A new paper on arXiv.org offers a novel solution to the mystery of how the ancient Egyptians moved millions of massive stone blocks around: by rolling them inside a 12-sided wooden frame. Noting the orthodox theory - that the blocks were put on sleds which were pulled, with the sand in front of the sled being constantly lubricated with - results in a not insignificant level of friction, they suggest that the dodecagon idea would be a far more efficient method of moving these heavy blocks:
As an alternative to dragging large blocks, one can consider
rolling the blocks. Rolling a prism of 4 sides is not efficient, but
adding wooden rods to the surface can effectively increase the number of sides. The crew can then pull on a rope wrapped around and passing over the top of the block. In this configuration, static friction acts in the direction of the desired motion, rather than opposing the motion. In effect the block and rope combination becomes a 2:1 pulley, though the pulley was not yet formally "known" to the Egyptians at that time. The rods can be re-used many times, and there is no need to to transport large quantities of water for lubrication.
...By attaching 12 identical wooden rods to the faces of the block, one effectively transforms the block into a dodecagon prism with very little added mass, much lower ground pressure, and with good cross country mobility... It would seem that some variation of rolling the blocks should now be considered to be among the “best” and most likely method used to move the stones for the great pyramids
The paper goes into more of the physics behind the idea, as well as offering some experimental data to back the authors' theory up.
(h/t Norman R.)
You might also like: Has This Retired Construction Worker Figured Out How Stonehenge Was Built?
We often think of our identity in terms of our physical body, but is it just something that we – as only a consciousness – simply use as a vehicle? This is an interesting idea, and has been with us throughout human history, largely built into the religious beliefs of cultures around the world. But we should be careful of falling into the trap of thinking about an afterlife existence based simply on the religious or cultural models we have been brought up with. Most people who were exposed to some sort of religion in their upbringing are imprinted with the fairly simplistic idea that surviving death means a transparent, ethereal version of you floats ‘up’ to a heaven of fluffy clouds, and lives there for eternity in happiness. Who knows, perhaps elements of this are correct – some of near-death experiences and other visions of an afterlife actually do correlate in some respects with these ideas. But perhaps also these experiences are filtered through an overlay of our own expectations and cultural beliefs, and the ‘true’ experience could be fundamentally different. It’s fun to consider some of these possibilities.
The way our view of an external realm ‘beyond reality’ can change is illustrated well by the science fiction blockbuster The Matrix, with Neo taking the red pill and ‘waking up’ into the ‘real’ world, despite having thought until that point that the computer-generated Matrix was the real world. Before the age of computers the idea that we might be inside some sort of virtual reality, with the ‘real us’ residing in another realm, was barely known. Certainly, versions of this idea existed before the computer age, notably in discussions of the strange world of dreams. For example, the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi once remarked on the difficulty of distinguishing where ‘reality’ lies with the following words: “Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man”.
The influential 17th century philosopher René Descartes also wondered how we could actually know what reality is, given that our senses can be so unreliable, and yet it is only through these senses (and then subsequent interpretation by the brain) that we comprehend the world ‘out there’. Descartes deduced that all we can be sure of about ‘reality’ is just one thing – that if we think, then we must in some way exist, at the very least as just a mind. He summarized this view with his well-known maxim ‘cogito ergo sum’ (‘I think, therefore I am’). Beyond that, for all we know, we could just be a ‘brain in a vat’ – a piece of meat hooked up to sensors that trick our mind into thinking it is undergoing experiences in a virtual world. The Matrix took all these older ideas and made them new again by making them the centerpiece of a movie about a false reality (spoiler warning for the young kids out there):
The fact that all of our sensorial experience of ‘reality’ must necessarily be filtered subjectively through the brain – and thus isn’t ‘reality’ at all (for example, we apprehend the world very differently to an infrared-sensing rattlesnake) – was enunciated in Hindu culture via the term maya (illusion): the idea that we can never identify or comprehend the actual truth or reality of the world, only (at best) a fragment of it.
But in the 21st century, the ‘simulation argument’ – the suggestion that all of what we think of as ‘reality’ is actually a simulation, and that until now we have been unaware of the fact – has gone mainstream. Not only through the popularity of The Matrix, but through first-hand experience: many computer gamers now spend several hours a day immersed in the virtual worlds of first-person shooters. As an example of how things are progressing in the world of virtual reality immersion, see this recent demonstration: ... Read More »
Make of it what you will:
- World's oldest ritual discovered.
- Alien hunters see 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars.
- Henry Kuttner: long-lost works of a Lovecraft acolyte.
- Ten things you should know about HP Lovecraft.
- The Islamic State and the land of lost gods.
- Doctors discover longest ectopic pregnancy yet.
- 8 scientists contemplate the place of human consciousness in science.
- The return of the Kentucky Goblins?
- The Neanderthals live on in us.
- Cell-like structure found in Mars meteorite.
- Soviet-era 'Tesla Tower' restarted.
- Dowsers in demand as wells run dry in California.
- The artist with pineal cancer.
- Sea plankton have been found on the International Space Station.
- The Mobius Letter.
Quote of the Day:
What is now proved was once only imagined.
