- Loyd Auerbach considers how to 'harness' the paranormal community.
- David Pratt debates "Sunken Continents versus Plate Tectonics".
- Michael Prescott reviews The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, by Julian Jaynes.
- Robert L. van de Castle considers "The Concept of Porosity in Dreams".
Grab a free PDF of EdgeScience 13 from the SSE website, or the print version from MagCloud. If you do grab the free PDF, please consider a small donation to help the EdgeScience team continue with this excellent publication, via the button on the webpage. There's also a link to join the SSE on that page if you want to keep up with the latest academic research into fringe science.
It's easy to be a Dan Brown critic: just laugh down your nose at his overly florid descriptive phrases, complain about other great authors being ignored, and encourage readers to join with you in hating the man and his books. Nearly all such reviews, however, miss the point – Brown's work is not meant for the literati, but simply as page-turning escapism. And that is where he excels - anyone that disputes the man's ability to keep readers up late at night reading 'just one more chapter' obviously hasn't tried to write a book of that type before. It's a talent, and it is what most of Brown's readers want from his work – not to 'work' their way through the novel as some sort of endurance event, but as a sprint, either after work or while on holiday, whisking them away to exotic locations on a thrill-a-minute adventure. The other arrow in Brown's quiver is his ability to take a location with fascinating history behind it, and use it as a city-size puzzle for the reader to try and fit together as the action progresses. Between the page-turning, and the hit of satisfaction to the reader as they complete more of the puzzle, his books are casual-reader-cocaine.
Dan Brown seems well aware of the ridiculousness of his fun thrillers occupying the stratosphere of book-selling – in the new book there seem to be parodic hat-tips to other publishing phenomena 50 Shades of Grey and The Girl Who... series. Certainly, there are plenty of other authors out there with Brown's skills (and more), and this doesn't seem to be something Brown doesn't know. They, however, weren't fortunate enough to hit upon the highly combustible mix that Brown put together with The Da Vinci Code - a combination of page-turner, puzzler, AND one 'big idea' that caught fire: that the Catholic Church covered up secrets, in particular the importance of the 'sacred feminine'. Though the success of that one book guaranteed Dan Brown massive sales of succeeding books regardless of their content, even Brown himself couldn't replicate the alchemy of The Da Vinci Code with his next book, The Lost Symbol, even though he seemed to have all the same ingredients, just with a change of big idea. To many though, it was the oversize helping of the 'big idea' in The Lost Symbol that ruined the mix, overwhelming the taste of the puzzles and making the meal difficult to digest quickly.
So with the release of his latest novel, Inferno, I was interested to see what approach Dan Brown might take to try and recapture the magic of The Da Vinci Code. I knew already that he had selected Florence as the location, and thought it an ingenious choice: the city has historical roots, both orthodox and esoteric, that stretched down as deep as the hell of one of its favourite sons, Dante Alighieri. And speaking of that famous Florentine, Brown also stated he was going to use the great Italian poet's classic of the same name as the basis for the plot of his new book. My expectations were high, and in my fun 'primer' Inside Dan Brown's Inferno, I explored the roads (and back-alleys) of Florentine history that I thought the best-selling author was likely to walk down in his own Inferno.
So how did I go in predicting the elements of Inferno? My chapter on Dante's life and literature would certainly have been helpful to readers of Brown's new novel, giving them essential background material to better understand the references made in the book (his love of Beatrice, his expulsion from Florence, the content of his Inferno, etc.). But those topics were a given really; not so much any sort of psychic skill on my part. In terms of locations in Florence I covered many that Brown placed within his adventure: the Boboli Gardens,
- Rupert Sheldrake explains why bad science is like bad religion.
- Show me the evidence! cry the skeptics, so Dean Radin does.
- Why did nature choose quantum physics as a way to behave?
- Scientists refuse to say telepathy, like Republicans & vagina.
- Why science is taking Near Death Experiences seriously.
