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Posted: November 29, 2016 at 1:25 am
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Posted: April 11, 2015 at 7:43 am
Funhaus: Necessary Censorship
By: b londers
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Funhaus: Necessary Censorship – Video
Posted: February 16, 2015 at 3:50 am
There are several different ways to think about pantheism. (1) Many of the world’s religious traditions and spiritual writings are marked by pantheistic ideas and feelings. This is particularly so for example, in Hinduism of the Advaita Vedanta school, in some varieties of Kabbalistic Judaism, in Celtic spirituality, and in Sufi mysticism. (2) Another vital source of pantheistic ideas is to be found in literature, for example, in such writers as Goethe, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Emerson, Walt Whitman, D.H. Lawrence, and Robinson Jeffers. Although it should be added that, far from being limited to high culture, pantheistic themes are familiar, too, in popular media, for example in such films as Star Wars, Avatar, and The Lion King. (3) Thirdly, as it is in this article, pantheism may be considered philosophically; that is, a critical examination may be made of its central ideas with respect to their meaning, their coherence, and the case to be made for or against their acceptance.
A good way to understand any view is to appreciate the kind of drives that may push someone towards it. What arguments may be given for pantheism? Although there are a great many different individual lines of reasoning that might be offered, generally they may be placed under two heads; arguments from below, which start from a posteriori religious experience, and arguments from above, which start from a priori philosophical abstraction.
Following the first type of argument, pantheistic belief arises when the things of this world excite a particular sort of religious reaction in us. We feel, perhaps, a deep reverence for and sense of identity with the world in which we find ourselves. Epistemically it seems to us that God is not distant but can be encountered directly in what we experience around us. We see God in everything. The initial focus of attention here may be either our physical environment (the land on which we live, our natural environment) or else our social environment (our community, our tribe, our nation or, generally, the people we meet with) but further reflection may lead to its more universal expansion.
In the second kind of argument, reasoning starts from a relatively abstract concept whose application is taken as assured, but further reflection leads to the conclusion that its scope must be extended to include the whole of reality. Most typically, the concept in question is that of God, or perfect being, in which case pantheism appears as the logical terminus or completion of theism. The following paragraphs illustrate four examples of such reasoning.
(1) Traditional theism asserts the omnipresence of God and, while it strongly wishes to maintain that this is not equivalent to pantheism, the difference between saying that God is present everywhere in everything and saying that God is everything is far from easy to explain. If omnipresence means, not simply that God is cognisant of or active in all places, but literally that he exists everywhere, then it is hard to see how any finite being can be said to have existence external to God. Indeed, for Isaac Newton and Samuel Clarke divine omnipresence was one and the same thing as space, which they understood as the sensorium of God. (Oakes 2006)
(2) The traditional theistic position that God’s creation of the universe is continuous can easily be developed in pantheistic directions. The view that the world could not existeven for a secondwithout God, makes it wholly dependent on God and, hence, not really an autonomous entity. (Oakes 1983) Moreover, to further develop this argument, if God creates every temporal stage of every object in the universe, this undermines the causal power of individual things and leads to occasionalism, which in turn encourages pantheism; for in so far as independent agency is a clear mark of independent being, the occasionalist doctrine that all genuine agency is divinethat it all comes from a single placetends to undermine the distinction of things from God. Both Malebranche and Jonathan Edwards have found themselves charged with pantheism on these grounds, and it was for this reason that Leibniz, in attempting to refute the pantheistic monism of Spinoza, felt it most important to assert the autonomous agency of finite beings.
(3) Alternatively it might be argued that God’s omniscience is indistinguishable from reality itself. For if there obtains a complete mapping between God’s knowledge and the world that God knows, what basis can be found for distinguishing between them, there being not even the possibility of a mismatch? Moreover, were we to separate the two, since knowledge tracks reality we know something because it is the case and not vice versa then God would become problematically dependent upon the world. (Mander 2000)
(4) Arguments of this general type may also proceed from starting points more philosophical than theological. For example, Spinoza, the most famous of all modern pantheists starts from the necessary existence of something he calls substance. By this he means that which exists wholly in its own right, that whose existence does not depend upon anything else. The notion of the Absolute, or wholly unconditioned reality, as it figures in the philosophies of Schelling, Hegel, and the British Idealists may be considered a related development of the same philosophical starting point. In both cases the reasoning runs that this necessary being must be all-inclusive and, hence, divine.
