Category Archives: Science

Fast Company Announces the 100 Most Creative in Business 2015

fastcompany
There are lists for everything.
Most Beautiful.
Wealthiest.
FBI’s Most Wanted.

But we are truly excited to see Fast Company’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2015 where even the “bottom” of the list includes amazing innovators in science, technology, family and global health. It is a beautiful diverse group of men and women alike who have lived lives of intent, followed their passion, and in turn, are currently impacting the world for the better. Continue reading

Think You Shouldn’t Meditate?

By Daisy Swan

meditate

There is increasing credible science and recent press extolling the personal and professional benefits of regular, short sessions of simple breathing meditation. Yet it’s not uncommon for very intelligent people to believe this just isn’t for them. You might be one of them. Does this resonate?

Meditate? Not for me. I’ll get lazy, lose my edge, fail to compete, and lose the game of success. Continue reading

Can Wisdom Save Us? Why It Has To

earth

There’s always a sense of crisis in the air generated by whatever bad news is making the headlines. At the moment, the greatest alarm is being stirred by terrorism and the spread of Islamic extremism. Yet at a deeper level, our anxiety centers on something much deeper, the possibility that the human experiment has reached a dead end. A set of enormous problems face us, from climate change and overpopulation to epidemic disease and global water shortages, that test the limits of human nature.

The terrible possibility of moving backward in our evolution as a species seems possible to many observers.  We occupy a unique place in Earth’s evolutionary history, being the only creatures threatened not by natural selection but by our mindset. Pessimists point to climate change as a stark example. Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of global warming, no solution is being acted upon quickly enough. The American public has become numbed by issue fatigue. Deniers have political clout, and ordinary citizens feel helpless to the point that many feel doomed. We continually prefer to either ignore the problem or push it away as the consumer lifestyle adds more and more to the underlying problem of greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading

200 Years of Mummy Meditation

It was only a few days ago that this 200 year old mummy was discovered in the Mongolian province of Songinokhairkhan but the questions it’s caused will take some time to answer. The mummy was found covered in animal hide, revealing what appears to be a man meditating in Lotus position. Continue reading

Can Science and Religion Save Each Other?

lights

A flurry of controversy surrounded the astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson two weeks ago when he took a jab at religion in the name of science. It began Christmas day with a mischievous tweet: “On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642.” Then deGrasse Tyson felt that he needed to be more pointed in a follow-up tweet: “QUESTION: This year, what do all the world’s Muslims and Jews call December 25th? ANSWER: Thursday.” Continue reading

Our Intent: Better Ways to Approach Pain, and America’s Pain-Pill Epidemic

And I swear you're just like a pill Instead of makin me better, you keep makin me ill You keep makin me ill

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, and P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

You may have noticed headlines about the rise of prescription drugs as a major cause of addiction and death by overdose. Pain pills are overshadowed by illegal drugs like heroin and their dangers masked by a certain air of respectability. Yet America is in the midst of an epidemic of painkiller overuse as well as addiction. As a nation we constitute only about 5% of the world’s population, but we consume some 80% of the prescription drugs called opioids, the strongest and most addictive pain pills, that go by names like Vicodin, OxyContin, Dilaudid, codeine, and Percocet. We consume 99% of the global supply of a particular opioid called hydrocodone, which is used in combination with other drugs for pain relief but also cough suppression. In 2014 the FDA approved a new version of a pure hydrocodone despite the objections of its own medical advisory panel (which voted 12 to 2 against approval) and 30 states. Today opioid overdose deaths (one every 30 minutes) exceed deaths from motor vehicle accidents as well as the combined total of deaths by heroin or cocaine overdose.

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Planting the Seeds of Intent for Sustainable Smart Cities

City of Tampa in full bloom.

In the late 1990s, Americans dreamed of a fully automated smart house. They smiled at the idea of turning lights on and off with a universal remote or voice command, they chuckled at the thought of a house regulating its own temperature, and their mouths watered at the notion of a house making breakfast.

Now in 2014, having actually built many things that were only dreams at the end of the century, visionaries are broadening their ambitions from smart homes to smart cities.

“What is a ‘smart city’?” you might be wondering. “What can it do now, and what might it be able to do in the future?” Excellent questions. Here are three examples of smart city technology that existtoday, and some thoughts about where they might go.

1. Smart Grids

According to energy.gov, the growth in peak energy usage has exceeded the growth in transmission capability by 25 percent every year since 1982. Given this staggering statistic, is it any wonder that over the past forty years America has endured five enormous blackouts (three of which happened within the last nine years)?

Until recently, utility companies tried to combat this problem by expanding (not improving) the current grid. This is no longer a viable option. However, smart grid technologies are part of the solution.

