Why Mainstream Science is a Religion


Mainstream science — despite all its claims of objectivity, and despite the fact it attempts to lay claim to the truth — is itself a religion.

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Science places itself on a pedestal and assures everyone it has dispassionately arrived at its conclusions. Meanwhile, however, it is full of assumptions, denials and limitations, and makes the serious mistake of presenting its theories as facts.

Materialism, the driving force behind mainstream science, has been shown again and again to lack the capacity to explain the world around us, especially in relation to idealism or other theories that account for the energetic nature of reality. However, the errors and assumptions of mainstream science are gladly seized upon by technocrats, who are eager to use science and technology to further their own ambitions of control. The planned New World Order has a massive technocratic aspect, and includes forcing the vaccine, GMO, surveillance, geoengineering, carbon-driven global warming, SMART and microchipping agendas onto an unsuspecting public.

Yet, despite this, we remain collectively bedazzled by materialism, a religion that has induced a certain faith in us. And up until recently, it has still been difficult for society at large to accept the fact that the unseen energetic realms of our reality are actually more powerful and more primal than the material realms we can see and touch … but that is starting to change.

Back to Ancient Athens – Materialism vs. Idealism

This is certainly not the first time we have struggled with the debate of whether the world can best be described by the philosophy of materialism; the ancient Greek philosophers and scientists thought long and hard about the issue.

Materialism vs. idealism is really the philosophical battle between the ideas that matter exists independently (and that consciousness doesn’t exist or is secondary), as opposed to the idea that consciousness, thought and energy are primary (and that matter is secondary) to existence. Democritus championed the materialist viewpoint (and his ideas were taken further by Aristotle), whereas Plato proposed the idea of idealism with his famous theory of the World of Forms or World of Ideas, which posits that non-physical (but substantial) forms (or ideas) represent the most accurate reality. According to Plato, our materialist reality is an inferior copy of a more perfect world. This is exactly in alignment with what various cultures, shamans, religions and spiritual traditions have been saying for millennia about the pre-eminence of energy, and the power of mind over matter.

Even many distinguished mainstream Western scientists over the last 100+ years have grasped the point that matter is not solid. Here are the very best and brightest of them alluding to the fact that energy is pre-eminent to matter:

“All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.” – Max Planck

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” – Nikola Tesla

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” – Nikola Tesla

“The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.” – Werner Heisenberg

“We may therefore regard matter as being constituted by the regions of space in which the field is extremely intense … there is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.” – Albert Einstein

“The field is the sole governing agency of the particle.” – Albert Einstein

“Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” – Niels Bohr

Plato also wrote that the entire universe can be explained mathematically by numbers. This exactly aligns itself with the idea that we live in a holographic universe – a kind of computer simulation with digital numbers at its foundation.

The Renaissance: Reinforcing the Left-Brain Materialist View

The Renaissance was heralded as a golden age for humanity — and in many ways it was — but it also further cemented the left-brain materialist view of the world, which can be found in the works of Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes and Newton. Copernicus and Galileo famously proposed heliocentrism (the theory that the planets revolve around the Sun, which is located at the center of the Solar System) over the then-existing geocentric model (the theory that the Earth is at the center of all the celestial bodies), but as the recent rise of the flat earth movement has shown, there is a copious amount of evidence to suggest that the heliocentric theory is far from being complete and conclusive.

It was Descartes who famously claimed “I think, therefore I am” and gave birth to the falsehood that thinking, reason and logic is the base of our existence, when in fact being or consciousness is. Put simply, there is no brain to think without a consciousness that animates it.

Newton, for all the great work he did for physics, came up with a set of abstract, mathematically-based, mechanical formulae which he called “the laws of nature”. Though he was to live several centuries after Newton, genius inventor and true scientist Nikola Tesla made a very telling comment regarding the tendency of mainstream science and scientists to get stuck in a rut with their abstract mathematical theories. This statement could most definitely be applied to Einstein, who despite his brilliance in proposing the theory of relativity, worked for 3+ decades afterwards and could never come up with a more complete theory. Tesla said:

“Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.”

Darwinian Eugenics and Evolution

Charles Darwin, for those of you who didn’t know, was part of an elite family who favored eugenics (selective breeding), so it is not surprising therefore that his theory of evolution emphasized the virtues of dog-eat-dog competitiveness, survival of the fittest, and might-is-right – all habits and values of the psychopathic ruling class.

Those who insist that science is not a religion may be hard-pressed to explain why someone like Darwin chose to focus on those elements of Nature in this theory, instead of focusing on or even considering the incredible symbiosis and cooperation that is also evident in Nature – and to a greater extent than competition.

