Thursday, June 27, 2013

I See You!



Well, one of my accounts got hacked and the customer service chicklet told me to get rid of the email account that was associated with it because that's how they got in -- they knew my email address. I pointed out that they needed my password, but the customer service rep said somehow they got around that. Then she said I must have given the unknown hacker my email address. Hey! My email address is available to anyone who's paying attention. That account was/is my main email account with many years worth of data, emails, and of course, it is also linked to other accounts that send me bills and alerts and all sorts of important things. Oh yeah, she says, just delete that account. Not so easy. When I told her that wasn't much of an option and that it was her web site's security that failed me, she got all in a huff and started telling me her credentials and that she knew what she was doing and I should listen to her. "Adios," I said, "and thanks for your help." I realized she wasn't about to admit any liability so it was like arguing with a post. A very thick, stubborn female post.

Now, the trick is to remember all the sites I need to visit and change my email account on each and every one. Oh, yes, I have a new email account now but really wonder if it makes any difference at all since the NSA, the FBI, and probably any number of political groups have my info. I've never tried very hard to hide my identity -- I don't always make it easy, it's true, but the thing is, when you play on the internet as long and as hard as I have, you can't continue to hide who you are -- especially if you have a public persona. And I do since I've started selling my books.

I really don't have anything to hide, but I do mouth off about the government now and again and I don't think that's going to change until they break in and drag me off to the nearest FEMA camp. That doesn't scare me too much because I'm sure I'll make lots of new friends there. Plus, we'll all pretty much be like-minded individuals. We'll have a lot in common and lots to talk about.

Until then, I still have a lot of email settings to change.

Zc(3900)


New Subatomic Particle Zc(3900) Hints at Four-Quark Matter
fm scitechdaily

Particle physicists seem to have a pretty good handle on the fundamental particles of the universe, but there are some glaring holes in this understanding. Quarks are a good example of this. We know that all nuclear matter is made up of quarks, and we have a pretty good understanding of how two quarks interact at close range. But our quark theory cannot tell us which quark combinations will result in a bound particle or a stable nuclei. All we can go on is experience, and experience has shown that particles with four quarks do not exist. But the situation may have changed with the possible discovery of a new particle containing at least four quarks. Two separate groups, both reporting in Physical Review Letters, have seen evidence for this strange particle, called Zc(3900). Although the data is open to other interpretations, it’s clear that our understanding of quarks has a long way to go.

The evidence for Zc(3900) comes from two independent groups: the BESIII Collaboration at the Beijing Electron Positron Collider, China, [1] and the Belle Collaboration at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Tsukuba, Japan [2]. It is the business of both labs to accelerate electrons and positrons to nearly the speed of light, smashing them into each other and carefully analyzing the resulting debris. Taken together, the two collaborations have uncovered 466 events that appear to have a Zc(3900) in their debris.

In the ethereal world of high-energy physics, it is easy to forget that subatomic particles are quite real: they smack into things, betray their presence in photographic emulsion, leave tiny contrails in bubble chambers, set off showers of electrons in gases, and emit cones of light in liquids. Experimentalists have created detectors that leverage all of these subatomic signatures in a single, house-sized assembly. The Belle and BESIII collaborations are each named after the detectors that the scientists have labored so long to build.

Previous particle physics detectors have given us a fairly detailed picture of the interior of atoms. We know that an atom consists of electrons in orbitals and a core nucleus. Nuclei are built of protons and neutrons, and protons and neutrons are built of quarks. Quarks come in six varieties that can stick together to make an infinite array of particles called hadrons (protons and neutrons are two of these). The theory that describes the interactions of quarks is called quantum chromodynamics (QCD) and is part of our current theory of everything, called the standard model. At high energies, QCD is relatively simple to understand and its predictions have been confirmed many times over. However, it is vexingly difficult to make predictions with QCD at lower energies, where quarks bind together into particles. Thus we cannot unambiguously say which quark configurations are allowed and which are not. This irony (of having the pieces but not the manual to put them together) makes it especially important to explore the panoply of hadrons in experiments such as BESIII and Belle.

Seventy years of experimental effort has revealed that quarks tend to cluster in quark-antiquark pairs called mesons [see Fig. 1(a)], triplets of quarks called baryons [Fig. 1(b)], and groups of quark triplets, which are the atomic nuclei. But recently, evidence has begun to accumulate that other, more exotic combinations are possible [3]. One such oddity, called the Y(4260), was discovered in 2005 [4]. To appreciate the wackiness of this particle we must delve into the force that causes interactions between the quarks. Just as two electric charges exert an electromagnetic force on each other through the sharing of photons, quarks are attracted to each other through the sharing of particles called (rather unimaginatively) gluons. Unlike photons, gluons can interact strongly with each other, which can lead to strange combinations not seen in the electromagnetic sector. The Y(4260) is one such example, as it appears to be made of a charm quark, an anticharm quark, and an extra gluon. This gluon is not one of the shared gluons but would be a “permanent” member like the quarks. Theorists have even taken this gluon permanence one step further with a hypothetical particle called a “glueball” that would be all gluons, no quarks—like an atom of pure light.
It was in seeking to clarify the nature of the enigmatic Y(4260) that BESIII and Belle discovered another enigma, the Zc(3900) [1, 2]. Both groups were making Y(4260) by colliding beams of electrons and positrons, and studying the debris that emerges when the Y decays (the Y only lives for about 10−23 seconds). Much of the time, the debris consists of a positive pion (π+), a negative pion (π−), and a J/Ψ particle. Pions are mesons consisting of up and down quarks and antiquarks, while the J/Ψ is a neutral meson made of a charm-anticharm quark pair. But the events with the pions and J/Ψ contained a surprise in how the energy was distributed between the three particles. The implication is that the decay goes through an intermediate particle, the Zc, which is about 4 times heavier than a proton (3900 mega-electron-volts) and decays to a charged pion and a J/Ψ. The large mass of the Zc and its decay to J/Ψ implies that it most likely contains charm and anticharm quarks, but this by itself would be a neutral combination, which would violate electric charge conservation. The nonzero net charge of the decay products implies that Zc must be a charged particle (either positive or negative, depending on the charge of the pion). Therefore, the Zc must contain other quarks—besides charm and anticharm—that can give the appropriate charge [5]. One such combination is shown in Fig 1(c), but other four-quark combinations are possible as well. Bound states like this have never been observed before, so many in the particle physics community have been left scratching their heads.

