The Chapel Feralous

ArcanePerspectives.vs.MundaneTimes

Ready to be a Strangelet?! June 10, 2008

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:3

So… in a few weeks they’re kicking over the Large Hadron Collider… “What fun!”

Personally, while I’m all for experimentation and humanity’s insatiable lust “to know”, I can’t help but think this is probably THE STUPIDEST IDEA ever put into action.

Wikipedia says:

“The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a particle accelerator of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) that lies under the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland. The LHC is in the final stages of construction and commissioning, with some sections already being cooled down to their final operating temperature of approximately 2K. The first beams are due for injection mid June 2008 with the first collisions planned to take place 2 months later. The LHC will become the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. The LHC is being funded and built in collaboration with over two thousand physicists from thirty-four countries as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories. When activated, it is theorized that the collider will produce the elusive Higgs boson, the observation of which could confirm the predictions and “missing links” in the Standard Model of physics and could explain how other elementary particles acquire properties such as mass. The verification of the existence of the Higgs boson would be a significant step in the search for a Grand Unified Theory, which seeks to unify three of the four known fundamental forces: electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force, leaving out only gravity. The Higgs boson may also help to explain why gravitation is so weak compared to the other three forces. In addition to the Higgs boson, other theorized novel particles that might be produced, and for which searches are planned, include strangelets, micro black holes, magnetic monopolessupersymmetric particles.”

BBC put out a documentary a while ago called “The Six Billion Dollar Experiment“…

I also found some fairly interesting stuff about what Nostradamus says:

Leave, leave Geneva every last one of you,
Saturn will be converted from gold to iron,
Raypoz will exterminate all who oppose him,(?)
Before the coming the sky will show signs.
The year that Saturn and Mars are equal fiery,
The air is very dry, a long meteor.(?)
From hidden fires a great place burns with heat,
Little rain, a hot wind, wars and raids.
While I was thinking about all this (I’ve known about the development of the SuperCollider and this one for a while, but a discussion with a mate the other day reminded me of how bloody soon they’re gonna switch this thing on now!) a Bible verse popped into my head…
2 Peter 3:10 (King James Version)
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Now… I’m not trying to be some kinda prophet of doom or anything, but I pondered a bit more, and couldn’t help but wonder if the “thief in the night” bit was actually more to do with the potential “darkness-related” implications (dark matter/black holes etc. “stealing” from our space) rather than the traditional interpretation of the verse. So I popped the phrase into Google and registered that there’s a second very similar verse in Thessalonians…
1 Thessalonians 1-4 (King James Version)1But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

2For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

4But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

I also came across a few interesting bits’n’pieces from folk who had evidently had the exact same thoughts (and not-quite-so-similar ideas):

Probing the Limits to Our Reality by Chuck Missler

Black Holes, Super Colliders and the Bible by Joel Hendon

CERN Experiment May Violate NEPA, Destroy Universe by Dave Loos

Lords of the Ring by SEED Magazine

WordPress blogs tagged LHC or Large-Hadron-Collider (be sure to keep an eye on “Bad LHC Predictions” -it ought to be a cracker!!!)

So, anyway, I’m not gonna turn this blog into some doomsday freak-out or anything, but I will keep an eye on the situation and start transferring this info and any other cool/scary/weird related info onto my Babylon Molatov page… if you’re blogging about this, it’d be cool to get some comments or at least notifications if anything worthy pops up… if not, seeya in the void!

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GOTH-TRAD@VOID!!! June 2, 2008

VOID returns to kick off the June long weekend with one of the most exciting names in the Dubstep scene right now, Tokyo’s GOTH TRAD.

A one-man army mutating the UK hardcore continuum in Japan’, says Kode9. A pretty accurate description of what Takeaki Maruyama aka Goth Trad has been up since he started making music about ten years ago. These mutations are nowhere more apparent than in his own creation: ‘Mad Rave’, an amalgamation of the musical styles and genres that have influenced him since he first discovered electronic music. From old techno, house and jungle to more recent influences like crunk, grime, drum’n’bass and 2-step, ‘Mad Rave’ is the logical culmination of over 20 years of collecting and listening to records and producing music.

