Sunday, 30 November 2008

Comet anyone?

I found this page on my travels and thought it well worth a mention if you fancy a look at comets...

The Golden Spiral

Scientists believe cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation is the oldest light in the Universe. NASA's satellite - the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) - was sent up to measure the light that they believe was left over from the Big Bang. Their calculations suppose that with the expansion and cooling of the Universe, the light from the Big Bang has now been stretched to longer wavelengths in the microwave region. These wavelengths are in the range of millimetres. The COBE satellite carried instruments to measure wavelengths in this region. But I wonder, if we are looking for light left over from the Big Bang, should we be looking for wavelengths that are bigger than millimetres? Perhaps we should be looking for wavelengths that are much, much bigger.

Einstein showed that energy and matter are the same universal substance, simply vibrating at different frequencies. The Universe is energy, and this energy is contantly changing forms dependent upon its frequency. I am exploring a possible model that would explain how this energy moves at an atomic level, before it stretches out to encompass the Universe.

Try and imagine you are standing on the steps of an immense spiral staircase. You look down over the edge and the stairs spiral down in ever decreasing circles. As your eyes wander over each step, you notice that they become smaller and smaller. The stairwell appears to stretch for miles and miles. At the very bottom is a zero-point singularity which is too far away for you to see. Now hold onto the handrail because it's going to feel a little uncomfortable - the entire staircase is now revolving, and it's moving at the at the speed of light. It might start to feel like you are staring down the barrel of an elaborate Archimedes screw. For a point of reference we'll say that from where you stand, it turns at one revolution per second, or 1 Hertz (Hz) - which just so happens to be the frequency of the average human heart (one beat per second). What you are about to see is how energy moves at different frequencies in the Universe.

Where you are the staircase rotates at a steady pace. One full cycle of the staircase is a representation of a wavelength. When you look down you see that the steps at the bottom are spinning so fast they appear only as a seething, vibrating mass. This is on account of the steps being so atomically small, they are able to turn in a very small area. The stairs are also revolving very, very fast at this level. Each cycle happens extremely fast and very frequent, so we could say that they have a high frequency. This energy, which has extremely small wavelengths, and very high frequencies, takes on the appearance of something solid. It is at the bottom of our stairwell we find energy takes on the form of matter.

Moving up from the bottom we start to notice that even though the steps are still incredibly small, we can count the amount of times they complete a turn. So emerging from our model are the first forms of electromagnetic radiation. Gamma rays have the highest frequency, and the shortest wavelengths of less than about ten trillionths of a meter. Continuing our journey up, the spins are becoming less frequent, and the steps are gradually becoming bigger and bigger. The energy is being driven at a lower frequency, and the wavelengths are growing longer. We watch as the energy transforms from gamma rays into x-rays, and then into ultra-violet (UV). With the next form the energy manifests as something we are all familiar with - visible light. This rainbow of colours are a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum with wavelengths between 400 and 700 billionths of a meter. Its frequency ranges between 430,000 - 750, 000 gigahertz - and so it's still incredibly fast. One gigahertz is a wave of energy revolving 1,000,000,000 times per second.

Let us pause for a moment and reflect on something which is missing, or rather, that which is absent from the visible spectrum - the colour black. Black is the absence of any light. But throughout this model it has always been present, it's just that the colour black is more conspicuous by its absence as we enter the visible spectrum. Is it possible that a black entity accompanies the spiral staircase throughout its journey? For most certainly, a spiral staircase has to encircle around something. So it appears the black space of our stairwell has some type of influence over everything else. Surely if there was no darkness, then there could be no such thing as light. If we were able to follow the darkness all the way to the bottom, would it, or would it not, emerge unchanging from the zero-point singularity? Food for thought perhaps because we really must continue our journey up.

The lower frequencies of the red light in the spectrum merge into the infrared, and as the steps grow bigger, we see the wavelengths of the energy become larger. The energy changes into microwaves. Microwaves are electromagnetic waves with wavelengths ranging from 1mm to 1m, or frequencies between 300 GHz to 0.3 GHz. So even though the energy turns with much less frequency than that of matter, or gamma rays - there's an incredible amount of usable energy there. I mean, we can even cook a Pot Noodle with microwaves. Where you are revolving at 1Hz, you can imagine that these energies are still a long way off, and unfathomably small. The cycles at which the staircase turn appear to slow down because the steps grow further apart, and the lower frequencies now become recognisable as radiowaves.

Very High Frequency (VHF) is something we are all familiar with on the dial of our radio. The energy is now spinning in cycles that range from 300 megahertz (MHz) to 30 MHz. To try and maintain some sort of perspective, one megahertz is one million cycles per second. The wavelengths have now grown to a size which range from 1 to 10 meters. In other words, a turn of the archimedes screw at this level, revolves at a circumference of 10 meters. The energy now moves through all the radiowave frequencies until we reach the extreme of those that we able to measure - the aptly titled - extremely low frequencies (ELF). The energy at this level performs a cycle upto 3 times a second (3Hz) and has a wavelength that spans 100, 000 kms. So suddenly you are aware of your position on the spiral staircase as it stretches far out into space, thousands and thousands of kilometres wide. This would still all be happening below you, mind. From the position where you are observing this scenario at one hertz, it takes light (travelling at the speed of light) to perform one revolution, and that would be somewhere in the region of 300,000 kms. For a simple comparison, the moon is something like 300,000 kms away from the Earth. As you look up over your head, the staircase looms on ever larger, and wider, until it fills millions and millions of miles. As long as the energy keeps moving there really is no limit to the size of its wavelength. It's also interesting to note that the energy is constant throughout its entire span of the spiral - it only changes frequency.

According to Stephen Hawking, the observable Universe spans a million million million million miles across. That's a one followed by 24 zeros. If I was looking for something left over from the Big Bang, then that would be the size of the baby I would be looking for. This new model also raises some pretty interesting questions about how we observe energy. If the speed of light is not a constant, but is something which is inferred by the observer's rate of perception, what possibilities lie in-wait as we explore the energy of the golden spiral?

I would like to thank the following sites for their help, and boundless insights:

Monday, 24 November 2008

God is love.

God is love. Love is God.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The Philosopher's Stone

Imagine that my rate of perception (the speed at which the brain processes the world) was twice that of yours. There would be twice the amount of thoughts racing through my mind in comparison to the number of thoughts which would occupy yours. I would not experience reality in slow motion though, my thoughts would act as a metronome which would dictate the experience as 'normal', but if you were to observe me, my behaviours would appear manic to you. It would look like I was whizzing around the room, racing to complete any tasks I had been given, and if I was unfocused, I might easily get distracted and try to do all the jobs at once. Any conversation on my part would appear fast, and quite possibly frenzied. When I think of this scenario , I can't help but make a comparison to behaviours which can be a part of anxiety/stress disorders, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and also schizophrenia. Is it possible that in the cases of some of these disorders, that the rate of perception has been sped-up, and if so - how?

Young children are thought to have a faster rate of perception due to a higher metabolic rate. This is perhaps due to a ravenous brain which needs lots of energy to develop in a procees known as competitive plasticity. In researching these stress disorders, one might expect to find a high metabolic rate was also associated with them, but this however, is not quite the case. What has turned up has been far more intriguing. A theme that runs throughout all these disorders, is a problem with the inner ear, also known as the vestibular system. Vestibular disorders are already officially recognised as being associated with stress disorders, and below I have included a few examples:

"Vestibular (inner ear) disorders can cause dizziness, vertigo, imbalance,hearing changes, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and other symptoms, with potentially devastating effects on a person's day-to-day functioning, ability to work, relationships with family and friends, and quality of life."

