Myron Stolaroff RIP: 1920 – 2013

January 7th, 2013 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

myron_stolaroffA long time hero who had a big influence on me, Myron Stolaroff, passed away peacefully in his sleep yesterday. He was one of the earliest pioneer in psychedelic research and a wise elder to many of us. Of all the psychedelic elders, I considered Myron to be the most humble and emotionally honest, and because of that I truly looked up to him and admired him. He will be sorely missed.

For an in depth and very personal account of what these medicines can do read Myron’s book Thanatos To Eros, 35 Years of Psychedelic Exploration.

UPDATE 01/31/13:  A heartfelt obituary by Jon Hanna.

 

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Video: The Rabbit Hole – You Are God

December 14th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Deepok Chopra surprises me with his very lucid review of the hard problem of consciousness:

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

From Princeton University:

Princeton researchers have found a simple and economical way to nearly triple the efficiency of organic solar cells, the cheap and flexible plastic devices that many scientists believe could be the future of solar power.

The researchers, led by electrical engineer Stephen Chou, were able to increase the efficiency of the solar cells 175 percent by using a nanostructured “sandwich” of metal and plastic that collects and traps light.

Chou, the Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering, said the research team used nanotechnology to overcome two primary challenges that cause solar cells to lose energy: light reflecting from the cell, and the inability to fully capture light that enters the cell.

organic-solar-triple-efficiency1With their new metallic sandwich, the researchers were able to address both problems. The sandwich — called a subwavelength plasmonic cavity — has an extraordinary ability to dampen reflection and trap light. The new technique allowed Chou’s team to create a solar cell that only reflects about 4 percent of light and absorbs as much as 96 percent. It demonstrates 52 percent higher efficiency in converting light to electrical energy than a conventional solar cell.

That is for direct sunlight. The structure achieves even more efficiency for light that strikes the solar cell at large angles, which occurs on cloudy days or when the cell is not directly facing the sun. By capturing these angled rays, the new structure boosts efficiency by an additional 81 percent, leading to the 175 percent total increase.

The physics behinorganic-solar-triple-efficiency2d the innovation is formidably complex. But the device structure, in concept, is fairly simple.

The top layer, known as the window layer, of the new solar cell uses an incredibly fine metal mesh: the metal is 30 nanometers thick, and each hole is 175 nanometers in diameter and 25 nanometers apart. (A nanometer is a billionth of a meter and about one hundred-thousandth the width of human hair). This mesh replaces the conventional window layer typically made of a material called indium-tin-oxide (ITO)

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Experimental Warp Drive Work at NASA

November 26th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

ku-xlarge1

My friend George Dvorsky has a fantastic piece up at io9 about the latest experimental research being done on a real world warp drive by NASA physicist Dr. Harold White. His first goal is to see if can create a micro warp bubble at all in the lab. This is called an existence of proof — what he’s calling a “Chicago Pile” moment — a reference to a great practical example.

In late 1942, humanity activated the first nuclear reactor in Chicago generating a whopping half Watt — not enough to power a light bulb,” he said. “However, just under one year later, we activated a ~4MW reactor which is enough to power a small town. Existence proof is important.

This is based on the work of Mexican Physicist Miguel Alcubierre‘s seminal 1994 paper The Warp Drive: Hyper-Fast Travel Within General Relativity. A paper I think should earn him a Nobel Prize. The fact that we have moved from a mathematical paper of proof to real world experimental research on this in less than 20 years is very exciting.