Today: The Insane and Never-Ending Search for the Smallest Particle

Fast forward to today, and it seems that science is a religion like never before. What’s happening at CERN with the Hadron Collider’s search for ever smaller and smaller particles seems like materialistic mainstream science desperately trying to justify itself and its outmoded theory, like a dog forever chasing its tail in vain.

In November 2014, a paper entitled Quantum Realism: The physical world as a virtual reality was published by Dr. Brian Whitworth Ph.D (Masters of Science in Information Systems), MA Hons (Psychology) and BSc (Maths). It contrasted the materialistic and idealistic views, which Dr. Whitworth framed as physical realism and quantum realism. When he matched these views to the data coming out of CERN, he found the quantum realism (simulation) model of reality fit the observations and facts much better. He writes:

“The Higgs boson is the virtual particle created by an invisible field to explain another virtual particle created by another invisible field to explain an actual effect (neutron decay). Given dark energy and dark matter, it explains at best 4% of the mass of the universe, but the standard model needs it, so when after fifty years CERN found a million, million, million, millionth of a second signal in the possible range, physics was relieved. There is no evidence this “particle” has any effect on mass at all, but the standard model survives.

“By piling fields upon fields, the standard model now has at least 48 point particles, 24 fitted properties, 5 overlapping invisible fields and 14 virtual particles that pop in and out of existence on demand, anywhere, anytime. And it isn’t finished yet, as each new effect needs a new field, e.g. inflation needs an inflaton field. If this approach, founded on physical realism, is preferred, it isn’t because of its simplicity, as it is hard to imagine anything more complicated! Chapter 4 suggests that while the fitted calculations work, their interpretation is a mythology on a scale not seen since Ptolemy’s epicycles.”

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Materialism places so much stock in what we can apprehend with our 5 senses, especially sight, since it is the dominant sense for most people. Yet, of what we know exists in the full electromagnetic spectrum, we can only see a tiny range from approximately 700 nanometers (abbreviated nm) to 400 nm, between the infrared and ultraviolet rays. As this short video clip demonstrates, if the electromagnetic spectrum were a reel of film 2,500 miles long (stretching from California to Alaska), then the band of light visible to human beings would be around 1 inch long! If these numbers are correct, that means that we only perceive 0.0000000631313% of what is really there. So why, when we are so blind, does mainstream science place so much faith in our ‘5-senses reality’ and disregard the unseen as fantasy or imagination?

Mainstream Science – Bogged Down by Fraud and Fakery

So far, I have discussed the reasons why mainstream science is ideologically or theoretically on the wrong track. I haven’t even begun to touch the ways in which science is horribly misguided and mistaken on a practical level. Sad to say, science has been totally corrupted by special interests who fund and determine the outcome of much of the research. The fraudulent scientific research of Big Pharma is rife, and has been acknowledged as untrustable by medical journal editors, professors, doctors, government officials and former Big Pharma insiders. Essentially, well-funded interests can pay for whatever “scientific result” they want for their agenda, slanting, distorting and omitting data in line with their goals. Simply put, a scientist discovering the “wrong” result will be quickly rejected and defunded.

This fake and fraudulent science, which is not true science at all but rather corporate junk science which passes under the rubric of science, is all pervasive. As Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), had to say about the pervasive fraudulent scientific research:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines … I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Here’s How the U.S. Government Subsidizes Your Junk Food Habit


As an American growing up in the 1970s, I fondly remember my guilt-free days of childhood enjoying Twinkie’s, Coca Puffs, donuts and other tasty (but health-destroying) junk food. All in all, we didn’t eat an enormous amount of it, but still much more than my daughter will ever consume (as in zero).

Today, it seems we know better than to indulge in these fake edibles, laden with artificial and cancer causing ingredients that are nutritionally void. Or do we?

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Obesity is on the rise, so are chronic and deadly health problems like diabetes, heart disease and cancer — and each one is closely linked with the rise in processed food consumption. Poverty plays a large role in the foods available to eat as well; there’re entire inner city neighborhoods where you can’t find fresh produce to save your life. To make matters worse, junk food is state subsidized — heavily — making it cheaper for manufacturers and more readily available to consumers. So while the U.S. nation is in a health crisis, the federal government is not combating the problem but rather fueling it with our tax dollars, perpetuating a vicious cycle of sickness which leads to reliance on a broken medical system and a multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry. Where does it end?

Start Them Young

From television advertisements to the school lunch program, children are taught to love their subpar, artificial fare from a very early age. However, there’s been a bit of an uproar of late as Americans have realized school lunch programs in other countries put ours to shame. Michael Moore’s latest documentary, Where to Invade Next? painfully drives the point home when he visits a number of schools throughout Europe, where the meals are beautiful, healthy, delicious, and, most of all, civilized. Photographs circulating on social media also highlight the sad state of our school lunch program, which many feel resembles prison food.