"Vestibular deficits and increased neuro-hypersensitivities (sensory overload disorder) follow a variety of neuro-pathological changes in the brain, including, migraine, autism, ADHD, post TBI, hydrocephalus, PTSD, and others."

"A total of 82 schizophrenic patients participated in this study from Takeda Hospital in Sapporo And Jimmiekai Hospital in Nishinomiya. As the results of this study, 72 out of 82 patients show the abnormal degree of vestibular reactivity, which indicates highly possible involvement of vestibular system in schizophrenia. "

The vestibular system's association with stress disorders perhaps signifies it is part of a survival mechanism designed to get an animal out of sudden danger. A neat trick of nature is to speed up the rate of perception, so that reality 'slows down', and in so doing, it gives an animal time to think about its escape plan. War veterans often speak of a similar experience at times when their lives are in jeopardy. Is the emergence of a stress disorder where the vestibular system fails to de-activate, or slow down, once a danger has passed?

Kids with ADHD use a trick to stimulate the vestibular system ( and speeding up the rate of perception), by becoming more active. I'll quote from an article by The Spectrum Center in Bethesda MD, a treatment centre for children with ADHD: "...Problems arise with ADHD where the vestibular system of the inner unable to provide the brain with the sensory stimulation it needs in order to function optimally. In response, the body finds other ways of stimulating the vestible and brain, such as constant body movement. This response would be diagnosed as hyperactivity." Quite bizarrely, there's an example in nature where this behaviour is also mirrored - the territorial displays of the anole lizard.

Terry J Ord et al, of University of California Davis , produced research on how lizards speed up visual displays in noisy motion habitats. "We found that two species of Puerto Rican lizard, Anolis cristatellus and A. gundlachi, increase the speed of body movements used in territorial signalling to apparently improve communication in visually ‘noisy’ environments of rapidly moving vegetation. This is the first evidence that animals change how they produce dynamic visual signals when communicating in noisy motion habitats." Anole lizards communicate using vertical movements of the head, known as head-bobs. If they really want to get their point across a commotion of rustling leaves, the lizards have to start bobbing the head faster. Is it possible this behaviour is being used to stimulate the vestibular system, in order to speed up the rate of perception, so that its brain can digest, and interpret, the enviroment more readily?

The vestibular system is important in maintaining balance or equilibrium. There are two otolithic organs of the vestible - the utricle and the saccule. They translate head movements into neural impulses which the brain can interpret. The utricle largely registers accelerations on the horizontal plane, while the saccule is sensitive to linear translations of the head, specifically movements up and down (think about our head-banging lizard). When the head moves vertically, the sensory cells of the saccule are disturbed and the neurons connected to them begin transmitting impulses to the brain. Does the rate of these impulses have anything to do the brain's regulation of the rate of perception? Do we now have a pin-point specific area to which the rate of perception can be tweeked, and in the case of stress disorders, can it be there's a way to slow it back down to normal.

For those us that are interested in the mystical, the word for otolith is derived from the Greek oto - meaning 'ear', and lithos - meaning 'stone', or 'earstone'. If we are able to manipulate the rate of perception and bend the rules of time, we have a very realistic opportunity to create the elixir of life. Is the otolith the well sought after Philosopher's Stone?

I would like to thank all my sources, and a further mention for:

Friday, 21 November 2008

One Billion Heartbeats

What becomes of time as we grow older? I remember playing as a child in those long summers away from school and I think of how the time stretched over a day and became almost infinite. It seemed like a lifetime before we were back at school in the autumn. Now in my late thirties I am reflecting on the experience of how time behaves in my everyday life, and I compare it to the way I felt about time as a child. Time has most certainly become more fleeting. There is no more staring at the clock in the classroom, and wishing those minutes away, and if anything now, I am pleading for that second-hand to stop. Hours fly past into a day, days blend into months, and before you know it, it's that bloody time of year again.

With new scientic models de-bunking the Theory of Relativity, and proofs that space-time does not exist, we are beginning to learn new lessons about the experience of time. So why does the experience of time feel so different as we grow older? It could be an illusion drawn from a nostalgia of days past, where life was perhaps more free and weightless, and the days only dragged because we were wishing them to go faster. Or can it be because as we grow older our experience of time accelerates due to biological, and neurological reasons?

In general all amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles have roughly a billion heart beats per lifetime. A tiny mouse has a maximum life of about 3 years while an elephant could live to 70, but they shall both experience a billion heart beats. Now that we have thrown all ideas of time out of the window, it would start to appear that the mouse and the elephant have both the exact same experience of a lifetime. Time is not relevant to the speed of light - time is relevant to each living creatures' own personal experience. Time no longer hangs on the wall of the Universe, it is intertwined with the metabolic rate and every beat of the heart. I found this article of particular interest:

So how is the metabolic rate applicable to a child's experience of time, and how does that compare to the experience of a fully grown adult? The average heart rate for a healthy adult at rest is 60-100 beats per minute (bpm), while a child's is around 100-130 bpm. In some cases, this could mean the child's heart rate being twice that of an adult's. This increased metabolic rate leads to a faster rate of perception. Increasing the rate of perception would be a bit like changing your dial-up internet connection to broadband - you would be recieving information at a much greater speed. If this was taking place in the mind, you would have a much greater scope, and far more depth, of what action takes place in one given moment of time, and creates the illusion that reality is being played in slow-motion (but only when reflected upon, and compared to a relatively 'normal' rate of perception).

Infants and growing children have higher metabolic rates than adults because of growth hormones, and also, perhaps more importantly, the growing brain is devouring lots of energy during its development. The brain consumes 20% of the body's energy. At the age of 3, a young child's brain is super-dense with over 1,000 trillion synapses, all competing for nourishment. It's not until children near adolescence, that the 'shedding' of excess brain cells (neurons) moves into high gear, and eventually there is a loss of about 50% of the synapses. Before the shedding takes place though, the neurons all have to be fed. This greater demand for energy has to be supplied by a faster metabolic rate.

As we become adults, the brain becomes increasingly efficient, in a process known as competitive plasticity, and our metabolic rate slows down. With a reduction in the metabolic rate, there is a knock-on effect on how fast we percieve the world. The broadband service has been pulled, and we're back using dial-up, less information is being recieved, a moment contains less depth, and reality takes on the appearance it is moving faster. But there are times in our adult lives where we can re-experience a taste of what a faster rate of perception meant in our childhoods.

One trick of nature is to engage a startle response if an animal suddenly thinks it's in danger. Adrenal hormones get the heart pumping faster, and the brain thinking faster. The startle response is bending the rules of perception, so that a window appears where the animal gets more time to think about its next course of action - fight, take flight or freeze. It's like pressing slow-motion on your video recorder. Time distortion under stress is often reported by war veterans, where everything happens in slow motion. This example is taken from law enforcement:

‘Kim remembers that steamy September night in 1979 as if it were yesterday. She had a split second to react before the gunman blasted her from an open window over her head. ‘When you think you’re going to die’, she says ‘your brain works so fast that everything else seems to be in slow motion.’ (Wozencraft 1990)

There are plenty of stories where people have experienced this stretching of time, at a moment there was imminent danger. If time is an intrapersonal experience that can be manipulated by nature, is it then possible that mankind can harness this ability to enhance our lives? It could be a basis for showing us how to slow down the experience of time by increasing the rate of perception. If this was made possible without the need of increasing the metabolic rate (so that our lifespan does not become as short as the mouse) - are we looking at a real contender for the elixir of life?