For a more detailed account of Dr. White’s work, read the entire piece over at iO9.com.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Grand Unified Theory On One Sheet

November 11th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Here’s a funny what if homework assignment. This is not the grand unified field theory (GUT) that unites all the known fundamental force forces, including gravity, which is now called the “Theory of Everything” (TOE). This is a formulaic unification of the three quantum-scale fundamental forces of electromagnetism, the weak and strong nuclear forces. Leading TOE contenders for uniting Quantum Mechanics (QM) with Einsteins General Relativity are String TheoryQuantum Gravity (QG). See also Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG), Supersymmetry and the Holographic Principle. Ultimately, a more complete Theory of Everything should include consciousness as a fundamental – see also David Bohm’s Implicate Order, Amit Goswami’s Self-Aware Universe and Michael Talbot Holographic Universe.

unified-field-theory-standard-model

Extra Credit: Please integrate the quantum field of gravity into this equation (10 pts + Nobel Prize + immortal fame).

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Do you ever watch a movie, and an otherwise smart character (or characters) does something monumentally stupid, or at least stupid enough to keep the plot going? Most of the time I overlook these momentary lapses of reason because it’s all just entertaining fun, but it’s hard not to notice when so much of the movie hangs on intelligence to begin with. The film Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, is one of them. I love this movie by the way, one of my all time favorites. Cooper’s character, already enhanced with an IQ above 1000 from the drug NZT-48, makes the stupid mistake of borrowing money from a Russian mobster to margin his already 500%/day established day trading growth rate. He borrow’s $100,000. But he already has $7,000 and it’s growing at 500% per day. That means he’ll already have the same $100,000 in less than 36 hours anyway, so why the rush? The answer is the writer would have to use far smarter plot devices to match the characters 1000 IQ. If you’re going to write about a guy with a 1000 IQ you need to have a plot that does better at reflecting that.

There’s another movie, which shall go nameless, where two crews come to heads. Both crews are armed to the teeth, with their numbers about equal. One of  the crews is chasing down the bad guys for the government. The other crew is working  long and hard to score $100 million in a plutonium sale. Who has more loose, the Mercs-for-hire failing to capture the bad guy, or the bad guy loosing a $100 million deal of a lifetime? So the two crews have come to head in a valley, with the bad guys holding one of the good guys hostage. Remember, they are all equally armed. The good guys are all friends, the bad guys are just there doing a job for money. The bad guy tells the good crew to drop all of their weapons or he’s going to kill the hostage. Given this situation, what do you do?

In the movie, all the good guys drop their weapons, as they do in most movies. In this case it’s a bit surprising  since the Mercs have already been in a lot of  similar life and death situations and should understand the basics of game theory, at least intuitively. But that’s now how they act in this movie. The acquiesce to the bad guys demands.. The bad guys then kill the hostage anyway and walk away. The bad guys could have done worse and simply killed all the good guys, since they were all now disarmed.

Here’s what the good guys could have done:

The leader of the good guys could have asked all of his crew to immediately point all of their guns at the leader of the bad guys. Then say, “All of my guns are aimed at you. Go ahead, kill the hostage, then try and kill us, you might just succeed  But here’s the thing, regardless of how this plays out, and who wins in the end, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. The choice is yours…. take your time.”   Obviously, the bad guy, unless he has lost all attachment to his life, will give the hostage up and walk away. And that would be the very best he could hope for. But since the whole movie depended on that atrocity, we wouldn’t have the movie, unless of course the writer studied game theory and came up with a smarter plot with smarter characters.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Food Forests in Belgium and Seattle

August 11th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Food Forests in Belgium and Seattle)

Seattle Edible Forest Initiative – http://crosscut.com/2012/02/16/agriculture/21892/Nation-s-largest-public-Food-Forest-takes-root-on-Beacon-Hill/

In this permaculture garden in Mouscron, Belgium, over 2000 types of fruit trees and 5000 kinds of vegetables grow freely in a 1800m² jungle, much more productively than any manmade monoculture could achieve. Abricots, palm trees, lettuce year round. Soil hasn’t been turned or watered for 40 years. No pest problems. No artificial anything. (Video in French)

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Day of Peace at Nishihongwashi

June 5th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Spending a day of silence and contemplation at Nishi-Hongwashi, Kyoto, Japan.

Me doing a "heart" mudra outside the temple.