Here’s the kicker: our nutritionally anemic midday meal in U.S. schools cost only slightly less than a gorgeous, nutritious multi-course school lunch in France. By comparison, it has been shown that kids in the U.S. who eat school lunches have more weight issues whereas France has the lowest rate of childhood obesity in the industrialized world.

Unfortunately, state-funded American school lunch programs aren’t the only realm where the government pushes junk food over natural, healthy foods — everyday groceries are fair game too.

Your Tax Dollars at Work, Destroying the Health of Americans

Bread, sugary drinks, pizza, pasta dishes and dairy desserts are the top 10 sources of calories for Americans. All are primarily produced from specific crops and farm foods — corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, milk and meat — which are excessively subsidized by the federal government. This renders junk food inexpensive, and abundant.

The U.S. government spent $170 billion between 1995 and 2010 to help with the growing and production of these foods. At face value, they aren’t necessarily unhealthy, but in reality, only a very small percentage of these crops are eaten in their unprocessed form. The rest are made into cheap products such as high fructose corn syrup, processed meats and a range of refined carbohydrates. Subsidies that support the production of fresh fruits and vegetables are just a small fraction of the budget — the lion share goes towards crops and farm products that eventually end up as junk food.

“The subsidies damage our country’s health and increase the medical costs that will ultimately need to be paid to treat the effects of the obesity epidemic,” a 2012 report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, concluded. “Taxpayers are paying for the privilege of making our country sick.” [source]

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A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, headed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at the association between metabolic diseases and the consumption of federally subsidized food. The team documented over 10,000 adults and the food they reported eating on a typical day. Next, the researchers divided the subjects into specific groups, based on the proportion of foods they consumed that were from the seven major subsidized commodities. Age, sex, socioeconomic factors and other variables were adjusted. It was found that those with the highest consumption of subsidized food had a 37 percent higher risk of obesity — and were more likely to have belly fat, abnormal cholesterol, high blood sugar levels and inflammation, which can further result in excessive free-radical activity and tissue damage.

“This tells us that the factors that influence the prices of our foods are an additional factor,” said Ed Gregg, chief of the epidemiology and statistics branch in the C.D.C.’s Division of Diabetes Translation. “We’re hoping that this information reaches policy makers and the people who influence how subsidies work.” [source]

Critics of the current subsidy program say it doesn’t serve it’s original purpose: to support small farmers who grow fruits, nuts and vegetables, which the government classifies as “specialty crops.” Instead, it now mainly subsidizes goliath producers that crank out “commodity” crops like grains, corn, sorghum and oilseeds.

“Specialty” farms account for three-quarters of U.S. cropland, and yet only receive 14 percent of government subsidies. Massive agribusinesses that focus on commodity crops use 7 percent of cropland, but are paid approximately half of all subsidies.

Raj Patel, a research professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, feels the funding for fruits and vegetable with the latest farm bill was a “crumb” in light of the billions granted for commodity crops. He said we need to adopt a “national food policy” that would support fair wages for farm workers, accessibility to healthy food for all Americans, and align federal nutritional recommendations with agricultural policies.

“It would transition us away from the unhealthy consequences of the current industrial food policy,” he told the New York Times. “I think there’s something very broken about the subsidy system.”

 

How to Positively Thrive in Times of Change… Including 3 Simple Strategies


In a universe of constant change, change is the only constant. And yet because of the density and inertia of the physical 3D World society has built, it’s easy to be lulled into the status quo: that we can expect everything to be more or less like it was yesterday. This just builds complacency, laziness and fixed conditioned behaviourisms.

What if, though, you could recognise the underlying shift of energy taking place, harness this ‘River of Life’, and have it inspire and invigorate an entirely new way of being? As the old paradigm crumbles and declines, what if you could positively thrive through it and come alive? Here are 3 simple strategies for you to do that.

The Changing Face of Accelerating Change

Breaking through the dam in the River of Life

Society has built an incredible polarity of injustice and inequity on the planet: have and have-not, profit and loss, winner and loser. Ultimately it’s unsustainable because the entirety of the universe is working toward balanced harmony — nirvana.

It’s like society has built a dam in the River of Life, behind which, more and more water is now building. It’s inevitable that the old reality will breakdown and a new harmony emerge from the debris.

The question is, how can you embrace and thrive through this shift?

Trust builds through all the little things

Generally, it is to recognise that although everything may appear dense and separate, in fact it’s interconnected through consciousness. So this River of Life is flowing through all events and circumstances you encounter, even though there’s still plenty making choices that cut across the flow. It may be that in your chosen way of living, in a more consciousness and equitable approach, it’s quite hard right now because the old world system still owns most of the resources. Nevertheless, more and more people are seeking out more conscious ways of doing things — so this increases the general flow through your life, in which you can progressively build trust.

