Thursday, June 30, 2011

Science and Consciousness

"The Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona was formed in 1998 with a seed grant from the Fetzer Institute. The Center is a unique institution whose aim is to bring together the perspectives of philosophy, the cognitive sciences, neuroscience, the social sciences, medicine, and the physical sciences, the arts and humanities, to move toward an integrated understanding of human consciousness. The Center is unique in its broad spectrum approach. Other groups tend focus either on cognitive neuroscience, philosophy or purely phenomenal experiential approaches, whereas the Center not only integrates these areas, but "thinks outside the box" of conventional wisdom which has thus far, at least, failed to make significant breakthroughs. The Center has also inspired other groups such as the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness and those who organize other conferences."

For those interested in the subject of consciousness, you might want to visit The Center for Consciousness Studies online. Another wonderful online source can be found here, a page which features a long list of fascinating videos of scientific discussions related to consciousness. 

Finally, to whet your appetite, head over to The Daily Grail, and listen to Dr. Stuart Hameroff discuss "quantum consciousness" and the afterlife.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Sneak Peek

Around a year and a half ago I posted a small graphic of a faerie-like creature on this blog - since removed -  I was working on for Mac Tonnies before his untimely death. If I remember correctly, I named the creature "Titania" and warned that she would be reptilian in the future if, indeed, I finished the graphic at all.

Well, many months later, "Titania" is now Tatiana - in an image entitled: The Dragon & The Pearl - and she is almost ready to make her debut. Not quite, however. When she is finished she will appear on my new blog, i.e., that art blog I have tentatively proposed (and/or warned you about) in the past. The name of the blog is: Trans-D Digital Art (Transdimensionalism and Transfiguativism in Digital Art).

The blog itself is not devoted to the illustrative work of mine that readers of PMB may already be familiar with, but is striving - as I am striving - for a new expression in art that follows closely with the new digital mediums (and mystical memes) that surround us. So, if you're interested, stop by set a spell, and hopefully, it will become more entertaining with time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Remembering A Friend

Paul Kimball remembers a friend, and muses over a "Mac Thought" (the first of a series) on The Other Side of the Truth.

Yes, Paul, if Mac isn't "somewhere" then, well, in a manner of speaking, I guess we're all pretty much nowhere.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mac On Mars - PHB Flashback

"In idle moments I like to imagine ways I might get off the planet in the near-future. So far, none of them are especially probable. One idea that continues to tantalize (despite its fatalistic implications) is convincing NASA to send a one-man "experimental" mission to Mars, ostensibly to study the effects of prolonged microgravity and radiation on human physiology.

The subject? Me, of course.

I'm not asking that much, really. Just a modest capsule with life support and a way of navigating the Martian surface, even if it's just an augmented spacesuit and an inflatable tent. Once on Mars, I could continue sending NASA data on my condition, not to mention carry out geological and exobiological investigations. Given the tools and a minimum of scientific training, I figure my efforts could eclipse those of the current Mars Exploration Rovers within weeks. 

The elegance of this mission, from a financial perspective at least, is that I wouldn't necessarily be coming back, sparing mission planners the need for a return vehicle. I'd wander the landscape and keep myself alive and healthy for as long as possible, awaiting eventual relief from a more robust crewed mission. It's quite possible I could "live off the land" indefinitely, giving me enough time to really take in the sights: the soaring slopes of Olympus Mons, the labyrinthine fractures of Valles Marineris, the enigmatic massifs of Cydonia.

Would I miss Earth? Certainly. But probably not enough to conscience coming back until at least a few years of pure, unimpeded exploration; it's not everyday one has an entire planet to oneself.

I hereby volunteer for a one-man "reconnaissance" flight to Mars, fully aware of the risks. How about it, NASA?"

- Mac Tonnies, via PHB post 4/25/06

Speaking of Mars...

"The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is a United States space administration (NASA) mission with the aim to land and operate a rover named Curiosity on the surface of Mars. It is scheduled to launch on November 25, 2011 and land on Mars on August 6, 2012. It will perform the first-ever precision landing on Mars. The Curiosity rover will help assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's habitability. It will also analyze samples scooped up from the soil and drilled powders from rocks."

- via a Wiki article

I suppose whether or not this is good news or no news depends upon the ability of NASA scientists to interpret the data found... and to what extent they are willing to share this knowledge with the public at large.

In any case, Spirit is, indeed, history. BOL to Curiosity!

(Thanks to Maggie and this BoingBoing post...)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Shrimp from Mars

"Since they branched off from animals so early, their evolution took them in unique directions," said study co-author Tom Cronin, a visual physiology researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. "We used to call them shrimps from Mars, because their biology is so different from any other animal."