Currently, the most wide-spread form of smart grid technology is Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). AMI replaces the traditional electric meter with a smart meter that gives both the homeowner and the utility information about power usage in real-time.

This information helps homeowners regulate their energy usage and demonstrates the value of energy-saving appliances. In the event of a power outage or other problem, smart meters also help utility companies pinpoint the issue, allowing them to resolve it more quickly while keeping the problem from spreading.

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It’s Time For A Revolution – Science and Mysticism

It’s time for a revolution!

Science does not need mysticism and mysticism does not need science; but man needs both” 

-Fritof Capra

god-and-scienceDo we need both? Sometimes I feel like those two camps are as diametrically opposed as the Democrats and the Republicans. Is it time for a revolution?

As I travel the country doing book signings and talks people seem pretty pleased to hear me say it’s time for a revolution in science and the new age/self help paradigm.

When I hear a new ager or a scientist say, “I wish they’d wake up” I usually say right back, “You know what, they are saying the same thing about you!”

As if any of us are really awake, and who gets to decide who’s awake and who isn’t? I’m beginning to think this whole “awake” thing is really a perspective and it ultimately depends on who’s doing the talking.  What is awake? What does it mean to “be conscious?” Everybody seems to have an opinion on this, and often they think theirs is the “right” one.

One of my favorite sentences is when someone says to me, “I am going to give you MY TRUTH” Oh boy, hold on folks, duck if you can because here comes a whole bunch of opinion and projections flying at your face like shit hitting a fan. I admit I’ve said it, recently in fact, which is why I am now thinking about this whole concept of truth, right and wrong, knowing, awake or asleep, conscious or unconscious.

Because the truth (ha!) is, I for one am bored with the old paradigm. The one where we all act like we know anything, we utter words like “unconditional love” and talk endlessly about the light being the place to be, and my favorite “It’s all an illusion.” Yea, explain that to my five-year-old when he’s got a scrape the size of Texas across his bum from skidding off his skateboard. That is no illusion, at least not to him; that shit burns, like for real.

This whole idea that life is an illusion is a fraud, I tell you, a fraud. While scientists are arguing about where consciousness lies, and while the new agers are meditating on their crystal imbedded cushions having out of body experiences, I am living this illusion and so are a lot of people.

And from what I am hearing (and I freely admit this may just be me creating my reality in which everyone agrees with me…hell, who isn’t?) is that people are pretty tired of being fed the old party line that everything is an illusion, or a series of ones and zeros that there is an us and a them (awake and asleep).

People want real, people want to know how to live in this life and not the next one.

People are over science, at least materialistic science; you know the one that says everything can be predicted with a math equation? Statistics show most humans are very much aware that something greater is afoot and they really don’t need science to tell them that.  And at the same time, they are pretty much over all the new age propaganda that a strategically placed crystal will solve all of your problems. At this point, most of us have pretty much figured out that there is no guy in the sky ready to blast us to burn in hell for all eternity for whatever wrongs we did in our 20’s (because seriously, who didn’t sin in their 20’s?). And one of my biggest pet peeves is that guru on the stage who smiles like a Cheshire cat and extols the wisdom of love and light after just having berated there assistant for not having their organic, fair trade whatever hot or cold enough. In short, we are tired of the hypocrisy, both living it and hearing it.

It’s time to get real, like really, authentic, the sometimes messy, sometimes ugly, real in this reality, real. It’s time to get conscious of what we are doing and being in the here and now.  And most of us, I for one, did not know how to do that. I did not understand how my body and my brain worked. Consciousness was just a fancy word I used to sound like I was, conscious that is, when in fact I wasn’t. It was much more fun to meditate and leave my body and float about in the void (Or more likely just taka a nap). It was much easier to slap a crystal on it or make a vision board and it was a whole lot easier to just blame it all on the whacky world of quantum physics.

And to me, all of those are just excuses to escape. There is this tendency to make the body bad, to make the mind bad. We spend an awful lot of time making the human experience out to be the bad guy, something to run from, when maybe what we ought to be doing is figuring it out.

And to do that I think the first step is to become integrated to our whole selves.  To truly become conscious. To be conscious means to be aware, and to me, to be present in the moment. How can I become conscious of alternate realities if I am not truly conscious of the one I’m in?

So I am having my own revolution of mind, body and spirit. Instead of fighting each other, I’m bringing them together.  Instead of breeding separation between  mysticism and science, I’m co-mingling them into my own scientific experiment about the mystical experience called life.

A little disclaimer: I am all for whatever works for you, whether it be meditation, yoga, angel cards and crystals. But I just want you to remember it’s you who’s doing the doing: it’s you who’s creating the meaning, not the other way around. Remember where your power lies and become conscious of that you.