While ‘Mad Rave’ has started to resonate with scenes worldwide in the last few years, from dubstep to drum’n’bass, breakcore to dub, it’s been a long journey already for Goth Trad. Since first dabbling in production back in the late 90s, he’s released three albums, appeared on many compilations and remix projects, and released another three albums as part of Rebel Familia, a collaboration project with legendary reggae bassist Takeshi ‘Heavy’ Akimoto.

He’s also toured Europe four times and has been playing regularly up and down Japan, solo and with Rebel Familia, for the best part of the last five years. His live work has only intensified since the release of his last album, and you’ll as easily find him playing at a drum’n’bass rave as you will a breakcore event, a reggae gig or his own monthly dubstep and grime night in Tokyo, Back To Chill. The diverse appeal of his music and live shows is reflected in the range of artists he’s played alongside in the last few years: The Mars Volta, Don Letts, The Bug, DJ Krush, Limewax, Toshinori Kondo, Mike Ladd, Bong Ra, Buck 65, Zinc, Doc Scott, Skream, Mala and Iration Steppas.
‘www.spannered.org’

And so, with the increasing interest in his work outside of Japan, following his debut releases on UK labels Deep Medi Music, Skud Records and recently Soul Jazz, and having recently toured Japan with Kode9 ,The Bug and playing the legendary DMZ night at Mass in Brixton as recently as last month, Goth-Trad brings his much talked about live show to Sydney for the first time.

With support from a diverse range of cracking local DJ’s, the VOID crew again delivers the goods with the freshest sounds in electronic music today. Another one not to be missed..

Full Line-up

GOTH – TRAD Live ‘Tokyo’
(Deep Medi / Soul Jazz / Skud Records / Pop Group)

Victim (Void)
Bec Paton ( 2ser)
ZeroDub (Southern Steppa)
Saba
Garage Pressure (Aquaticlab Records / FBI)
Double Robin (DSS)

$15 on the door
Hijack Sound
9pm – 5am
Phoenix Bar / 34 Oxford St.

 

The Internet can be Beautiful May 31, 2008

Check this pic out!

FROM WIKIPEDIA:

Summary

I created this small partial map of the Internet from the 200501-15 data found here using a slightly different rendering technique than was used to generate the maps there. Each line is drawn between two nodes, representing two IP addresses. The length of the lines are indicative of the delay between those two nodes. This graph represents less than 30% of the Class C networks reachable by the data collection program in early 2005. Lines are color-coded according to their corresponding RFC 1918 allocation as follows:

  • Dark blue: net, ca, us
  • Green: com, org
  • Red: mil, gov, edu
  • Yellow: jp, cn, tw, au, de
  • Magenta: uk, it, pl, fr
  • Gold: br, kr, nl
  • White: unknown

Big BIG HUGE (probably unusable in articles) version can be found at [1].

 

Sterioevo’s self help guide to recovering value from DEFAULT IN PAYMENT May 30, 2008

Sterioevo’s self help guide to recovering value from DEFAULT IN PAYMENT

Hi and welcome to this exciting page. Below is a creative concept I am developing based on recent experiences with an unscrupulous entertainment promoter that, despite considerable efforts to extract due payment, has been unwilling to meet obligations and settle the matter suitably. I consider this project to be “open source” and encourage any interested parties to contribute.

The concept is based on the well known practice of “Work at Home & Make Money Online in 8 Simple Steps!”.

After 15 years studying and working in the social sciences, I recognise that there are 2 sides to every story, and it is crucial to give the promoter concerned a reasonable opportunity to make amends and avoid the unneccesary process outlined below, we live in hope, after all, it’s the one thing nobody has figured out how to kill yet… . We must listen first, wait to see if any guarentees or promises are acted upon within a agreed amount of time, and then, upon failure to meet these pledges and rectify any outstanding issues, let the games begin!!!

And so, without further ado, let’s get onto the good stuff.

The main idea is to create value system for oneself based on the distribution and dissemination of information pertaining to the default in payment. Sure this is “taking the piss”, no doubt, but the real genius of the idea is that you attribute a value to this “piss taking”, a value that you consider relevant to you! After all, this is a process about recovering a sense of value for your act/performance  that was delivered on your part “in good faith”.