It begins in all the little choices that you make – asking the universe “show me!” then following the inner guidance, and watching the feedback and synchronicities that then take place. Thus over time, trust in the universe grows, and you begin to believe more — see more — that your actions will be supported.

Energy follows True Belief

The crucial thing is that energy — the flow of consciousness — follows true belief: if you expect miracles and magic, that’s what you’ll get.

However that can’t just come from the mind — you can’t just put belief on like a hat and coat. True belief grows because you work to recognise the authentic underlying flow, and progressively surrender into it.

So expect change, because everything is indeed changing, even though the majority are resistant. Expect transformation into a more positive and invigorated way of being, because as you let go of conditioning, the vibrancy of the soul breaks through and connects up with the underlying flow. Thus we appreciate life in a more bountiful and enjoyable way.

Three simple strategies for harnessing the Power of Change

In this Openhand video, we consider three simple approaches to daily life, that can really enhance the flow through it, embracing change as an engine for vibrant spiritual growth. It offers a way to thrive through the transformational times confronting us.

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/dthd48tLiWY

 

Enhance Your Meditation Using the Power of Astrology Elements


Meditation is a very effective technique that can help you deal with anxiety, stress and illness, and aid you on your road of spiritual self-discovery. However, not many people know that you can actually give more power to your meditation experience using the element of your horoscope sign. So how can something that may seem so unrelated to meditation as astrology elements help you improve it?

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Astrology hold a lot of insights, as well as other methods of analyzing and decoding the potential that was given to you on your date of birth, like numerology. The date of your birth is like a cosmic address that higher consciousness uses to send a certain potential for it to be realized. With your first breath, your being receives an imprint energy, and how to deal with certain energies. That imprint is influenced by the position of the planets.

One of the major aspects that influences the energy frequency of your birth date is the position of the Sun in respect to an astrology sign. That is why most people refer to the position of the Sun in their birth chart as their ‘horoscope sign’. However, for deeper knowledge of the potential that your date of birth brings, all the planets and their horoscope signs and positions within your birth chart have to be taken into account.

In Astrology, there are 12 horoscope signs. Each of the signs falls into a one of four groups of elements: Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius), Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn), Air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) and Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces). Each astrology element can also describe personal qualities as well as archetypes. In fact, we often talk about people while describing their astrology element/archetypes without really noticing it. If she is “up in the clouds”, then she is most likely dominated by the air element, if he is “really deep”, then he probably has strong presentation of water in his astrology chart. If someone is always “on fire” and ready to motivate others, then he or she presumably is strongly connected with the fire element. Someone who is “down to earth” or grounded often has strong presence of Earth signs in their astrological chart.

During meditation, your brain raises the frequency of its activity to connect to the state of higher consciousness. The astrology elements, as well as symbols of their material form, represent certain energies of the higher consciousness. If you have a symbol of your leading astrology elements near you (or at least in your visualization) when you mediate, you can actively tap into its frequency and experience complete resonance and harmony of the energy field much quicker.

One of the best ways to meditate and enhance your meditation experience is by employing your leading astrology sign element. If your leading element is fire, burning beeswax candle can help you during your meditation. If you are more grounded and in touch with earth element, then you might find it more comfortable to meditate when your feet firmly touch the ground. If your element is air, then being outside and letting fresh air caress your body will enhance your meditation experience. Those who have water as their leading astrology element might reach meditative state much quicker if there is a body of water nearby, like a lake or an ocean.

Nevertheless, it is important to appreciate and know that you are influenced by all four elements — Fire, Earth, Air and Water — and each is represented in your birth chart in some way. It is just that some people have certain astrology elements in their charts that are more dominant than others.

 

Monkeys on typewriters are writing Shakespeare, thanks to new brain-sensing technology


There’s an old theorem about monkeys, typewriters, and Shakespeare, suggesting that, with an infinite amount of time, a monkey randomly tapping away at a typewriter would actually recreate the famous playwright’s complete works.

And now scientists have combined all three for real. Not to study randomness, but to pioneer new ways of translating our thoughts into written words – by reading brain signals and converting them into movement across a keyboard.

The system, which essentially amounts to typing with the mind, was developed by researchers at Stanford University. The team ran experiments with a group of monkeys, which saw them transcribe text at a rate of up to 12 words per minute.

“Our results demonstrate that this interface may have great promise for use in people,” said one of the researchers, Paul Nuyujukian. “It enables a typing rate sufficient for a meaningful conversation.”

The monkeys involved in the study didn’t suddenly ‘learn’ to read and understand English, but were instead trained to tap out letters based on what was shown to them on a screen. In addition to typing out Shakespeare (Hamlet), they also reproduced passages from The New York Times.