The Rise and Fall of Militant Skepticism (Part 4)

resilience-1Click here for part 3

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP and Jordan Flesher, BA Psychology

Most of us take perception for granted as a photograph – in five sensory dimensions – of the real world. If you walk past the house where you were born, however, you won’t see it the way a camera would. You can’t help  but see it as a personal  part of your life. A termite inspector would see it a different way, as would a zoning official, an architect, a landscaper, and so on. The fact is that we can take any perspective we want on any object in the universe. No one disputes this fact, but it can’t be taken for granted, because there’s a deep mystery about how we apply mental models to the reality that spreads out before us.  The application of this mystery to the rise and fall of skepticism will become evident in a minute.

Increasing attention is being paid to the late Polish-American mathematician Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950), who has lent a popular phrase to this whole problem of what we see and what is real: “The map is not the territory.” In a nutshell it captures the problem of believing in maps – or models – created by the human mind. It’s obvious when you walk past the house where you were born that your mind creates the memory of growing up there. But some models are so convincing that we forget how we made them. Or we think the map is the territory, and then many missteps can arise. If you own a lovely house but all you can think of is that it might have termites or that burglars are waiting to rob you in the night, mounting anxiety can take over to the extent that you are ruled by your fixation. To someone with claustrophobia, an elevator is never neutral – it’s the source of fear.

Skeptics are perfectly entitled to create and enjoy their own model of the world, but when it becomes a fixation, a valid aspect of the scientific method – demanding verification of facts – becomes a source of bullying, disdain, ad hominem attacks, and in the worst cases, blindness to reality.  But since militant skepticism is essentially a nuisance born on the blogosphere, it wouldn’t be a serious impediment to scientific thinking any more than booing fans cause a football team to march off the field. The importance of dismantling militant skepticism is minimal except when it comes to the kind of deeper investigation that Korzybski was interested in.

He devised mathematical theorems and non-Aristotelian logic to demonstrate that the neurological system of a scientist is engaging in a highly selective process – it consists of selecting out some information and omitting the remaining. This is the very essence of making a map, or a model. When you look at the house where you were born, there are literally thousands of facts about it that you ignore anytime you think about the house. How many nails have gone into the wooden framing? How many microbes and mold spores live behind the sheet rock? Who lives there now, and what are their lives like? Somewhere in the world somebody makes it their business to collect data on such questions and countless more, because our ability to select and discard is infinite. The skeptics’ movement makes the mistake of giving certain models – basically their own, which is based on mistrust – a privileged position, when the truth is that all models have some advantages and some disadvantages.

The scientific model is abstract and reductionist. It isolates certain data (which are abstract) and organizes them to arrive at the essential qualities of an object (reducing it to pertinent facts).  This is a fluid, dynamic, and subjective activity. But it’s not the same as perceiving reality. Going to the most basic level of logic, one must concede that the human brain processes only the tiniest fraction of the billions of bits of sensory data that bombard us every day. We each have established our own filters for what we select and what we discard. If you are having chest pains and jump into your car to get to the emergency room, it won’t matter to you what the scenery is like along the way. Expanded to the activity of science, what this says is that every one of us is participating in the universe in a personal, creative way. There is no fixed reality “out there.”

So, how much weight should we give to how models differ from reality? Korzybski realized that there is an indefinite number of characteristics making up the physical environment that a scientist is unavoidably embedded within. He calculated the physical-energetic data impinging upon the sensory receptors of the scientist’s neurological system before the system engages in further levels of abstraction.  In other words, the threshold of data the your brain can process, is already an abstraction (a map) before you, or a scientist, starts to come up with newly created maps and models. For example, the simple fact that you can’t hear frequencies as high as what a dog hears, means that your threshold for perception isn’t perfect, complete, or even true. “This room is nice and quiet” isn’t true for a dog being tormented by a persistent shrill noise in its ear that doesn’t exist for you.

Science prides itself on investigating all kinds of things that the five senses don’t pick up. But this extension of perception, astonishing as it is when the Hubble telescope images distant galaxies, still doesn’t mean that science is viewing reality. Instead, it is expanding a map, putting in more detail.  As Korzybski might point out, there is no way to NOT be embedded in the universe we observe.  Here’s the pathway that maps take before anyone engages with the universe: Physical-energetic data is conveyed by our sense organs and transduced (transformed) into electro-chemical nerve impulses, which are themselves even further decoded (translated) by other higher order levels of the brain into conceptual-linguistic (thought) interpretations of what is then experienced as “real.”

