonists and neo-Platonists, was a kind of mystery rite designed to induce direct awareness of other worlds and higher dimensions of reality. Modern analytic philosophy would be at the antipodes of ancient philosophy, which was always about radical liberty and self-transformation. So, for Plato, philosophy was defined as the “practice of death” – in short, detachment of the psyche from the soma. To “practice death” is to quiet the distracted brain and open oneself to the greater consciousness. 

It is certainly an ironical fact that in this age of science and technology that seems to sponsor materialism, medical science is responsible for thousands of paradigm-challenging near-death experiences. NDEs and the Eleusinian rites have this in common: they produce feelings of confidence about the reality of another world. The near-death experience has become the equivalent of an ancient Greek mystery rite.

In 2001, the Dutch cardiologist Pim van Lommel published a paper in the Lancet that described about a hundred and fifty cases of cardiac arrest in which individuals reported NDEs. This publication made headlines around the world. What is interesting is that these people had any experiences at all. The mainline view of neuroscience is that to have any conscious experience, certain specific parts of the brain (stem, frontal cortex, etc.) must be functionally interacting. But the moment the heart stops, blood stops flowing to those brain parts, so they can’t function. Nevertheless, in these cases, not only are there conscious experiences but experiences of an exalted character; brain quits working but consciousness doesn’t; on the contrary, it expands and intensifies in cognitive scope and richness of meaning. The NDE, instead of reflecting materialist views of mind, reflects the traditional view of mind as an independent reality – to be released not annihilated at death. In a near-death incident, the ‘filter’ on the full flood of consciousness is ripped away; the famous luminous bliss-drenched experience results. According to near-death research, deprived of a functioning brain, you may still have profound, conscious experience. This is an extraordinary scientific discovery.

It would be a mistake to focus on one strand of evidence, however striking. What the diligent seeker of the mysteries must do is gain a sense of a whole family of pressure points on the belly of reductive materialism. We began by pointing to the sheer fact of consciousness, which is the basis of everything, and about which we know practically nothing. But there are specific features of consciousness that are suggestive for our purposes. Physicist Steven Weinberg, who thinks physics is inching toward a theory of everything, admits he would love to unpack the riddle of memory. Nobody even knows for sure if memory is even “stored” in the brain no less how.

Memory Puzzles

There are oddities of memory that compound the mystery of consciousness. A phenomenon only recently being studied is called ‘terminal lucidity’. These are cases widely reported of persons suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of brain disease unable to recognise even members of their own kin; then, at a time very near death these persons suddenly regain their memories, as if their conscious minds were starting to disengage from their brains in preparation for departure. Other puzzles about memory involve the stupendous mnemonic feats of some people afflicted-blessed with so-called ‘savant-syndrome’. And let me say that we fail to appreciate the astonishing creative power of the most common dream, in which an individual fashions for himself out of nothing a full-spectrum sensory world that one becomes completely immersed in – surely a phenomenon to give the earnest neuro-fundamentalist a headache. All these intellectually squishy spots we are palpating have something in common: the phenomena – dreams, terminal lucidity, and the enlarged mental faculties associated with arrested development – all these seem to be related to consciousness being forced back into itself. We attain to the omnipotence of dream, when (like the mystic) we cast aside reason and sense in sleep. The omnipotence of memory, whether with savant or near-death experiencer, seems to result from being robbed of the capacity to negotiate the external world. Again, the ‘filter’ is debilitated or entirely cast off.

 What I’m trying to say is this: Anyone who craves a more inwardly felt conviction not only concerning their survival but the qualitative value of that survival, should head for the green fields of personal experimentation. It would, however, help to know that behind us stands a mass of human experience that seems to say, “Yes, we found something – come on! Do not fear!” It would be useful to bear in mind the lush variety of tales, stories, and authenticated reports contending or implying that real people survive bodily death. 

It seems important there are many forms of experience that seem to reveal different people survived death. The manifold of breakthroughs seems to fit with the theory that has guided these reflections. The notion is that we – our individual mind-bodies – are immersed (so to speak) in a sea of consciousness. The pressure is constant on us, so to speak, and the slightest crack or fissure in our cognitive apparatus will cause a cascade into our consciousness.