- On owls & the ambivalence of the place they hold in human culture.
- Electrickery! How Georgians reckoned cats can see in the dark.
- Living consciously at the center of a multidimensional universe.
- Dairy industry sells snakeoil over milk's effects on sleep & dreams.
- There are real benefits to rituals, religious or otherwise.
- Have archaeologists found the lost city of Ciudad Blanca in Honduras?
- More on the Maya pyramid of Noh Mul, bulldozed for local road works.
- In Afghanistan, a 2600-year-old Buddhist city faces destruction.
- Filmmaker Brent Huffman's fighting to save The Buddhas of Mes Aynak.
- Mes Aynak is a treasure trove of Buddhist & Silk Road artifacts.
- In Tibet's capital Lhasa, China paved paradise to put up a parking lot.
- Meet the last remaining shaman of Nicaragua's Rama people.
- The genome of the sacred lotus may hold the key to anti-ageing.
- New app lets you boycott Koch Brothers, Monsanto & more.
- Miyoko Shida demonstrates the power of focusing your mind.
- Cornelia Funke on children's need for wilderness & shapeshifting.
Quote of the Day:
Each plant is a library. When men destroy the jungle, they've burnt a library of books without even having been able to read them."
Happy reversed Pi day folks...
- Skylab was launched 40 years ago today. So why aren't we living in space yet?
- Three X-class solar flares erupt from our Sun within 24 hours. Somebody sacrifice something quickly dammit.
- Pulsar planets: strange worlds orbiting undead stars.
- 2012 Canadian UFO Survey released: twice as many UFOs reported in 2012 as 2011.
- Vanity Fair on the 'alien abduction' phenomenon, and the life and death of Dr. John Mack.
- Inner and outer space meet: Carl Sagan's letters to Timothy Leary.
- How many prime numbers come in pairs? See: angels dancing on the head of a pin.
- The Vatican doesn't like the cult of Santa Muerte. You can add that one to a very long list of things the Vatican doesn't like.
- Mayan pyramid bulldozed by construction crew. Now I understand the X-class solar flare problem.
- Noted religious scholar Geza Vermes passes away. More here.
- The Hanging Gardens of Babylon…now sans Babylon!
- Ogham Stones digitised digitised for 3D project. Visit the website.
- One of the first cities in the world, Uruk, too, has been resurrected in 3D.
- Our Australopith ancestors wouldn't have been able to hear our words.
- While Neanderthals would have shook hands with us with their right hands. Or smashed our puny sapien skulls with them.
- U.N. urges people to start eating insects to fight world hunger.
- In Dan Brown's Inferno, numeric riddles and controversial science mix. Warning: contains me.
- The WaPo verdict on Dan Brown's new book Inferno. Have just finished it myself, and will discuss it here on TDG tomorrow (muuust sleeeeeep now).
Quote of the Day:
The positivists have a simple solution: the world must be divided into that which we can say clearly and the rest, which we had better pass over in silence. But can anyone conceive of a more pointless philosophy, seeing that what we can say clearly amounts to next to nothing? If we omitted all that is unclear, we would probably be left completely uninteresting and trivial tautologies.
The Force was with photographer Rä di Martino when she accidentally stumbled upon the abandoned ruins of Luke Skywalker's Tattooine home. For over three decades, the Star Wars sets lay forgotten in the Tunisian desert, a little crumbled but still looking remarkably intact. No Jawas were spotted during the photoshoot, but the ruins are now home to a family of womp rats.
- A new theory about why Egypt stopped building pyramids.
- Have humans been abducted by extraterrestrials? A prestigious Harvard psychiatrist, John Edward Mack, thought so. His sudden death leaves behind many mysteries.
- Man and Wunderkammern: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert Ripley.
- In an excerpt adapted from his new book, A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley, author Neal Thompson retraces the brilliant and belief-beggaring career of a man whose name lives on in American culture as a symbol of wit and wonder.