Alternative explanations of the data exist that are based on less exotic quark-based interactions. One possibility is that the Zc is not a new particle but is an interaction between two D mesons. These D mesons are a combination of a charm quark with an up or down quark, so they give essentially the same quark content as in Fig. 1(c). Some models predict that these mesons will be attracted to each other with sufficient strength to explain the data. The difference between this D meson interaction and a new four-quark particle is only a matter of degree, but future experiments studying how the D mesons interact might be able to settle the issue. From the theory side, continued efforts at solving QCD might reveal whether four or more quarks can naturally come together to form a particle. If the four-quark explanation is confirmed, our particle physics zoo will need to be enlarged to include new species. And our understanding of quark taxonomy will have expanded into a new realm.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Let's Do The Time Warp Again



Disinformation


Disinformation is deliberately misleading information announced publicly or leaked by a government, intelligence agency, corporation or other entity for the purpose of influencing opinions or perceptions.

Unlike misinformation, which is also a form of wrong information, disinformation is produced by people who intend to deceive their audience.

A group might plant disinformation in reports, in press releases, in public statements or in practically any other routine, occasional or unusual communique. Disinformation can also be leaked, or covertly released to a source who can be trusted to repeat the false information.

A common disinformation tactic is to mix truth, half-truths, and lies. Disinformants sometimes seek to gain the confidence of their audience through emotional appeals or by using semi-neutral language interlaced with threads of disinformation.

Disinformation is a fact of life in politics. Those who practice politics for a living call it "spin." Honest people call it lying through your teeth.

Friday, June 21, 2013

World War Z



Another zombie movie came out this week -- World War Z starring Brad Pitt -- so, naturally, I had to go to today's matinee.

The flick wasn't bad. The special effects were astounding and the story kept my attention, even though I'm sort of burnt out on the whole zombie thing. These zombies, however, weren't your typical shuffling, moaning lot. Well, they were to a certain extent, but when they got riled, which was pretty easy to do, they moved pretty darn fast. They actually ran down their victims in spectacular fashion. Imagine a Democratic National Convention held in Chicago where instead of free cell phones, delegates were given doses of methamphetamines at the door. That's what the zombies were like.

So the story goes, the zombie population spreads like wildfire, amazingly fast as people are transformed into the undead in only twelve seconds after being bitten. I've had a few dates that went like that and let me tell you, those twelve seconds can seem like an eternity.

The story was taken from a 2006 apocalyptic horror novel (World War Z) by Max Brooks as a follow-up to his 2003 book, The Zombie Survival Guide. Rather than a grand overview or narrative, World War Z is a collection of individual accounts, wherein Brooks plays the role of an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission one decade after the story's Zombie War. Other passages record a decade-long war against zombies, as experienced by people of various nationalities. The personal accounts also describe the religious, geo-political, and environmental changes that resulted from the Zombie War.

As is so often the case, the movie departs radically from the book.

Brad Pitt shepherds the fam to safety in WWZ.
The movie rights for World War Z were secured by Paramount Studios in June of 2006 for Brad Pitt's production company, Plan B Entertainment to produce. The screenplay was written by J. Michael Straczynski, with Marc Forster directing, and Pitt starring as the main character, UN employee Gerry Lane.

The production was delayed in 2009 when Straczynski's script was tossed aside. The script was then completely re-written by Matthew Michael Carnahan to set the movie in the present, leaving behind much of the premise of the book in order to make it more of an action film. In April of 2010, Paramount Studios renewed its option on the movie's rights and Filming finally started in mid-2011. World War Z was initially slated for release by Paramount Pictures on December 21, 2012, but was pushed back to today -- June 21, 2013.

Some reviewers have said that original author Brooks used World War Z as a platform to criticize government ineptitude, corporate corruption, and human short-sightedness. That doesn't come through in the movie version.

Survivalism and disaster preparation are other themes in the novel which don't really come through in the movie version either.

A terrifying sight as the undead climb over one another to scale a wall.
The theme of uncertainty does come through and is central to the story. Brooks believes that his zombies allow people to deal with their own anxiety about the end of the world. According to Brooks: "They [zombies] scare me more than any other fictional creature out there because they break all the rules. Werewolves and vampires and mummies and giant sharks, you have to go look for them. My attitude is if you go looking for them, no sympathy. But zombies come to you. Zombies don't act like a predator; they act like a virus, and that is the core of my terror. A predator is intelligent by nature, and knows not to overhunt its feeding ground. A virus will just continue to spread, infect and consume, no matter what happens. It's the mindlessness behind it.

The mindlessness Brooks speaks of is connected to the context in which Brooks writes. He explains, "At this point we're pretty much living in an irrational time, full of human suffering and lacking reason or logic." When asked in a subsequent interview about how he would compare terrorists with zombies, he said, "The lack of rational thought has always scared me when it came to zombies, the idea that there is no middle ground, no room for negotiation. That has always terrified me. Of course that applies to terrorists, but it can also apply to a hurricane, or flu pandemic, or the potential earthquake that I grew up with living in L.A. Any kind of mindless extremism scares me, and we're living in some pretty extreme times."

Like I said, just like a Democratic National Convention. It is a scary thought. But hey, that's what scary movies are all about.

As a movie, World War Z loses its steam near the end, which I thought came way too quickly. If they were going to change the original story so much, they could have given us a few more cheap thrills at the end, drawn out the suspense better, I think. All the same, I'd rate this one at three and a half stars and because it's got Brad Pitt and great special effects, I'll round it up to a 4.0. Great fun, rated PG-13 and definitely leave the little ones at home.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tyranny is always
better organized
than freedom
.


It's not really funny when you think about it.


Presentism


We perceive time as a matter of course. We take it for granted and usually divide its passage into past, present and future. Additionally, we accept that the present is all we can be sure of -- because our given perceptions (those things taught to us by school, parents, and authority) tell us the future hasn't happened yet and the past may be mis-remembered. The idea of Presentism argues that the past and the future are imagined concepts, while only the present is real.

In other words, whatever happened yesterday no longer exists. This article stops existing after you have read it, that is, until you read it again. According to Presentism, the future is imaginary as well, because time cannot exist before and after an event transpires, as claimed by St. Augustine.

Do you ever find yourself operating under these premises? In regard to the future, do you ever shrug and say, "well, I'll deal with that when it happens." Or, in regard to the past, you tell yourself that people will forget an embarrassing incident (it'll fade away) or that it really didn't happen that way? If so, then you're a practitioner of Presentism, whether you know it or not.

In contemporary life, it is sometimes difficult to remain in the present moment and we may actually pay someone to sit with us and remind us that we are, indeed, in the present. Think yoga teacher or zoomba instructor. Are you grounded in the present or does your mind tend to wander?

I think either case is probably okay. I mean, there are times when it's more important to be in the moment, like when you're avoiding other cars on the freeway; but then there are the times when you need to remember the route to grandma's house and you have to reach back into your memory of the past. The mind switches easily and automatically into either mode, usually without prompting.