There is a well-known case of a man from North Carolina being visited by his father’s angry apparition during a series of dreams. The father proved himself by instructing his son as to the whereabouts of his hidden but final will and testament. He had hid it in an old Bible, and then died. The will was found and probated in court; it led to a more fair distribution of the father’s estate. Mr. Chaffin was dead for four years; no one knew the whereabouts of the will he had hidden in the old Bible until an apparition of the dead man revealed it to his living son. Actually, there is a parallel story about the last missing Cantos of Dante’s Divine Comedy. They were said to be missing until Dante’s son received intelligence from a dream of his illustrious father. Hidden in a secret compartment sequestered in a wall, the manuscript was found. In general, there are patterns of phenomena that are like words in a language that seems to want to speak to us. Such patterns cluster around the event of death. An interesting example would be the psychokinetic events often reported to occur at the moment of somebody’s death. Ernesto Bozzano collected cases of clocks stopping at the moment of death, paintings falling off walls, glassware shattering, pianos playing themselves, and in fact a huge variety of actual occasions. What appears to be happening is that a psychic factor at the moment of death is released and expresses itself in some meaning-bearing part of the environment. Again, the idea of death as a transition to enhanced power is indicated.

As I said, the paths to post-mortem consciousness are manifold. One way is via reincarnation, and here I must mention the massive achievement of Ian Stevenson in collecting case histories all over the world. Thousands of carefully assessed cases – to use Stevenson’s word – suggest that memories, likes and dislikes, physical habits and even bodily marks may be identified usually among children no older than eight years old. Stevenson’s work has implications for understanding the depth and complexity of the human personality. These may shape our lives even if for the most part we are consciously out of touch with them. The Buddha once said that a person can see all his or her previous lives at the moment of enlightenment.

Discarnate Intelligence

Mediumship is another way that information about other worlds and discarnate intelligence may be obtained. Mediumship is found in the vicinity of ecstasy and possession. Mediums generally deploy ‘controls’, psychic constructs essential to make contact with the subliminal universe. A striking bit of evidence for life after death came about at the turn of the last century. The medium was the great Leonora Piper, under the careful investigation of the highly critical Richard Hodgson. It happened that Piper obtained a new control, called GP (for George Pelham); in life, he happened to be an acquaintance of Hodgson. The younger man was skeptical about survival, and promised offhandedly that should he die first, he would do his best to prove it to Hodgson. Soon after he fell off a horse in New York and was killed. Soon after that he was claiming to be speaking and writing through the body of Leonora Piper (as her new ‘control’). Hodgson wrote up the ensuing experiments in painstaking critical detail, and published the five hundred pages in the English Proceedings for Psychical Research. During “GP”’s tenure as control of Piper, “he” received one hundred and fifty people, thirty of whom GP in life personally knew. The personality that acted through the medium’s body behaved in a recognisably consistent manner, always in character and knowledgeable of precisely the thirty persons he knew in life, never confusing anyone he knew in life with any of the remaining strangers at the sittings. In short, the persona acting through Piper’s vocal chords and nervous system acted exactly like the real personality of a deceased person – a very difficult case to dismiss. 

So there is some robust evidence for life after death – as well as much that is tantalising and dubious. In the meantime, if you are impatient, you can try to launch your consciousness out of this world here and now and not hang on mincing proof, nor care about arguments or degrees of their weightiness. It might for all we know be very easy to gain an insight into the beginning and the end of consciousness. “Imagination is Eternity,” said William Blake who also said that death was just stepping from one room into another. It may not be possible to step all the way in, but you may be able to push open the door for a peek.

About the Author
Michael Grosso studied classics and received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University. Formerly a philosophy teacher at City University of New York and the City University of New Jersey, he is now affiliated with a research group at the Division of Perceptual Studies of the University of Virginia. Recent books include Experiencing the Next World Now and (co-authored) Irreducible Mind: A Psychology for the 21st Century. Presently at work on a book, Wings of Ecstasy: The Story of Joseph of Copertino, his main interest is in consciousness studies. Grosso is also a painter. He can be contacted via email at Grosso.michael@gmail.com.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 6 No 2.
© New Dawn Magazine and the respective author.
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To Build the Ultimate Telescope

In the end, a million pieces of hardware scattered throughout the solar system will do a lot for us and the capability is mostly in place while the economics are not too much behind.

When we do launch a craft to another planet, we will have ample images to inform us about our target. That craft will be fast and sent to collect high resolution data. It will also be a lot sooner than anyone thinks. We are on an exponental curve.

It will still be a serious challenge.

To Build the Ultimate Telescope

by PAUL GILSTER on AUGUST 20, 2014

In interstellar terms, a ‘fast’ mission is one that is measured in decades rather than millennia. Say for the sake of argument that we achieve this capability some time within the next 200 years. Can you imagine where we’ll be in terms of telescope technology by that time? It’s an intriguing question, because telescopes capable of not just imaging exoplanets but seeing them in great detail would allow us to choose our destinations wisely even while giving us voluminous data on the myriad worlds we choose not to visit. Will they also reduce our urge to make the trip?

