Global Warming Puts the Arctic on Thin Ice.


Answers to questions about the Arctic’s shrinking ice cap and its global significance.

1.    Why are global warming specialists watching the Arctic so closely?

2.    What kinds of changes are taking place in the Arctic now?

3.    How does this dramatic ice melt affect the Arctic?

4.    Will Arctic ice melt have any effects beyond the polar region?

5.    Can we do anything to stop global warming?


1. Why are global warming specialists watching the Arctic so closely?

The Arctic is global warming’s canary in the coal mine. It’s a highly sensitive region, and it’s being profoundly affected by the changing climate. Most scientists view what’s happening now in the Arctic as a harbinger of things to come.

Since 1979, the size of the summer polar ice cap has shrunk more than 20 percent.

2. What kinds of changes are taking place in the Arctic now?

Average temperatures in the Arctic region are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. Arctic ice is getting thinner, melting and rupturing. For example, the largest single block of ice in the Arctic, the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, had been around for 3,000 years before it started cracking in 2000. Within two years it had split all the way through and is now breaking into pieces.

The polar ice cap as a whole is shrinking. Images from NASA satellites show that the area of permanent ice cover is contracting at a rate of 9 percent each decade. If this trend continues, summers in the Arctic could become ice-free by the end of the century.

3. How does this dramatic ice melt affect the Arctic?

The melting of once-permanent ice is already affecting native people, wildlife and plants. When the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf splintered, the rare freshwater lake it enclosed, along with its unique ecosystem, drained into the ocean. Polar bears, whales, walrus and seals are changing their feeding and migration patterns, making it harder for native people to hunt them. And along Arctic coastlines, entire villages will be uprooted because they’re in danger of being swamped. The native people of the Arctic view global warming as a threat to their cultural identity and their very survival.

4. Will Arctic ice melt have any effects beyond the polar region?

Yes — the contraction of the Arctic ice cap is accelerating global warming. Snow and ice usually form a protective, cooling layer over the Arctic. When that covering melts, the earth absorbs more sunlight and gets hotter. And the latest scientific data confirm the far-reaching effects of climbing global temperatures.

Rising temperatures are already affecting Alaska, where the spruce bark beetle is breeding faster in the warmer weather. These pests now sneak in an extra generation each year. From 1993 to 2003, they chewed up 3.4 million acres of Alaskan forest.

Melting glaciers and land-based ice sheets also contribute to rising sea levels, threatening low-lying areas around the globe with beach erosion, coastal flooding, and contamination of freshwater supplies. (Sea level is not affected when floating sea ice melts.) At particular risk are island nations like the Maldives; over half of that nation’s populated islands lie less than 6 feet above sea level. Even major cities like Shanghai and Lagos would face similar problems, as they also lie just six feet above present water levels.

Rising seas would severely impact the United States as well. Scientists project as much as a 3-foot sea-level rise by 2100. According to a 2001 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study, this increase would inundate some 22,400 square miles of land along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, primarily in Louisiana, Texas, Florida and North Carolina.

A warmer Arctic will also affect weather patterns and thus food production around the world. Wheat farming in Kansas, for example, would be profoundly affected by the loss of ice cover in the Arctic. According to a NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies computer model, Kansas would be 4 degrees warmer in the winter without Arctic ice, which normally creates cold air masses that frequently slide southward into the United States. Warmer winters are bad news for wheat farmers, who need freezing temperatures to grow winter wheat. And in summer, warmer days would rob Kansas soil of 10 percent of its moisture, drying out valuable cropland.

5. Can we do anything to stop global warming?

Polar Action Guide

Yes. When we burn fossil fuels — oil, coal and gas — to generate electricity and power our vehicles, we produce the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming. The more we burn, the faster churns the engine of global climate change. Thus the most important thing we can do is save energy.

And we can do it. Technologies exist today to make cars that run cleaner and burn less gas, generate electricity from wind and sun, modernize power plants, and build refrigerators, air conditioners and whole buildings that use less power. As individuals, each of us can take steps to save energy and fight global warming.