Where we get into trouble is when we try to kid ourselves about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future if we maintain a particularly dangerous course. That's why the truth is so important. Remember the truth? That pesky concept that creates limits to our beliefs and exposes our shortcomings and tells us that if we don't get out of the way, that approaching train is going to hit us.

Presentism. You probably thought it was a simple concept, eh?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Date Night



Our Culture of Corruption -- Chalk One Up


Looking to get high?
I know this guy who recently got busted for selling drugs. Although he never graduated from college, he had a well-paying job with the county with a salary close to what a doctor would make. He's had that job for a long time so may have squirreled away a hefty sum by now. He has a big house in a fancy neighborhood and drives a big, fancy, new car. He attends the biggest church in town where he used to be involved with teen youth groups and was a Sunday School teacher. Oh, and he's also connected to one of the old, established political families in town. Get the picture?

You'd think the guy had it all. So, you have to wonder, what the heck happened? I'm sure people are going to point to the drugs and claim that's the problem. He had a drug addiction that clouded his reason, they'll claim. While I'm sure that certainly had somethng to do with it, there is more than meets the eye. It's not all that superficial. You see, this is an example of that old creeping corruption I talk about so often. The truth is, this guy has a sickness of the soul that's been working on him for a long time and it's not just limited to his desire to get high.

Money for nothing, chicks for free...
With the money he was making, it's hard to believe he was pressed for cash and so I lean towards the explanation that he sold the drugs for a different reason. Like I said, I know this guy. I know he claims he is hypersexual; that is, his sexual drive goes over and beyond that of "normal" men. Well, that's a load of baloney too because, although he is married, he also admits he is attracted to men and has had more encounters with men than with women in the course of his life. As a Sunday School teacher, so I understand, he brought teen boys to his home where at least one engaged in smoking pot with him and a homosexual relationship blossomed between the two.

Pride and corruption always go together.
Now, I'm not saying things to be tacky, but rather to be clear. This guy has been acting on his impulses for years -- all the while displaying a misleading public persona. Corruption is rampant in our society. It hides in our churches. It cowers in our court system behind robes, benches, and technicalities. It is protected by position and power and accumulated money. It hides under the guise of drug addiction and sexual perversion and love of money and the pursuit of power. Yet, it begins in the heart. When a man considers himself larger than God, there is nothing to turn him away from himself.

New Age philosophy aligns man with God, claiming in a Hindu sense that we are all God on a path to realizing our true natures. While there is some truth in that, it is too brief an explanation, too short a statement to be fully understood and the reaction to the short statement by the ill-informed man is that it is all right to pursue a course that may take one through traditionally dark areas of life. The problem is, none of us are strong enough on our own to navigate safely through the dark areas. Believing otherwise is simply hubris -- and that's what got my acquaintance arrested.

Official, approved corruption.
The fall of this man was a long time in the making. Now that it has come, and his behavior is exposed, he will be ruined financially. His family will be disgraced. His children stigmatized. All sacrificed for his lesser desires. All because he saw no problem in surrendering to his prurient desires. If he is a victim of anything, it's not the drugs or his desire to lie with men, or the allure of easy money; it is, rather, a weakness of character nurtured by a society that coddles poor behavior with an understanding wink and nod.

The corruption of heart and soul surrounds us. We point to our neighbors as examples of poor Christians when they don't get up on Sunday mornings, but we fail to see our own shortcomings. In the eleventh hour, we are more apt to turn to a therapist and receive more drug therapy than to admit our own hearts have turned black.

Most of us think too highly of ourselves; we've wandered from the path of enlightenment, of earned righteousness, of putting in the time toward honest self-examination. When we raise ourselves up to such heights of self-worth that we lose sight of the ground, nature has a way of reminding us of our mortality as well as our innate human weaknesses. The fall is not only painful, it is ultimately unavoidable.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

If It Keeps on Rainin'...



Wisteria Tunnel


Wisteria Tunnel
Wisteria Tunnel is located at the Kawachi Fuji Gardens in Kitakyushu, Japan. Flowering trees hang overhead and the different colored rows speckle the garden.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Someone is watching you. Watching what you spend. Where you eat. Who you call. Where you travel. What you Google. What you give to charity. What church you attend. They know your mother's maiden name. They know about the nasty web sites you visit late at night. They know who you voted for in the last election. They know you like your eggs sunny side up.

Recent reports of massive government access to records from phone companies, Internet providers and credit card companies raise questions of just how much other people should know about you, especially in the age of the Internet and high technology.

They watch from the air, from cameras, from computers. And you help them, volunteering vast amounts of information about yourself in the magnetic stripe on the back of your credit card, the SIM card in your phone and the sites you visit on the Internet.

The government has access to all of it. How do you feel about that?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Under the Dome Comes to Television


Now, I'm not one for broadcast television -- as a matter of fact, I urge everyone to turn the darn thing off and read a book or exercise, or practically anything else besides allow that propaganda to enter your consciousness. However, with that said, I love movies and I watch classic films as well as new stuff, especially sci-fi, as I'm sure you'd guess. So, when I saw that Stephen King's book, Under the Dome, is being broadcast as a miniseries, I got sorta excited!

Somewhere in this blog , if I remember correctly, is a review I did of the book. I enjoyed King's story immensely, even though the ending was kinda hokey. I guess I'll have to find a free stream on the internet each week so I can watch the episodes. It's on CBS, so maybe they'll put it on their website. Meanwhile, here's the trailer -- it looks like big, creepy, sci-fi fun to me:


Did You Know...?



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Remember the Alamo


An original short story submitted for your consideration. Enjoy!

Remember the Alamo
by
Thomas Stone

Growing up is hard enough without the encumbrance of an older brother. Fortunately, and probably a factor contributing to my survival, I had only one brother. I believe one was enough.

My parents offered no relief from my brother's persecution. Time and again, after suffering real or imagined cruelty at his hands, I pleaded my case on unsympathetic ears.

"Don't play with him," my mother suggested.

"Go to your room until you can get along," my father commanded.

Banished to the refuge of my room, I plotted ways to get even. My small library of books was filled with tiny notes stuffed into the back pages where I rightly assumed brother David would never discover them. Most often the scribbled lines proclaimed my intense hatred, written left-handed, of course, to obscure fact in the off-hand chance that David did make it to the final chapter of Huckleberry Finn.

Luckily, he ascended to high school as I entered the sixth grade. It was a joyous time; I no longer had to endure punches to the arm and skull noogies during the long walk to school every morning. And when I got to school I could bully those in the lesser grades, as those who had gone before me had. Sixth grade was the pinnacle of elementary school and I could finally walk the halls tall and unafraid.