While the use of similar technology has been demonstrated before, the Stanford researchers say their new system is significantly faster and more accurate than anything else that currently exists, which is why the typing rate is important.

That speed increase is mostly down to improvements in the algorithm converting thought to movement.

In this setup, brainwaves are read with a multi-electrode array, which is implanted in the monkey’s brain to record neural signals. But the system isn’t looking for fully formed letters or words – instead, it monitors the part of the brain that controls hand actions, such as moving a computer mouse.

By intercepting the brain’s commands to move a mouse across a desk, the technology translates those thoughts directly into the movements of a mouse cursor on the screen, so letters can be picked out one by one.

With the addition of some auto-correct features, like those on your phone, the researchers say the system could become even faster.

Brain-sensing has several advantages over eye-tracking typing technology: it’s not as tiring on the writer, and it’s more practical for those who aren’t always able to control facial and eye movements.

The system might be able to work in the long term, too. The monkeys involved in the tests have had their brain-monitoring implants installed for several years now, and the researchers say there have been no noticeable differences in brain activity and no unwanted side-effects.

“The interface we tested is exactly what a human would use,” said Nuyujukian. “What we had never quantified before was the typing rate that could be achieved.”

While we won’t see monkeys writing Shakespeare-quality originals any time soon, the technology could be a great help to people who experience difficulty in typing or speaking.

And it looks like we won’t have to wait too long to find out how feasible the system is, as a clinical trial with human participants is now underway.

Astronomers might have just caught a glimpse of a black hole being born


For the first time ever, a team of astronomers might have witnessed the birth of a black hole, roughly 20 million light-years from Earth.

While researchers have long thought that black holes form when supergiant stars collapse, new data from the Hubble Space Telescope might finally confirm this hypothesis.

“This may be the first direct clue to how the collapse of a star can lead to the formation of a black hole,” astronomer Avi Loeb from Harvard University, who was not a part of the new research, told Anna Nowogrodzki at New Scientist.

The team, led by Christopher Kochanek from Ohio State University, discovered what appears to be a newly forming black hole while going through previously collected data from the Hubble Space Telescope, which was trained in on a red supergiant star known as N6946-BH1.

According to Nowogrodzki, N6946-BH1 – a star roughly 25 times more massive than our Sun – was originally observed back in 2004. Since then, Hubble has been keeping its eye on the star’s movements and activity.

After combing through that data, Kochanek’s team says they’ve discovered that the star flared up in 2009, becoming about 1 million times brighter than the Sun, before slowly fading away.

Comparing this to new Hubble observations, which suggest that the star is no longer emitting visible wavelength light, the team suspects that N6946-BH1 might have triggered a black hole birth.

The hypothesis is that N6946-BH1 could have collapsed in recent years, and that bright flare-up in 2009 was the result of the star shedding off its neutrinos.

This would have caused the star’s gravitational pull to drop, allowing electrons to reattach to the hydrogen ions that float around it – a process that can eventually result in the birth of a black hole.

If this scenario is correct, Hubble has just captured the first ever obsersations of a black hole birth, though further investigation is needed to prove it.

To confirm the black hole birth, the team will need to discount a number of other possibilities that could have caused the star to flare up and disappear, such as a merger with another star, or the chance that it’s maybe being hidden from Hubble’s view by a curtain of dust.

While these are definitely possibilities, Nowogrodzki points out that a merger with another star would cause a much brighter flare-up that wouldn’t dissipate in under a year, and if dust is to blame, the star should pop out of it eventually.

The current findings have not yet been peer-reviewed, which means for now, we have to take them with a grain of salt.

But to speed up the investigation, the team plans on continuing their observation of the star – or potential baby black hole – with Hubble and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

With the help of both of these high-powered telescopes, they should be able to collect the data they need to confirm or disprove their hypothesis.

Kochanek is cautiously optimistic, telling New Scientist: “I’m not quite at ‘I’d bet my life on it’ yet, but I’m willing to go for your life.”

 

Humans use similar sounds for common words in more than 6,000 languages


It’s like a universal, hidden language we never knew about.

A first-of-its-kind study looking at more than 6,000 languages has found that people from around the world tend to use the same sounds to signify common objects and ideas.

The findings suggest that humans speak a kind of ‘universal language’, perhaps influenced by biology, and go against a long-standing principle of modern linguistics – essentially, that there is no link between the sounds and the meaning of words.

“These sound symbolic patterns show up again and again across the world, independent of the geographical dispersal of humans and independent of language lineage,” says cognitive psychologist Morten H. Christiansen from Cornell University.

“There does seem to be something about the human condition that leads to these patterns. We don’t know what it is, but we know it’s there.”

Christiansen’s international team – including physicists, linguists, and computer scientists – conducted a massive analysis of almost two-thirds (62 percent) of the languages in use around the globe today.