The pantheist asserts an identity between God and nature, but it needs to be asked in just what sense we are to understand the term identity? To begin with it is necessary to raise two ambiguities in the logic of identity.
(1) Dialectical identity. It is important to note that many pantheists will not accept the classical logic of identity in which pairs are straightforwardly either identical or different. They may adopt rather the logic of relative identity, or identity-in-difference, by which it is possible to maintain that God and the cosmos are simultaneously both identical and different, or to put the matter in more theological language, that God is simultaneously both transcendent and immanent. For example, Eriugena holds that the universe may be subdivided into four categories: things which create but are not created, things which create and are created, things which are created but do not create, and things which neither create nor are created. He argues that all four reduce to God, and hence that God is in all things, i.e. that he subsists as their essence. For He alone by Himself truly has being, and He alone is everything which is truly said to be in things endowed with being (Periphyseon, 97). But nonetheless, for Eriugena, the uncreated retains its distinct status separate from the created, not least in that the former may be understood while the later transcends all understanding. In consequence, he insists that God is not the genus of which creatures are the species. Similarly, the Sufi philosopher, ibn Arabi identifies God and the universe, suggesting in a striking metaphor that the universe is the food of God and God the food of the universe; as deity swallows up the cosmos so the cosmos swallows up deity. (Bezels of Wisdom, 237; Husaini 1970, 180) But Ibn Arabi in no sense regards such claims as preventing him from insisting also on the fundamental gulf between the unknowable essence of God and his manifest being. We must distinguish between the nature of God and the nature of things, between that which exists by itself (God) and that which exist by another (the universe), but since the nature of God just is Being itself, no parallel distinction may be drawn between the being of God and the being of things. Nothing real exists besides God who discloses himself in and through the universe. (Chittick 1989, ch.5) Again, Nicholas of Cusa’s celebrated doctrine of the coincidence of oppositeswhich he memorably illustrated by pointing to way in which, upon infinite expansion, a circle must coincide with a straight lineallows him to say both that God and the creation are the same thing and that there exists a fundamental distinction between the realm of absolute being and the realm of limited or contracted being. (Moran 1990) Even Spinoza goes to great lengths to show that the two attributes of thought and extension by which we pick out the one substance as God or nature are nonetheless at the same time irreducibly different. They may be co-referring but they are not synonymous; indeed, they are utterly incommensurable. Such a dialectical conception of unity, in which there can be no identity without difference, is a strong element in Hegel’s thought, and also one aspect of what Hartshorne meant by dipolar theism; the opposites of immanence and transcendence are included among those which he thinks God brings together in his being.
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Posted: October 29, 2014 at 4:45 am
A rocket that was to resupply the International Space Station blew up Tuesday night a few seconds after lift-off from Wallops Island, Va. (NASA)
An unmanned rocket that was to resupply the International Space Station blew up Tuesday evening a few seconds after liftoff from Wallops Island, Va.
The Orbital Sciences rocket rose a short distance from the launchpad and then exploded in a ball of orange flames. Orbital Sciences is a private company based in Dulles, Va.
NASA confirmed that all personnel were accounted for and that there were no injuries in the explosion. However, it appeared that the explosion caused damage on the ground. Emergency personnel from nearby Virginia jurisdictions, including Chincoteague, were sent to the scene.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately known.
At a news conference Tuesday evening, NASA described the explosion as a catastrophic anomaly.
At liftoff, rockets are filled with highly volatile fuel, including kerosene, and flight is considered risky.
Officials reiterated that any specific determination of what went wrong would take time. Witness accounts of what happened varied somewhat. Some said that the rocket appeared to catch fire within seconds after liftoff, then fell back to the launchpad and exploded.
The explosion directed new attention to the commercial space flight program. In contrast to earlier years, the commercial program involves craft that are built and operated by private companies.
Officials indicated Tuesday night that they were determined to continue with the program. An Orbital Sciences official said that when the cause is identified, we will begin the necessary work to return to flight.
Posted: September 25, 2014 at 11:44 am
Genetic engineering is a set of technologies used to change the genetic makeup of cells, including thetransfer of genes within and across species boundaries to produce improved or novel organisms. The techniques involve sophisticated manipulations of genetic material and other biologically important chemicals.
Genes are the chemical blueprints that determine an organism’s traits. Moving genes from one organism to another transfers those traits. Through genetic engineering, organisms can be given targeted combinations of new genesand therefore new combinations of traitsthat do not occur in nature and, indeed, cannot be developed by natural means. Such an approach is different from classical plant and animal breeding, which operates through selection across many generations for traits of interest. Classical breeding operates on traits, only indirectly selecting genes, whereas biotechnology targets genes, attempting to influence traits. The potential of biotechnology is to rapidly accelerate the rate of progress and efficiency of breeding.