This beautiful earth that we have,
this gift that the universe has given us
is precious beyond measure,
precious beyond imagination,
and we are part of it
and we must treat it with
love, respect and reverence.
A summary of all the stories and news briefs posted on The Daily Grail over the past week. Feel free to share anything interesting!
- Ancient Maya Cities Discovered in the Mexican Jungle
- News Briefs 18-08-2014 (Monday)
- Shedding Some Light on the Houston UFO Sighting
- News Briefs 19-08-2014 (Tuesday)
- New Research Suggests Autistic Savants May Have Enhanced Telepathic Abilities
- Vale BKS Iyengar, the 'Man Who Brought Yoga to the West'
- News Briefs 21-08-2014 (Thursday)
- Cyborg Woman Created Through Real-Time Face-Tracking and Projection Mapping
- News Briefs 22-08-2014 (Friday)
Have a good weekend!
"Reason is immortal, all else mortal."
- Adrift in the interstellar sea.
- The first star?
- A beast stirs in Iceland.
- Plumbing the depths of consciousness.
- Life on Mars?
- Holographic storage.
- A global warming hiatus?
- A star is born.
- Symmetry on the atomic scale.
- Probing quantum tornadoes.
- Drought moves mountains.
- Greenland and Antarctica shedding winter weight.
- A day when cars run on dandelion rubber.
- Limbs from lizards?
- Lips like sugar.
- Listening to the stars.
- Ad merges technological / human evolution in :49 seconds.
- A glimpse at Abiogenesis.
- Light & sound.
- Who ya gonna call... Lego-ghostbusters!
- This week’s evidence of the looming robot uprising… Sensor-laden ‘skin’.
Quote of the Day:
“Number is the ruler of forms and ideas, and the cause of gods and daemons.”
Wow. Just wow. My own face almost fell off at 1:18.
Omote is the result of collaboration that was led by artist Nobumichi Asai, featuring contributions from CGI experts, graphic designers and make-up artists.
Asai has worked in the past with major companies such as Subaru to project computer graphics onto subjects. However, the locations where the graphics are projected onto in the past were all stationary, so the ability of the Omote to follow the person's face as it moves and adapt its projections accordingly is a huge development for the system.
Essentially, Omote can be viewed as electronic make-up, with the ability to project practically anything on a person's face.
- The good news: Sexbots are coming. The bad news: You won't be able to afford one.
- Turning living cells into art.
- From Jaws to Gyres
- Twilight Language: Watch out for a potential Trident Alert on August 24th..
- The changing face of 'a man of wealth & taste' throughout the ages.
- George Orwell's review of Mein Kampf, in 1940.
- Emmert's law proves that your mind forces you to see --or not see- what it expects.
- Hoagland vindicated? A pyramid is the perfect dwelling for a Martian colony.
- Carl Jung, Budd Hopkins, And The Shape Of The Unknown.
- Welsh aircraft enthusiast has UFO sighting that leaves him perplexed.
- Nick Redfern: Has the Wow! signal been replicated in Arecibo?
- Old School & the Young'uns of UFOlogy: The Paracast interviews with Don Berliner & Micah Hanks.
- Jacques Vallee's recent interview on C2C.
- Chris Knowles weighs in on UFOlogy's numerous deaths.
- The dark secret of My Neighbor Totoro.
- Red Pill of the Day: Caged in a world full of Nicolases.
Thanks to officer Go F#$k Yourself.
Quote of the Day:
“Just as physical hunger is sated, at least metaphorically, by the sight of a marvelous meal, so the hunger of the soul is sated by the vision of numinous images.”
~Carl Jung. Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies. 1959.
Better known by his initials, Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar is one of the world's best-known yoga gurus. As the New York Times wrote in a 2002 profile, "Perhaps no one has done more than Mr. Iyengar to bring yoga to the West." In 2004, Time recognized his global influence, naming him one of the world's most influential living people. His 1966 book Light on Yoga contains detailed instructions on how to perform more than 200 poses, according to Yoga Journal, and remains influential. That magazine has referred to Light on Yoga as the "Bible" of yoga.
For a glimpse of Iyengar in action, see the video below, filmed in 1977 (when he would have been around 58 years of age).
The amazing abilities of autistic savants – prodigious feats of memory and calculation, as well as musical and artistic talents, despite the presence of mental disabilities (see the bottom of this post for examples) - remains one of the most fascinating topics in brain science. But these abilities may only be the tip of the iceberg, with new research suggesting that autistic savants may also have an enhanced capacity for extrasensory perception.
In 2013 neuropsychiatrist Dr. Diane Hennacy Powell was sent three homemade videos of a severely autistic nine-year-old girl which claimed to show her demonstrating a telepathic ability. Intrigued, Powell organised to conduct research sessions with two separate therapists who had reported telepathic experiences with the girl.
Though the ideal scientific set-up would be to keep the 'sender' and 'receiver' isolated from each other, this case had the complication of the sensitive nature of the girl's condition. As such, Powell kept the therapist in the same room, noting that "even subtle changes to the environment are very distracting and disturbing for a child with severe autism". Instead, a divider was put between the therapists and the child. Then randomized numbers, sentences, fake words, and visual images were presented to the therapists. The girl was then asked to “read the therapist’s mind.”