Me doing a “heart” mudra outside the temple.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Jeff Vail’s Theory of Power

June 1st, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Jeff Vail’s Theory of Power)

by Dave Pollard

Jeff Vail’s short, free online book A Theory of Power begins with a series of provocative theses:

  • The best representation of our world, of what ‘is’, is not matter, but the connections between matter.
  • These connections define ‘power-relationships’ — the ability of one entity to influence the action of another.
  • The ‘law’ of evolution can therefore be restated as: if new patterns of forces can survive their impacts with one another, if they tend to hold together rather than tear apart, they then represent a stable collection of power-relationships which survive, self-replicate, and mutate into further new patterns which are in turn subject to the same law.
  • This law applies to physical (matter), biological (gene) and cultural (meme) patterns; all matter and life and consciousness, and their evolution, are ‘creatures’ of their/our material, genetic and cultural constituents, created for the perpetuation of these patterns and sustained through their stable power-relationships.
  • Because of the evolutionary success of memes (due to their ability to adapt and change much more quickly and successfully than genes), culture has come to play an increasingly dominant role in our planet’s power-relationships.
  • Most significantly, the advent of agriculture, which was provoked by climate change (the ice ages) brought about a necessary power shift from the individual to the group in the interest of memes’ survival, to the point the individual became largely enslaved to the culture, and the survival of the civilization culture now outweighs in importance the survival of any of its members or communities.
  • A consequence of that has been the advent of the codependent cultural constructs of market and state, and, as agriculture has enabled exponential growth in population and created new scarcities, egalitarian societies of abundance have given way to hierarchical societies of managed scarcity.
  • This hierarchy has been further entrenched with the cultural evolution of technologies that enable even greater self-perpetuation of the memes that gave rise to it, and have led to the ‘efficient’ subjugation of the human individual to technology — that’s the power-relationship that most supports the survival and stasis of the culture, and under it even those at the top of the hierarchy become slave-hosts to the memes and culture.
  • These memes and culture can now self-perpetuate and thrive more effectively with technology and the artificial constructs of market and globalizations than they could with inefficient and unreliable human hosts, so technology growth is now even outstripping human growth, to the point that humans are becoming commodities and could even become redundant.
  • So: if we are now becoming slaves to the machine-powered perpetuation of memes that are outgrowing their need for us (to the point that although catastrophic global warming and human extinction now seem inevitable, this is not something our meme-culture ‘cares’ about) can we, the human slaves, thanks to the genetic and memetic evolution of self-awareness, ‘liberate’ ourselves and defeat the meme-culture before it destroys us? In other words, can we consciously, collectively take control for the first time over power-relationships, and establish new power-relationships that put the genetic survival of the human race (and, hopefully, the survival of all other life on Earth on which that genetic survival depends) ahead of the reckless survival of the Frankenstein ‘civilization’ culture we have created?

Vail’s answer to this final question is a qualified ‘yes’. He argues that the way to establish power-relationships that put our genes’ interest ahead of memes’ is to “confront hierarchy with its opposite — rhizome — a web-like structure of connected but independent nodes”, borrowing from successful models in nature of such structures. The working units (nodes) of this ‘revolutionary’ structure are self-sufficient, egalitarian communities, and the concept of ‘ownership’ in such communities is eliminated to prevent the reemergence of hierarchy.

Rhizome-based structures need to be developed and then institutionalized from the bottom up to replace hierarchical ones, Vail argues, in all areas of our society — social, political, economic, educational etc. to entrench the power and sustainability of self-sufficient communities and render them invulnerable to re-expropriation of that power by hierarchies. In practical terms, he says:

Power remains distributed to the level of the individual rhizome node through local, functional self-sufficiency—a modern equivalent to the Domestic Mode of Production. In other words, functional self-sufficiency means the ability to produce at the household level at least the minimum necessities for day-to-day existence without relying on outside agents or resources. Self-sufficiency removes the individual rhizome node from dependence on the standard set of outside suppliers. It does not eliminate exchange, but creates a situation where any exchange exists as a voluntary activity. The commodities that each node must provide for itself include staple foodstuffs, energy for heating, basic habitat and small group interaction.

