MAINSTREAM SCIENCE NOW RESEMBLING CIA MIND CONTROL PROGRAMS TO WIPE MEMORIES

by Aaron Kesel, Contributor Waking Times

Years of research on mice proves that scientists can weaken or strengthen particular memories from the brain or outright delete inherited memories, the Guardian reported.

Scientists hope that the new discovery could potentially be used to help those with cognitive decline or post-traumatic stress disorder by removing fearful memories.

“We can use the same approach to selectively manipulate only the pathological fear memory while preserving all other adaptive fear memories which are necessary for our daily lives,” Jun-Hyeong Cho, co-author of the research from the University of California said.

The researchers used those mice to examine the pathways between the amygdala area of the brain responsible for emotional memories and the area that produces particular sounds. They played a series of low- and high-pitched tones that shocked the mice’s feet with electrodes on the high-pitched sounds.

“These mice are special in that we can label or tag specific pathways that convey certain signals to the amygdala, so that we can identify which pathways are really modified as the mice learn to fear a particular sound,” Cho said. “It is like a bundle of phone lines,” he added. “Each phone line conveys certain auditory information to the amygdala.”

The team then discovered it was possible to completely erase fearful or unwanted memories using a technique called optogenetics, while medication has been used for this purpose to remove the negative associations of some memories.

This technique involves using a virus to introduce genes into particular neurons in the brains of the mice that were involved in the “high-pitch” pathways.

Once the virus was inside the cells, the genes resulted in the production of proteins which responded to light, allowing researchers to control the activity of the neurons.

Taking mice with the fearful memories, the team exposed the neurons involved in the “high-pitch” pathway to low-frequency light – an approach which weakens the connections between the brain’s neuron transmitters.

“It permanently erases the fear memory,” Cho said. “We no longer see the relapse of fear.” ‘The fact that you can parcel out these memories and manipulate them in a predictable fashion is remarkable,’ Sumantra Chattarji, an expert on memory at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India told New Scientist.

‘This was impossible a few years ago.’In another study from 2015, MIT scientist found that in animals that developed PTSD symptoms following chronic stress and a traumatic event, serotonin promoted the process of memory consolidation. When the researchers blocked the amygdala cells’ interactions with serotonin after trauma, the stressed animals did not develop PTSD symptoms, while blocking serotonin in unstressed animals after trauma had no effect.

Then earlier this year scientist from MIT and a team in Japan discovered how memories were formed simultaneously in the hippocampus and the cortex by watching how memories responded to an electric shock. In other words, one is for the present short-term and the second is for the long-term.

Scientists have also discovered that generations pass on memories to each other.

None of this is new, this is the overt or clear world scientists catching up with the black-budget scientists in bases like s4.

There was a series of CIA mind control programs including BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, MKULTRA, MKSEARCH and MKNAOMI during the ’50s to ’90s. The CIA sought to blank-slate test subjects wiping memories through drugs, electric shock, high-pitched sound and other torture techniques.

Dr. Ewen Cameron was partially backed by the CIA during project MKULTRA and used electrodes to zap the memories from his unwitting patients’ brains during the 1950s. This method of torture was called “psychic driving.”

After horrendous electric shocks, drugs were given to the test subjects to put them into days of prolonged delirious sleep. Cameron would then subject them to audio tapes he made, in which he repeated certain phrases thousands of times, with the hope of producing new personalities within them.

A 2012 lawsuit filed by veterans’ groups, against the CIA and the DOD, refers to Cameron’s methods. The suit also states that two researchers, Dr. Louis West and Dr. Jose Delgado, working together under the early CIA MKULTRA subproject 95, utilized two protocols: brain implants (“stimoceivers”) and RHIC-EDOM (Radio Hypnotic Intracerebral Control-Electronic Dissolution of Memory) to program the minds of victims.

Translation: they sought to bury memories, and implant false memories that never happened.

