Thursday, December 24, 2009

Megastructures - Millau Bridge

National Geographic - Megastructures Millau Bridge

Bridge Millau, Tarn Valley, France Framed Art Poster Print by Doug Pearson, 31x25
The Biggest Bridge in the World, the Millau Viaduct, Designed by Norman Foster, December 2004 Framed 
National Geographic - Mega Structures Collection
The History Channel Presents The Best of Modern Marvels

Naked Science: Solar Force

National Geographic's Naked Science: Solar Force

Do the sun's invisible cosmic rays influence our weather? Can solar winds impact Earth? The level of cosmic rays emitted by the sun is anything but constant. Scientists are just now discovering the ways in which the sun's fluctuating output affects our planet's weather and overall climate.

Wikipedia - Meteorology
Wikipedia - Climatology

Solar Force Michael Paré, Billy Drago, Walker Brandt, Robin Smith (DVD)$23.28
Two worlds about to collide, and only one man can save them. Michael Pare stars in this futuristic thriller about a cop from the moon who is sent to earth to find a stolen chemical, capable of restoring its destroyed environment. But when he finds out the truth behind his mission and those who sent him, he must fight against all odds for survival. From the director of American Cyborg and Delta Force 3. Starring Michael Pare (Warriors, Eddie and the Cruisers, Streets of Fire), Billy Drago (Gun Crazy, The Untouchables, Pale Rider).

Explorer - Inside LSD

National Geographic Channel's EXPLORER: INSIDE LSD

National Geographic Channel's EXPLORER: INSIDE LSD puts this mysterious molecule back under the microscope. From psychedelics given to terminally ill patients, to reputedly the "world's purest LSD" administered in lab experiments, find out why some researchers believe this "trippy" drug could become the pharmaceutical of the future  enhancing brain power, expanding creativity and even curing mental illness.
Fifty years ago, psychedelics or "mind-manifesting" drugs like LSD were considered cutting-edge science. Within months of its accidental discovery in 1943 by Hoffman, free samples of LSD were arriving at the doorsteps of scientists and psychiatrists around the world to test its effects on everything from alcoholism to autism. Even the Central Intelligence Agency and the military dosed their own operatives to see if LSD could be weaponized for mind control. But this powerful hallucinogen became a street drug with a dangerous reputation, and it was eventually outlawed. Yet despite its illegality, an estimated 23 million Americans have taken LSD, and more than 600,000 try it each year.

Now, after more than three decades, cutting-edge science takes on psychedelics again. At Purdue University, pharmacology professor Dave Nichols is one of a select group with permission to manufacture and experiment with LSD. His team uses some of the purest LSD ever made to study its molecular structure and effect on the brains of rats, with intriguing results. EXPLORER: INSIDE LSD shows how after chronic dosing, Nichols' rats begin to avoid social contact and mimic schizophrenic behavior in humans. Nichols believes his study may shed light on the chemical mechanisms underlying mental illnesses, potentially leading to cures.

About LSD;
Lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD-25, LSD, formerly lysergide, commonly known as acid, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug of the ergoline and tryptamine families. LSD is non-addictive, non-toxic, and is well known for its psychological effects which can include closed and open eye visuals, synaesthesia, a sense of time distortion, ego death and profound spiritual experiences, as well as for its key role in 1960s counterculture. It is used mainly by psychonauts as an entheogen and in psychedelic therapy.

A single dose of LSD may be between 100 and 500 micrograms — an amount roughly equal to one-tenth the mass of a grain of sand. Threshold effects can be felt with as little as 25 micrograms of LSD.
Dosages of LSD are measured in micrograms (µg), or millionths of a gram. By comparison, dosages of most drugs, both recreational and medicinal, are measured in milligrams (mg), or thousandths of a gram. For example, an active dose of mescaline, roughly 0.2 to 0.5g, has effects comparable to 100 µg or less of LSD.
Typical doses in the 1960s ranged from 200 to 1000 µg while street samples of the 1970s contained 30 to 300 µg. By the 1980s, the amount had reduced to between 100 to 125 µg, lowering more in the 1990s to the 20–80 µg range.
Estimates for the lethal dosage (LD50) of LSD range from between 200 µg/kg to more than 1 mg/kg of human body mass, though most sources report that there are no known human cases of such an overdose. Other sources note one report of a suspected fatal overdose of LSD occurring in November 1975 in Kentucky in which there were indications that ~1/3 of a gram (320 mg or 320,000 µg) had been injected intravenously. (This is a very extraordinary amount, particularly when compared to the average LSD dosage of ~100 µg).Experiments with LSD were also done on animals; in 1962, an elephant named Tusko died shortly after being injected with 297 mg, but whether the LSD was the cause of his death is controversial
Wikipedia - LSD
The Mind-Benders: LSD and the Hallucingens, ca. 1970
Experimental Compound MER 17 (Frenquel) and LSD-25: Psychosis, 1955
Bad Acid   The Love Statue LSD Experience  LSD: Problem Child and Wonder Drug
Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr. "The World of LSD"
The Net: The Unabomber, LSD and the Internet