I would also thank, and mention the following sites for their insights:

Shore, R. (1997) ‘What have we learned?’ in ‘Rethinking the brain ...

Friday, 14 November 2008

Just A second

It's funny. So far I've only managed to say time does not exist, but I still pursue measuring the speed of light in seconds. When I have done so, I am imagining seconds as the gentle tick-tocking of a clock, ( ) whose second hand is turned by each conscious thought. Every ....1 conscious....2 thought....3 becomes.....4 a ....5 segment...6 of.....7 time....8. I am still holding on to the idea that a variable time can be relevant to a variable rate of perception. The more I am absorbed in the theory, the more I am letting go of my previous conceptions of time. There really is no such thing as time and it becomes impossible to apply it to this new model. I popped over to Wiki to try and understand what is meant by a 'second':

"Under the International System of Units, the second is currently defined as the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.[1]"

This definition refers to a caesium atom at rest at a temperature of 0 K (absolute zero). The ground state is defined at zero magnetic field. The second thus defined is equivalent to the ephemeris second, which was based on astronomical measurements.
The international standard symbol for a second is s"

"How does it all work?
Cesium is evaporated at the cesium source to form a beam of well-separated cesium atoms that travel without collisions at about 250 m/s, through a vacuum maintained by the vacuum pump.

Simple electronics counts the output cycles of the quartz oscillator, and issues a pulse every 10 million cycles - exactly 1 second apart."

The cesium atom is not travelling at 250 m/s though, it is my rate of perception which is implying that it's travelling at 250 m/s. If I was to observe this beam of cesium atoms, where my rate of perception was twice as fast as normal - the speed at which the atoms travel would appear to slow down to 125 m/s (with-in my experience of time). The output cycles of the quartz oscillator would slow down, and the pulse which is issued at every 10 million cycles, now appears to take twice as long - count it ..1...2. It becomes more apparent that distance is nothing more than a product of time, and time a product of distance. The atomic clock is nothing more than an overly dramatic way of measuring the distance travelled by neurons in the brain, and the speed with which those signals are processed.

Time and space are meaningless. How on earth are we going to try and quantify the rate of perception where neither time or space exist? Time is an intrapersonal experience. Have you found how time flies when you are having fun, and how it slows down when you are bored? When we are active we are using more energy. Does our metabolic rate define the experience of time?

Hertz (Hz) is a measure of frequency, informally defined as the number of cycles occuring per second. A clock might be said to tick at 1 Hz. What is very interesting is that this frequency is the same for the heart rate of a healthy adult at rest - 60 beats per minute, or one per second - 1 Hz. The human race is coming home to the heart at last.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

"The womb provides almost constant vestibular stimulation to the developing foetus. The consequences of the constant vestibular stimulation a term baby experiences in utero, and the lack of such with a preterm baby are unclear, and there is little information to guide interventions with the vestibular system.

Vestibular stimulation is known to enhance behavioral states; for example, slow rhythmic rocking is soothing, and promotes quiet sleep. Fast arrhythmic vestibular stimulation increases activity and agitation. " This excerpt was taken from Pediatric Physical Therapy by Jan Stephen Tecklin

I am returning to the bizarre relationship between the green anole lizard, and kids with AD/HD. For some kids with auditory problems, they can use bone conduction headphones and frequency filtration stimulate the vestibular system in specific ways that improve the ability to maintain a calm alert state.

The vestible can also be stimulated in two ways, either through motor movement or sound. A child with AD/HD might compensate for the vestibles lack of sound stimulation by increased motor activity. Hyperactivity may be a symptom of an under-stimulated vestible.

Therefore, does vestibular stimulation speed up the rate of perception? Does the vestible conduct the brainwaves like an orchestra to determine the rate of perception? It most certainly could explain why a hyperactive child appears so manic. Is it possible then, that they are processing, and producing thoughts at a much faster rate?

When a soundwave hits a green anole lizard the energy causes the lizard's chest wall to vibrate in tune with the wave. I think of what it feels like when someone sneaks-up behind you and slap their hands together. We jump don't we? We don't even think about it, we just jump. Has the vestible engaged some-kind of primordial reflex that responds before any other part of the brain?

Anole lizards communicate using vertical movements of the head. Males experiencing high levels of visual background noise produced high speed displays, while males experiencing calmer conditions produced more relaxed displays of lower speed. So by increasing motor activity, is the lizard here-by stimulating the vestible to increase its rate of perception? With an increase in the rate of perception, the lizard would be able to process visual background interference at a faster rate.

Fear is an emotion. Emotions in evolutionary terms are involved with motivation. Fear produces strong motivation to act. Therefore a direct emotional connection to movement offers a clear evolutionary advantage. Under stressful conditions, such as a startle response, an animal would need an evolutionary edge in-order to process everything in the enviroment, and compute any percieved threat at a much faster rate than normal. When the adrenals are pumping, are we accelerating the rate of perception?

It's a sad fact of life but most people are engaging the adrenals through-out the day. Nature intended us to employ them only when we were in immediate danger. Some people have them cranked-up all day. We're all told stress is bad for us - it's bad for the systems in the body and also the mind. Where is all this extra fuel coming from that we need to support this increase in brain activity? What effect does the increase on the rate of perception have on metabolism, and vice-versa?

There's an old German proverb which says to never put anything bigger than your elbow in your ear. I'll be honest, I have almost an obsession with cleaning mine with cotton-buds, sometimes 3 times a day! I wonder though if the ear-wax not only serves as a natural agent for cleaning the ears, but also as a shock-absorber? Could cleaning my ears actually affect my rate of perception, and also my behaviours?

For an abstract on the head-bops of the anole lizard you can venture here:

Interested in AD/HD? This one's good:


I'm looking through my Bible. The more I absorb myself in this new idea of how the Universe looks, the more I understand its religious implications. I don't consider christianity any more valid than any other religion, (or belief system including atheism) anywhere through-out the world, but it just happens to be easier for my frame of reference.

In Genesis 1-3, we have - "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."

In the Gospel of John 1:1 it is written -"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

There is a distinction between the two. Is it saying that light is the Word, and the Word is God? Does it also imply that heaven and the earth are the Word?

Then we have Om, the first word of creation - a vibrating energy - which seems to tie in nicely with the above.
I'm trying to think of a better way of conveying how the rate of perception can be speeded up to force the speed of light to slow down. The speed of light, at my normal rate of perception , is 300,000 km/s. If my brain was processing the outside world twice as fast, the speed of light would appear to travel 150,000 km/s. Maybe it's going to feel a little more comfortable to simply address the rate of perception in terms of the speed of light. For example - I could say that right now my rate of perception is 300,000 km/s. When the speed of my brain increases to twice that of normal, I could say my rate of perception is 150,000 km/s.

If my rate of perception was 0.001 km/s, (or 1m/s) I could physically watch light move across a room.

Imagine then, that my rate of perception was 0 km/s - everything would stop. The Universe would stop vibrating. Light would no longer have any velocity. Light is energy, but with no velocity - no vibration - there would be no energy. The Universe would be zero point energy. There would be zero dimensions.