The CIA ultimately found that stress and sleep deprivation can make people more susceptible to false memories as have other researchers.

Neuroscientists in France implanted false memories into the brains of sleeping mice in 2015. Using electrodes to directly stimulate and record the activity of nerve cells, they created artificial associative memories that persisted while the animals snoozed and then influenced their behavior when they finally woke up. MIT scientist also achieved the same result using mice in a similar experimentprior in 2013.

Meanwhile, Japanese researchers have developed a trick to implant false visions into people’s brains, altering the way they experience the world and potentially even the way they think.

The gap is decreasing from what covert science knows and what overt science knows – or the clear world and the black-budget world of military intelligence minds.

About the Author
Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post and is Director of Content for Coinivore. Follow Aaron at Twitter and Steemit.
This article is Creative Commons and can be republished in full with attribution. Like Activist Post on Facebook, subscribe on YouTube, follow on Twitter and at Steemit.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/08/22/mainstream-science-now-resembling-cia-mind-control-programs-wipe-memories/

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Will We Ever Know What Dark Matter Is?

ILLUSTRATIONS BY TSJISSE TALSMA

The search for the elusive material is reaching the end of its tether.

Dark matter is as tangible as stars and planets to most astronomers. We routinely map it out. We conceive of galaxies as lumps of dark matter with dabs of luminous material. We understand the formation of cosmic structure, as well as the evolution of the universe as a whole, in terms of dark matter. Yet a decade of sophisticated searches has failed to detect the material directly. We see the shadow it casts, but are completely unaware of what the dark side of the universe may contain.

It certainly isn’t any ordinary object or particle—that has long since been ruled out. Theoretical prejudice favors a novel type of particle that interacts only weakly with ordinary matter. Vast numbers of these particles should be flowing through our planet all the time, and by rights you’d expect some of them to leave a mark. Physicists have grown crystals and filled cryogenic vats, hauled them deep underground to screen out run-of-the-mill particles, and watched for tiny pulses of heat and flashes of light that would betray the passage of something never before seen. The results so far are not encouraging. In Lead, South Dakota, the LUX experiment operates one mile underground in an abandoned gold mine. It has found nothing. In China, the PandaX experiment in the Jin-Ping underground laboratory operates in a tunnel under 2.4 kilometers of rock. It has found nothing. In a road tunnel near Fréjus in the French Alps, the EDELWEISS experiment, at a depth of 1.7 km, has found nothing. And the list goes on.

The null results are rapidly squeezing the regions of parameter space where dark matter might lurk. Confronted by the drought of data, theoretical physicists have conjectured about more exotic particles, but the vast majority of these candidates would be even harder to detect. One could instead hope to produce dark-matter particles at a particle accelerator, so that we could infer their presence by default: by checking whether energy seemed to go missing in particle collisions. But the Large Hadron Collider has tried precisely this and noticed nothing so far. Some theorists suspect dark matter doesn’t exist and our theory of gravitation—Einstein’s general theory of relativity—has led us astray. General relativity tells us that galaxies would fly apart if not held together by unseen matter, but perhaps the theory is wrong. Yet general relativity has passed all other observational tests, and all rival theories have seemingly fatal flaws.

Eighty-five percent of all matter is unknown. Our greatest fear is that it will always remain so.

Although most experiments have come up short, two do claim to have spotted dark matter. Both claims are highly controversial, for different reasons. These outliers may well be wrong, but they deserve a closer look. If nothing else, these cases illustrate the difficulty of spotting dark matter amid all the other detritus of the cosmos.

The DAMA/LIBRA particle detector at the Gran Sasso Laboratory, installed in a tunnel 1.4 kilometers below a mountain in northern Italy, looks for flashes of light caused by dark-matter particles scattering off the atomic nuclei in a crystal of sodium iodide. It has been collecting data for over 13 years and has seen a very peculiar thing. The rate of particle detections waxes and wanes with the seasons, with a maximum in June and a minimum in December…

more…

http://nautil.us/issue/51/limits/will-we-ever-know-what-dark-matter-is

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SOMETHING ABOUT SLEEP IS VERY WRONG

When wakefulness is seen as the main event, no wonder so many have trouble sleeping. Can we rekindle the joy of slumber?