Source: NGC



Mysteries Of The Pineal Gland.

Pineal-GlandScientists have been mystified by the pineal gland for centuries. As the brain and central nervous and endocrine systems were progressively unravelled by the anatomists, physiologists and biochemists, the pineal gland resolutely refused to yield up its secrets. Until recently the scientific community regarded it as having no function in man, being but a vestigial remnant from an earlier stage in evolution. However, in the last few years interest in the gland has reached a climax when no fewer than ten national and international conferences devoted entirely to unravelling the secrets of the mysterious pineal have been held around the world.

Location and description

Physically, the pineal is perhaps the smallest organ of the body. Such a minute structure has rarely, if ever, caused so much curiosity and commotion. It is a tiny grey white structure approximately ¼ inch long, weighing about 100 milligrams, and shaped like a pine-cone. It is located directly at the top of the spinal cord within the brain at the level where the head and neck are joined. It lies attached to the roof of the third ventricle (fluid filled canal) of the brain directly in line with the point between the eyebrows. It is the only structure in the brain, apart from the pituitary gland, which is not bilaterally symmetrical, lying right in the midline. This means that, except for these two glands, the two halves of the brain when it has been cut from front to back, are mirror images of each other, with each structure being duplicated, one for each half.


It is interesting to trace the scientific history of the pineal gland to the present day. The ancients attached great significance to this tiny structure. The Greek anatomist Herophilis, in the 4th century B.C. called the gland ‘a sphincter which regulates the flow of thought’. This suggests that he was well aware that the pineal functions as a transducer between the mental and physical realms. The early Latin anatomists termed the pineal ‘the master gland’ indicating that they knew the pineal exerts a higher control over the endocrine system, including the pituitary gland. Up until very recently, modern endocrinologists have considered the pituitary to be the highest controlling gland of all the other endocrine glands of the body. The Latins termed the pineal the ‘glandula superior’ in distinction to the pituitary which they termed ‘glandula inferior’. They clearly designated the pineal to be a ‘gland’, even though it was not until 1958 that modern researchers isolated melatonin from the pineal to prove conclusively that it was a glandular structure.

In 1886 two micro anatomists, H.W. De Graff and E. Baldwin Spencer, independently discovered that the pineal is a rudimentary eye, possessing all the essential features of the external eyes with pigmented, retinal cells surrounding an inner chamber filled with a globular lens like mass. Subsequent research has proved that the gland actually responds to environmental light, both directly and via the nervous pathways from the external eyes. *1 It is surely beyond a coincidence that the yogic texts of India and the mystical traditions throughout the ages have spoken of the ‘eye of intuition’ and the ‘third eye’ when referring to the pineal gland.

In recent years, two hormones, melatonin and serotonin, have been isolated from the pineal. The hormone melatonin (Greek for darkness, constricting) was isolated from the pineal gland in 1958 by Aaron B. Learner, an American dermatologist working at Yale Medical School (USA). This substance has been found to be responsible for the ability of certain frogs and fish to change colour in response to varying environmental light conditions and also to changes in emotional states such as anger and fear. It has subsequently been found to play a profound role in the onset of puberty and ongoing sexual development in human beings. It is found that the size and functional capacity of the pineal gland diminishes as children enter the pubertal years. The gland appears to hold back the onset of sexual development, and the release of this control by the pineal is the stimulus for the release of the pituitary’s sexual hormones which bring about the awakening of the reproductive systems in the male and female, and precipitate the adoption of a sexual role in life.

The second hormone isolated from the pineal was serotonin. Daniel Freeman, a psychiatrist, also at Yale University, isolated this substance from the tissues of the brain, finding its greatest concentration in the pineal gland and the nearby raphe cells of the nuclei of the midbrain. The pineal appears to be the reservoir of serotonin for the brain, while the raphe cells are responsible for the distribution of the hormone to other areas of the brain via long extensions or axons. These axons reach out to many areas of the brain and control the firing of other cells in those areas.