Former NASA administrator Dan Goldin described the effects of a telescope something like this back in 1999 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Although he didn’t have a specific telescope technology in mind, he was sure that by the mid-point of the 21st Century, we would be seeing exoplanets up close, an educational opportunity unlike any ever offered. Goldin’s classroom of this future era is one I’d like to visit, if his description is anywhere near the truth:

When you look on the walls, you see a dozen maps detailing the features of Earth-like planets orbiting neighboring stars. Schoolchildren can study the geography, oceans, and continents of other planets and imagine their exotic environments, just as we studied the Earth and wondered about exotic sounding places like Banghok and Istanbul … or, in my case growing up in the Bronx, exotic far-away places like Brooklyn.”

Webster Cash, an astronomer whose Aragoscope concept recently won a Phase I award from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program (see ‘Aragoscope’ Offers High Resolution Optics in Space), has also been deeply involved in starshades, in which a large occulter works with a telescope-bearing spacecraft tens of thousands of kilometers away. With the occulter blocking light from the parent star, direct imaging of exoplanets down to Earth size and below becomes possible, allowing us to make spectroscopic analyses of their atmospheres. Pool data from fifty such systems using interferometry and spectacular close-up images may one day be possible.

Image: The basic occulter concept, with telescope trailing the occulter and using it to separate planet light from the light of the parent star. Credit: Webster Cash.

Have a look at Cash’s New Worlds pages at the University of Colorado for more. And imagine what we might do with the ability to look at an exoplanet through a view as close as a hundred kilometers, studying its oceans and continents, its weather systems, the patterns of its vegetation and, who knows, its city lights. Our one limitation would be the orbital inclination of the planet, which would prevent us from mapping every area on the surface, but given the benefits, this seems like a small issue. We would have achieved what Dan Goldin described.

Seth Shostak, whose ideas we looked at yesterday in the context of SETI and political will, has also recently written on what large — maybe I should say ‘extreme’ — telescopes can do for us. In Forget Space Travel: Build This Telescope, which ran in the Huffington Post, Shostak talks about a telescope that could map exoplanets with the same kind of detail you get with Google Earth. To study planets within 100 light years, the instrument would require capabilities that outstrip those of Cash’s cluster of interferometrically communicating space telescopes:

At 100 light-years, something the size of a Honda Accord — which I propose as a standard imaging test object — subtends an angle of a half-trillionth of a second of arc. In case that number doesn’t speak to you, it’s roughly the apparent size of a cell nucleus on Pluto, as viewed from Earth.

You will not be stunned to hear that resolving something that minuscule requires a telescope with a honking size. At ordinary optical wavelengths, “honking” works out to a mirror 100 million miles across. You could nicely fit a reflector that large between the orbits of Mercury and Mars. Big, yes, but it would permit you to examine exoplanets in incredible detail.

Or, of course, you can do what Shostak is really getting at, which is to use interferometry to pool data from thousands of small mirrors in space spread out over 100 million miles, an array of the sort we are already building for radio observations and learning how to improve for optical and infrared work on Earth. Shostak discusses a system like this, which again is conceivable within the time-frame we are talking about for developing an actual interstellar probe, as a way to vanquish what he calls ‘the tyranny of distance.’ And, he adds, ‘You can forget deep space probes.’

I doubt we would do that, however, because we can hope that among the many worlds such a space-based array would reveal to us would be some that fire our imaginations and demand much closer study. The impulse to send robotic if not human crews will doubtless be fired by many of the exotic scenes we will observe. I wouldn’t consider this mammoth space array our only way of interacting with the galaxy, then, but an indispensable adjunct to our expansion into it.

Image: An early design for doing interferometry in space. This is an artist’s concept of the Terrestrial Planet Finder/Darwin mid-infrared formation flying array. Both TPF-I and Darwin were designed around the concept of telescope arrays with interferometer baselines large enough to provide the resolution for detecting Earth-like planets. Credit: T. Herbst, MPIA).

All this talk of huge telescopes triggered the memory of perhaps the ultimate instrument, dreamed up by science fiction writer Piers Anthony in 1969. It was Webster Cash’s Aragoscope that had me thinking back to this one, a novel calledMacroscope that was nominated for the Hugo Award in the Best Novel Category in 1970. That’s not too shabby a nomination when you consider that other novels nominated that year were Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (the eventual winner), Robert Silverberg’s Up the Line, and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.