In Evelyn De Morgan’s numinous painting, Night and Sleep (1878), Nyx, the mighty Greek goddess of night, hovers across a dusky sky with her beloved son Hypnos, the sweet-natured god of sleep. The painting and the Greek gods it captures depict a radically different way of understanding and relating to sleep. In antiquity sleep was personified, transcendent, even romantic.

Both Nyx and Hypnos had personality. Nyx was beautiful, shadowy and formidable – the only goddess Zeus ever feared. A Mother Nature figure with attitude, she was most protective of her son, even when he engaged in divine mischief. Which he did. But Hypnos was also gentle and benevolent, an androgynous mamma’s boy. Occupying a liminal zone between sleep and waking, he often seemed a bit dreamy. If he showed up at a sleep clinic today, he would likely be diagnosed with narcolepsy – a disorder of heightened permeability in the boundary between waking and sleep.

Nyx and Hypnos were denizens of the underworld. She was the original night owl, a fierce guardian of nature’s circadian rhythms who magically transformed day into night. With her support, as seen in De Morgan’s painting, Hypnos gently scatters crimson poppies, sleep elixirs, over the planet below. As in the more recent tale of the Sandman who sprinkles sleepy dust over the eyes of children, we are reminded that sleep is bequeathed from above. That sleep is grace.

Nyx and Hypnos were a dynamic duo of sorts – supernatural heroes who romanticised night and sleep. Nyx gave birth to sleep and created an aesthetic of darkness where Hypnos could flourish. And Hypnos loved sleep. Surrounded by fields of wild poppies on the River of Oblivion, his lair was a sanctuary – a cool, magical retreat open to all in celebration of the sensual, even sexy, mysteries of sleep.

Today, mother and son have been largely forgotten. Nyx has been in exile for well over a century as our night sky is eroded by light pollution. And Hypnos is remembered mainly by his namesakes, hypnosis and, surely to his chagrin, hypnotics. Sleep is no longer personal, transcendent and romantic – it is medical, mundane and pragmatic.

Sleep has been transformed from a deeply personal experience to a physiological process; from the mythical to the medical; and from the romantic to the marketable. Our misconstrued sense of sleep and consequent obsession with managing it are the most critical overlooked factors in the contemporary epidemic of sleep loss.

Something is very wrong. Despite decades of innovative sleep research, escalating numbers of new sleep specialists and clinics, and an explosion of media attention and public health education initiatives, the epidemic of insufficient sleep and insomnia appears to be getting worse.

In any given year, 30 per cent of adults report at least one symptom of insomnia, including trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or obtaining restorative sleep. The first decade of this century saw striking increases in the prevalence of insomnia, its associated daytime impairment, and use of sleeping pills. During this period, the diagnosis of sleep disorders jumped by 266 per cent and the number of prescriptions for sleep medication spiked by 293 per cent.

Many millions more suffer from chronic patterns of insufficient sleep resulting from the untenable expectations of modern life. In 1998, the National Sleep Foundation reported that 12 per cent of Americans slept less than six hours a night. By 2005, that number had jumped to 16 per cent.

The deleterious impact of chronic sleep loss on daily life is no longer news. Poor sleep significantly compromises our productivity and safety. And it seriously undermines our physical and mental health by triggering chronic inflammation in the brain and body. Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders, autoimmune illnesses, diabetes, obesity, cancer and depression…

more…

http://sorendreier.com/something-about-sleep-is-very-wrong/

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NASA ‘DOES THE MATH’ AND INTRODUCES 13TH ZODIAC SIGN

by Christina SarichStaff Writer Waking Times 

NASA says they’ve done the math, and they’ve recently introduced a new zodiac sign. They’ve thrown ages-old astrology charts totally out of whack with the announcement of Ophiuchus. What used to be utilized by die-hard astrology enthusiasts to plot and plan their lives could now be thought of as heresy.