Free from my brother's oppression, my pent-up mouth worked itself free. I talked and giggled and daily made a fool of myself, not to say I didn't enjoy it immensely. My marks in conduct suffered, but my other grades compensated enough to keep mom and dad satisfied.

The mysteries of junior high were a year away and recess was still a needed and anticipated break. The fortunate were allowed to don the garb of the Safety Patrol and leave class early to herd the younger kids across the street. I am proud to say I was among that number. It was an admired and prestigious position. An intoxicating taste of power. Sad to say, it all ended because of Mrs. Campbell.

The worst thing about sixth grade was Mrs. Campbell. The notorious Mrs. Clora Campbell, supporter of the Republican Women's Caucus, listed in the Who's Who of the Charter of Elementary School Teachers, 1938 graduate of North Texas State Teacher's College, and a Daughter of the Texas Revolution. With a face that would stop a charging rhino, she stood six foot four in her sturdy heels. They had to be strong to support her mass; a hard, beefy, two hundred and sixty pounds.

Mrs. Campbell had taught school for twenty years and had survived, so she told us the first day, by learning to be intolerant of slackards and by setting rules that were fair but stringent. She never broke the rules and she expected the same from her students.

One day, toward mid-semester, Mrs. Campbell asked what was quite possibly the stupidest question any of us had ever heard. Naturally, I came up with an equally stupid answer.

"Class," she said, "what do you call a story of the imagination, a story that you might dream up? Maybe a story that isn't even true? What would you call that?"

I looked at Gary Gascoigne, who sat in the desk next to me. Gary crossed his eyes, then looked rapidly from one side to the other. His eyes moved independent from each other and I stifled a laugh.

Her voice struck me like a bolt of lightning. "What would you call that, Tommy?"

My face dropped its grin and, seemingly of its own accord, took on an expression of pure adolescent innocence. I knew the answer, or in any event, I knew an answer. I shrugged. "A lie?" I suggested.

The class burst into laughter but quickly fell into silence under Mrs. Campbell's glare. She turned back to me.

"No. Not a lie. To begin with, you know that it's just a story. Now what would you call that?"

I shrugged and shook my head. "I don't know."

"Perhaps if you'd read your assignment, you would know." She turned back to the class as I shrank into my chair.

"Does anybody know what kind of a story I'm talking about?"

Hands shot up. Mrs. Campbell picked Mary Lou Dollahite, the smartest and prettiest girl in the class.

"A fantasy," Mary Lou said.

"That's right," agreed Mrs. Campbell, "a fantasy. Something an author dreams up out of the imagination. Like Superman and Wonder Woman."

I grimaced as she spoke the sacred names and dismissed them and their super powers with a wave of her large-knuckled hand.

"I'm sure you've all had flights of fancy and played 'what if'? Most children do. Do any of you play cowboys and Indians?"

A dozen hands launched into the air.

"All right, that's enough. Your reading assignment is an example of a fantasy. Your homework assignment will be to write a fantasy of your own. No less than three pages. Due by reading period tomorrow."

Subdued moans came from numerous sources. Homework. We hated homework. It kept us from our real purpose: television. Mrs. Campbell probably would have given us more to do but, mercifully, the bell rang and we fairly bolted from our seats.

"No one said you could leave!" she thundered.

We dropped back to our seats as if our legs had been shot off. For a moment it was so quiet you could have heard a mouse pissing on cotton. Mrs. Campbell stood stock-still and glared at us, imposing paralysis upon us by the sheer force of her will alone. After an interminable length of time, she softened. "All right," she said, "you may leave in an orderly fashion."

In seconds, we were out of the classroom, the building, and the schoolyard. We knew there were three full hours of daylight left with a string of cartoons and game shows to fill the time.

I wasted little time getting home and setting myself in front of the television with a glass of milk and a handful of oatmeal cookies. Daffy Duck illuminated me with his disregard for order and decorum. He kissed Elmer full on the lips and darted away as the inept hunter fired blasts from his cartoon shotgun. It was violent and sexy and, I thought, probably a perfect example of a fantasy. That was it. Homework Problem #1 was solved. I would write Mrs. Campbell a cartoon. It would be easy; after all, I was something of an expert on the subject.

I was so focused on the television, I didn't hear my father when he entered the house.

"You got home early!" My mother's voice floated from the kitchen but I ignored it.

A series of crashes, bangs, and other assorted cartoon noises came from the TV. Entranced, I ate another cookie and stared at the screen. My father's voice eased into my consciousness.

"Is this what he does every day after school?"

"Not every day."

A pause. "Tommy?"

I turned and looked. "Hi, Dad." I turned back to the TV.

"Tommy," he said again, irritation creeping into his voice, "look at me."

He didn't sound too friendly so I did as I was told, and added respect. "Yes sir," I said.

"Don't you have anything better to do?"

I was honestly surprised. "No." I shook my head.

"Well, don't you have any homework?"

He had me there. "Well yeah, but I can do that later."

He sat down beside me and took a cookie. "Any math homework?"

"Nope. Not tonight. I have to write a story tonight. A fantasy." By then, I thought the conversation was going pretty well, so I turned back to the television. Bugs Bunny was on.

"What are you going to write about?"

"Oh, I don't know; I was thinkin' about a cartoon."

"A cartoon?"

I nodded.

"How long does it have to be?"

I told him.

"Three pages." he repeated, a little too loudly, I thought. Bugs was in a particularly cunning conversation with the Tasmanian Devil so I was distracted, otherwise I might have seen what was coming.

My father placed a firm hand on my bony shoulder and turned me away from the television.

"You'll go to your room and do your homework. It'll take awhile to write three pages, even if you're making it up. And I don't want you to write a cartoon. Try for something better than that."

He stood and crossed the room to my beloved TV. Switching it off, he said one word. "Now."

"Yes sir." I sighed and slipped off the couch. Once in my room, I didn't exactly throw myself into my work. I sat at my cluttered desk and thumbed through a comic book.

There was a sound behind me, like the creaking of the floor when someone takes a step. But I didn't turn around. I couldn't. If it was a monster, it would go away only if I didn't look. Yet, I could feel its hot breath on my neck. I cowered and something thumped me on the ear.

"Ow!" I winced.

"Hello, twerp." My brother stood behind me, grinning.

"Get out of here," I said.

"Make me."

"You're already made, you're just too dumb to know it."

David was in one of his rare social moods. He grabbed me by the collar and lifted me halfway out of the chair.

"You're a punk, you know that?"