So in the midst of all this, where is gravity? Matter is energy. The amount of rest energy in something as small as a book, for example, is tremendous. If all the matter in the book was converted to energy it would be enough energy to send a million tons to the moon. Where the rate of perception (Rp?) is 300, 000 km/s there is no such thing as rest energy. At an atomic level everything is moving very fast - vibrating very fast - vibrating heat - lots of heat.

The Sun is hot. The centre of the Earth is hot. All matter as it vibrates is generating heat. What is the relationship between this vibrating heat, matter and gravity? Does this heat take on the appearance of what we call gravity?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Watching the waves on the seafront have affected me more than I thought...waves ...waves... if I was sat in a bath I'd leap out of it!!!

The Universe is energy vibrating at different frequencies .... it hums. Or oms. Or aums.

"Each one of billions of nerve cells creates the precise amount of electricity that it uses to transfer its particular code. The nerve cells create the electrical signals that they use by sending sodium and potassium ions in and out of the cell wall at rates varying up to 1000 changes per second.In 1/1000 of a second, the cell changes from a negative charge to a positive charge and then back again. In this way, nerve cells "hum" with electricity.

It is in the pattern and the speed of the hum that the brain transfers data and creates thought. This is the way that brain cells communicate - by codes conveyed through electrical signals that have no physical resemblance whatever to that which they convey. Every sight, sound, touch, emotion, reaction, every memory and every thought in the history of mankind is a code."

In accelerating the rate of perception we would be accelerating the cell changes. If I wanted to think twice as fast as normal, then the cell changes from a negative charge to a positive charge need to happen twice as fast - 1/2000 of a second. If this occurs, then the frequency of the brain is going to change.

Several studies, one of which was by Charles Gray of UC Davis and another by David McCormick of Yale U have shown that the brain has its own internal rhythm. Chatter cells co-ordinate rhythmic firings of millions of cells in bursts around 30 - 60 Hz

Here's a very brief explanation on brainwaves which I thought was fun:

So brainwaves are measured as frequencies in the unit of Hertz, the number of wave cycles per second. There are four types of brainwaves (or rhythms) that are focused on in EEG's - Alpha, Beta, Theta, and Delta. Each type can be matched with a certain state of functioning.

Theta Waves (4-7Hz) reflect slow brainwave activity in sleeping adults or children (even when awake) upto the age of 13.

"The interior of the earth emits natural microspulsations of approximately 10 Hz (Hertz), that is 10 oscillations per second. Lightning creates fields in a frequency range of 10 to 20 KHz (thousands of oscillations per second). At the other end of the spectrum light has become visible with billions of oscillations. Between the two fields described, there are those areas of the spectrum that only started to fill up with artificial radiation at the end of last century through human intervention, beginning with electric power supply systems around 50/60 Hz to ELF frequencies (ELF = extremely low frequency, in a spectrum of 0 to 100 Hz), often used for military purposes, or rather as non-lethal weapons, and on to medium, short and ultra-short waves, to the TV frequencies and the domain of microwave frequencies.....

The pineal gland, 50mm long and shaped like a pine-cone, sitting deep down in the centre of the head, is the shrivelled remnant of an ancient warmth and light-perceiving sense organ that opened to the exterior with the fontanelle in the cranial bone.(18) The pineal gland is in contact with the parietal chakra, the so-called thousand-petalled lotus.(19) It regulates the circadian rhythms of the body, biological rhythms that are attuned to the day-night cycle and cover a period of 24-25 hours. These rhythms can be disrupted by natural or artificial magnetic fields and, among other things, react to the daily cyclical pattern of the terrestrial magnetic field. The pineal gland interacts closely with the sympathetic nervous system that is responsible for functions like an increased heartbeat frequency (above the diaphragm, the activity of organs is enhanced by the sympathetic system and inhibited by the parasympathetic one; below the diaphragm, the opposite applies); thus, the nerves that serve the pineal gland don't originate in the brain but in the sympathetic nervous system.

There is a non-visual energetic connection from the eyes straight to the hypothalamic and hypophyseal parts of the brain, a further one to the pineal gland, with the latter reacting to changes in brightness, as well as the various colours of sunlight; this process has an energizing effect on the whole organism.(20) The pineal complex also controls body temperature. In the pineal gland the hormone melatonin is manufactured whose discharge is inhibited by light radiation and occurs therefore by night. Melatonin inhibits the development of germ cells and the urge to procreate, or rather it inhibits the development and function of gonads. Another substance is seratonin that is needed for acting as a chemical neuro-transmitter of electrical impulses in the synapses of nerve cells. It is interesting to note that seratonine has the same chemical structure as some hallucinogenic substances. Seratonin is transformed into melatonine only in the pineal gland."

Get A Room

Imagine my rate of perception is a 1000 times faster than yours. We're in a room together. Someone walks in and flicks the light off and then back on. For you the darkness would have lasted one second. I experienced the darkness for 1000 seconds (16 minutes). I couldn't even read a book.

Vibrating Universe

I went for a walk along the seafront today. It was a bit windy, and a bit chilly. The waves were rising a good distance from the beach, and they rolled, in what appeared to me, to be slow motion. Great froths of bubbling sea gurgled over the pebbles (this is Brighton, we don't have sand) and onto the shore and back out again, only to be smashed by another in-coming. And it got me thinking, if I was to try and calculate the trajectory of all these molecules as they collide into one another, in something as simple as a wave crashing against the shore, it would probably become a lifetime's work, and make my abacus red-hot. The speeds are just too phenomenal, aren't they? Or are they?

Let's pop to the lab, where I shall increase my rate of perception to be a thousand times faster. Where you observe one second passing with the blink of an eye, I would experience the blink of an eye taking 1000 seconds (around 16 minutes). Okay. We're back by the sea. Let's watch the next wave together. You will see the wave drift-in, crash-in, and sucked back out, all in the space of about 10 seconds. For me, this process will take 10,000 seconds. I would have something like two and half hours to observe how the wave is behaving at a molecular level. I could practically climb into the wave armed with my protractor and measure angles of trajectory, and observe collisions, and the impact of those collisions and very important - I could start to predict how the molecules are going to behave. All of a sudden, the Universe no longer appears as such a seething chaos, but something far more stable -math!!!

My thanks to:

Monday, 10 November 2008

Proving Einstein Wrong

TZZZZzzzzzz... Have you ever picked up your sandal and tried to swat that annoying little mosquito you are sharing a holiday hotel room with? It will always confound us on just how many times we miss because the tiny swine is just too darned fast. After a time, the mosquito starts to take on the appearance of predicting our every move - it's practically taunting us. With science developing new ideas about the way we look at time, we are starting to understand that the mosquito is not necessarily moving fast, but that it is us whom are percieving things very, very slowly. New proposals about time are about to turn everything that we thought we knew about our Universe on its head.

Let's imagine the scene where I am about to try and bring my sandal down on the head of that pesky mosquito. In the room we have set-up two digital cameras (don't worry, nothing sordid's going on). One of the camera's has a shutter speed which opens and closes in seconds, while the other camera's using a shutter speed which is a thousand times faster and operates in milliseconds. By the time I have raised and lowered my hand, the mosquito has made good its' escape. It's as if the little brute saw me coming a mile-off, so let's see if by playing back the two films that were taken, we might catch a better idea of what's happening from the perspective of the mosquito.