The next contribution to the pineal puzzle came when two workers at the National Institute of Health (USA), Axelrod and Weissbach, found that serotonin is the precursor of melatonin. They found that melatonin is produced from serotonin in the pineal gland by a simple chemical pathway. *2

The central role of serotonin was established a short time after the accidental discovery of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25). Minute quantities of this substance, were found to cause profound alterations in consciousness, inducing states ranging from deeply felt religious and mystical experiences to paranoia and schizophrenia. The LSD-25 molecule was found to be structurally very similar to the serotonin molecule, so much so that it is able to antagonise or block the actions of serotonin in the brain by occupying the receptor sites where serotonin normally acts. Gaddum of Edinburgh University discovered that the alterations in consciousness induced by LSD-25 are not due to a direct effect on the brain tissues by that drug, but rather that LSD-25 deprives the brain of serotonin by blocking off its sites of action.

This means that the brain’s levels of serotonin are responsible for maintenance of rational thought and that alteration in the concentration of serotonin in the brain, such as induced by LSD-25, are responsible for the unhinging of ‘normal reality’.

This means that the brain’s levels of serotonin profound for they show that the pineal gland is the physical medium which regulates the chemistry of altered states of consciousness. It also seems that our sexual identity and our state of consciousness are intimately related to one another. It is clear that man is imprisoned in his mundane, everyday state of consciousness. He is locked up far more effectively than the prisoner who is incarcerated in chains or behind bars. Such a prisoner is only experiencing the imprisonment of his body, and he is very aware of his condition. However, the human being is far more effectively bound and tied. His very consciousness is held prisoner. It is so effectively harnessed that he cannot even perceive the possibility of higher awareness and experience. The ropes which prevent his perception of a reality in which he is infinite seem to be the levels of serotonin within his own brain tissues!


Before the regression of the pineal gland and the subsequent onset of puberty, children have ready access to a far more diverse range of conscious experience than adult human beings. In fact, many children quite effortlessly possess many of the ‘siddhis’ or psychic powers associated with the awakening of ajna chakra. Children are often highly intuitive, can see into the future or know what their parents are thinking. They are uncanny in their ability to see the reality behind appearances- so much so that it is very difficult to deceive or lie to a child. When the Israeli psychic Uri Geller became famous throughout the world by demonstrating his psychokinetic abilities such as bending forks by ‘thought power’ and stopping the watches and clocks of his television audiences, a number of parents became alarmed because their children began to perform the same feats at home. Children play in a multidimensional world of imaginary friends and places which is largely inaccessible to their parents. They do so because their large functional pineal glands are converting serotonin to melatonin. The effect of this is twofold. Firstly, the lowered serotonin levels give them access to the other states of awareness. Secondly, the high concentration of melatonin holds the powerful influences of the pituitary gland at bay, delaying the onset of puberty. Then at about the age of seven or eight years, the pineal’s function begins to diminish and the pituitary hormones are progressively released, bringing the reproductive system to maturity. Simultaneously with this awakening of the reproductive system, the child is subject to great emotional and mental turmoil as his psyche adjusts to the new sexual role. With the diminished production of melatonin, there is a progressive build up of brain serotonin concentrations and a closing off of the doors into the child’s expanded world of intuitive perception, imagination and play. Tragically, these doors often remain closed for the rest of his life, and the child within him is rarely, if ever, glimpsed again.

However, we need not be prisoners of our own brain biochemistry at all. We can expand our state of consciousness by reactivating the pineal gland, awakening the ajna chakra, opening the third eye -they are all the same process. In this way we regain contact with the child within while simultaneously fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of adult life. Then work becomes play and life a game, rather than the serious and depressing business it has become for many people today.