The ‘macroscope’ of the title is a device that can focus newly discovered particles called ‘macrons,’ a fictional device that allows Anthony to create a telescope of essentially infinite resolution. He places it on an orbiting space station, from which scientists use it to discover exoplanets, observe alien races and even study their historical records. The macroscope is also a communications device used by intelligent aliens in ways the human observers do not understand. When a signal from a potential Kardashev Type II civilization is observed, a series of adventures ensue that result in discoveries forcing the issue of human interstellar travel.

So much happens in Macroscope that I’ve given away only a few of its secrets. Whether the novel still holds up I don’t know, as I last read it not long after publication. But the idea of a macroscope has stuck with me as the embodiment of the ultimate telescope, one that would surpass even the conjectures we’ve looked at above. Anthony’s macrons, of course, are fictional, but complex deep space arrays and interferometry are within our power, and I think we can imagine deploying these technologies to give us exoplanet close-ups as a project for the next century, or perhaps late in this one. What images they will return we can only imagine.

David Herne August 20, 2014 at 13:50

So many of our troubles today would doubtless evaporate if instead of looking inwards at our differences and fighting each other over them, we looked outwards to see a much, much bigger picture. Though I’m not necessarily a fan of the tactics employed by nation builders such as Otto von Bismark and Giuseppe Garibaldi, these gentlemen understood this and engendered through their cunning, the creation of two great, modern nations. Remarkably, perhaps we might make for ourselves a similar, unifying opportunity.

As a member of the Murchison Widefield Array, radio telescope community, I am familiar with the emergent capabilities and issues surrounding terrestrial, low-frequency interferometric arrays but haven’t kept abreast of the near-term potential for realisation of instruments such as the TPF, in whatever form recognised today as most promising. However, were interested parties able to rouse governments around the world to support creation of an instrument capable of imaging worlds beyond our solar system by each adopting and funding a single component mirror, singly or together with others, perhaps the project could ‘fly’. Many, many nations would then have ownership of what would surely rank as one of the most significant endeavours ever. School children would talk to each other across borders and together imagine together the discoveries that might be accomplished. We would have something big in common.

For the science community however, the risks would be enormous. We’d need to throw away traditional rivalries and notions of natural leadership, we’d need to be quite confident in the capabilities of such an instrument and most of all, we’d need to promise that the telescope would be built, on time and on budget. Naturally, a few nations would provide leadership through the knowledge and technologies that they would provide and for those countries, sharing ownership equitably might be politically impossible.

Those familiar with the costs and logistics of operations in space might regard this concept as quite naive… and it might be. However, the rewards too would be enormous. A good friend living in Mumbai, India, an engineer who has a passion for helping local school children gain insights into the world of science, is constantly astounded and delighted by the responses of her charges to the opportunities for expression that her classes provide. She acts out of her deep desire for children to be given the opportunity to experience a world that we take for granted. Surely, everyone on Earth having some stake in such a project would result in enormously positive outcomes, not least of which being the astounding advance of our knowledge of the universe (even if out to only 100 ly lol).
Food I hope, for thought.

Ron S August 20, 2014 at 14:04

At ordinary optical wavelengths, “honking” works out to a mirror 100 million miles across. You could nicely fit a reflector that large between the orbits of Mercury and Mars. Big, yes, but it would permit you to examine exoplanets in incredible detail.”

Even assuming that a perfect telescope of this size could be built it would not achieve the “theoretical” resolution. EM scintillation in the ISM would impose a limit. But I don’t know if anyone has done the calculation. The resolution limit would vary by direction and distance and wavelength.

Wojciech J August 20, 2014 at 15:36

The new telescopes have completely turned around astronomy. We actually can imagine seeing photos of alien continents and biospheres within our lifetimes which is an amazing thing to consider.

Science Fiction almost always imagined interstellar travel first then discoveries of alien planets upon arrival, and lately I have heard SF authors jokingly complaining that exoplanet discoveries make their job more difficult.

Personally I can recommend also the fascinating novel Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson which touches on future imagined telescope and consequences of such discovery.

I have also stumbled upon an amusing concept called Galactic Life Imager on he net, however I don’t think we will see it soon ;)

The above article of course gives us some data for Fermi Paradox. It is now rather obvious that any advanced civilization would be able to detect our planet, biosphere and civilization since considerable length of time(biosphere since billions, civilization between around 2000 to 200 years from today).This silences the objections to sending messages into outer space that are sometimes voiced as warnings, but it also means such messages shouldn’t be really necessary.

Of course this also means that if they exist most likely they know of our existence-leaving the question-why don’t they want contact? Personally I believe that due to time difference, as millions of years of evolution both technological and biological will make them unable to communicate with us or at least without us losing our unique culture and development.

Of course there is also the possibility that they simply faded away or never existed at all.
Intriguing possibilities.