Nature can produce organisms with new gene combinations through sexual reproduction. A brown cow bred to a yellow cow may produce a calf of a completely new color. But reproductive mechanisms limit the number of new combinations. Cows must breed with other cows (or very near relatives). A breeder who wants a purple cow would be able to breed toward one only if the necessary purple genes were available somewhere in a cow or a near relative to cows. A genetic engineer has no such restriction. If purple genes are available anywhere in naturein a sea urchin or an iristhose genes could be used in attempts to produce purple cows. This unprecedented ability to shuffle genes means that genetic engineers can concoct gene combinations that would never be found in nature.
Genetic engineering is therefore qualitatively different from existing breeding technologies. It is a set of technologies for altering the traits of living organisms by inserting genetic material that has been manipulated to extract it from its source and successfully insert it in functioning order in target organisms. Because of this, genetic engineering may one day lead to the routine addition of novel genes that have been wholly synthesized in the laboratory.
In addition to desired benefits, novel organisms may bring novel risks as well. These risks must be carefully assessed to make sure that all effectsboth desired and unintendedare benign. UCS advocates caution, examination of alternatives, and careful, contextual, case-by-case evaluation of genetic enginering applications within an overall framework that moves agricultural systems of food production toward sustainability.
Posted: May 12, 2014 at 8:44 am
A specially formed material that can provide custom broadband absorption in the infrared can be identified and manufactured using “genetic algorithms,” according to Penn State engineers, who say these metamaterials can shield objects from view by infrared sensors, protect instruments and be manufactured to cover a variety of wavelengths. “The metamaterial has a high absorption over broad bandwidth,” said Jeremy A. Bossard, postdoctoral fellow in electrical engineering.
“Other screens have been developed for a narrow bandwidth, but this is the first that can cover a super-octave bandwidth in the infrared spectrum.”
Having a broader bandwidth means that one material can protect against electromagnetic radiation over a wide range of wavelengths, making the material more useful. The researchers looked at silver, gold and palladium, but found that palladium provided better bandwidth coverage.
This new metamaterial is actually made of layers on a silicon substrate or base. The first layer is palladium, followed by a polyimide layer. On top of this plastic layer is a palladium screen layer. The screen has elaborate, complicated cutouts — sub wavelength geometry — that serve to block the various wavelengths. A polyimide layer caps the whole absorber.
“As long as the properly designed pattern in the screen is much smaller than the wavelength, the material can work effectively as an absorber,” said Lan Lin, graduate student in electrical engineering. “It can also absorb 90 percent of the infrared radiation that comes in at up to a 55 degree angle to the screen.”
To design the necessary screen for this metamaterial, the researchers used a genetic algorithm. They described the screen pattern by a series of zeros and ones — a chromosome — and let the algorithm randomly select patterns to create an initial population of candidate designs. The algorithm then tested the patterns and eliminated all but the best. The best patterns were then randomly tweaked for the second generation.
Again the algorithm discarded the worst and kept the best. After a number of generations the good patterns met and even exceeded the design goals. Along the way the best pattern from each generation was retained. They report their results in a recent issue of ACS Nano.
“We wouldn’t be able to get an octave bandwidth coverage without the genetic algorithm,” said Bossard. “In the past, researchers have tried to cover the bandwidth using multiple layers, but multiple layers were difficult to manufacture and register properly.”
This evolved metamaterial can be easily manufactured because it is simply layers of metal or plastic that do not need complex alignment. The clear cap of polyimide serves to protect the screen, but also helps reduce any impedance mismatch that might occur when the wave moves from the air into the device.
“Genetic algorithms are used in electromagnetics, but we are at the forefront of using this method to design metamaterials,” said Bossard.
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Genetic approach helps design broadband metamaterial
Posted: April 26, 2014 at 12:23 pm
This is the digital symbol for PotCoin, the cryptocurrency aiming to solve the marijuana industry’s banking woes. (Photo: PotCoin.info)
DENVER Morgan Carr, co-owner of Wellspring Collective pot shop in Denver, recently told the Wall Street Journal that after losing his seventh bank account, he hired a security firm to transport his cash to a vault in a undisclosedlocation.