Kundalini yoga

The science of kundalini yoga progressively re-channels the energy back upwards to its source. When the consciousness is in mooladhara, the possibility of higher awareness is forgotten and we become locked within the mundane state of awareness characteristic of the adult world. In this state, the highest bliss attainable is the momentary and fleeting loss of identity experienced in the climax of the orgasm in sexual union. This is a most powerful experience for a person locked within mundane consciousness, and that is why it is so highly valued and sought after. In fact, this experience gives man and woman the most transitory glimpse of the never ending cosmic bliss which is attained when the same kundalini shakti pierces the sahasrara at the culmination of yoga sadhana. This experience is even described in the tantras in very sexual terms, so that we will have some idea of its nature and intensity. It is described there as the eternal union of Shiva and Shakti, consciousness and energy. This is sahasrara, and this is the goal which yogis seek. It involves a progressive loss of the masculine or feminine sexual role, with the total reorganisation of the endocrine and nervous systems, and the realisation of both elements within the yogi’s body and psyche. This is the symbolic meaning behind the tantric art of India in which Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna are depicted in a very beautiful childlike way, with half masculine and half feminine characteristics. It is a symbolical means of presenting this truth and symbolises that they are ever in cosmic union.


These are the implications of the current pineal gland research. It seems that the scientists and the yogis will at last meet and understand one another face to face on either side of the window of the ajna chakra/pineal gland complex. It is only fitting that this gland, which Rene Descartes, the 16th century French philosopher, termed ‘the seat of the rational soul’ should be the meeting place in which rational and mystical thought once more coalesce and merge. It was Descartes who created the body-mind dichotomy in western thought under which science and philosophy have laboured for the past 400 years. The ajna chakra is the doorway to higher consciousness, and the scientists are now prying open this door.

*1. J. Bleibtreu, ‘The Parable of the Beast‘, Paladin, 1976.
*2. R.J. Wartman & J. Axelrod, “The Pineal Gland” ‘Scientific American’.
*3. B.L. Jacobs, “Seratonin: The Crucial Substance that Turns Dreams On and Off”, ‘Psychology Today’, March 1976.


Video Analytics Could Flag Crimes Before They Happen.

Boston-Video-AnalyticsSoon after the investigation into Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings began, law enforcement urged the public to e-mail any video, images or other information that might lead them to the guilty party. “No piece of information or detail is too small,” states the F.B.I.’s Web site. Picking through all of this footage in search of clues has been no small task for investigators, given the size of the camera-carrying crowd that had assembled to watch the race, not to mention the video surveillance already put in place by the city and local merchants.

Law enforcement now say they have found video images of two separate suspects carrying black bags at each explosion site and are planning to release the images Thursday so that the public can help identify the men, the Boston Globe reports.

Whereas software for analyzing such video can identify and flag objects, colors and even patterns of behavior after the fact, the hope is that someday soon intelligent video camera setups will be able to detect suspicious activity and issue immediate warnings in time to prevent future tragedies.

A team of New York University researchers is working toward that goal, having developed software they say can measure the “sentiment” of people in a crowd. So far, the technology has primarily been tested as a marketing tool at sporting events (gauging what advertisements capture an audience’s attention, for example), but the researchers are eyeing homeland security applications as well. The U.S. military, which is funding much of the N.Y.U. research, is interested in knowing whether this software could detect when someone is approaching a checkpoint or base with a weapon or explosives concealed under their clothing.

“So far, we can detect if they’re eating or using their cell phones or clapping,” says N.Y.U. computer science professor Chris Bregler. It’s not an exact science, but monitoring crowd behavior helps marketers understand what creates a positive crowd response—whether they are high-fiving action on the field, responding to a call for “the wave” or laughing at an advertisement on the scoreboard. The software is programmed to detect only positive sentiment at this time. Negative sentiments—booing and impolite gestures–are next on the researchers’ agenda.

The key to analyzing video in real time is programming the accompanying analytical software to look for certain cues–a rigid object under soft, flowing clothing, for example–and issue immediate alerts. First, the software must be “trained,” Bregler says. This is done with the help of Internet services such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk digital labor marketplace, where participants are paid to analyze and tag video footage based on what’s on the screen. Bregler and his team load these results into a computer neural network—a cluster of microprocessors that essentially analyzes relationships among data—so that the software can eventually identify this activity on its own.