I had a comeback. "I'm rubber and you're glue," I said, "whatever you say bounces off me and sticks on you."

I knew better but I couldn't help myself. If I was going to get pounded, I might as well go down with style and belittle my attacker.

David twisted my collar and the neck of my shirt drew tight around my throat. It was the end and there was nothing I could do about it.

"What's going on in here?" My father's voice never sounded so good. David let me go and instinctively adopted an innocent expression. It was a family trait.

"Nothing," David said.

"Well, leave your brother alone. He's got to do his homework. Don't you have some homework?"

"Already done."

"Well, go to your room and do it again."

"Yes sir," my brother replied and hurried to his bedroom. "And you," my father directed his attention to me, "do your assignment."

"Okay." To prove it, I opened my notebook and wet the tip of a pencil with my tongue.

"Don't put the pencil in your mouth and get to work."

"Okay."

Dad left and I sat there, pencil in hand, without a coherent thought in my head. Familiar music came from my brother's room. Usually he played Martin Denny in the afternoons, but this day it was the theme song from a current John Wayne movie, The Alamo. I hummed along as I tried to dream up something to write about. Quite suddenly, an idea occurred to me. A fantasy. In seconds, I was busily scribbling my story onto notebook paper.

*

The following day started out routine enough. By noon, it was necessary to circulate the air in the classroom by means of an industrial-sized fan that drew more hot air in through an open window and pushed it around the room. The heat, combined with the constant drone of the fan, made me sleepy and I struggled to stay awake.

I looked at Gary, sitting across the aisle. His head rested on the top of his desk and he breathed heavily in his sleep. Mary Lou read her story to herself. She was pretty and I thought I could see the lumps of her budding breasts. I sighed and looked at my own story. My forearm stuck to the paper and I peeled it away.

A sudden rapping made us all jump in unison. "Class?" Mrs. Campbell asked as she continued to slap a ruler against her desktop. "Class? Finish your compositions and don't forget to put your names on top."

Gary held up his hand. "I'm not done yet."

"Put your name on the top of the first page."

There was no arguing with her. Gary scrawled his name atop the blank page and started to pass the sheet of paper forward.

"No," Mrs. Campbell instructed, "hold on to your papers for now. We're going to read them aloud in class."

A groan rippled through the room. Mrs. Campbell stifled it with a glance.

"All right, who would like to go first?"

We looked at one another and wondered who would be foolish enough to volunteer. A few of the girls held up their hands, Mary Lou included. Mrs. Campbell gave Mary Lou the nod and she went to the front of the class.

The story was boring, something about a fairy princess lost in a giant's castle, but none of us cared. It was nice to listen to Mary Lou. Mrs. Campbell nodded approvingly throughout the tale and thanked Mary Lou when it was over.

Next was Mike Kent. Mike wrote a story about a trip to hell where he met giant insects armed with automatic weapons. The story was utterly stupid but Mike was funny because he kept laughing at his own prose. Mrs. Campbell became irritated and asked him what was wrong.

He turned an even deeper red. "Nothing," he said through giggles and fits of laughter.

"Then read your story and please refrain from laughter."

Somehow, he made it to the end. When he got back to his desk, he slammed his hand over his mouth and cracked up.

Mrs. Campbell had seen probably thousands of boys going through the same sort of nervous, laughing fit. Unsmiling, she stared at him. "That was... different. Thank you, Michael. Now, let's see, who's next?" A few hands lifted into the air.

"Tommy? How about you?"

Why me, why me, why me, I wondered. Oh well. I took the three pages and rose to my feet. Slowly, I started towards the front, essay in hand, heart pounding. A knock at the door stopped me in mid-stride. Every head in the room turned to look. Another teacher stood in the open door.

"Mrs. Campbell," she said, "I'm sorry to interrupt. May I have a word with you?"

Mrs. Campbell rose from her desk like a hippo roused from sleep. She sauntered to the door, her great hips shifting laconically, belying the power in her large frame.

We watched in trained silence as the two women put their heads together and whispered in hushed tones. I nervously shifted from foot to foot and glanced at the three pages in my hand. Maybe I wouldn't have to read aloud after all, maybe there was going to be a fire drill.

Mrs. Campbell turned back to face the class. "I need to talk to Mr. Belcher. Continue to read your compositions. I'll return shortly. Mrs. Grotts is next door. If there is any unnecessary noise, I will know." She gave us a long, hard look to capitalize her point, then waved a finger at me.

"Tommy, read your composition to the class."

"Yes ma'am."

She turned and walked out with Mrs. Grotts.

I took a deep breath and looked at my paper. The class, no longer distracted by Mrs. Campbell, became visibly relaxed. Some of them even focused their attention on me. I started to read.

"I call this Remember the Alamo," I started. "As most of you know, the battle of the Alamo was in San Antonio in 1836. To make a long story short, the Texans lost real bad to the Mexicans. It wasn't exactly their fault because they were outnumbered twenty to one. Still, they made a pretty good showing. The true facts of this battle have never been revealed. Today, I'm going to tell you what really happened."

To my amazement, I had the entire class eating out of my hand. I read on.

"The night of March 16th was similar to the preceding thirteen nights. The Mexicans surrounded the old church. Their fires could easily be seen from the walls and even their conversations could be overheard. As a token of respect, they provided music to the trapped Texans. In an effort to lighten the mood, Davey Crockett donned a woman's dress and danced for his troops. Colonel Travis became quite angry when Crockett climbed atop a wall and exposed his backside to the Mexicans."

The class, predictable in their appreciation of low-grade humor, exploded into laughter. I realized I was on a roll.

"Travis succeeded in pulling the giggling Crockett off the wall but was shocked when Davey socked him in the eye. To preserve his honor, Travis challenged Crockett to a duel. This only succeeded in causing Crockett to laugh so hard he fell to the ground.

All the racket woke Jim Bowie and he staggered out of his room. Yawning, he asked his men what was going on. They pointed at Travis and Crockett. Travis, his sword unsheathed, stood over the woodsman and watched Davey as he laughed himself into exhaustion."

I looked up. "Kind of like Mike," I said. That got a big laugh. I went on.

"Crockett's men laughed too and they all pointed at Travis. Jim Bowie asked what was so damn funny? And why was Davey dressed in a 'yaller' dress?"

Howls of laughter came from the boys in the class. I began to feel a bit giddy myself.

"Of course, by this time Travis was fit to be tied and when he made as if to run Davey through with his saber, some of Davey's men grabbed the colonel and held him down. That caused Travis' men to rush to the aid of their leader. Seeing a good old-fashioned fight in the making, Bowie ordered a man to get him a bottle and sauntered back into his room.