So here is how it works. You collate all relevant communications with the said promoter and publish this correspondance on a post on your website. It is important that you remain objective and do not embellish this communication as this process is rooted in the dissemination of the truth. Be sure to update with any relevant further correspondance to ensure the post is always “on the money”.

Once you have this information in place you then research possible avenues of dissemination. We are loooking here at placing posts on the related internet sites with a link to existing correspodance as described above. There are multitudes of possibilities available on the internet (such a wonderful resource for the distribution of information). For example, social networking as we know is enormously popular, one could post to sites such as bebo, badoo, buzznet, facebook, flixster, friendster, habbo, imeem, linkedin, livejournal, mixi, myspace, netlog, orkut, plaxo, skyrock_blog, stickam, tagged, windows live spaces and xanga to name but a few of the bigger ones. Then there is the online forum communities which also offers a galaxy of potential audiences. I would like to categorise forum sites as those locally based (i.e. in my case, Australia) and those operating from foreign soil (i.e. the rest of the world). Examples of locally based forums (in Australia) could include inthemix, residentadvisor, australiens, ozdoof, teknoscape,  spraci, raveadelaide, clubsguide and oztrance to name a few notables. Examples of other globally focused forums include goatrance, psynews, isratrance, psydb, mysticalforum, psytrance, doof central, psy-forum.co.uk, psytechforum, psytrance.ru, psytunes and goatrance.de to name but a few. Obviously the idea here is to target sites relevant to the promoter concerned. Obscure sites are another interesting idea – you never know who reads things these days. The other area of potential distribution channel development is through other artists (also see paragraph on researching other artists who have been squeezed and the very exciting paragraph on the potential for a [to coin-a-phrase] ripple effect affiliate program) – persons who have themselves been subjuct to a rort are generally very happy to provide support and assistance. And let’s not forget there is also the music retail and hosting sites such as mp3.com.au, soundclick, last.fm, psyshop, chaishop, etc

Then you create a table that outlines the “reward scheme” you will be placing on the distribution of information. Below is an example of this process – remember this is all about the intrinsic value that YOU feel is equivalant to YOUR satisfaction as applied in terms of moolah, cabbage, dough, etc.

Site Dollar Value in currency of choice
Posting to a social networking site $2
Removal of a post from social networking site (by sites administrators) -$1
Posting to a local forum $1
Removal of posting from local forum (by sites administrators within 24 hours) -$0.75
Removal of posting from local forum (by sites administrators after 24 hours) -$0.50
Posting to a foreign forum $2
Removal of posting from international forum (by sites admin within 24 hours) -$1.50
Removal of posting from international forum (by sites admin after 24 hours) -$1
Distribution through other artists per link $1

Example. Using the table proposed above, an example application would be calculated as follows. Promoter owes you $500. You post to myspace, bebo and facebook for a total of $6. You then post to 2 local forums and 4 foreign forums for a total of $10. Sub total is now $16. The post is removed from facebook and an international forum in under 24 hours, as well removed from a local forum in over 24 hours. This would create a debit of -$3.25. This would leave a sub-total of $12.75. And so on and so forth.

You will need to be flexible with the reward scheme and change as required. Also it is important deal with the matter in a suitable timeframe so you can put the issue “to bed”. We all know these unfortunate scenarios can cause unwanted stress and we need to deal with the matter efficiently to reach a sense of closure.

Ripple Effect Affiliatte program. We are now seeing the enormous machine that is syndication. Considerable potential exists for the distribution of information via syndication. By connecting with persons empathetic to the cause one can effectively spread information very quickly and to a significantly larger audience. It is important to recognise these contributions by developing an appropriatte affiliate reward system. This ties in nicely with the concept of Street teams, a term used in marketing
to describe a group of people who ‘hit the streets’ (in this case, hit the boards) promoting an event
or a product (in this case, promoting the truth).

Another avenue of development exists in researching and contacting other persons who have been involved in previous events. Chances are you are not the only person to have been screwed, and these persons may be interested in pursuing their own efforts in recovering value through self help.