If ever the New Age advice to “check the stars” before taking action, were counterbalanced with scientific reason, which supposes heavenly bodies have no impact on our lives whatsoever, we’d see we are at odds – these seemingly disparate entities have now entered a new territory of antipathy, or have they?

NASA says they didn’t change any astrological signs. They “just did the math,” and found that there is an additional zodiac sign between Sagittarius and Scorpio, called the “serpent bearer,” because it appears in the middle of the Serpens constellation.

It’s interesting to note that Ophiuchus — located near the celestial equator and one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy — is just one of thousands of possible constellations that could have been “added” to our astrological influences, however, the sign, which wasn’t previously added because the sun barely touches it through its movement in space, is named after a Greek God that handles serpents.

This isn’t exactly new-found knowledge that NASA is divulging either, since the constellation was found more than 3,0000 years ago.  So why has NASA chosen to upset astrology charts now with a serpent-bearing addition to the 12 signs?

To find an answer we can look at the mythology behind the sign.

Ophiuchus represented the god Apollo to the Greeks. He “handled” the snake that guarded the Oracle of Delphi at her temple. The Oracle of Delphi was the prophetic priestess Pythia, known for her ESP powers.

 

Apollo wasn’t too shabby in his own right. He was quite complex and powerful as the son of Zeus, and Titan Leto. He also had powers of divination and moved the sun across the sky every day. So, why was a guy who did these Godly feats removed from our 12-sign astrological charts? Especially considering they are based primarily on the movement of the earth juxtaposed against heavenly bodies and the sun?

There’s the odd fact that the ancient Babylonians created the 12 signs of the zodiac to match their 12-month lunar calendar, but the answer may also lay in Apollo’s relationship to the Oracle. (As an aside, the Babylonians are also credited with creating usury, or the injurious use of interest to enslave people.)

The oracle at Delphi is shrouded in mystery to this day. She spoke for the god Apollo and answered questions for the Greeks about foreign relations, colonization, religion, and power. More notably, the oracle existed long before Apollo found her.

As the story goes, Apollo also “conquered” the oracle’s temple – only two of which are in recorded history, even though myth has it there were at least five temples of the oracle. The Earth mother kept her holy serpent at Delphi. Apollo killed the serpent and then tried to keep the oracle’s powers for himself. This is why Delphi is also known as Pythia – in honor of the killing of the snake.

According to Yahoo News, the new 13-sign calendar plays out like this:

  • Capricorn: January 20-February 16
  • Aquarius: February 16-March 11
  • Pisces: March 11-April 18
  • Aries: April 18-May 13
  • Taurus: May 13-June 21
  • Gemini: June 21-July 20
  • Cancer: July 20-August 10
  • Leo: August 10-September 16
  • Virgo: September 16-October 30
  • Libra: October 30-November 23
  • Scorpio: November 23-November 29
  • Ophiuchus: November 29-December 17
  • Sagittarius: December 17-January 20

So, is NASA’s “math” accurate, or are we to dismiss the contemporary zodiac? Does the zodiac affect us at all, anyhow?

What affects us may not be so much the calculations and alignment of the heavenly bodies, but what we’ve accepted as our own myth – what Joseph Campbell would term our “call to duty,” or rites of passage.

These myths – insinuated by powerful forces and carried in our own psyches for millennia – outline deep archetypal emotions and hardships we all must face to become spiritually realized.

In an interview with Bill Moyers, Campbell responds to the reference:

Genesis 1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

Campbell says,

This is the song of the world, from a legend of the Pima Indians: “In the beginning there was only darkness everywhere, darkness and water. And the darkness gathered thick in places, crowding together and then separating, crowding and separating.”