Carl Sagan's Cosmos

Uncovering Potential, Discovering Controversy :
Director: Matthew Nickels and Joshua Beagle | Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2008

Synopsis: Produced by Joshua Beagle and Matthew Gater Nickels, Uncovering Potential Discovering Controversy discusses the topic of stem cell research, particularly in Michigan, and what it means for those who might benefit from research. Addresses both the informational and emotional aspects of the issue. This film was made prior to the passing of Michigan's 2008 proposal 2, which allows for research on embryonic stem cells.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Spirit Molecule

The Spirit Molecule weaves an account of Dr. Rick Strassman’s groundbreaking DMT research through a multifaceted approach to this intriguing hallucinogen found in the human brain and hundreds of plants. Utilizing interviews with a variety of experts to explain their thoughts and experiences with DMT within their respective fields, and discussions with Strassman’s research volunteers brings to life the awesome effects of this compound, and far-reaching theories regarding its role in human consciousness.

Several themes explored include possible roles for endogenous DMT; its theoretical role in near-death and birth experiences, alien-abduction experiences; and the uncanny similarities in Biblical prophetic texts describing DMT-like experiences. Our expert contributors offer a comprehensive collection of information, opinions, and speculation about indigenous use of DMT, the history and future of psychedelic research, and current DMT research. All this, to help us understand the nature of the DMT experience, and its role in human society and evolution.

The subtle combination of science, spirituality, and philosophy within the film’s approach sheds light on an array of ideas that could considerably alter the way humans understand the universe and their relationship to it.

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Even the Gods Have Gods

Evolution of Life On Other Planets: Even the Gods Have Gods

A comprehensive review of scientific findings, published in prestigious scientific journals, is presented to explain how life from other planets evolved on Earth. These first Earthlings (archae, bacteria, and cyanobacteria) contained the genes and the genetic information for altering the environment, the “evolution” of multicellular eukaryotes, and the metamorphosis of all subsequent species.

These included exons, introns, transposable elements, informational and operational genes, RNA, ribozomes, mitochondria, and all the core genetic machinery for translating, expressing, and repeatedly duplicating genes and the entire genome. Prokaryotic genes were initially combined to fashion the first eukaryotes and/or were donated and transferred to unicellular then multicellular eukaryotes and then subsequently expressed in response to biologically engineered environmental influences, often in busts of explosive evolutionary change, as typified by the Cambrian Explosion.

Genes biologically alter the environment such as via the secretion of waste products, e.g. methane, oxygen, calcium carbonate, sulphides, ferrous iron, etc., which acts on gene expression. However, these genes and life on Earth did not randomly evolve. Evolution is metamorphosis. These genes were inherited from ancestral species who acquired these genes and these genetic instructions from living creatures that long ago lived on other planets.

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Links; Brainmind

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An Eclipse which Dropped from the Sky

An Eclipse which Dropped from the Sky : Director: Maani Petgar | Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2000

Synopsis: "In Aug.10, 1999, the last eclipse of the century took place and about 2 billion people in the world, viewed it through the TV. I understood that the Iranian TV is going to have a simultaneous report from five major eclipse location... just out of curiosity; I sat down in front of the TV, to watch the coverage of the event and at the same time, I took my camera just to shoot the reflections of light in my yard. While I was switching between the TV and the yard,I noticed that..."

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A War on Science

BBC Documentary on the conflict between Darwin's Origin of Species theory and Religious belief.
When Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution nearly 150 years ago, he shattered the dominant belief of his day – that humans were the product of divine creation. Through his observations of nature, Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection. This caused uproar. After all, if the story of creation could be doubted, so too could the existence of the creator. Ever since its proposal, this cornerstone of biology has sustained wave after wave of attack. Now some scientists fear it is facing the most formidable challenge yet: a controversial new theory called intelligent design.

In the late 1980s Phillip Johnson, a renowned lawyer and born-again Christian, began to develop a strategy to challenge Darwin. To Johnson, the evidence for natural selection was poor. He also believed that by explaining the world only through material processes was inherently atheistic. If there was a god, science would never be able to discover it.

Johnson recruited other Darwin doubters, including biochemist Professor Michael Behe, mathematician Dr William Dembski, and philosopher of science Dr Stephen Meyer. These scientists developed the theory of intelligent design (ID) which claims that certain features of the natural world are best explained as the result of an intelligent being. To him, the presence of miniature machines and digital information found in living cells are evidence of a supernatural creator. Throughout the 90s, the ID movement took to disseminating articles, books and DVDs and organising conferences all over the world.

To its supporters, intelligent design heralds a revolution in science and the movement is fast gaining political clout. Not only does it have the support of the President of the United States, it is on the verge of being introduced to science classes across the nation. However, its many critics, including Professor Richard Dawkins and Sir David Attenborough, fear that it cloaks a religious motive – to replace science with god.

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Natural History documentary with Sir David Attenborough
David Attenborough asks three key questions: how and why did Darwin come up with his theory of evolution? Why do we think he was right? And why is it more important now than ever before?