Self-sufficient energy coops, and local permaculture-based food movements are examples of rhizome structures. Such networks are also the most effective means for the dissemination of information on how to make rhizome activities even more effective — they have much less signal loss than hierarchical methods that require information to flow up and then down controlled and constricted paths. Rhizomes are also, while less ‘efficient’, more effective and more resilient than hierarchies.

Next, Vail argues that, once established, to defend against attacks from vestiges of hierarchical systems, rhizome networks need to adopt asymmetrical methods — by reducing the desire of hierarchy to re-achieve power (e.g. by making it difficult or unrewarding to do so on its own terms) and by becoming ‘invisible’ to the hierarchy (e.g. dropping out quietly and not taking part in the hierarchy’s social, political and economic activities). Vail concludes:

A new vision, with individual freedom to pursue arts and spirituality, above the pettiness of bickering for power, may prove possible if we learn to control the powers that have dominated us throughout history. In the spirit of this vision, the message will ultimately fail if forced upon others. Only through personal example, by showing that a realistic and preferable alternative exists, will these concepts succeed on a large scale. We will act as pioneers, who will begin to create diverse rhizome nodes, each one representing an individual’s struggle to solve the problems of hierarchy and human ontogeny. The more we learn and break free from the control of genes and memes, the more success these pioneers will have. Effective tools and practices will spread, and the rhizome network will grow and strengthen. As this network evolves, it will provide a realistic, implementable alternative to hierarchy—an alternative that fulfills our genetic ontogeny and empowers us as individuals. Nature has shown us that the structure of the rhizome can compete with hierarchy and stratification. When combined with an understanding of reality and humanity that makes us our own masters, we may finally learn from the events of the past…and gain control of our future.

NaturalCommunity
This is entirely consistent with the approach I have been arguing for — the bottom-up creation of a combination of working models of (a) self-sufficient, sustainable (probably polyamory) egalitarian intentional communities operating under Gift Economy principles, (b) natural enterprises and (c) peer-to-peer information and organization networks.

The concern many have expressed about models like Vail’s and mine is how to scale them up — how to get them to the ‘tipping point’ at which, like viruses, they start spreading quickly and supplant the old hierarchical ones. One approach Vail mentions is Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZs, or ‘pirate utopias’). Bey’s zones are based on the principles of (a) 30-50 person ‘bands’ replacing families (Bey quotes Gide: “Families, how I hate them! The misers of love!”), (b) a continuous ‘festival’ culture of conviviality, abundance, sharing, celebration, and joy and (c) no private ownership.

I really like the idea of a festival culture. Bey sees the zones as temporary (nomadic, to prevent their being attacked by the prevailing hierarchical culture). Vail says they will only be needed “until the size of the rhizome network provides enough power” to sustain them.

But that’s not how viral models work in nature. They get a foothold and then replicate. Assuming we can create some successful working models without having them destroyed by fearful or envious corporatists (and though I’m perhaps naive, I don’t think the establishment would be bothered to try to destroy them when they’re below the radar screen, and after that it’s too late), how might they replicate virally?

Suppose we were to invite people to just begin. We could use Open Space invitations to find the people who are ready to create some working models of TAZs. We could facilitate Open Space sessions to let invitees form TAZ ‘tribes’, each tribe consisting of about fifteen contiguous intentional community ‘clans’ of about 100 people, with each clan having 2-3 natural enterprise ‘bands’ operating within them. Then, any clan that was so popular that it attracted new members to grow beyond the magic number of 150 people would ‘split’ into two new intentional communities (members would self-select which of the two clans to belong to), and any tribe that exceeded about 2000 people would ‘split’ into two new tribes the same way. This is the way viruses replicate, and the way that some groups of animals instinctively hive off when their membership exceeds a certain threshold. As our rhizome-culture working models became more and more popular, and the hierarchical civilization culture collapses, we would simply and organically take over. Bottom-up, a model that has evolved to work replacing one that has ceased to function. That’s life.