Moyers retorts,

“And the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters, and God said, ‘Let there be light.’”

Campbell responds,

This is from the Hindu Upanishad: “In the beginning there was only the great self, reflected in the form of a person. Reflecting, it found nothing but itself, and its first word was, ‘This am I.’”

We could carry out these creation stories into every known culture that ever existed in this world – and likely others, however, the heaven’s and the earth reflect what is within us. Is astrology a science, pseudoscience, or an art?

Is NASA’s addition of a 13th zodiac of any consequence? The more important question may be what is NASA trying to communicate to the collective consciousness. What mythology is being offered for us to confirm or deny?

To quote from Campbell once more,

“These bits of information from ancient times, which have to do with the themes that have supported man’s life, built civilizations, informed religions over the millennia, have to do with deep inner problems, inner mysteries, inner thresholds of passage and if you don’t know what the guide signs are along the way, you have to work it out yourself.”

 

About the Author

Christina Sarich is a staff writer for Waking Times. She is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet, and her insights also appear in magazines as diverse as Weston A. Price…

This article (NASA ‘Does the Math’ and Introduces 13th Zodiac Sign) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Christina Sarich and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution and author bio.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/08/19/nasa-math-introduces-13th-zodiac-sign/

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We Are Nowhere Close to the Limits of Athletic Performance

Hsu_BR_LewisTHE PREVIOUS MODEL: Carl Lewis running the anchor leg of the men’s 4x100m relay race at the 1984 Olympic Games.David Madison/Getty Images

Genetic engineering will bring us new Bolts and Shaqs.

For many years I lived in Eugene, Oregon, also known as “track-town USA” for its long tradition in track and field. Each summer high-profile meets like the United States National Championships or Olympic Trials would bring world-class competitors to the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. It was exciting to bump into great athletes at the local cafe or ice cream shop, or even find myself lifting weights or running on a track next to them. One morning I was shocked to be passed as if standing still by a woman running 400-meter repeats. Her training pace was as fast as I could run a flat out sprint over a much shorter distance.

The simple fact was that she was an extreme outlier, and I wasn’t. Athletic performance follows a normal distribution, like many other quantities in nature. That means that the number of people capable of exceptional performance falls off exponentially as performance levels increase. While an 11-second 100-meter can win a high school student the league or district championship, a good state champion runs sub-11, and among 100 state champions only a few have any hope of running near 10 seconds.

Keep going along this curve, and you get to the freaks among freaks—competitors who shatter records and push limits beyond imagination. When Carl Lewis dominated sprinting in the late 1980s, sub-10 second 100m times were rare, and anything in the 10-second flat range guaranteed a high finish, even at the Olympics. Lewis was a graceful 6 feet 2 inches, considered tall for a sprinter. Heights much greater than his were supposed to be a disadvantage for a sprinter, forcing a slower cadence and reduced speeds—at least that was the conventional wisdom.

So no one anticipated the coming of a Usain Bolt. At a muscular 6 feet 5 inches, and finishing almost half a second faster than the best of the previous generation, he seemed to come from another species entirely. His stride length can reach a remarkable 9.3 feet,1 and, in the words of a 2013 study in the European Journal of Physics, demonstrated performance that “is of physical interest since he can achieve, until now, accelerations and speeds that no other runner can.”2

Bolt’s times weren’t just faster than anyone else in the world. They were considerably faster even than those of a world-class runner from the previous generation that was using performance-enhancing drugs. The Jamaican-born Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson achieved a world-record time of 9.79 seconds at the 1988 Olympic Games, beating Lewis and boasting that he’d have been faster if he hadn’t raised his hand in victory just ahead of the finish line. It would later be found out that he’d been using steroids.

The potential improvements achievable by doping effort are relatively modest.