If you suppose, as skeptics do, that science somehow transcends this intricate pathway, delivering “just the facts and only the facts,” you are being naive. Take just one mystery, that of dark matter and energy. By current calculations, which are very imprecise, 96% of the universe may be composed of dark matter and energy, which no one can see or measure. The visible universe, which we rely upon as the very foundation of reality, amounts to 4% of what’s out there. At the very least this means that the threshold of what the brain processes is a minuscule portion of the totality. If it turns out, as some theorists suspect, that dark matter isn’t even based on atoms and molecules, how can the brain, itself composed of atoms and molecules, conceive of reality to begin with?

These are the kinds of mysteries that militant skepticism rails against when someone tries to deviate from the dogma of “the facts and nothing but the facts.” It’s not easy to come to terms with the interface between brain, mind, and reality. But to ridicule the investigation, as militant skeptics do, to denigrate someone else’s model because you are the privileged keeper of truth, to shrug of advanced theories as pseudoscience – in other words, to own allegiance to the skeptical model – is pure ignorance.

Korzybski confronts us with a sobering but undeniable fact: As each level of abstraction occurs in the brain, more and more information is omitted. A scientist, like all of us, is both objectively and subjectively placed further and further away from what could be termed “really real reality.”  So what is that reality? As Korzybski pointed out, whatever reality might be, it transcends the confined, limited, and anthropomorphic point of view that we are tied to, because of the neurological system and its constructed map. Reality must be accounted for in its totality before any wide-scale truth claim, reality-claim, or thesis regarding morality and consciousness can be considered mildly sufficient — no matter what field of study the claim is constructed within, whether that field is science, psychology, or philosophy. Until then, the Dawkins-Harris-Dennett movement, despite its noisiness, should take a lesson from Korzybski and realize that the map is not the territory.

www.deepakchopra.com

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Touch Tones: Bring the “Hands-On” Tradition Back to Medicine

Let me see those handsBy Stuart Fife

In as much as the name describes a singular, cohesive, medial practice, there’s no such thing as physical therapy.

If you go seeking relief for an aching joint or an overworked limb, you’d likely be offered one of two phases of therapy, which are interrelated but not interchangeable. The first is physical phase, meaning a host of exercises and activities designed to prepare the body to cope and perform well. The second is the therapy phase, designed to make sure all the joints and muscles are free to function in the way we want them to. The differences are significant: when joints and body synergies have become altered, nothing but a hands-on treatment, informed by careful analysis, would help.

And yet, in the last two decades or so, many physical therapists have come to see their profession as centered around exercise. In part, this trend is driven by simple economics, as escalating health care costs made many in the field realize that the sort of treatment that could allow therapists to tend to multiple patients simultaneously was preferable to the old-fashioned physical therapy, a leisurely, one-on-one, hands-on affair.

It may seem like a solid calculation, but it’s not. It undervalues the most ancient, most basic, and most comforting of media: touch. The people who walk in to my practice expect me and my colleagues to take the time and understand their bodies, assess their condition first hand, and figure out how to make their recovery faster. And they know that no amount of catchall exercises could ever replace the careful and precise treatment that they get from a therapist committed to their individual healing.

And if you think arguing that every person is different and therefore therapists should be able to master a great number of therapeutic approaches in order to make sure that they’ve got something up their sleeves for everyone, you haven’t been catching up with the times. Sadly, more and more therapists are specializing, declaring themselves neuromuscular experts, say, or adherents of that particular approach or another. Such pigeon holing, I believe, might make sense for medicine at large, where doctors and patients alike benefit from developing a highly specific mastery of highly specific fields of practice, but it’s detrimental to physical therapists. We don’t heal livers or arteries or brain lobes; we heal human beings, and human beings are holistic creatures.

Such an approach to therapy isn’t only more pleasant and more effective, it also makes better business sense. It used to be that anyone needing physical therapy would co-pay a small sum per visit; now, that price has jumped up considerably. If you require therapy three times a week, say, you’re looking at a hefty monthly expense. And if you’re paying this kind of money, you don’t want to go somewhere only to be told to do some exercise you could’ve looked up yourself on YouTube. You want someone who takes their time, who looks and touches, who is focused on you and you alone.

Sadly, such seemingly self-evident expectations are anything but. Frustrated with the current state of physical therapy, more and more people are seeking solutions elsewhere, in other hands-on practices like deep-tissue massage. There will always be room for the purely physical aspect of our profession; it’s crucial, and serves the needs of many. But the best physical therapists, the ones that would thrive both professionally and financially, are those who get back to the traditional stuff, roll up their sleeves, and rediscover how rewarding it is, for therapist and patient alike, to work with your hands.

***

Stuart Fife is the Director of Physical Therapy for Optim HealthFife2

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