Their investigation focused on basic vocabulary in each of these tongues, looking at the words used to describe up to 100 of the most common concepts people everywhere address every day: “dog”, “ear”, “water”, “tooth”, “you”, and so on.

They found a strong statistical relationship (74 sound–meaning associations) between the common concepts and the vocal sounds people make when referring to them.

In other words, despite the fact that foreign languages can sound totally confusing if you don’t understand them, there are actually a lot of similarities if you look closely – at least for the most common words, such as pronouns, body parts, properties (“small”, “full”) and verbs.

For example, the word for “nose” often involves “neh” or “oo” sounds; the terms for “red” and “round” usually include an “r” sound.

“It doesn’t mean all words have these sounds, but the relationship is much stronger than we’d expect by chance,” says Christiansen, noting that words for body parts in particular showed an unexpectedly high association between sounds and meaning.

And the associations can be negative too, with the words we use to describe things in different languages showing a common tendency to avoid particular vocal sounds – such as the word for “you”, which is unlikely to include sounds involving the letters u, o, p, t, d, q, s, r, and l.

As you may have noticed from that example, English doesn’t always obey the rules, and was noted as an outlier in many cases.

It’s not the first time scientists have observed a relationship between the sounds of words and their meanings across different languages. But nobody’s ever conducted such a huge analysis and shown just how far these commonalities – what’s called sound symbolism – actually extend.

The findings – published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – could make some pretty big waves in the scientific community.

A century ago, Swiss researcher Ferdinand de Saussure suggested that there was no relationship between the sounds we make and the meanings we intend, and the idea remains as one of the defining principles of modern linguistic theory.

“Most models for how words come into our lexicon are predicated on this assumption that the sound doesn’t tell you anything about what it represents,” cognitive psychologist Jaime Reilly from Temple University, who wasn’t involved in the study, told Sarah Kaplan at The Washington Post.

“So the really neat thing about this paper is it sort of questions whether that arbitrariness assumption actually holds across all words,” he added. “It’s going to end up being a very important study.”

But why do so many human languages demonstrate these ties to this hidden, universal language of sounds that informs the way we speak?

The researchers aren’t themselves sure. They considered it could be the remnant of some form of “prehistoric protolanguage” that was once spoken by the earliest humans before the evolution of modern languages – but their own analysis suggests it’s more likely that biology is somehow at play here.

“Perhaps these signals help to nudge kids into acquiring language,” says Christiansen. “Likely it has something to do with the human mind or brain, our ways of interacting, or signals we use when we learn or process language. That’s a key question for future research.”

There’s now even more evidence that the Moon triggers our most powerful earthquakes


Earth-shattering.

Scientists have long debated whether the movements of the Moon and the tidal stresses it generates play a role in triggering earthquakes, and now it looks like we might have an answer.

A new study by researchers in Japan suggests that large earthquakes are more likely to occur at times of a full or new Moon – the two lunar phases when tidal stresses on Earth are at their greatest.

Scientists from the University of Tokyo analysed three separate seismic databases – global data, plus records for California and Japan – looking at large earthquakes (with a magnitude 5.5 or greater) that occurred in the past two decades.

Focusing on the fortnight in the lead-up to these earthquakes, the team reconstructed the size – or amplitude – of tidal stresses at each point in time, and found that the largest quakes most often occurred on days near new or full Moons.

At these two points during the monthly lunar cycle, the Sun, Moon, and Earth all align, and the gravitational tug of the Moon on Earth is at its most intense.

Scientists have long speculated that this alignment could hypothetically influence earthquakes – due to a stronger-than-usual pull being exerted on fault-lines – and the Tokyo researchers’ findings now suggests that’s likely the case.

Some of the most powerful quakes in the past 20 years – including Sumatra, Indonesia in 2004 (magnitude 9.3); Maule, Chile in 2010 (8.8); and Tohoku-oki, Japan in 2011 (9.0) – coincided with high tidal stress.

All up, nine of the 12 largest earthquakes in the studied period – those with a magnitude of 8.2 or above – happened around a new or full Moon.

Interestingly, the team found no clear correlation between small earthquakes and tidal stresses, although the data does suggest that the proportion of large earthquakes (compared to small earthquakes) increases as tidal stresses become greater.

But US research published in July did find a link between very small tremors (around magnitude 1.0) in the San Andreas Fault and the Moon’s position.

That study, led by Nicholas van der Elst from the US Geological Survey, suggested that small earthquakes coincided with the Moon in its waxing phase, building up to a full Moon.

While we don’t fully understand what causes major earthquakes to happen, scientists think it could be the result of a cascading process, with a tiny fracture building up into a much larger rupture underground.

Looking at the two studies together, then, it could be possible that tidal stresses due to the Moon are leading to small quakes, which on some occasions may become full-blown monsters.