Even the combination of an elite runner and anabolic steroids, though, was not enough to outcompete a genetic outlier. Bolt achieved a time of 9.58 seconds at the 2009 World Athletics Championship, setting a world record and beating his own previous record by a full tenth of a second.

We find a similar story in the NBA with Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal was the first 7-footer in the league who retained the power and agility of a much smaller man. Neither a beanpole nor a plodding hulk, he would have been an athletic 200-pounder if scaled down to 6 feet in height. When Shaq got the ball near the hoop, no man (or sometimes even two men) could stop him from dunking it. Soon after his entry into the league, basket frames had to be reinforced to prevent being destroyed by his dunks. After the Lakers won three championships in a row, the NBA was forced to change their rules drastically—allowing zone defenses—in order to reduce Shaq’s domination of the game. Here was a genetic outlier whose performance was unequalled by anyone else in a league that has long been criticized for its soft anti-doping policy; for example, it only added blood testing for human growth hormone to its program last year. Whatever doping may have been going on, it wasn’t enough to get anyone to Shaq’s level…

more…

http://nautil.us/issue/51/limits/we-are-nowhere-close-to-the-limits-of-athletic-performance-rp

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NEUROSCIENCE SHOWS HOW GUT BACTERIA IMPACT EMOTIONS

by Anna HuntStaff Writer Waking Times

It is becoming widely known that gut bacteria influence much more than our digestive process. The bacteria living in the digestive system impact our general health. Furthermore, scientists are now discovering that this influence goes beyond physical health. A study out of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) discovered evidence that gut microbes affect our emotions. Specifically, they impact how we respond to fear.

In their study, UCLA researchers examined fecal samples of 40 women to identify their gut microbiome. In addition, these women were hooked up to an MRI scanner and then shown images designed to provoke an emotional response. The study identified two types of gut bacteria that potentially impact the brain areas associated with mood and general behavior.

First, the scientists found Prevotella to be common in seven of the women. “The Prevotella group showed less hippocampal activity viewing negative valences images.” The hippocampus regulates emotions, consciousness and memories. Women in this first group had profoundly negative emotions associated with distress and anxiety when viewing negative images.

On the other hand, Bacterioids were prevalent in the other 33 women. In the imaging analysis, “the Bacteroides cluster showed greater prominence in the cerebellum, frontal regions, and the hippocampus.” We associate the frontal regions of the brain with problem-solving and more complex processing. The results showed that women in this group were less emotional when viewing undesirable images.

Consequently, MRI imaging in this study shows that certain gut bacteria influence the physical structure of the brain. The researchers believe their study supports the concept of brain-gut-microbe interactions in healthy humans.

Gut Bacteria Finds Ways to Bypass Blood-Brain Barrier

This is not the first time that scientists have identified a link between the gut and the brain. Throughout the last decade, researchers have been exploring the effects that gut microbes have on our emotions and neural chemistry.

Neuroscientist John Cryan was involved in such research at the University College Cork, in Ireland. He discovered that even though the brain is anatomically isolated from the digestive system, interactions still exist. Moreover, this “communication” happens regardless of the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain from pathogens.

Cryan’s study added to the growing evidence that signals from beneficial bacteria nonetheless find a way through the barrier. Somehow — though his 2011 paper could not pinpoint exactly how — micro-organisms in the gut tickle a sensory nerve ending in the fingerlike protrusion lining the intestine and carry that electrical impulse up the vagus nerve and into the deep-brain structures thought to be responsible for elemental emotions like anxiety. (source)

In brief, neuroscience continues to confirm that a connection between the brain and gut bacteria exists. Although we don’t yet know the specifics, it’s safe to say that a healthy gut may help balance mood and affects how we respond to emotional situations.

About the Author
Anna Hunt is the founder of AwarenessJunkie.com, an online community paving the way to better health, a balanced life, and personal transformation. She is also the co-editor and staff writer for WakingTimes.com. Anna is a certified Hatha yoga instructor and founder of Atenas Yoga Center. She enjoys raising her three children and being a voice for optimal human health and wellness. Visit her essential oils store here.