Like insects and other crustaceans, mantis shrimps possess compound eyes composed of thousands of rows of light-detecting units called ommatidia. These are especially refined in mantis shrimps, containing a mix of photoreceptors and filters that let them see 100,000 different colors -- 10 times more than can be detected by humans.

- via, an article from 3/20/08

Above is a photo of a rather mysterious, intensely colorful creature named the "Mantis Shrimp", though it is neither a mantis nor a shrimp, but a stomatopod, a species distantly related to shrimps and lobsters.

The minute I stumbled upon this 2008 article today, I knew I had to post it. Apparently this little animal is the known sole possessor of eyes that can see what is called "circular polarized light" enabling it to see colors that we humans can't even conceive of! As an artist I am more than just a tad envious!

As the author of the Wired Science article - from which I grabbed the image - writes:

"Cronin called mantis shrimp eyes an outstanding system for studying the principles of visual evolution. But even that strikes me as a non-utilitarian purpose. Maybe someday scientists will make cybernetic optical implants that let me see a few thousand more colors — but until then, understanding the eye’s evolution isn’t so much a material application as a spiritual one. Knowledge is a fundamentally good thing: learning more about the world is intrinsically valuable, because it adds that much more depth and nuance and color to our experience of life."

To which I add: amen!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Radio Misterioso

Greg Bishop's Radio Misterioso is back on the track, and I, for one, am glad! He's just posted a great interview (from 2007) with Turkish Ufologist, Farah Yurdozu, who sheds an interesting light on the UFO phenomenon in Turkey, but also much, much more. She touches upon one topic that has always intrigued me: the underground cities of Cappadocia. Apparently Turkey is warrened with a number of underground cities of unknown origin. I remember bringing up the subject of Cappadocia (shone above) to Mac Tonnies when he was in the midst of forming his Cryptoterrestrial hypotheses and, oddly enough, Farah's understanding of the the Turkish mythology surrounding the underground cities is very supportive of Mac's theories. All in all, a fascinating radio show. Listen here.


UPDATE: For those interested in Farah Yurdozu, I suggest heading on over to the Women of Esoterica blog, where Farah is a guest contributor. There you will find more links to conjure with...!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Synchronicity and the Skies above... Volcanoes!

Above is a shot of the Milky Way above Piton de la Fournaise, an active volcano on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, snapped by photographer Luc Perrot, which won third prize at the 2011 TWAN International photo contest. The other winning photos can be found here. Notice was just posted today on Yahoo.

Meanwhile, more stunning photographs of the sky - this time over an active volcano in Chile, can be found - just posted today - at Histories of Things to Come.

As it happened, earlier this morning, I happened to catch a 2008 episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" in which he was visiting one of the last inhabitants of an an area in Hawaii - you guessed it - devastated by an active volcano.

Coincidence? Yeah probably, but only because I can't exactly find the personal "meaning".

Paul Kimball on the other hand, has been having a spate of his own synchronicities. I left a comment on his last post on The Other Side of the Truth early this morning that I think readers of this blog might also appreciate... a quote from F. David Peat from his wonderful book "Synchronicity - The Bridge Between Mind and Matter" which has been mentioned previously on PMB, specifically here, here and here.

"As Jung had earlier pointed out, it is the nature of synchronicity to have meaning and, in particular, to be associated with a profound activation of energy deep within the psyche. It is as if the formation of patterns within the unconscious mind is accompanied by physical patterns in the outer world. In particular, as psychic patterns are on the point of reaching consciousness then synchronicities reach their peak; moreover, they generally disappear as the individual becomes consciously aware of a new alignment of forces within his or her personality.

Synchronicitics are therefore often associated with periods of transformation: for example, birth, deaths, falling in love, psychotherapy, intense creative work, and even a change of profession. It is as if the internal restructuring produces external resonances, or as if a burst of "mental energy" is propagated outward into the physical world."

Hmmm... internal restructuring... external resonances... burst of energy? Sounds like a volcano to me! :-)

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Windbridge Institute

"The spiral served as a sacred and creative symbol in nearly every culture of the ancient world. The triple spiral---or triskele---was first seen in Celtic cultures but has symbolized numerous triads to many different societies: Land-Sea-Sky; Past-Present-Future; Thought-Word-Deed; Birth-Death-Rebirth; etc."

This is sort of a follow-up to a post on PMB listing the currently existent paranormal institutes and associations. I just discovered The Windbridge Institute (their logo is the triskelion shown above) in Tucson, Arizona, from a The Daily Grail article, specifically this page. I feel it may interest some of you and so I add it here.