Upon reciept of payment, it is not only reasonable, but is also considered fair practice, to retract all postings and information.

Not paying artists is illegal. Legal principles for this concept include:

  • freedom of speech – a fundamental right that is essential for the discovery of truth
  • public figures have less privacy
  • disclosure of private facts relating to a “promoter” are newsworthy and of significant public interest

Please let myself or Steve know if you have any bright ideas, comments or suggestions… as previously mentioned, this is an open source project in order to assist YOU to get more bang for your buck!

Stay tuned, this will no doubt evolve and mutate!!!

 

Rogue Economics- Loretta Napoleoni on The World Today May 22, 2008

I heard this interview on ABC’s “The World Today” on Tuesday and have been hanging out for the entire interview to be popped up…

Loretta Napoleoni talks to Eleanor Hall about global economics, the currently booming slave trade, Shari’a vs Capitalist (Rogue) socio-economics and a few other bits ‘n pieces…

The transcript:

The World Today – Tuesday, 20 May , 2008 12:42:00

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: Italian journalist and economist, Loretta Napoleoni, is best known for her work tracing the financial web behind global terrorism.

Her new book, “Rogue Economics” attempts an even bigger challenge – to unravel what she describes as the rogue forces driving global capitalism. Her book describes, among other things, a massive explosion in slavery since the end of the Cold War and it shows how the subprime crisis is a product of this new world economy.

Perhaps most controversially she suggests that Islamic finance is the key to challenging rogue economics.

Loretta Napoleoni is in Australia this month for the Sydney Writers Festival and she joined me in the World Today studio this morning.

Loretta Napoleoni thanks very much for joining us.

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Why thank you for inviting me.

ELEANOR HALL: Now you coined the phrase “rogue economics”, what exactly does it mean?

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well, rogue economics is purposely ambiguous because it is a sort of umbrella under which you do find the terror economy, the criminal economy, the illegal economy but also the formation of grey areas. These are areas where there is no regulation. There is no law and inside this grey areas, the globalisation outlaws as I defined this new rogue entrepreneurs that reap the benefit of the great transformation of today which is globalisation.

ELEANOR HALL: A lot of these are sort of Mafioso type figures?

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes, but also individuals who are not necessarily breaking any law. For example the subprime mortgage crisis. It is very much the product of rogue economics. Nobody really broke any law because there were not any laws to be broken.

ELEANOR HALL: The subprime crisis then is a direct consequence of rogue economics?

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes it is. If you look at how the crisis came about, it came about through the transformation of a growing debt into an asset and that was made possible by the usage of derivatives. Basically applying this derivatives to mortgages was possible to transform this debt into an asset and sell the debt as an asset across the world.

There was no regulation in place to prevent something like this to happen.

ELEANOR HALL: I want to mention now one of the startling links that you draw. You say that there is a link between democracy and slavery. What is this link?

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well, basically we see that as democratic countries multiply, why this process happen, slavery start rising. By the end of the 1990s we had 27 million people who were actually slaves in those countries which had undergone the process of democratisation.

ELEANOR HALL: And you are not talking about wage slavery. You are talking about slavery like the sort of slavery trade we saw a couple of centuries ago, aren’t you?

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yeah, I’m talking about real slavery people who are deprived of their freedom. People who are trading as merchandise. Now the first sign of this resurgence came actually right after the fall of the Berlin Wall when women from the former Soviet bloc were started to be traded as sex slaves and prostitutes in the west.

ELEANOR HALL: Who was doing the trading?

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Well predominantly it was the Mafia. Initially, but then other organisations got involved so to a certain extent it is poor people enslaving other poor people and with the food crisis now hitting really hard, we will, for sure see another surge in the number of slaves.

ELEANOR HALL: Now Islamic finance. Interestingly you say that it is the sole global economic force that can challenge rogue economics. Why?

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Because it has a built-in code of ethics which we do not have anymore in western finance and this code of ethics comes from the Sharia law. Now when we say Sharia law people tend to associate it with something negative now we’ve got to explain that the Sharia law is nothing to do with the manipulation which has been done of this law by people like Osama bin Laden and the fundamentalists of Islamic.