The security company Brinks refuses toprovide armored cars to legal marijuana businesses in Denver to transfer the massive amounts of cash on hand at their medical and recreational dispensaries.
Thieves have already burglarized Colorado pot shops using guns, bear mace, axes and a circular saw.
Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey summed it up sufficiently.
You hit a 7-Eleven, youll get 20 bucks, he said. You hit a dispensary, youll get $300,000. Its only a matter of time before someone gets shot.
But what if there was a way that pot shops could head such apending incident off at the pass by bypassing the banks that still seem tepid about coming to their aid?
Enter PotCoin, the marijuana worlds answer to Bitcoin. Its founders envision a day when the necessary cash-on-hand at any and all Mile High pot shops could be as insignificant as that of a 7-Eleven.
Launched on Jan. 24 at 4:20 p.m., the cryptocurrency is already being accepted by several online marijuana vendors, including Smoke Cartel, which sells marijuana paraphernalia, Bitcoin Seedstore, which sells marijuana seeds, and Chronic Star Medical, an online store that sells edible pot.
At first, PotCoins three developers were reluctant to relinquish their identities, going simply by Hashoshi, MrJones and Smokemon514. That changed on April 9 at the CryptoCurrency Convention in New York City. Nick Iverson identified himself as Smokemon514 and Joel Yaffe as MrJones.
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Posted: April 9, 2014 at 12:44 am
With a projected settlement date of 2025, the Mars One project has received over 200,000 applications for the one way trip to the Red Planet. But creating a living, sustainable community on the distant planet for the select inhabitants will require not only unique technological and engineering solutions, but also novel architectural systems. Bryan Versteeg is a conceptual designer whos been working with the Mars One team in anticipation of the planets eventual colonization.
Versteeg is the founder of SpaceHabs.com, which launched in 2011 in order to focus on the conceptual visualization for space exploration after he was approached by the founders of the Mars One Foundation.
Versteeg took time away from his Martian renderings to speak with Gizmag about the projects unique challenges and the inspirations behind his futuristic SpaceHab projects.
Gizmag: Mars One has received countless amounts of attention from both the media and persons looking for a literal one way trip to the red planet. Where do your designs fit into the project as a whole and what kind of earth-bound influences and empirical experiences were included in the process?
Versteeg: I started working with Mars One over 2 years ago, well before the entire project was announced. The plan is to design and build and ship parts of the infrastructure required to help people live on Mars, then send 4 people at a time to grow a (eventually) self sustaining settlement.
My job is to communicate what it could look like and help to identify some of the necessary parts required. At the front end of this project, my job is purely conceptual, creating images and animations that help people to relate to the mission. As we move forward however, the tasks involved are gigantic. Trying to identify the necessary building blocks of technology, industry, agriculture and society that would enable an isolated group of people to live long, healthy, happy lives is a monumental task. What excites me most is that the building blocks of a self sustaining infrastructure are something that can be used where ever people live. So much of what we learn in the development process can be used immediately here on earth. Projects like this help to identify and spur innovation in areas that could ultimately add to the quality of life. The sustainable and efficient growing of food is one of the most exciting examples of how innovation can potentially help everyone, whether they live in an isolated community, urban center, or Mars.
Gizmag: What specific challenges do you foresee in designing habitats for life on Mars?
Versteeg: Designing habitats for space or other planets presents many challenges that are unique to their specific environment. We don’t have the benefit of being able to use the precedents available and the lessons learned from a millennium of home design here on Earth. On Earth, every aspect of our homes has been an evolving process for generations. When designing a new home for here on Earth, you can easily choose from an endless number of variations, styles and details to customize your space, using parts and techniques you know will work. But things like doors, windows, life support systems, etc. for other planets, however, require an extensive amount of research and creativity to work in application in that worlds specific environment. Unfortunately, we don’t have a significant library to choose from on the subject, so innovation in almost every aspect is required.
Gizmag: In terms of adapting to Mars’ extreme climate, what ideas or requirements do you foresee when it comes to creating Martian habitats and how do you see that affecting Earth-based materials?
Versteeg: Environment in this case can be a very difficult variable to design for. In space, equipment exposed to the Sun on certain planets can bake at 250 C (482 F) but once in the shadows, the temperature can plummet below -160C (-256 F). These temperatures will not only cause certain materials to melt or become brittle, but a 410 C (782 F) temperature fluctuation could significantly affect structural members as a result of extreme expansion or contraction.
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SpaceHabs: One man's architectural vision for colonizing Mars
Posted: February 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm
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