I notice the institute currently has an interesting paranormal study underway - found on the afore-mentioned page - that involves psychic readings. Sadly, the desired participants should, and I quote, "have NOT experienced the death of any family members, romantic interests, or close friends during their lives. Individuals who have not lost anyone close to them are being specifically recruited in order to attempt to prevent deceased "drop-ins" during psychic readings for living participants."

... Which pretty much cancels me out on all 3 counts... Oh well... although I must say I'm curious as to just who would "drop in"...

Anyway, you'll notice my sudden short spate of posts in the past couple of days... just an anomaly.

The Bees Return...

...via the U.S. Mail, apparently! But this should be good news for those of you who follow this blog. These particular bees caused quite a stir in Little Italy, New York, recently. Here's the scoop.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Of Ghosts, Machines, and Platonic Shadows

"... Because Tonnies was so young when he tragically passed away at the age of 34 in 2009, and he also had a strong online presence, his death highlights this problem. The information that remains - his reviews, his Website, his blog Posthuman Blues, his tweets, and so on - act like a Platonic shadow."

The above quote is taken from this new, thought-provoking post by ToB on her cool Histories of Things to Come blog entitled : Internet Shadows in Broad, Sunlit Uplands.

She asks: "... Is some virtual reality corner of the Internet going to become the dimension that houses a billion disembodied souls, forever?"

Of course, you know Mac would just love all of this... though, in the end, I think even he became disenchanted with post-humanism and the Singularity. And, in any case, he didn't stick around for it.

I'm supposing the broader aspect of the question is whether or not souls and machines have anything intrinsically in common... "ideas", for instance... and for an answer to that I quote Charlie Brown, who once said: "AARGH!!!"

(Sorry folks, my over-loaded brain just crashed and shut down...beep beep and out...)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Mars T-shirt Design - w/ Blow-ups

Recently I've become inspired by Mars again... around the same time I learnt that the Spirit Rover - the "little engine that could" was no longer operational, and had finally been "laid to rest". For everyone but a Mars enthusiast - "Martians" in particular - this news is a non-event. After all, what did the rover do but take a lot of photos of a dead planet... images of rocks and rocks only - a geologist's treasure trove, but surely not the stuff of Lowell's, and Bradbury's dreams (see Wiki's article: Mars in Fiction.)

But I, as one might expect, beg to differ. Years ago - in 2005 - I was the web mistress of "The House of Spirits - in Search of Hydapsis", a web site devoted to those "rocks" the Spirit Rover found. I designed a (tongue firmly in cheek) "Mars Archaeological Society" T-shirt at the time showing details of the rover's amazing discoveries. Well, amazing to me, at any rate. I remember combing through NASA's Spirit website - specifically the "raw image" data - like a raven in search of shiny objects. I simply had to see for myself what was there.

Mac Tonnies was coming around to my point of view, though neither he nor I could even begin to identify the "alien artifacts", if artifacts they were. But Mac and I had a shared enthusiasm for the possibility of ancient intelligent life on Mars... or, at least, the possibility of a visiting civilization there, if not indigenous to the planet per se. We made a pact to someday meet as archaeologists on Mars in some far-distant future... and I sometimes think we still might.

So, I redesigned the shirt in Mac's memory, too, as well as the Spirit Rover's. I have no idea what the objects are in the images, but one thing is true: I did not retouch the photos... No "artwork" is involved. That the "things" are a bit fuzzy around the edges is due to the lack of quality of the website photos, regardless of my attempts to heighten the contrast and sharpen the image (quite a challenge in itself!).

What you see is what there is... a secret between the Spirit Rover and the Martians among us. ;-)

(Yes, the design should read "Mars Amateur Archaeological Society", but it didn't work as well in the design!)

(click on images - upper and lower - for larger views)

Above are blown-up versions of the T-shirt image added March 9, 2015. I removed some of the color in hopes of gaining clarity but wasn't entirely successful. Why bother? Just for the record...

Above are some details of the details (left to right): (left) detail of the "fin" of the first, upper image on your left.
(center) detail of the 5th image - on your right. (right) detail of the 9th image - on your right.

Links to the original images on the the Spirit Rover site will follow - you, too, can be an "archaeologist".


As promised, here are the links to the "raw" "panoramic" image views on the Spirit Rover website in regards to the images on the T-shirt design... in order of the objects (left to right, top to bottom) on the shirt...

#1, from Sol 60:
(my original source image seems to be missing... here is an alternative shot...)

#2 from Sol 12:

#3, from Sol 12:

#4 & 6, from Sol 12:

#5, from Sol 136:
(my original source image seems to be missing... here are two alternative shots...)

#7, from Sol 12:

#8, #9, #10, from Sol 12:


Note: Currently there are no actual shirts for sale to the general public. Interested Martians, however, may contact me, Dia:

Subject line: Mars T