Each camera has an LCD display which will play-back the film at the rate of one exposure per second. We'll start with the film taken where the shutter speed plodded and took a second to open and close. It shows me with my hand in the air, now it's halfway down and then it's ..SLAM... 4 seconds and it's all over. Next we play the film where the shutter speed was in milliseconds. Okay, so my hands in the air...... still in the air..... I count to 200 and it's barely budged an inch. I've got time to make a cup of tea, pop to the shops, and watch a bit of telly because this film is 1000 times as long as the previous one - it would take over an hour to watch it.

What the shutter speed is inferring as it opens and closes, is my rate of perception - or rather the speed at which neurons open and close circuits in the brain. The rate of perception is how long it takes the brain to process the outside world into information the mind can understand. This process in the brain is dictated by signals carried by neurons. If you reduce the distance travelled by these signals by half, you effectively double the speed at which the brain understands the outside world. Try to imagine that our blood-sucking fiend, on account of its very small size and very simple brain, is able to percieve reality much faster than I can - my vengeful sandal would appear like it was moving in slow motion. No wonder it felt like the mosquito was blowing raspberries at me.

Okay. Now for the biggy. What does this mean for Einstein's Theory of Relativity? Is it wrong? For his calculations Einstein required a measuring stick which was unchanging and invariable, and one which would remain as a reliable benchmark for any observer regardless of their position in space. It was something which needed to comply with both the macrocosm and the microcosm. Einstein's genius came in choosing the speed of light as that benchmark. Scientists now understand that Einstein fell into the trap of believing the speed of light is constant and independent of an observer, where in-fact, the speed of light is actually a variable that is wholly dependent upon an observer.

According to Einstein the speed of light in a vacuum is 300,000 km/s. It takes light travelling from the Sun, 9 minutes to reach our planet. Imagine then that we have two observers watching the night-sky from my backyard. In this experiment we are going to turn on a torch from the position of the Sun, 150 million kilometres away, and then we shall ask both our observers to make their own steady, ticking head-count to imitate a clock (1...2...3...4...) - and to count the time it takes for the light travel to Earth. One of the observers I shall take into my laboratory (think Weird Science), and shrink to a size where the distance travelled by signals in his brain are halved. We are effectively accelerating his brain's shutter speed to being twice as fast as normal, so that the brain is able to communicate with itself at a speed which is twice that of ours, and his mind will produce twice the amount of conscious thoughts.

This difference in the rate of perception would become much more apparent once we hear each observers' head-count - the observer we shrank will make a count that is twice the speed of ours. When we add up the seconds counted by this tiny little man, it reaches a figure that is no longer 9 minutes but nearer 18 minutes! Our dwindled chum has experienced the speed of light as 150,000 km/s - half its normal speed. This demonstrates that the speed of light is not a constant, and that the speed of light is dependent upon the rate of experience. Einstein's Theory of Relativity has been proven wrong. There's no such thing as space-time. The Universe has now been deflated from the four-dimensional space that we thought was there, and is now presented in its true nature - zero point energy. The balloon has well and truly burst.

Time is thus revealed as this incredible intrapersonal experience. Every living thing on Earth is revealed as its very own clock. The ticking hands of the clock of the Universe no longer exist, and on a very real and fundamental level, all we have is 'now'. In each and every single of one those moments which we so often overlook and discard, there is the potential of infinite possibilities.

Will scientists now be able to merge all the forces in the Universe with gravity into a Theory of Everything? Probably. But perhaps this is more of an opportunity for each and every one of us who live on this planet, to finally understand how important our own place is in the grand scheme of the Universe. For if you, as an indivual, were not here to make the simple act of observation - time and space would not even exist.

I would like to thank these sites for aiding my research, and they are well worth a look if you get time....

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Make A Dent

Back in the 1700s scientists were still struggling to understand which theory of light was correct: was it composed of particles or was it made of waves? Under the theory that light is waves, it was not clear how it would respond to gravity. But if light was composed of particles, it would be expected that they woud be affected by gravity in the same way apples and planets are. This expectation grew when it was discovered that light did not travel infinitely fast, but with a finite measurable velocity.

In 1915 Einstein proposed The Theory Of General Relativity. General relativity explained in a consistent way, how gravity affects light, and also as a direct consequence - time. Einstein presented the idea that gravity was merely a curvature of space-time created by mass. One popular model of explaining this is to picture a smooth sheet or blanket stretched out above the floor. Now place a bowling ball on it, and it's weight (mass) will make a dent in the fabric (space-time). Anything else you put on that sheet will roll toward the ball, and in effect, the ball's mass has created a gravitational pull. As per Einstein's theory, the gravity bends the space-time curve such that any mass, and also light, will follow the bend in our fabric.

In this new chaotic Universe, Einstein's calculations needed a measuring stick which was stable,unchanging, constant and invariable, and one which would remain as a reliable benchmark for any observer regardless of their position in space. It would have to be viable for measuring the incredibly long distances between far away galaxies, but then could also be applied just as accurately to the speed travelled by atoms. His moment of genius came in realising that from any given frame of reference all light travels at the speed of light. Einstein's theory was not about how everything is relative to the observer, but rather about what it is that is independent of them. New thinking about the speed of light is starting to reveal it's something which is not independent of an observer, but rather, the speed of light is actually dependent upon the observer.

We often define distances by the time it takes light to travel between two points. For example, one light year is the distance light will travel in a year. Our notion of time is therefore is a product of how long it takes an entity to travel a specific distance. For example it takes 365 days for the Earth to orbit the Sun, and this is how we form the measurement of one year. Our notion of time is therefore a product of how we observe and measure velocity, but it fails to account for the rate of perception with which all observations are made.The mix-up arises from thinking the speed at which the brain observes the speed of light is constant, but in theory, the brain could be modified to think even faster, so that in effect, reality would play in slow motion.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Lean, Mean, Thinking Machine

At birth children's brains are in a surprisingly unfinished state . Newborns have all the genetic coding required to guide their brain development. What's more, they have nearly all of the billions of brain cells,or neurons, they will need for a lifetime of thinking, communicating, and learning. But these neurons are not yet linked up into the networks needed for complex functioning. It is like having billions of telephones installed around the nation, but not yet completely connected to each other. If children have more synapses than they will have as adults, what happens to the trillions of excess connections? The answer is they are shed as children grow.

Before the age of 3, synapse production is by far the dominant process; from 3 to 10 the processes are relatively blanced, so the number of synapses stays about the same. But as children near adolescence, the balance shifts, and the shedding of excess neurons moves into high gear.

Neurons do not exist in isolation. The Hebbian rules follow the use it or lose it principle and simply state that neurons that fire together, wire together. The functional property of the neuron is dependent on that neuron becoming incorporated into a functional neural circuit, a network of neurons interconnected in different regions of the brain, such that the combined activities of many neurons in different parts is necessary to produce a given behaviour. It is the constant repetition of these behaviours which reinforce the synaptic connections between neurons. So as we grow older the neurons not only fire faster, but their signals become clearer. Faster neurons are more likely to fire in sync with each other - becoming better team players - wiring together more and forming groups of neurons that give off clearer and more powerful signals. This is a crucial point, because a powerful signal has a greater impact on the brain.
Faster neurons ultimately lead to faster thought -no minor matter- because speed of thought is a crucial component of intelligence. Speed of thought is essential to our survival. Events often happen quickly, and if the brain is slow, it can miss important information. Essentially survival and growth of neurons depends on exchange between pre-synaptic neurons and target neurons in which activation is exchanged.