One challenge for the researchers is developing its analytical software so that it can examine a variety of different types of video footage, whether it’s professional-quality camerawork on the nightly news or someone recording an event with a shaky cell phone camera. “The U.S. military wants us to look at, say, Arab Spring footage and large demonstrations for early signs that they will turn violent,” Bregler says.

Bregler’s earlier research to identify specific movement signatures (see video below) used the same motion-capture technology used for special effects in the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies. Bregler’s motion-analysis research attracted the attention of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 2000 as a possible means of identifying security threats. Following 9/11 his researched ramped up thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Office of Naval Research. Law enforcement and counterterrorism organizations already had facial-recognition technology but were looking for additional ways to better make sense of countless hours of surveillance footage.

Given that people don’t normally walk around in tight-fitting motion-capture suits laden with reflective markers, the N.Y.U. team developed their technology to focus more on scanning a camera’s surroundings and identifying spots that are unique, such as the way light reflects off a shirt’s button differently than it does off the shirt’s fabric. The researchers’ goal is for their software to be able to identify a person’s emotional state and other attributes based on movement.

Without such advanced video analytics, investigators must essentially reverse-engineer the action depicted in the video they receive, Bregler says. In the case of the Boston Marathon, the researchers have been analyzing video of the explosions and then working backward to see who was in the area prior to the bombing. “Most likely the data needed to figure out what happened exists,” he adds. “Investigators just need to find it, which is difficult given the volume of the video coming in.”

Source: Scientific American

A third of women marathon runners likely to have breast pain.

Sperm quality study a breath of fresh air for kilt-wearing Scotsmen.

Painkiller use during marathons may increase health risk.

New species of dinosaur discovered: the lonely small bandit .

World’s oldest person Jiroemon Kimura celebrates his 116th birthday and becomes longest living man EVER.

Resting state magnetoencephalography functional connectivity in traumatic brain injury.



Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of morbidity worldwide. One mechanism by which blunt head trauma may disrupt normal cognition and behavior is through alteration of functional connectivity between brain regions. In this pilot study, the authors applied a rapid automated resting state magnetoencephalography (MEG) imaging technique suitable for routine clinical use to test the hypothesis that there is decreased functional connectivity in patients with TBI compared with matched controls, even in cases of mild TBI. Furthermore, they posit that these abnormal reductions in MEG functional connectivity can be detected even in TBI patients without specific evidence of traumatic lesions on 3-T MR images. Finally, they hypothesize that the reductions of functional connectivity can improve over time across serial MEG scans during recovery from TBI.


Magnetoencephalography maps of functional connectivity in the alpha (8- to 12-Hz) band from 21 patients who sustained a TBI were compared with those from 18 age- and sex-matched controls. Regions of altered functional connectivity in each patient were detected in automated fashion through atlas-based registration to the control database. The extent of reduced functional connectivity in the patient group was tested for correlations with clinical characteristics of the injury as well as with findings on 3-T MRI. Finally, the authors compared initial connectivity maps with 2-year follow-up functional connectivity in a subgroup of 5 patients with TBI.


Fourteen male and 7 female patients (17–53 years old, median 29 years) were enrolled. By Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) criteria, 11 patients had mild, 1 had moderate, and 3 had severe TBI, and 6 had no GCS score recorded. On 3-T MRI, 16 patients had abnormal findings attributable to the trauma and 5 had findings in the normal range. As a group, the patients with TBI had significantly lower functional connectivity than controls (p < 0.01). Three of the 5 patients with normal findings on 3-T MRI showed regions of abnormally reduced MEG functional connectivity. No significant correlations were seen between extent of functional disconnection and injury severity or posttraumatic symptoms (p > 0.05). In the subgroup undergoing 2-year follow-up, the second MEG scan demonstrated a significantly lower percentage of voxels with decreased connectivity (p < 0.05) than the initial MEG scan.