“This suggests that the probability of a tiny rock failure expanding to a gigantic rupture increases with increasing tidal stress levels,” the researchers explain in Nature Geoscience.

“We know from studying rock friction in the laboratory that the fault does not go from locked up to sliding in an instant,” van der Elst, who was not involved with the new paper, told Rebecca Boyle at The Atlantic. “It can take hours, days, or even longer for the fault to really come un-glued, even when the stress has exceeded the supposed strength.”

But we shouldn’t necessarily attribute too much importance to the Moon when it comes to trying to explain earthquakes. After all, the studies so far only establish a correlation – not any evidence of causation.

And the primary causes, van der Elst says, remain processes occurring deep inside Earth’s crust, with tectonic plates grinding together until something dramatically snaps.

“The tides just add a little – 1 percent or less – additional push on top of that tectonic loading,” van der Elst told Rong-Gong Lin II at The Los Angeles Times.

“Even though it’s a small contribution, it could be just the amount of stress that is the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’, so to speak.”

The sugar industry has been distorting dietary guidelines for more than 50 years


Sweet little lies.

New research reveals that a dangerous cornerstone of American nutrition in the 20th century was funded by the sugar industry.

The sugar industry worked with scientists in the 1950s and 1960s to downplay sucrose’s role in causing coronary heart disease and other nutritional risks, according to a paper by UC San Francisco researchers published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday.

In other words, the move to single out fat and cholesterol as the biggest problems in American diets was a coordinated effort by the trade association, the Sugar Research Foundation, intended to increase the consumption of sucrose.

The crux of the new research is a 1965 paper that played a major role in making low-fat diets the nutritional norm in the US.

The Sugar Research Foundation paid the modern equivalent of US$50,000 to fund the project, which argued cholesterol – not sucrose – was the sole relevant factor in studying and preventing coronary heart disease.

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Sugar has become a cornerstone ingredient in American diets, even in unlikely foods, such as Subway sandwiches. 

However, this funding was not disclosed when the literature review was published in 1967, despite the fact that the sugar industry set the review’s objective, contributed articles, and read drafts prior to publication.

“The literature review helped shape not only public opinion on what causes heart problems but also the scientific community’s view of how to evaluate dietary risk factors for heart disease,” lead author Cristin Kearns said in a statement.

UCSF researchers concluded that the sugar industry had a hand in guiding researchers to recommend low-fat diets after analysing more than 340 documents between the sugar industry and two scientists, Roger Adams and D. Mark Hegsted.

Last year, it was revealed that the Sugar Research Foundation similarly downplayed the role of sugar in cavity prevention and tooth decay.

As the low-fat diet trend took hold of the US, the sugar industry thrived. Food makers began replacing fat with sugar – which is exactly what the industry had wanted.

“This change would mean an increase in the per capita consumption of sugar more than a third with tremendous improvement in general health,” Sugar Research Foundation president Henry Hass said in 1954, addressing nutritional research that could encourage Americans to eat less fat.

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Coca-Cola has been similarly accused of funding research that downplays the role of sugar-sweetened drinks in the modern obesity crisis. 

However, the research that condemned fat while ignoring the role of sugar is now widely seen as misguided.

Americans consume 30 percent more sugar daily now than three decades ago, according to the Obesity Society. American children eat three times as much added sugar as they should.

While the paper studied the sugar industry’s influence on nutritional research in the 1950s and 60s, concern that food makers still play an oversized role in scientific research remains today.

“We have to ask ourselves how many lives and dollars could have been saved, and how different today’s health picture would be, if the industry were not manipulating science in this way,” Jim Krieger, executive director of Health Food America, said in a comment about the paper.

“Only 50 years later are we waking up to the true harm from sugar. Yet industry continues to use its time-honored tactics of creating doubt about valid science they deem damaging to its bottom line and deflecting blame from their products.”

Last year, Coca-Cola came under fire for donating $1.5 million to a nutrition nonprofit, while denying its influence in the inner workings of the organisation. Emails revealed that Coca Cola helped pick the group’s leaders, edited its mission statement, and suggested articles and videos for its website.

Coca-Cola has promised to increase its transparency about research partnerships going forward.

The Sugar Association – the modern name for the Sugar Research Foundation – released the following statement in response to the new paper:

“We acknowledge that the Sugar Research Foundation should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities, however, when the studies in question were published, funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today.

Beyond this, it is challenging for us to comment on events that allegedly occurred 60 years ago, and on documents we have never seen.

Generally speaking, it is not only unfortunate but a disservice that industry-funded research is branded as tainted. What is often missing from the dialogue is that industry-funded research has been informative in addressing key issues.

