Saturday, January 29, 2011

More Research: Yes, Meditation Changes Brain

A new study on meditation confirms what several previous studies have shown ~ that the practice actually results in physical changes to the brain. The researchers report that those who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in gray-matter density in parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.

Many people like myself who have meditated to some extent over the years and who’ve followed the scientific research have heard these reports before. Now, it seems, the findings are at last moving even farther into the realm of mainstream medicine.

According to the New York Times:
M.R.I. brain scans taken before and after the participants’ meditation regimen found increased gray matter in the hippocampus, an area important for learning and memory. The images also showed a reduction of gray matter in the amygdala, a region connected to anxiety and stress. A control group that did not practice meditation showed no such changes. 
Previous studies have also shown that there are structural differences between the brains of meditators and those who don’t meditate, although this new study is the first to document changes in gray matter over time through meditation.
Britta H√∂lzel, psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and the study’s lead author, said participants practiced mindfulness meditation, a form of meditation that was introduced in the United States in the late 1970s.

Click here for the complete article.
For more articles, click on the “Meditation” label below in the footer.

Monday, January 24, 2011

String Theory Points to Parallel Universe

String theory likely holds the secret to the magnitude of our universe ~ which is probably actually a “multiverse,” according to physicist Brian Greene.

“You almost can't avoid having some version of the multiverse in your studies if you push deeply enough in the mathematical descriptions of the physical universe,” Greene tells NPR. “There are many of us thinking of one version of parallel universe theory or another. If it's all a lot of nonsense, then it's a lot of wasted effort going into this far out idea. But if this idea is correct, it is a fantastic upheaval in our understanding.”

Greene believes the key to understanding these multiverses comes from string theory, the area of physics he's studied for the past 25 years.

According to NPR:
In a nutshell, string theory attempts to reconcile a mathematical conflict between two already accepted ideas in physics: quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. 
“Einstein's theory of relativity does a fantastic job for explaining big things,” Greene says. “Quantum mechanics is fantastic for the other end of the spectrum ~ for small things. The big problem is that each theory is great for each realm, but when they confront each other, they are ferocious antagonists and the mathematics falls apart.” 
String theory smoothes out the mathematical inconsistencies that currently exist between quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity. It posits that the entire universe can be explained in terms of really, really small strings that vibrate in 10 or 11 dimensions ~ meaning dimensions we can't see. If it exists, it could explain literally everything in the universe ~ from subatomic particles to the laws of speed and gravity. 
Greene, the author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, tackles the existence of multiple universes in his latest book The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Law of the Cosmos.

Click here for the NPR article and “Fresh Air” interview.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Magnetic North Pole Continues To Slip

Earth’s magnetic north pole is continuing to shift toward Siberia, a situation of concern to those who link a “Pole Shift” with End Times.  In its most dramatic form, a shift would result in reversal of the north and south magnetic poles ~ something that happens about every 250,000 years ~ with resulting cataclysmic havoc.

The situation was highlighted this week when two large airports in Florida renumbered runways to reflect new compass readings to match the new pole location.

Earth’s magnetic poles are governed by forces deep inside the planet. According to
An inner core of solid iron is surrounded by an outer core of molten iron. They rotate at different rates, and the interaction between the regions creates what scientists call a "hydromagnetic dynamo." It's something like an electric motor, and it generates a magnetic field akin to a giant bar magnet. The process is not completely understood. 
In the past 15 million years, there have been four reversals every 1 million years, or about one shift each 250,000 years, says Brad Clement of Florida International University, who has lead a recent study on pole reversals. The last one, however, was 790,000 years ago. That might suggest we're overdue for a big change. 
Not necessarily so, Clement says. The flips are not periodic, meaning they don't adhere to a schedule of even intervals. Yet the intensity of the magnetic field has been dropping for the last 2,000 years, and "it has dropped significantly" during the past two decades, Clement said.
Some scientists speculate a reversal is underway. Clement said that's like forecasting that the bottom will drop out of the stock market because it's gone down the past few days. "We just don't know," he said.

Click here for LiveScience article on recent developments.
Click here for background article quoted above.
Click here for 2012 Pole Shift predictions.