Between the ages of 2 and 16 years of age there is actually a loss of about 50% of the synapses. So you can see the fight for survival is very competitive. Only the regularly used synapses survive, with unused synapses disappearing trough a process sometimes referred to as 'shedding', and is an on-going part of something referred to as competitive plasticity in the brain.

Every neuron has an axon (usually only one) the axon is an output fiber that sends impulses to other neurons. Each neuron also has many dendrites - short, hair-like 'input' fibers that recieve impulses from other neurons. In this way, neurons are perfectly constructed to form connections. The process of dendritic growth is much slower than axonal growth and involves much more branching and elaboration. At some stages of dendritic growth there appears to be an overabundance of denritic branches. Some of these excess or unused branches are eventually lost in a process referred to as pruning.

Myelin is a lipid layer that surrounds only the axons of many neurons. Myelination acts rather like electrical insulating tape being wrapped around a bare wire. Myelin has two important advantages: fast conduction speed and energy efficiency. For axons larger than a minimum diameter (roughly 1 micron), myelination increases the conduction velocity of an action potential typically tenfold. Without myelination, the long axons of our nervous system would be turtle-like in their ability to relay information. Indeed, some tragic diseases like multiple scerosis, result from a loss of myelination and lead to a disruption between mind and muscle. Most of the neurons in the brain are interneurons. When connecting to each other interneurons often lack myelinated axons, their tight proximity makes the accelerated speed and efficiency of myelination unnecessary. When looking at the surface of the brain these bunches of unmyelinated neurons appear as a great gray mass - hence the name 'gray matter' for these parts of the brain. 'White matter' refers to the tracts of fatty myelinated axons that stretch down the spinal cord or connect distant parts of the brain. Importantly, some of these primary cortical areas are the first to under go myelination at birth, reaching maturity before the infant is 18 months, and it includes the auditory cortex, the visual cortex and the motor cortex. Myelination slows down after 3 years of age, but continues into adult life. This not only increases the efficiency at which an infant is able to become mobile, but also in how fast they can process the outside world into information the mind can utilise.

Given a complete overview of the brain, it emerges as a machine that is continously being made more efficient throughout our lives. The workings of the brain are funnelled to adapt their immediate enviroment. Signals run faster, and more smoothly. Relationships that are important between different parts of the brain grow stronger, while those that are not needed are quite ruthlessly discarded. The brain has been designed to percieve the outside world with greater efficiency. The metabolic rate slows down as the body no longer needs to find all that extra energy to feed an inefficient brain. So what of the effects of the metabolic rate, if any, on the rate of perception, I wonder? What would it mean for a 2 year old child's experience of the speed of light, compared to the experience of a fully grown adult's?

Thursday, 6 November 2008

"Worms are the simplest organisms to have a central nervous system, which includes a distinct brain that is connected to groups of neurons organized as nerve cords running along the length of its body. This more complicated nervous system allows worms to exhibit more complex forms of behavior. An anterior brain connected to a nerve cord is the basic design for all organisms with central nervous systems, from the earthworm on the hook to the human on the other end of the fishing rod. But although we can discern a separate brain in worms, it is not the case that the brain is the sole "commander" of the animal that the rest of the nervous system and body obeys. Indeed, even with its brain removed, worms are able to perform many types of behaviors, including locomotion, mating, burrowing, feeding, and even maze learning.(Bullock 1977) "

If a worm is maze learning (and brainless at that) it has to be negotiating its enviroment emotively, so that it has an idea about which direction feels 'good' and which one feels 'bad', and it's also going to need a reliable, and accessible way of storing this feeling as a memory.It appears that even the most basic creatures with their brains removed still have an idea about what's right or wrong!

Sloppy Philosophy

It's sloppy philosophisng I know, but I've been copying and pasting stuff together that I've unearthed online:

Astronomers have assembled the first definitive detection of a background infrared glow across the sky produced by dust warmed by all the stars that have existed since the beginning of time.For scientists, the discovery of this "fossil radiation" is akin to turning out all the lights in a bedroom only to find the walls, floor and ceiling aglow with an eerie luminescence.

Background microwave radiation, a relic of the primordial big bang, invokes concepts of ''supersymmetry'' that attempt to explain ''the never-ending hum of the universal sounding board that permeates the universe,'' as the authors of ''Longing for the Harmonies'' express it.

And on the level of the infinitely small, physicists and astronomers training supersensitive detectors on a water-filled cavern 1,000 feet underground in a Michigan salt mine seek evidence for the decay of protons -a phenomenon that could help confirm the seminal theory of grand unification, which seeks to link all the strong, the weak and the electromagnetic forces of nature. This world of theory and experiment in physics is what Frank Wilczek, a distinguished physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his wife, the freelance writer Betsy Devine, describe in ''Longing for the Harmonies.''

The present theory of the creation of the universe, the Big Bang Theory states that the universe is expanding. It is expanding in such a way that everything is moving away from everything else.
If you imagine a deflated balloon and you draw lots of dots on this balloon. When you blow the balloon up, the dots get further away from each other. If you imagine that each of these dots is a galaxy, this is what is happening to the universe.

There is another important effect which is matched with this balloon analogy. If you measure the size of the dots when the balloon is blown up the dots are much bigger suggesting that the galaxies are larger, which is true.

This process can be taken to even smaller scales. Imagine looking at a photon of light, which is a wave packet. If you drew this on to an inflated balloon and then blew it up, what happens? The length of the wave increases which means that the wavelength increases, which means that it shifts further to the infra-red side of the electromagnetic spectrum.
This results in all the photons that were released at the time of the last scattering being stretched to the infra-red side of the spectrum.

Back in time to just before the last scattering the gravitational instabilities were fluctuating as they had been for thousands of years before that. Each gravitational instability creates a force around it which means that to get out of the 'potential well' you have to expend energy.

The particles that are in this potential well oscillate as if they were stuck to either end of a spring. The greater the potential well (the more photon-baryon particles there are around them creating a greater gravitational force) the more tightly forced together the 'spring' between them is. This is effectively a sound wave. However, to oscillate in and out the particles need energy and expel energy in the form of photons.

Pranava means "Cosmic Sound"- Om - the sound that everything in the entire of existence makes if one hears it all at once in totality...

Mystics, when they have cleared their minds of all thought that preoccupies the mind, therefore preventing it from hearing this background hum of the universe, have traditionally indicated that it is beyond recounting, it is an indescribable experience.

They say that the verbalization "Om" comes the closest of all sounds to what this hum of the universe is.

Action is vibration - movement in time/ space/ thought - whatever dimensions or parameters of existence you perceive. Vibration is energy (hence the "prana" in "Pranava" we suspect), Vibration is light, vibration is heat, but for humans our sense perception can most easily see the vibratory nature of energy when it is in the form of sound because our hearing faculities can perceive sound to a frequency slow enough in vibration that we can begin to see (as the rate of vibration slows) it's transition into repeating oscillations of air (for all the dolphins reading this "air" does not apply- please substitute "water", thank you) in the range of vibratory rate of about 20 vibrations per second - where humans perceive the vibrating air transitioning from auditory experience to ( as the vibration is gradually slowed down) to tactile experience.