By the time the Texans finished fighting one another, it was nearly morning. They were exhausted from staying up all night and fell asleep just before the Mexicans snuck up and tore down the gates. After that, it was a slaughter and, because there are young girls in my audience, I think it's inappropriate to relate the details of the final battle. But I'll say this much: it was horrible.

History calls that final battle the fall of the Alamo, but if the truth were known, we would see that the walls actually crumbled in an earthquake some weeks later. The Mexicans took credit for it, but it was after the fact. Another obscure fact is that Davey Crockett didn't die in the battle. He actually escaped and lived out a long life singing and dancing in bars and saloons all over the American West. Wearing his 'yaller' dress, he gave the song, Yellow Rose of Texas, an entirely new meaning. Not many people know that."

Thus ended my story. I sheepishly looked out into the smiling faces of my audience and knew I was a success. On the way back to my chair, I was heartily congratulated by my peers. Mike Kent clapped me on the back and Gary Gascoigne crossed his eyes at me. Even Mary Lou smiled at me. I basked in their admiration. So enamored was I with myself, I didn't hear any of the other stories. After school was out, I stood proudly in my crossing guard belt, confident with my newfound intellect.

At home that evening, my brother's attacks were humorously tolerated. My father seemed much wiser than he had the day before. My mother fairly glowed in her tolerance and patience. It was as if my eyes had been opened. And it was all because of a stupid story I had made up.

Well, I suppose I was flying a little too high, but, as is usually the case, reality soon brought me back to earth.

When class convened the following day, everything seemed normal enough. Together, we said the pledge of allegiance then took our seats. Mrs. Campbell called the roll and one by one we answered. When she came to my name, I thought I detected irritation in her voice. But it couldn't be; by now she had read my story and, like the others, had become illuminated by my wit. When the roll was completed, Mrs. Campbell stood and told us to take out our readers and begin reading a sample of a fantasy. Then she called my name.

"Tommy Stone."

It wasn't delivered as a question, it was an unavoidable statement of fact.

"Yes ma'am?"

"Come with me." Mrs. Campbell turned and strode to the door, not bothering to view my lithe form slink from my desk and meekly follow. Once outside the classroom, she turned and looked down at me, an enormous frown grotesquely pulling down the corners of her mouth until they seemed as if the accompanying jowls might drop onto her ample chest. A drop of spittle rested in one of the corners of her mouth and balanced itself there. Her eyes narrowed and seered into me. I didn't know what I'd done, but it was certain I was about to catch hell for it. At that moment, I saw that she clutched my short story in one beefy paw.

Without speaking, she showed me the paper. Across the top was written a bright, red "F". She had failed me. I couldn't believe it. She'd given me an "F" on my masterpiece.

"Do you know what you've done?" She said, anger clearly in her voice.

Not knowing what to say, I reverted to the truth. "No ma'am," I said.

Holding my essay in hand, she shook it at me. "You've desecrated the memory of some great men. Men who made it possible for you to be here today. You've told lies about them..."

Something had gone horribly wrong. She didn't see the humor, she didn't see the wit...

"...and as a lesson, I want you to write a report on every historical figure you mentioned in your composition."

At the mention of extra work, I found my tongue and protested, "But you told us to write a fantasy! I was only trying to do what you wanted!"

She held up a hand and I snapped my mouth shut. "A fantasy is one thing. Lies about real people are something else altogether. I've talked to Mr. Belcher about this and he wants to see you."

My eyes grew wide and it felt as if someone had pulled a plug out of the middle of my stomach. I thought I might faint. Mr. Belcher was the principal. You didn't go to see him unless it was something really bad. The import of my brief success as a writer had hit me right between the eyes. And that's where the tears came from.

I cried all the way to the principal's office and all the while I waited to see him. Once I was admitted to his chambers, the tears turned into pitiful, half-choked sobs.

Mr. Belcher wasn't as mad as Mrs. Campbell, but he was every bit as scary. I dreaded getting a paddling. I knew I wouldn't live through it. Instead of a paddling, he gave me a stern lecture about respect and patriotism. I must admit, I was too shook to understand the words, but I caught the general drift. As punishment I was to take the paper home, have my parents read and sign it, and bring it back to Mrs. Campbell.

I knew what that meant: getting in trouble at school had an automatic parental verdict. Grounded. Possible spanking, depending on how I handled it.

On the way out, Mr. Belcher handed me another tissue. I wiped my nose. I wanted to tell him I was sorry, but I couldn't get the words out.

"And one more thing, Tommy."

I stopped and waited for another life axiom.

"You can turn in your Safety Patrol gear. Mrs. Campbell and I agree that you should spend more time on your studies. Now go on back to class and try to do the right thing."

In shock, I turned and trudged out, the weight of the world on my fragile shoulders. Stripped of my Safety Patrol gear, carrying an essay with a big, red "F" on it, eyes red from crying and nose dripping, I returned to the classroom. Nobody said anything. Apparently, Mrs. Campbell had cleared the way. My public disgrace was complete. In the span of two days, I had passed from class idiot to blooming genius to social pariah.

It was perhaps the worst day of my brief life and I listlessly suffered through it, alternately contemplating suicide and running away. After school, the other boys asked me if I got paddled. When I said I hadn't, they lost interest and went their way. I was left alone to face the wrath of my parents.

In front of my mother, I tried to appear normal. Immediately, she knew something was up.

"What's the matter?"

"Nothing."

"You sure?"

"Yeah." I nodded my head. She persisted.

"Everything all right at school today?"

"Can I have some cookies?" I asked, changing the subject.

"Okay, but not too many."

Instead of dropping down in front of the television as usual, I took my cookies and milk to my room. I knew it looked suspicious but I had had enough for one day. I was afraid I would start crying and then I would blubber out the truth to my mother. At that point, the hell that was sure to come would start. Better to put it off as long as possible.

I ate the cookies slowly, dipping them in the milk and taking small bites to make them last longer. My essay peeked out from beneath my notebook. Reaching for it, I pulled it out. The "F" was still at the top of the page. It seemed bigger and redder than it had before. I was in a real mess, a regular nightmare. The tears came again.

I couldn't help it, I was sure to be dead in a matter of hours because I had made fun of Davey Crockett. Life was unfair and I put my head down and cried about it.

"What's the matter, goat boy?" The brother's voice made me jump and I looked up.

"Leave me alone."

David sauntered into the room, scanning about for anything of interest. He picked up a comic, looked at it, and tossed it on the bed. "Bad day in Gotham City?"

"Why don't you mind your own business?" I said.

"I am minding my business." My brother reached under the bed and withdrew a tennis racket. "My tennis racket," he said accusingly.

"It's mine!"