We question this author’s continued attempts to reframe historical occurrences to conveniently align with the currently trending anti-sugar narrative, particularly when the last several decades of research have concluded that sugar does not have a unique role in heart disease.

Most concerning is the growing use of headline-baiting articles to trump quality scientific research – we’re disappointed to see a journal of JAMA’s stature being drawn into this trend.

The Sugar Association is always seeking to further understand the role of sugar and health, but we rely on quality science and facts to drive our assertions.”

New evidence is forcing scientists to reconsider how the Moon was formed


Things just got complicated.

For decades, scientists have been debating what it would have looked like when a chunk of Earth broke off and formed our Moon some 4.5 billion years ago.

And now new chemical evidence suggests that things were way more violent than we’d assumed, with researchers suggesting that the impact that set our Moon free was “like a sledgehammer hitting a watermelon”.

It’s well-established that the Moon was once a part of Earth before it was sloughed off the side and thrown into our orbit, but the circumstances in which this ‘great uncoupling’ occurred has been a topic of heated debate.

Until recently, the most widely accepted hypothesis for how the Moon was formed suggested that a Mars-sized object (sometimes called Theia) once collided with the still-developing Earth, about 20 to 100 million years after the Solar System first came together.

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While our young planet appears to have come out of the collision fairly unscathed, the impact would have caused Theia’s core and most of its mantle to sink into and merge with Earth’s own core and mantle.

Of the remaining dust and debris that were ejected into Earth’s orbit, a small accretion disc was formed, and from this, our Moon eventually took shape.

While this encounter might sound pretty violent, the consensus among scientists for almost five decades has been that Theia made a fairly low-energy graze across the surface of Earth.

This hypothesis, known as ‘the giant impact’, went on to explain all kinds of other things – such as the large size of the Moon relative to Earth, and their separate rotation rates – and there’s a whole lot of evidence to support it.

But there was always one big problem with this hypothesis. It would make sense that a large portion of the material that makes up the Moon would have come from Theia, but chemical analyses on samples brought back by the Apollo missions in the 1970s indicated that Earth and lunar rocks were nearly identical.

Simulation after simulation of the impact predicted that most of the material (60 to 80 percent) that formed the Moon would have come from the impactor, rather than from Earth, and it was extremely unlikely that Earth and Theia had the same chemical make-up.

Fast-forward to now, and geochemists from Harvard and Washington University are reporting that a new, more detailed analysis of seven Moon rocks and eight Earth rocks didn’t clear things up like they were expecting – it actually blew the giant impact hypothesis right out of the water.

“We’re still remeasuring the old Apollo samples from the ’70s, because the tech has been developing in recent years,” one of the team, Kun Wang from Washington University, told Ria Misra from Gizmodo.

“We can measure much smaller differences between Earth and the Moon, so we found a lot of things we didn’t find in the 1970s. The old models just could not explain the new observations.”

In fact, not only did the new analysis find no new evidence of materials that could have come from something other than Earth – it actually suggested that the origins of these Moon rocks were even more tightly bound to Earth than we thought.

And there was another neat little detail in there. Every single isotopic signature in the chemical analysis matched up to both Earth and the Moon, except for one: heavy-potassium isotope in the lunar samples.

In order for this heavy-potassium isotope to appear separately in the lunar rocks, they must have sustained some incredibly hot temperatures, and from this, the team suggests that the Moon-forming collision was a whole lot more violent than we could ever have imagined.

As Loren Grush explains over at The Verge:

“The collision that formed the Moon wasn’t low energy at all, [Wang] argues. Instead, the impact was extremely violent, pulverising most of Earth and the impactor, and turning them into a vapour.

In this scenario, the vaporised Earth and impactor mix together into a giant dense atmosphere. This atmosphere then cools and condenses into our planet and its satellite.”

It’s an incredibly bold claim, because not only does it suggest we were wrong about how our own Moon formed, but it paints a picture of a far more violent and volatile early Solar System than we thought.

While no one’s come out to dispute the claims outright, the onus is now on Wang and his team to make their hypothesis more convincing and weighted in evidence than the one we’ve been carrying around for almost 50 years.

And that involves demonstrating how seven lunar samples high in heavy-potassium isotope can accurately represent the Moon’s overall potassium composition.

“I’m very pleased overall with what they have done, I just wish they had used better samples,” Munir Humayun, a geologist at Florida State University who was not involved in the study, told The Verge, adding that there’s not enough data to support the hypothesis just yet.

Wang himself doesn’t seem too fazed by the criticism, saying every new hypothesis takes time to settle in and become accepted as the evidence mounts around it.

“It took people decades to accept this giant-impact hypothesis,” he says. “Now we’re saying that [the] giant impact hypothesis is not right, so it may take 10 to 20 years to accept the new model.”

Only time will tell if his version of the Moon origin story will hold up to scrutiny.