Stand with loose clothing a few inches from a subwoofer (don't have it too loud at your ears or you may not be able to hear anything externally afterwards) and have an oscillator ( on an analogue sythesizer or ...?) progressively go lower in frequency. When it gets down below 40 HZ it will become less audible but at below 20 HZ you will start to feel you loose clothing (remember that part- good for doing yoga afterwards too!)- move back and forth with the vibrations of the air from the subwoofer This will work only if all the sound system is capable of reproducing sounds this low (be carefully - it takes a lot of amplifier power and speaker capacity even at moderate volumes- much equipment is designed to not reproduce lower than 20 HZ.

So what's the point about sound being vibration?-
Well, if all action is vibration, and vibration in a certain spectrum of vibratory rate is discernable to the human as sound - then everything that exists, everything you do, everything you think - is part of OM. It is the fabric of the play of existence. Understand it (by direct thoughtless perception) and you understand the essence of your being.

In the 1970’s, scientists discovered the background radiation left from the big bang, and calculated it’s frequency. The universe, it seems, still reverberates with a note that, when put into our standard system, is between a B and a B flat. In 2003, scientists working with the Chandra x-ray observatory detected the deepest note ever found in the cosmos. It is a B-flat that is 57 or so octaves below piano tuning. I read online that the gyuto monks chant on this note, and a quick trip to youtube confirmed this for me.

Each one of billions of nerve cells creates the precise amount of electricity that it uses to transfer its particular code. The nerve cells create the electrical signals that they use by sending sodium and potassium ions in and out of the cell wall at rates varying up to 1000 changes per second.In 1/1000 of a second, the cell changes from a negative charge to a positive charge and then back again. In this way, nerve cells "hum" with electricity.

There is never any real silence; I think it was John Cage who, when visiting a sound-proofed, anechoic chamber, heard two distinct sounds: the technician later told him that what he had heard were the sound of his blood going round and the electric hum of his own brain.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

I visited this article at Nova Online,Rodolfo Llinas of the New York University School of Medicine talks about the rhythm of electrical oscillations of the brain.

"Llinás: Neurons like one another very much. They respond to one another's messages, so they basically chat all day, like people do in society. "Where can I park?" "How much is it going to cost?" "Am I going to get a ticket?" One set of neurons talks to another set of neurons, and they talk back, so we have a dialogue between different components in the brain. And the dialogue is not between one cell and another cell, but rather between many cells and many other cells. It's like having a huge number of people holding hands, dancing together, making ever-changing circles and organized together in such a way that every cell belongs, at some time, to some circle. It's like a huge square dance. Each dancer belongs to a particular movement at a particular time. "

I love this imagery he has given me of the brain. The interview continues:

"NOVA: And there's music that keeps them all dancing together?

Llinás: Right. It's generated by the neurons themselves. Neurons have an intrinsic rhythm, a bit like a hum. They generate this electrical dance at a given frequency because they have similar rhythms—they hum in unison. But as in the case of choirs and dancing, you can have two groups doing different things at the same time. Now imagine that each group doing something represents an aspect of an external event, like a color. "

And it's this part which really grabbed me :

"Llinás: Imagine I have a little bird on my hand. I can see the bird. I can see its color. I can see its shape. I can hear it sing. I can feel its weight on my hand. It might peck me. All of these things occur simultaneously, so we say that the bird has those properties. But all those properties are put together in different parts of the brain. So one wonders how the brain makes a collage of all these sensory inputs to generate one single precept—the bird—out of all the different sensory systems activated. This is called the binding property. Since we don't know for sure how it works, we call it the binding problem."

I look at the photo of that little golden chick. The 'bird' emerges from my emotive memory. The photo has opened the door to an emotive memory where a collage of all these sensory inputs have turned a key.
A coqui frog is native to Puerto Rico. Just like humans and other animals, a coqui creates sound by blowing air out of its lungs. This thrust of air moves the frog's vocal chords (two pairs of folded tissue in the throat), causing air molecules to vibrate back and forth. Result? A sound wave. The soundwave with the highest amplitude (height) makes the loudest 'ko-kee'. A coqui's vocal chords are primitive. They can't change the sound wave's frequency (number of vibrations per second) since the pitch (how high or low a note sounds) of a noise depends on the frequency of the sound wave. You can listen to a coqui here :
The meaning of each croak is hidden in its rhythm (pattern of beats). The only difference between a distress call and a mating call is the rhythm pattern, or which beats are accented as they call. This tiny little frog has a basic grasp of rhythm which it is using to communicate to the outside world. Understanding how rhythm is percieved by the brain is anything but basic.

Daniel Levitin is the author of the book 'This Is Your Brain On Music'. Levitin explains that memory is connected to the experience of music, that one could venture to say we wouldn't have music at all if we didn't have memory. Levitin's unique contribution to research on music lies in his drawing attention to the importance of the cerebellum in music listening - including tracking the beat and distinguishing familiar from unfamiliar music. These discoveries are consistent with anatomical studies from the 1970s that found direct neural connections between the cerebellum and the hearing organ within the cochlea, which converts sound vibrations into nerve impulses. With memory, our brains formulate schemas, the patterns, organisation and rules of how music goes together. It is anticipation and expectation from schemas that is key to the emotional drive of music. Is music's true motivation centred on playing with the rules and conventions that are inherent to the brain's method of storing and organising sound?

Research performed by Petr Janata using EEG recordings shows nearly identical patterns of activity when subjects hear/percieve music and when they imagine/remember the music. These results suggest that perception entails the activation of a set of inter-connected neurons, causing them to fire in a particular pattern. Brainwaves are measured as frequencies in the unit of Hertz, the number of wave cycles per second. There are four types of brainwaves (or rhythms) that are focused on in EEGs -Alpha (8-11Hz), Beta (12hz and above), Theta (4-7Hz) and Delta (less than 3Hz), and each type can be matched with a certain state of functioning. Several studies, one of which was by Charles Gray of UCDavis and another by David McCormick of Yale U. School of Medicine have shown that the brain has its own internal rhythm. Chatter cells co-ordinate rhythmic firings of millions of cells in bursts around 30-60Hz. Some imagine that these cells link anatomically distant neural structures and are unlikely to have anything to do with musical rhythm - but wouldn't it be fascinating if they did?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Listen To Me

Do you like listening to the sound of your own voice? I know I do. Are you listening now to the voice inside your own head? I'm listening to mine and I'm trying to make a comparison to what it sounds like when I am actually speaking. I can change the pitch at what I think I sound like from high to low quite effectively, and right now I am giving myself a ridiculous comedy voice that's straight out of a helium balloon. Now I'm back trying to find my 'normal' voice, and I have an awkward feeling that the sound of the voice in my head, and the sound I make when I speak are slightly different. I'm feeling around the sounds. I can't pinpoint it exactly, but I'm sure my mind's voice is not as deep as the one with which I speak, and it also seems to contain a lot more clarity. This clarity could be the result of my voice no longer being hampered by my lips, or my inhibitions, or more importantly, my vocal chords.

It's not just our voice we can play around with, but an elaborate array of every sound that we have ever heard. I'm playing a song in my head - 'Dream On' by Robyn, and it sounds nearly as good as it does on the radio. Now I'm introducing a slamming car door during the song, but the song stops every time I do so. Then I'm distracted by the outside world, my mind goes quiet and all I hear is the hum of the computer drive. I'm now back playing the song but this time I'm singing instead of Robyn, which does not quite work because I'm only switching between her voice and the music,and my voice (which sounds a bit like I'm on the telephone) on its own. So then I try other sounds... an old book sliding across a desk... a teaspoon rattling on a father's voice....the noise a toothbrush makes as it scrubs my teeth....the slap of a wet fish on concrete... a brass band... well, you get the idea. Is it not also true that for every time we draw on a memory of a sound it is almost always accompanied by an image associated with that sound, and also an emotion? If you play around a bit you will find that we can only ever produce one sound from memory at any one given time, in the same way we can only produce one conscious thought.