"Nope," he said, "it's mine. Dad gave it to me."

"He said I could use it..."

"When I say you can. What's that?"

"What's what?"

David could move fast and he had my composition in hand before I realized he was reaching for it. The tennis racket had been a diversion and now my brother was looking at the big, red "F" and reading the accompanying note. Slowly, he looked down at me.

"Whoa," he said, "you're in big trouble."

"I know it," I snapped back. "Give it to me." I reached for the papers but he simply raised his hand until my story was out of reach.

"And that's what you're bawling about?"

"I'm not bawling!"

"Whatever. I don't see what the big deal is." He snatched a pen from the cluttered desktop and quickly signed my mother's name to the bottom of Mrs. Campbell's note.

I panicked. "What are you doing!?"

"Saving your goat-boy ass. There..." he straightened up and handed me the essay and the note. "Problem solved." Feigning superiority, he strolled out.

At first, I couldn't see how things could get any worse. Dad would see the bogus signature and I would swing for that too. Still, I had to admit, David had done a good job. The signature looked just like my mother's elegant scrawl. It occurred to me it just might work. At that point, anything was worth a try.

*

I left the note on Mrs. Campbell's desk the next day. I copied the biographies of Crockett, Travis, and Bowie from the Encyclopedia Britannica and learned more about the battle of the Alamo than I ever thought possible. After I turned in the extra work, the incident gradually faded into the past and I reverted to my quest for attention through imbecilic behavior. My parents never found out about the story and in time I realized they probably wouldn't have killed me after all. My brother continued to harass and humiliate me whenever the mood struck, but he never told about the "F" and he never said anything about it to me again.

I guess having an older brother was an evil necessity in those times. Like something that you'd like to do without, but can't afford to let go. In any case, I survived, and to this day I'm glad I had only one brother. One was enough.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Leon contemplates the universe in a glass of milk.

To The Stars


To The Stars, first novel in a science fiction series by Thomas C. Stone, is free to download in a number of formats compatible with your computer, smart phone, Kindle, Nook, and practically any other electronic reading device. Download from Amazon books here. From Smashwords here. Barnes and Noble here. Sony ebooks here. Apple too!

To The Stars is also available in a large paperbook book for a nominal charge.

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy my books and stories!

Navenna Shine


Seattle woman attempting to live on sunshine, water, and a spot of tea now and again. She's on her 34th day. Here's her Facebook page if you want to keep up. Read news article here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

War of 1812


"We owe allegiance to no crown."
Last year was the official bicentennial anniversary of the American War of 1812 against the British. I'm happy to say we won that affair or else we all might be paying taxes to the Brits. I don't remember hearing much about celebration events but I'm sure New Orleans will be hopping two years from now when the 200 year anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans comes round. That is, if the U.S. still exists as a sovereign state by then.

Anyhoo, the U.S.-British conflict arose from U.S. grievances over oppressive British maritime practices in the Napoleonic Wars. To enforce its blockade of French ports, the British boarded U.S. and other neutral ships to check cargo they suspected was being sent to France and to impress seamen alleged to be British navy deserters. The U.S. reacted by passing legislation such as the Embargo Act (1807); Congress's War Hawks called for expulsion of the British from Canada to ensure frontier security. When the U.S. demanded an end to the interference, Britain refused, and the U.S. declared war on June 18, 1812. Despite early U.S. naval victories, notably the duel between the Constitution and the Guerrire, Britain maintained its blockade of eastern U.S. ports. A British force burned public buildings in Washington, D.C., including the White House, in retaliation for similar U.S. acts in York (Toronto), Can. The war became increasingly unpopular, especially in New England (sound familiar?), where a separatist movement originated at the Hartford Convention.

On Dec. 24, 1814, the U.S. had signed the Treaty of Ghent with the limeys, which essentially restored territories captured by both sides. Although the treaty was signed before the decisive Battle of New Orleans., victory led the country to later proclaim the war a U.S. victory. Yay for us!

Andrew Jackson
The (1815) battle between the U.S. and Britain was fought outside the city of New Orleans after the Treaty of Ghent was signed. No internet in those days, or a NSA-monitored Verizon telephone network alerted the northern know-it-alls to the fact that southern soldiers (militia and volunteers) had insured the Brits would never again invade U.S. soil.

Battle of New Orleans
Here's how it went. Late in 1814 a British fleet of more than 50 ships commanded by Gen. Edward Pakenham (17781815) sailed into the Gulf of Mexico and prepared to attack New Orleans. Gen. Andrew Jackson, commander of the U.S. Army of the Southwest, which consisted chiefly of militiamen and volunteers, fought the British regulars who stormed their position on Jan. 8, 1815. His troops were so effectively entrenched behind earthworks and the British troops so exposed that the fighting was brief, ending in a decisive U.S. victory, a British withdrawal, and the death of Gen. Pakenham. The battle was without military value, since the Treaty of Ghent ending the war had been signed in December, but the news had been slow to arrive. The victory nevertheless raised national morale, enhancing Jackson's reputation as a hero and preparing his way to the presidency.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Major Laws of Physics


Many people believe an understanding of physics is too complicated, too vast a subject to even attempt to learn anything about it. Not really. For example, the following laws of physics are considered fundamental and, as you can see, are laid out here in a handful of short paragraphs. Follow the links for more detailed explanations.

Sir Isaac had a head of hair, eh?
Newton's Three Laws of Motion:
Sir Isaac Newton developed the Three Laws of Motion, which describe basic rules about how the motion of physical objects change. Newton was able to define the fundamental relationship between the acceleration of an object and the total forces acting upon it.

"Law" of Gravity:
Newton developed his "Law of Gravity" to explain the attractive force between a pair of masses. In the 20th century, it became clear that this is not the whole story, as Einstein's theory of general relativity has provided a more comprehensive explanation for the phenomenon of gravity. Still, Newton's law of gravity is an accurate low-energy approximation that works for most cases in physics.

Conservation of Mass-Energy:
The total energy in a closed or isolated system is constant, no matter what happens. Another law stated that the mass in an isolated system is constant. When Einstein discovered the relationship E=mc2 (in other words that mass was a manifestation of energy) the law was said to refer to the conservation of mass-energy. The total of both mass and energy is retained, although some may change forms. The ultimate example of this is a nuclear explosion, where mass transforms into energy.

Conservation of Momentum:
The total momentum in a closed or isolated system remains constant. An alternative of this is the law of conservation of angular momentum.

Laws of Thermodynamics:
The laws of thermodynamics are actually specific manifestations of the law of conservation of mass-energy as it relates to thermodynamic processes.