The therapists were asked to write their own verbal descriptions of the images for comparison to the girl’s answers. Random numbers were generated for mathematical equations.
The girl was asked to give all the numbers involved in the equations and duplicate the answers generated by the author with a calculator…The child typed her answers after choosing them from a stencil. To assess for any possible visual and/or auditory cueing, five high definition point-of-view (POV) cameras and three microphones were strategically placed in the experimental space to capture coverage of the entire room, the therapist and child, and their separate workspaces.
Powell presented her preliminary findings at the 57th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association, held last weekend. The results were jaw-dropping, with 'hits' such as 100% accuracy on two random numbers, one eight digits and the other nine; 60 to 100% accuracy on three of the five-letter nonsense words; 100% accuracy on six out of twelve equations with 15 to 19 digits each; and between 81 to 100% accuracy on sentences of between 18 and 35 letters. The video surveillance showed no evidence of cueing or fraud.
Powell's conclusion: "The data is highly suggestive of an alternative, latent and/or default communication mechanism that can be accessed by people born with severely impaired language abilities.
This new research comes on the back of news reports last year of a nine-year-old autistic girl in Sharjah who appears to have the ability to read her mother's mind. Though the idea that autistic savants might have paranormal abilities goes back further than that. Pioneering researcher into Savant Syndrome, Darold Treffert, included a section on the possibility of extrasensory perception in savants in his 1989 book Extraordinary People: Understanding Savant Syndrome:
Dr. Bernard Rimland describes several instances of extrasensory perception in his autistic savants. In his sample of approximately 5400 autistic children, 561 cases, or approximately 10 percent, were reported to have special abilities. Four of the 561 cases were based on reports from parents who claimed that their child had consistently exhibited signs of extrasensory perception. In one case, the parent reported that "teachers have also noticed that George probably has ESP. He seems to be very psychic. We would decide to pick up George from school suddenly, if we were in the area (he usually rode the bus). He would tell the teacher we were coming, and he would come to open the door when we arrived. So he has many special abilities, but cannot write his name or write a sentence".
Two other reports made by parents describe children with, in one case, "an extraordinary ability to hear conversations out of range of hearing, and to pick up thoughts not spoken" and, in another case, "verified ESP…first observed around age 4". The child in the latter case "accurately related an accidental occurrence known only to her father. His watch crystal fell out in the bathroom and was immediately replaced. Michelle accurately related the entire incident back to her father a short time thereafter. Several dozens of similar 'clairvoyant' instances have occurred since this first incident. Statistical probability of coincidental knowledge nil."
The parents of Ellen, a blind musical savant…report three instances of unusual perception on her part. One perhaps could be explained by heightened auditory discrimination: in that instance the driver of the special bus that picks her up each day to take her to her classes gave the usual very brief horn beep when picking her up one morning. Instantly Ellen said, "New bus". On checking, it was determined that indeed a different – and new – bus was waiting. The difference in the sounds of the horns was imperceptible to her parents. The other instances are more difficult to explain. One week before Christmas she announced what would be in her gift packages, although she really had no way of knowing and had not been given any clues as to what those gifts might be. Another instance had to do with a telephone call. Ellen's sister, for a variety of reasons, always calls her parents' home during the day and, only under special circumstances, does she call in the evening. At supper time one evening Ellen told her parents that her sister would be calling. Her mother assured her, for the above reasons, that there would be no such call. Shortly thereafter the telephone rang and Ellen answered it, knowing it would be her sister, who it was. The sister has been called out of town unexpectedly and wanted her parents to know that. Ellen somehow knew that the call was coming.
…Some have explained the savant in terms of reincarnation. Barbara Boudreaux recalls that one day some friends who believe that to be the case asked Ellen to listen to a Mozart piece she had never heard before. Near the end they stopped the piece and asked Ellen to play it for them. She obligingly did and, according to the friends at least, continued to play the piece beyond the point at which they had stopped – "as if" she had heard the whole number – and played it just as Mozart had written it.
Are these abilities, and the new research by Dr. Diane Hennacy Powell, explainable without recourse to paranormal abilities? Savants certainly have magical-like abilities that could easily lead to unnecessary leaps of logic – the 'new bus' example given above is a case in point where an enhanced ability could be being mistaken for something paranormal. Would it be so far-fetched to think that the girl in this new research is picking up cues that seem impossible to us? Also, given her severe disability, is there any sort of interaction needed with others to give her answers?
Alternatively, many have suggested that the brain disabilities and injuries suffered by both autistic savants and acquired savants are the likely cause of their savant abilities; shutting down one section of the mind seem to open pathways to these latent abilities which seem almost superhuman to the rest of us (some researchers, such as Dr. Allan Snyder, think we may be able to unlock these abilities via magnetic stimulation). Could this unlocking of ability also allow access to hidden functions of the brain related to extra-sensory perception? Only time, and further research, will offer a definitive answer.
For more on the incredible abilities of autistic and acquired savants, see the links at the bottom of this article.