- The inscrutable proof of
Japanese mathematicianInter-universal Geometer Shinichi Mochizuki.
- Up to 40 percent of patients with chronic back pain could be cured with a 100-day course of antibiotics rather than surgery -- a medical breakthrough 'worthy of a Nobel prize'.
- New pill which makes alcoholics want to drink less gives addicts fresh hope.
- Frequent marijuana use tied to reduced bladder cancer risk.
- Factories around the world are churning out synthetic recreational drugs, which have no history of human use, on an industrail scale. You'd probably be better off eating rat meat.
- The future of a globally warmed world has been revealed in a remote meteorite crater in Siberia.
- Melting Arctic prompts race for routes, resources.
- Our algorithms can predict future disasters. Now what?
- Why so many people - including scientists - suddenly believe in an afterlife.
- The trailer for Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity will turn your knuckles white.
Hat tip to @ClaudiaLives, and thanks to Rick and RPJ.
Quote of the Day:
In this issue of JAMA, Eappen et al1 reach the troublesome but not surprising conclusion that hospitals in the United States can profit handsomely from postsurgical complications, even if the hospitals could avoid them. The authors note that “Effective methods for reducing surgical complications have been identified. However, hospitals have been slow to implement them."
Although the authors do not expressly say so, readers may infer that the associated financial losses may discourage hospitals from reducing avoidable postsurgical complications as vigorously as they could. This brings to mind Shaw's famous lament in his play 'The Doctor's Dilemma' that “[i]t is not the fault of our doctors that the medical service of the community, as at present provided for, is a murderous absurdity. That any sane nation, having observed that you could provide for the supply of bread by giving bakers a pecuniary interest in baking for you, should go on to give a surgeon a pecuniary interest in cutting off your leg, is enough to make one despair of political humanity."
Uwe E. Reinhardt, PhD, in his editorial on 'Making Surgical Complications Pay' (JAMA, April 17, 2013).
Your daily dose of awesome: with his tenure aboard the International Space Station coming to an end, Commander Chris Hadfield sings David Bowie's "Space Oddity".
If you're looking for some Fortean reading this weekend, make sure you check out the three free sample articles from Darklore Volume 7* that I've added to the Darklore website. The first is "Mushrooms in Wonderland", in which Mike Jay asks whether Victorian fairy art and lore were inspired by experiences with mind-altering fungi. The second sample article is a fascinating exploration of the strange, Discordian-influenced history behind the work of the cult British band The KLF by J.M.R. Higgs. And lastly we have my own recounting of the turbulent and rather frightening seances held by the Icelandic medium Indridi Indridason in the early years of the 20th century. Close to 20,000 words of fun!'
If you like what you read, fill your boots by grabbing the complete book from Amazon and getting access to all 12 articles:
And if you're not caught up, there's another 18 free articles from previous releases to keep you busy too, all in printer-friendly page layouts.
Link: Darklore Sample Articles
* Unless you've already read Darklore 7. In which case, thanks for buying the book! And why not read them again!?
“It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”
- The future of our solar system?
- When comets and planets… collide.
- H2O, H2O everywhere.
- The science of bubbles.
- I stop the world and melt with you.
- Paper goes hi-tech.
- Ancient crater reveals distant future.
- We are family.
- Armchair eclipse.
- The UK’s Atlantis?
- From Indus with love.
- Stonehenge, where the demons dwell-- 5,000 years earlier.
- Sailing the seas of cheese and chocolate hills.
- Wheel, reinvented.
- Gravity… the trailer.
- This week’s proof of the 'bot revolution... 2100-- Robo-pocalypse start-date announced!
My endless and sincere gratitude to GT, RPJ and Perceval for their tireless assistance the past few weeks. Huge props!
Quote of the Day:
“Things do not change; we change.”
Orson Welles discussing Chartres Cathedral in a monologue on authorship and existence. From the 1974 film essay F for Fake.
Man, that voice.