David starts his journey in Darwin's home at Down House in Kent, where Darwin worried and puzzled over the origins of life. David goes back to his roots in Leicestershire, where he hunted for fossils as a child, and where another schoolboy unearthed a significant find in the 1950s.

And he revisits Cambridge University, where both he and Darwin studied, and where many years later the DNA double helix was discovered, providing the foundations for genetics.

At the end of his journey in the Natural History Museum in London, David concludes that Darwin's great insight revolutionised the way in which we see the world. We now understand why there are so many different species, and why they are distributed in the way they are. But above all, Darwin has shown us that we are not set apart from the natural world, and do not have dominion over it. We are subject to its laws and processes, as are all other animals on earth to which, indeed, we are related.

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Fermat's Last Theorem

Documentary - Mathematics
Simon Singh and John Lynch’s film tells the enthralling and emotional story of Andrew Wiles. A quiet English mathematician, he was drawn into maths by Fermat’s puzzle, but at Cambridge in the ’70s, FLT was considered a joke, so he set it aside. Then, in 1986, an extraordinary idea linked this irritating problem with one of the most profound ideas of modern mathematics: the Taniyama-Shimura Conjecture, named after a young Japanese mathematician who tragically committed suicide.

The link meant that if Taniyama was true then so must be FLT. When he heard, Wiles went after his childhood dream again. “I knew that the course of my life was changing.” For seven years, he worked in his attic study at Princeton, telling no one but his family. “My wife has only known me while I was working on Fermat”, says Andrew.

In June 1993 he reached his goal. At a three-day lecture at Cambridge, he outlined a proof of Taniyama – and with it Fermat’s Last Theorem. Wiles’ retiring life-style was shattered. Mathematics hit the front pages of the world’s press. Then disaster struck. His colleague, Dr Nick Katz, made a tiny request for clarification. It turned into a gaping hole in the proof. As Andrew struggled to repair the damage, pressure mounted for him to release the manuscript – to give up his dream. So Andrew Wiles retired back to his attic.

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Links; | Wikipedia

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4 Winged Dinosaur

A Nova PBS Documentary Video

2002; Paleontologists in China discovered the fossil remains of a four- winged dinosaur with fully developed, modern feathers on both the forelimbs and hind limbs.
The new species, Microraptor gui, provides yet more evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs, and could go a long way to answering a question scientists have puzzled over for close to 100 years: How did a group of ground-dwelling flightless dinosaurs evolve to a feathered animal capable of flying?
Xu Xing, a paleontologist at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, China, and colleagues suggest in the January 23 issue of the journal Nature that the species is an early ancestor of birds that probably used its feathered limbs, along with a long, feather-fringed tail, to glide from tree to tree. They argue that the animal represents an intermediate stage in the evolution of flight, from gliding much as flying squirrels do today to the active wing flapping of modern birds.

Xu's work has long been supported by the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration.The six specimens were excavated from the rich fossil beds of Liaoning Province in northeastern China. They are dated at between 128 to 124 million years old (Early Cretaceous).

In 2002, the discovery of this beautiful and bizarre fossil astonished scientists and reignited the debate over the origin of flight. With four wings and superbly preserved feathers, the 130 million-year-old creature was like nothing paleontologists had ever seen before. In this program, NOVA travels to the Chinese stone quarry where the fossil was discovered (a famed fossil treasure trove) and teams up with the world’s leading figures in paleontology, biomechanics, aerodynamics, animation, and scientific reconstruction to perform an unorthodox experiment: a wind tunnel flight test of a scientific replica of the ancient oddity. Dubbed Microraptor, the crow-sized fossil is one of the smallest dinosaurs ever found and one of the most controversial, challenging conventional theories and assumptions about the evolution of flight. But how did Microraptor use its wings? Did it array its arm- and leg-mounted wings in the style of an early 20th-century biplane to produce high lift at low speed? Did it use them to create a single lifting surface for efficient, swift gliding? Did it employ some combination of these two methods? Or were the extra wings useless for flight and likely to have been for some other purpose, such as attracting a mate?

To answer these questions, NOVA interviews Chinese paleontologist Xu Xing, who first recognized the importance of Microraptor and gave it its name; paleontologist Mark Norell and artist Mick Ellison of the American Museum of Natural History; paleontologist Larry Martin of the University of Kansas; anatomist Farish Jenkins of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University; and aerodynamicist Kenny Breuer of Brown University. In addition, NOVA commissions a “flight-ready” wind tunnel model of Microraptor complete with feathers and articulating joints. Artists have historically played an important role in paleontology by helping to reconstruct the appearance and behavior of ancient animals. In the case of Microraptor, two completely different reconstructions were made, one at the American Museum of Natural History, and the other at the University of Kansas, based on different specimens and different techniques. The two markedly different reconstructions play into a long-running scientific controversy over the origin of flight in birds. For years the debate has been a standoff between two camps—those who believe dinosaurs were the ancestors of birds, and those who do not.

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