* The zeroeth law of thermodynamics makes the notion of temperature possible.
* The first law of thermodynamics demonstrates the relationship between internal energy, added heat, and work within a system.
* The second law of thermodynamics relates to the natural flow of heat within a closed system.
* The third law of thermodynamics states that it is impossible to create a thermodynamic process which is perfectly efficient.

Electrostatic Laws:
Coulomb's law and Gauss's law are formulations of the relationship between electrically charged particles to create electrostatic force and electrostatic fields. The formulas, it turns out, parallel the laws of universal gravitation in structure. There also exist similar laws relating to magnetism and electromagnetism as a whole.

Invariance of the Speed of Light:
Einstein's major insight, which led him to the Theory of Relativity, was the realization that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant and is not measured differently for observers in different inertial frames of reference, unlike all other forms of motion. Some theoretical physicists have conjectured different variable speed of light (VSL) possibilities, but these are highly speculative. Most physicists believe that Einstein was right and the speed of light is constant.

Now, you might ask, what happened to quantum physics? Ah, the laws stated above are fundamental to understanding physics. Quantum physics is a relatively new field of study that has arisen from the study of the fundamentals. Gotta walk before you can run.

Antarctica -- Under The Ice



Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot


The author of The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot (1953-1992), wrote several books on holograms and quantum mechanics, and their relationship to ancient mysticism and theoretical models of reality. Talbot relies heavily on the works of physicist David Bohm and neurophysiologist Karl Pribram, who independently reached the conclusion that the universe operates on a holographic model. Talbot maintains that the holographic model might also explain paranormal and unusual phenomena as well as offering a basis for mystical experiences.

Quantum Entanglement ("Spooky action at a distance")

In 1982, a research team at the University of Paris led by physicist Alain Aspect performed what may turn out to be one of the most important experiments of the 20th century. Aspect's experiment was related to the EPR Experiment, a consciousness experiment which had been devised by Albert Einstein, and his colleagues, Poldlsky and Rosen, in order to disprove Quantum Mechanics on the basis of the Pauli Exclusion Principle (which contradicts Special Relativity).

Aspect and his team discovered that under certain circumstances subatomic particles such as electrons are able to instantaneously communicate with each other regardless of the distance separating them. It doesn't matter whether they are 10 feet or 10 billion miles apart. Somehow each particle always seemed to know what the other was doing. This feat violates Einstein's long-held tenet that no communication can travel faster than the speed of light which is tantamount to breaking the time barrier. This daunting prospect has caused some physicists to try to come up with elaborate ways to explain away Aspect's findings. But it has inspired others to offer even more radical explanations.

Reality is an Illusion

David Bohm
University of London physicist David Bohm, for example, believes Aspect's findings imply that objective reality is an illusion, and that despite its apparent solidity, the universe acts as a gigantic and splendidly detailed hologram.

I've written about this recently in another article on this blog, but a quick review is in order here: A hologram is a three-dimensional photograph made with the aid of a laser. To make a hologram, the object to be photographed is first bathed in the light of a laser beam. Then a second laser beam is bounced off the reflected light of the first and the resulting interference pattern (the area where the two laser beams commingle) is captured on film.
Holographic Film
When the film is developed, it looks like a meaningless swirl of light and dark lines -- but as soon as the developed film is illuminated by another laser beam, a three-dimensional image of the original object appears. The three-dimensionality of such images is not the only remarkable characteristic of holograms. If a hologram of a rose is cut in half and then illuminated by a laser, each half will still be found to contain the entire image of the rose. Even if the halves are divided again, each snippet of film will always be found to contain a smaller but intact version of the original image. Unlike normal photographs, every part of a hologram contains all the information possessed by the whole.

The "whole in every part" nature of a hologram provides us with an entirely new way of understanding organization and order. For most of its history, Western science has labored under the bias that the best way to understand a material phenomenon, whether a frog or an atom, is to dissect it and study its respective parts. A hologram teaches us that some things in the universe may not lend themselves to this approach. If we try to take a hologram apart, we don't get pieces of it. Instead, we get smaller wholes.

Bohm believes subatomic particles remain in contact with one another not because they are sending an undetected signal, but because their separateness is an illusion. He argues that at some deeper level of reality such particles are not individual entities, but are actually extensions of the same fundamental something.

To visualize what he means, Bohm offers the following analogy. Imagine an aquarium containing a fish. Imagine also that you are unable to see the aquarium directly and your knowledge about it and what it contains comes from two television cameras, one directed at the aquarium's front and the other directed at its side. As you stare at the two television monitors, you might assume that the fish on each of the screens are separate entities. After all, because the cameras are set at different angles, each of the images will be slightly different. But as you continue to watch the two fish, you will eventually become aware that there is a certain relationship between them. When one turns, the other also makes a slightly different but corresponding turn; when one faces the front, the other always faces toward the side. If you remain unaware of the full scope of the situation, you might even conclude that the fish must be instantaneously communicating with one another, but this is clearly not the case. This, says Bohm, is precisely what is going on between the subatomic particles in Aspect's experiment.

So, the apparent faster-than-light connection between subatomic particles is really saying there is a deeper level of reality we are not ordinarily conscious of, a more complex dimension (or dimensions) beyond our own analogous to the aquarium. Bohm adds that we view objects such as subatomic particles as separate from one another because we are seeing only a portion of their reality. Such particles are not separate "parts", but facets of a deeper and more underlying unity.

Such a universe possesses other startling features and much of The Holographic Universe deals with examples from shamanism, psychology, and the paranormal, as well as ancient religious traditions, including Christianity.

The upshod of all this is, if the apparent separateness of subatomic particles is illusory, it means that at a deeper level of reality all things in the universe are infinitely interconnected. Everything interpenetrates everything else, and although human nature may seek to categorize and pigeonhole and subdivide the various phenomena of the universe, all apportionments are of necessity artificial and all of nature is ultimately a seamless web. Recent revelations about the role of the Higgs' Boson (the so-called God particle) seem to support the thesis as well.

This is certainly not all there is to The Holographic Universe. The even more interesting postulation is that our individual consciousnesses work within the general holographic framework to create and renew reality. As Talbot points out over and over within the book, this is not a new idea.

If you're searching for answers and brave enough to look at this startling theory, I highly recommend Talbot's book. I would also remind you that in life, ultimately you shoot your own scene. You are responsible for what you believe and the actions you choose. Essentially, you create your own reality via your beliefs. If you choose not to believe this, then someone else will create your reality for you.



Sunday, June 2, 2013

Three Day Book Giveaway



Over the next three days, send your email address to info@thomascstone.com, and I'll send you a download code and address where you can download (for free) my latest ebook, Jennings' Folly. I promise not to sell your email address to the Russians.