Still, we should have tools to provide some answers soon-at least within next 50 years.

Craig Watkins August 20, 2014 at 17:15

Until we can get ships to velocities closer to the speed of light, telescopes are much much more interesting to me than interstellar probes. For me it is even hard to choose between massive telescopes and interplanetary missions that might discover life. As daunting as some of these telescopes seem, they seem much more achievable than getting close to the speed of light right now.
If we could directly image an earth “twin”, even if it is just a pale blue dot, it would be incredible to me. There would be a certain easing of cosmic loneliness that would be priceless. As exciting as the current exoplanetary discoveries are to me, I want to be able to observe something more direct. If we could get even closer to be able to say, look at a (hopefully) green continent sitting in a blue ocean… wow. The level that is talked about in this article, basically getting a google maps view of a life bearing planet, well I don’t think I can come up with the appropriate adjectives. Of course, it may be likely that nothing within a 100 light years will bear obvious life forms, but still, the gamble seems worth it because of all the other discoveries we would make.

Would anyone venture a guess as to how long it would take to build a device of the size that Shostak proposes? Personally, I think it should be the next LHC style project.

Andrew Palfreyman August 20, 2014 at 21:14

The effect of seeing a green exoplanet with continents would be galvanic – there could be no more certain way to focus humanity’s attention upon our stellar neighbours than this. That is why such ambitious telescopes are important for all of u.

I’m a fan of Maccone’s grav scope (using our own sun as a gravitational lens). Has anybody produced simulations of the sort of images which could be extracted from such a device?

Eniac August 21, 2014 at 0:52

City lights? Honda? Let’s see:

Energy of one photon: e = 3.3 * 10^-19 J

Approximate world-wide use of power: P = 2 * 10^13 W

Number of photons generated by city lights (per planet): N = P/e ~ 6.6 * 10^31 s^-1 (per second)

Area of sphere of 100 ly radius: A = 4 pi r^2 ~ 1.2 * 10^37 m^2 (square meters)

Number of photons impinging on telescope aperture: N/A ~ 5*10^-6 s^-1 m^-2 (photons per second per square meter)

So, it seems that detection of all the city lights of a planet is barely theoretically possible with a really large regular telescope and longish exposure times. But what if you want to resolve an image? That Honda you want to make out probably has an area about 10^-12 smaller than that of the entire planet, and the number of photons you would get from it would be correspondingly less. An aperture of roughly 10^16 m would be necessary, i.e. the total mirror area would be 10,000 times that of the Earth. And because this is about light gathering power, not resolution, there is no cheating with interferometry.

That should be 10^16 square meters (not meters) there near the end ….

Eniac August 21, 2014 at 1:06

So if we wanted to realize that 1-Honda resolution telescope as a formation-flying swarm of (relatively) small elements each with a 1 m mirror, we’d need to fly 10^16 of them, or 10 million billion. Talk about big budgets….

Peter Popov August 21, 2014 at 1:32

A quick question to those who know: assuming you had the resolution you need to resolve a honda accords @100ly, would you actually collect any photons to image it? Whay kind of physical collection area do you need to actually capture optical-wavelenght photons from an object that far-away?

There must be some fundamental limits on what you can see at particular distance, no matter how big the collecting area?

 Alex Tolley August 21, 2014 at 14:15

@ljk (from previous thread) It is SO frustrating to have just one data point for something so important.
To me this is why the telescope will not supplant the space probe. To study biology and related fields, we will need to send a probe to the life bearing exo-planets. A telescope can point the way, but it will not be sufficient to study the planet.

Eniac August 21, 2014 at 23:44

The notion that telescopes will obviate probes it patently absurd. To the contrary, better telescopes will always increase the motivation for a probe. Whatever a telescope may show will always cry out for a next step of investigation, and there are many things no telescope could ever show.

Imagine we have a super-scope that shows an exoplanet at the level of detail that Schiaparelli and Lowell saw Mars at. What if someone decided it looked like there were canals? Does anyone really think that there is a level of resolution at which all important questions can be answered? Think again….

Eniac August 22, 2014 at 0:05

There must be some fundamental limits on what you can see at particular distance, no matter how big the collecting area?

Depends on how fundamental you want to get. If you only take the diffraction equation and photon number into account, you could arbitrarily increase resolution by increasing baseline, and arbitrarily increase sensitivity by increasing collection area or exposure time.

However, on the next level of practicality, I am pretty sure that there will be decoherence due to varying conditions in interstellar space or near the detectors, which could put a strict (nearly fundamental) limit on how large the baseline can be. And the inevitable presence of unrelated photons will put a limit on sensitivity simply because the few photons that come from the target drown in the noise.

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