A rapid automated resting-state MEG imaging technique demonstrates abnormally decreased functional connectivity that may persist for years after TBI, including cases classified as “mild” by GCS criteria. Disrupted MEG connectivity can be detected even in some patients with normal findings on 3-T MRI. Analysis of follow-up MEG scans in a subgroup of patients shows that, over time, the abnormally reduced connectivity can improve, suggesting neuroplasticity during the recovery from TBI. Resting state MEG deserves further investigation as a prognostic and predictive biomarker for TBI.

Source: JNS


However, the post-SRS median survival time difference, 0.9 months, between the two groups is not clinically meaningful. Furthermore, patients with 5 or more METs have noninferior results compared to patients with 1–4 tumors, in terms of neurological death, local recurrence, repeat SRS, maintenance of good neurological state, and SRS-related complications. A randomized controlled trial should be conducted to test this hypothesis.


Source: JNS


A case-matched study of stereotactic radiosurgery for patients with multiple brain metastases: comparing treatment results for 1–4 vs ≥ 5 tumors.



Although stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) alone for patients with 4–5 or more tumors is not a standard treatment, a trend for patients with 5 or more tumors to undergo SRS alone is already apparent. The authors’ aim in the present study was to reappraise whether SRS results for ≥ 5 tumors differ from those for 1–4 tumors.


This institutional review board–approved retrospective cohort study used the authors’ database of prospectively accumulated data that included 2553 consecutive patients who underwent SRS, not in combination with concurrent whole-brain radiotherapy, for brain metastases (METs) between 1998 and 2011. These 2553 patients were divided into 2 groups: 1553 with tumor numbers of 1–4 (Group A) and 1000 with ≥ 5 tumors (Group B). Because there was considerable bias in pre-SRS clinical factors between Groups A and B, a case-matched study was conducted. Ultimately, 1096 patients (548 each in Groups A and B) were selected. The standard Kaplan-Meier method was used to determine post-SRS survival and the post-SRS neurological death–free survival times. Competing risk analysis was applied to estimate cumulative incidences of local recurrence, repeat SRS for new lesions, neurological deterioration, and SRS-induced complications.


The post-SRS median survival time was significantly longer in the 548 Group A patients (7.9 months, 95% CI 7.0–8.9 months) than in the 548 Group B patients (7.0 months 95% [CI 6.2–7.8 months], HR 1.176 [95% CI 1.039–1.331], p = 0.01). However, incidences of neurological death were very similar: 10.6% in Group A and 8.2% in Group B (p = 0.21). There was no significant difference between the groups in neurological death–free survival intervals (HR 0.945, 95% CI 0.636–1.394, p = 0.77). Furthermore, competing risk analyses showed that there were no significant differences between the groups in cumulative incidences of local recurrence (HR 0.577, 95% CI 0.312–1.069, p = 0.08), repeat SRS (HR 1.133, 95% CI 0.910–1.409, p = 0.26), neurological deterioration (HR 1.868, 95% CI 0.608–1.240, p = 0.44), and major SRS-related complications (HR 1.105, 95% CI 0.490–2.496, p = 0.81).

In the authors’ cohort, age ≤ 65 years, female sex, a Karnofsky Performance Scale score ≥ 80%, cumulative tumor volume ≤ 10 cm3, controlled primary cancer, no extracerebral METs, and neurologically asymptomatic status were significant factors favoring longer survival equally in both groups.


This retrospective study suggests that increased tumor number is an unfavorable factor for longer survival. However, the post-SRS median survival time difference, 0.9 months, between the two groups is not clinically meaningful. Furthermore, patients with 5 or more METs have noninferior results compared to patients with 1–4 tumors, in terms of neurological death, local recurrence, repeat SRS, maintenance of good neurological state, and SRS-related complications. A randomized controlled trial should be conducted to test this hypothesis.

Source: JNS