Sources:

http://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/publishahead/Brain_structure_and_response_to_emotional_stimuli.98803.aspx

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html

This article (Neuroscience Shows How Gut Bacteria Impact Emotions) is copyrighted by Awareness Junkie, 2017. You may not copy, reproduce, publish or distribute any content therein without written permission. You may contact us here.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/08/04/neuroscience-shows-gut-bacteria-impact-emotions/

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Can a Living Creature Be as Big as a Galaxy?

Laughlin_BR-redwoods.CONSTRAINED: The height of redwood trees, like these Giant sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park, California, is set by the balance between gravity on the one hand, and transpiration, water adhesion, and surface tension in the plant xylem on the other.lucky-photographer/iStock

Why life is constrained to be about the sizes we see on Earth.

The size of things in our universe runs all the way from the tiny 10-19 meter scale that characterizes quark interactions, to the cosmic horizon 1026 meters away. In these 45 possible orders of magnitude, life, as far as we know it, is confined to a relatively tiny bracket of just over nine orders of magnitude, roughly in the middle of the universal range: Bacteria and viruses can measure less than a micron, or 10-6 meters, and the height of the largest trees reaches roughly 100 meters. The honey fungus that lives under the Blue Mountains in Oregon, and is arguably a single living organism, is about 4 kilometers across. When it comes to known sentient life, the range in scale is even smaller, at about three orders of magnitude.

Could things be any different?

Progress in the theory of computation suggests that sentience and intelligence likely require quadrillions of primitive “circuit” elements. Given that our brains are composed of neurons, which are themselves, in essence, specialized cooperative single-cell organisms, we can conclude that biological computers need to be about the physical size of our own brains in order to exhibit the capabilities that we have.

We can imagine building neurons that are smaller than our own, in artificially intelligent systems. Electronic circuit elements, for example, are now substantially smaller than neurons. But they are also simpler in their behavior, and require a superstructure of support (energy, cooling, intercommunication) that takes up a substantial volume. It’s likely that the first true artificial intelligences will occupy volumes that are not so different from the size of our own bodies, despite being based on fundamentally different materials and architectures, again suggesting that there is something special about the meter scale.

If both our brains and our neurons were 10 times bigger, we’d have 10 times fewer thoughts during our lifetimes.

What about on the supersize end of the spectrum? William S. Burroughs, in his novel The Ticket That Exploded, imagined that beneath a planetary surface, lies “a vast mineral consciousness near absolute zero thinking in slow formations of crystal.” The astronomer Fred Hoyle wrote dramatically and convincingly of a sentient hyper-intelligent “Black Cloud,” comparable to Earth-sun distance. His idea presaged the concept of Dyson spheres, massive structures that completely surround a star and capture most of its energy. It is also supported by calculations that my colleague Fred Adams and I are performing, that indicate that the most effective information-processing structures in the current-day galaxy might be catalyzed within the sooty winds ejected by dying red giant stars. For a few tens of thousands of years, dust-shrouded red giants provide enough energy, a large enough entropy gradient, and enough raw material to potentially out-compute the biospheres of a billion Earth-like planets.

How big could life forms like these become? Interesting thoughts require not only a complex brain, but also sufficient time for formulation. The speed of neural transmissions is about 300 kilometers per hour, implying that the signal crossing time in a human brain is about 1 millisecond. A human lifetime, then, comprises 2 trillion message-crossing times (and each crossing time is effectively amplified by rich, massively parallelized computational structuring). If both our brains and our neurons were 10 times bigger, and our lifespans and neural signaling speeds were unchanged, we’d have 10 times fewer thoughts during our lifetimes…

more…

http://nautil.us/issue/51/limits/can-a-living-creature-be-as-big-as-a-galaxy-rp

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