When I am absorbed with the voice inside my mind, the hum of the computer disappears... ooop, now it's back, and now I'm switching between the two, back and forth. It's very subtle, but it appears that it is impossible for me to listen to my own voice, and listen to something in my enviroment at the exact same time. Back and forth, back and forth.... flicking the switch between the two, and when I become caught up with a trail of thought which is dragging me along, it's evident that I am being sucked in at an emotive level. For we don't simply produce a memory which in-turn produces an emotion, but rather the memory is emotion. When I think of a sound, some take me to a different time and place, and some don't, but this is a variation on the emotive charge of a memory and not because no emotions are present. I look away from this computer screen to survey the Universe around me. Every item which occupies it is created by me. Some things I have a strong attachment to, like for example my mother, and then some things I have apparently none, such as this pen on the table, but my mind is creating both emotively. My mind is creating everything in my Universe.

A sound wave plays the keyboard of the cochlea to produce noise inside the mind, so what then is taking place when I choose to play a sound from memory? How then does the neocortex gain access, and with such effciency, to what must be the largest store cupboard in the known Universe - the central nervous system?

Monday, 3 November 2008

As Above, So Below

Isn't the ear fascinating? It's an incredible bit of kit. Sound waves go into the ear canal and strike against the eardrum (tympanic membrane) and they start it thrilling or vibrating, just as a guitar string vibrates when you thrum it. These little vibrations are carred across the hollow behind the drum by a chain of bones, known as the ear-bones (called from their shapes , the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup) and passed onto the keyboard of the cochlea.

The cochlea is made up of a long row of tiny little hair cells, laid side by side like the keys of a piano, only there are about 3,000 of them. They are organised tonotopically (by sound frequency) in a coiled , spiral shape, and is how it derives its name cochlea (Greek for 'snail-shell'). It is also called, because it is the deepest or innermost part of the hearing apparatus, the inner-ear. The base of the cochlea responds to high frequency sounds, and the apex responds to low frequency sounds. These inner hair cells are innervated by a rich array of afferent nerve fibers (10-20 fibers per hair cell) that synapse with the auditory division of the vestibulocochlear nerve at the spiral ganglion. The vestibulocochlear nerve (also known as the auditory or acoustic nerve) is the eighth of twelve cranial nerves, and is responsible for transmitting sound and equilibrium (balance) information from the inner ear to the brain. Cranial nerves are nerves that emerge directly from the brain stem in contrast to spinal nerves which emerge from segments of the spinal cord. In short then, by banging on the keys of the cochlea we are blowing noises through the pipes of our minds.

People who have normal hearing actually hear far more than they percieve. Where hearing is a function of the ear, auditory processing (listening) is a function of the brain. Something inside the brain is censoring, and organising what sounds we are conscious of within our enviroment, based on a level of priority for whatever task we are completing. Startle responses are important to survival, and they illustrate how our emotions are directly connected to the auditory system. We might be busy watching the telly but someone leaping into the room screaming will demand our full attention. We can also be selective about what we are conscious of hearing. Whilst in a conversation with someone we might listen to them, or a car in the road, or the voice in our own head.... depending on which one we find the most interesting. We are not tuning in to different sounds taking place outside ourselves, but rather we are turning a dial inside our minds to what is preferential at that particular moment.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Sound is recieved in two ways, via bone conduction (when sound waves hit the body and are transmitted to the vestible) and air conduction (when sound waves pass through the ear canal and are analysed by the cochlea). The vestible can also be stimulated in two ways, either through motor movement or sound. Now I'm borrowing from a web-page on Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder which can be found here....

I'll quote from it:"Because some children with AD/HD have weak auditory systems and cannot process sound effectively, they might compensate for the vestible's lack of sound stimulation by increased motor activity. Hyperactivity may be a symptom of an under-stimulated vestible."

"There are no tests that can conclusively determine whether a child has AD/HD, but an EEG (Electroencephalogram) can reveal abnormal brainwave patterns. While EEGs can be employed as a diagnostic tool, this technology is not generally used in a diagnosis of AD/HD as there are other guidelines that are simpler and more appropriate [3]. However it can be used in a form of treatment known as EEG Biofeedback/Neurofeedback. EEG Biofeedback is complemented by the Tomatis Method of sound stimulation which retrains the ear to become less dependent on motor activity for vestibular stimulation. It also strengthens the auditory system and enables selective listening so that the child is no longer overwhelmed by auditory information [7]. Other sound stimulation techniques may also be used, such as The Listening Program®, and Neuro Developmental Therapy may also be recommended. "

Then I found an article about lizards which speed up visual displays in noisy motion habitats...

The article is referring to the visual display of the anole lizard which communicate using vertical movements of the head, known as head-bobs, and an expandable throat fan or dewlap. These displays are critical for males in the maintenance of territories that overlap those of sexual females. (Stamps 1983) In summary of this article then, they found high levels of background noise (windblown vegetation) produced high speed displays, while males experiencing calmer conditions produced more relaxed displays of lower speed.

Now I realise I am making an awkward shift from auditory systems and kids with AD/HD, to visual systems and anole lizards, but I am struck by an intriguing similarity: both parties increase motor activity to over-compensate background interference. Are the lizards also stimulating the vestible for whatever reason? Where am I going with this? Lord knows.

A Small Axe

I've just been to Wiki to explore one of philosophy's most tantalising questions:

""If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" is a philosophical riddle that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality.
What is the difference between what something is, and how it appears? - e.g., "sound is the variation of pressure that propagates through matter as a wave"Perhaps the most important topic the riddle offers is the division between perception of an object and how an object really is. If the tree exists outside of perception (as common sense would dictate), then it will produce sound waves. However, these sound waves will not actually sound like anything. Sound as it is mechanically understood will occur, but sound as it is understood by sensation will not occur. "

Sound is a form of energy, just like electricity and light. Sound is made when air molecules vibrate and move in a pattern called waves or sound waves. An action (such as our falling tree) produces soundwaves which travel to the ears and then relayed into signals inside the brain.Like touch, audition requires sensitivity to the movement of molecules in the world outside the organism. Both hearing and touch are types of mechanosensation. It basically amounts to the idea that if no-one were around to listen to the falling tree, it would not make a sound, you would just have vibrating molecules. Vibrating molecules do not make a sound until they are emitted by the brain. Is this suggesting then that the Universe is indeed silent, and that the only sound which takes place is inside our minds? If this is the case, then it stands to reason that each and every sound that we have ever percieved is actually a part of our brains. The brain thus presents itself as somekind of cosmic hammond organ.

This of course must stand the same for touch, for an object is neither inherently rough or smooth, but simply a message relayed to my brain from my skin. If an object possesses absolutely no qualities whatsever, then it can only be my mind which is creating all affirmations about it. The mechanosensation of hearing and touch open up any number of avenues about all that we thought we knew about memory. For we don't simply remember a sensation that we have felt - we are everything about the sensation, and all it encompasses.