These sustainable, natural bands, clans and tribes would support each other through network connections, physical and technological. Each would be autonomous and self-sufficient, and evolve in its own self-determined, wonderfully diverse way.

The great challenge, of course, is finding arable land that can sustain these extraordinary experiments. One solution would be simply to wait until climate change, pandemic, economic collapse or other disasters depopulate an area to the point its land becomes free or nearly so. Another approach I’ve mentioned before is to find philanthropists willing to donate the land on a successful-efforts basis. Or, we they could start in Russia and other countries where serious depopulation has already begun.

Are you ready for this? Is the world?

 

Editorial Notes

Thanks to Dave Pollard for an excellent summary, as well as his thoughts on the book. We’ve run several of Jeff Vail’s articles and are interested in his theories. Although they are abstract and not easy to digest, the theories make explicit ideas that seem to be on the minds of many people.

Vail’s theory about “rhizome” structures has a lot of applications today: the permaculture movement, guerrilla warfare, the Web, the peak oil blogosphere…

The idea of rhizome social structures as an alternative to hierarchy has historical roots:

  • Communitarian anarchism, as in the works of Peter Kropotkin
  • Utopian socialism
  • A strain within libertarianism, voiced by Karl Hess.
  • Jeffersonian democracy and agrarianism (as in the works of Wendell Berry).
  • The self-sufficiency and commune movements of 60s and 70s, as well as the back-to-the-land movements of the 30s and 40s, and communal movements in the 19th century (e.g., Shakers).
  • Many traditional and peasant cultures have similar elements.

Jeff Vail’s blog is A Theory of Power.

 

Original Article: Energy Bulletin.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Chronic Buckyball Ingestion Doubles Lifespan in Rats

April 26th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Chronic Buckyball Ingestion Doubles Lifespan in Rats)

Another way of saying this is that C60 slows down aging by half (at least in rats). Can this translate to humans? If it works and you start when you’re 45, and normally have another another 35 years to live, it would double that to 70 years, getting you at least to 115.

From Extreme Longevity:

C(60) fullerene is a naturally occurring molecule containing 60 carbon atoms arranged in a sphere. It is famously known as the buckyball, short for buckminsterfullerene, and discovered in 1985.

Since 1993, the molecule has been suspected to have multiple potential biological benefits. This list includes UV and radioprotection, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-amyloid activities, allergic response and angiogenesis inhibitions, immune stimulating and antitumour effects, enhancing effect on neurite outgrowth, gene delivery, and even hair-growing activity.

In the current study researchers fed the molecule dissolved in olive oil to rats and compared outcomes to a control group of rats who got plain olive oil.

The main question they wanted to answer was whether chronic C60 administration had any toxicity, what they discovered actually surprised them.

“Here we show that oral administration of C60 dissolved in olive oil (0.8 mg/ml) at reiterated doses (1.7 mg/kg of body weight) to rats not only does not entail chronic toxicity,” they write “but it almost doubles their lifespan.”

“The estimated median lifespan (EML) for the C60-treated rats was 42 months while the EMLs for control rats and olive oil-treated rats were 22 and 26 months, respectively,” they write.

Using a toxicity model the researchers demonstrated that the effect on lifespan seems to be mediated by “attenuation of age-associated increases in oxidative stress”

They also demonstrated that the compound is fully absorbed via the GI tract and totally eliminated from the body in 10 hours.

“These results of importance in the fields of medicine and toxicology should open the way for the many possible -and waited for- biomedical applications of C60 including cancer therapy, neurodegenerative
disorders, and ageing,” they conclude.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail