30 November 2007

Good personality boosts attractiveness

Men and women who exhibit positive traits such as honesty and helpfulness are perceived as being more attractive, a U.S. researcher said.

The findings, published in the December issue of Personal Relationships, found that information on personality was found to alter perceived desirability significantly, showing that cognitive processes and expectations modify judgments of attractiveness.

(Newsdaily Science 11.30.07)

29 November 2007

Limited chances

Everybody has a limited number of chances. If people live an ordinary life and do not accumulate right influences, and do not form a magnetic center, after some time they lose even the possibility of forming one.

-- Ouspensky, from The Fourth Way

28 November 2007

Ouspensky on entropy

If one does not develop, one goes down. In life, in ordinary conditions, everything goes down, or one capacity may develop at the expense of another. All capacities cannot develop without the help of a school, for system and method are necessary.

-- Ouspensky, from The Fourth Way

27 November 2007

Mapping Neural Networks

New technologies that allow scientists to trace the fine wiring of the brain more accurately than ever before could soon generate a complete wiring diagram, including every tiny fiber and miniscule connection, of a piece of brain. Dubbed connectomics, these maps could uncover how neural networks perform their precise functions in the brain, and they could shed light on disorders thought to originate from faulty wiring, such as autism and schizophrenia.

With an estimated 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses in the human brain, creating an all-encompassing map of even a small chunk is a daunting task. Using standard methods, it would take roughly three billion person years to generate the wiring diagram of a single cortical column.

But neuroscientists at M.I.T. have now developed a new technique to make more fine-scaled wiring maps using electron microscopy. Starting with a small block of brain tissue, the researchers bounce electrons off the top of the block to generate a cross-sectional picture of the nerve fibers in that slice. They then take a very thin (30-nanometer) slice off the top of the block and repeat the process. Scientists go through the images slice by slice to trace the path of each nerve fiber.


26 November 2007

Some of the Dharma

Mountains, river, earth, are fantastic blossoms which you see owing to misconceptions that result neither from the mind’s misconception nor the mind’s right understanding but because your sense of direction has not been recovered through simple enlightenment….

--- Jack Kerouac, from Some of the Dharma

25 November 2007

Inner Vision (Steiner)

As long as Earth is opaque, the separate parts appear inhabited by people of different faiths, but the unifying bond is not there. . . . But to the degree that people begin to look through the Earth into the Sun by their inner power of vision, to the degree that the “star” appears to them through Earth, their faiths will flow together into one great, united brotherhood.

– Rudolf Steiner, from The Secret Stream, p. 99

24 November 2007

Crack in the Cosmic Egg

Ultimate allegiance to a symbol of openness really does open things.

-- Joseph Chilton Pearce, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg (p. 178)

Our cosmic egg is the sum total of our notions of what the world is, notions which define what reality can be for us. The crack, then, is a mode of thinking through which imagination can escape the mundane shell and create a new cosmic egg.

-- p. xiv

Metaphysics of Quality

A subject-object metaphysics is in fact a metaphysics in which the first division of Quality – the first slice of undivided experience – is into subjects and objects. Once you have made that slice, all of human experience is supposed to fit into one of these two boxes. The trouble is, it doesn’t. What he had seen is that there is a metaphysical box that sits above these two boxes, Quality itself. And once he’d seen this he also saw a huge number of ways in which Quality can be divided. Subjects and objects are just one of the ways.

– Robert M. Pirsig, from Lila (p 124)

20 November 2007

Migraine brains 'are different'

Scientists have discovered differences in the sensory areas of the brains of people who develop migraines.

They found a part of the cortex is thicker than in people who are free from the debilitating headaches. What is not clear is whether the difference causes, or is the result of migraine attacks. The neurology study, by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, suggests the changes may make patients hyper-sensitive to pain in general.

Previous research has shown that the cortex becomes thinner with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Part of the cortex, although not the somatosensory area, is also known to thicken with extensive motor training and learning.


The more things change . . .

One important phenomenon of the Greco-Roman age was the appearance of the religious and philosophical entrepeneur, sometimes called the divine man, sometimes the sophist or sage. The entrepeneur stepped into the void left vacant by the demise of traditional priestly functions at the ancient temple sites and addressed the confusion, concern, and curiosity of people confronted with a complex world that was felt to be at the mercy of the fates.

And then there were the itinerant teachers who stepped forth to sell their philosophies and advice to anyone in search of guidance. Called sophists by those who sought to discount their teachings, and divine men by those who idealized them, the figure of the lone sage exemplified the individual’s quest for wholeness and self-sufficiency in the midst of a world devoid of social services and supports.

-- from The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins by Burton L. Mack

12 November 2007

Scientists Spot Brain Center for 'Out-of-Body' Experience

A team of Belgian scientists have linked the sense of disembodiment central to the experience -- the feeling of leaving one's body and then floating outside it -- to abnormal activity in a specific region of the brain.

This activity appears to short-circuit the processing of sensory information and the ability to locate oneself in time and space, the team said.

"Self-perception is nothing else but a creation of your brain," explained neurosurgeon Dr. Dirk De Ridder, of the neurosurgical department at Antwerp University. "We found a key spot in the brain in which different areas are normally activated whenever stimulus comes in, so you can relate that stimulus to yourself, which helps create a unified perception of ourselves."

"The 'total perception of self,' " he added, "is built out of different parts. And one of these parts is that your consciousness belongs within your body."


09 November 2007

Take care of your meditation and your meditation will take care of you.

06 November 2007

Mirror, Mirror In The Brain

ScienceDaily (Nov. 7, 2007) — Recent findings are rapidly expanding researchers' understanding of a new class of brain cells -- mirror neurons -- which are active both when people perform an action and when they watch it being performed.

Some scientists speculate that a mirror system in people forms the basis for social behavior, for our ability to imitate, acquire language, and show empathy and understanding. It also may have played a role in the evolution of speech. Mirror neurons were so named because, by firing both when an animal acts and when it simply watches the same action, they were thought to "mirror" movement, as though the observer itself were acting.