Sharia law code of ethics which is very similar to the code of ethics of the classic British economist Adam Smith, David Ricardo. For example, money should not produce money. Money should be invested in the real economy and through the growth of the real economy, produce money.

So that is a fundamentally important concept which we have lost to a certain extent. The subprime crisis, it is created by an instrument which is based upon lending money that creates money.

ELEANOR HALL: So instead of a clash of civilisations, we essentially have a clash between rogue economics and Sharia economics?

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Yes, that is a very good point. We do have a clash between rogue economics and Sharia economics whereby Sharia economics is the only force today that will be able to control rogue economics and bringing back within the rules providing, of course, Islamic finance does not fall into the hands of radical groups as you know al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, that is a pretty big risk isn’t it?

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: I don’t think it is a very big risk. Actually I think today the risk is much, much less than it was right after 9-11.

ELEANOR HALL: Essentially, we will be seeing a massive shift in values away from the individual and of wealth, won’t we?

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: I don’t think that the shift in value will be away from the individual. No, I would say that the individual, especially when we talk about Islamic finance will be more involved in the every day decision in terms of how is this money invested but there will be a new system and the west, in particular the core of the western system which is the US and the UK today, will be at the periphery of the new world.

ELEANOR HALL: Loretta Napoleoni, thanks very much for joining us.

LORETTA NAPOLEONI: Thank you.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Italian journalist and economist, Loretta Napoleoni who is in Australia for the Sydney Writers Festival. And if you’d like to hear a longer version of that interview, you can go to our website at abc.net.au.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW
 

Tassie Tiger DNA Plugged into a Mouse! May 20, 2008

Filed under: 23,Australia,environmental,fauna,modern history,mysteries,technology — feralbrown @ 6:54 pm
Reviving extinct DNA
In a first for science, a snippet of genetic code from long-gone species is inserted in mice and shown to work
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Mouse with tiger: Scientists in Australia and Texas have resurrected part of the extinct Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine. A piece of DNA from the thylacine was inserted into mice where it drives production of a marker gene (blue). The thylacine DNA turns on the marker in cells that produce cartilage.

Tasmanian tigers are back. Sort of. A small bit of the extinct marsupial’s DNA is alive and well in the cells of some genetically engineered mice.

Scientists have produced proteins from mammoth and Neandertal genes in cells, but the new study, appearing in the May 19 PLoS ONE, is the first to examine the activity of an extinct piece of DNA in a whole animal.

Scientists from the University of Melbourne in Australia and the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston extracted DNA from alcohol-preserved specimens of the Tasmanian tiger, also known as the thylacine. The researchers then inserted into mice a piece of thylacine DNA that controls production of a collagen gene. The thylacine DNA worked, switching on a marker gene in cartilage-producing cells in a mouse embryo, essentially resurrecting a bit of the extinct animal.

But don’t expect mice to transform into the doglike marsupials, or for scientists to reanimate thylacines through cloning.

“This technology can tell us interesting things about thylacines bit by bit,” says Robin Lovell-Badge, a developmental geneticist at the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill, England. “As far as bringing back thylacines, this is not going to be able to do that.”

“I love the idea,” Lovell-Badge says of somehow engineering mice into thylacines, “but no, not like this.”

As for the cloning the extinct animal, it’s not likely to happen, says Carles Lalueza-Fox, a paleogeneticist at the University of Barcelona in Spain.

“It’s impossible to clone extinct animals like some people claim they will do with frozen mammoths. That’s fantasy, not science,” Lalueza-Fox says.

But the researchers involved in the new study never intended to bring back the thylacine, just to learn something more about its biology and perhaps add to the evolutionary history books. This type of study could teach biologists how species use their genes to create the tremendous diversity in body shapes and sizes.

access

Thylacines: Tasmanian tigers, also known as thylacines, were carnivorous marsupials. They were hunted to extinction in the wild in the early 1900s. The last thylacine died in captivity at the Hobart Zoo in 1936, but now scientists have resurrected a bit of the thylacine’s DNA in a mouse.Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

“We were very interested in finding out a little bit more about this iconic Australian carnivore, especially since we humans were responsible for its extinction,” says Marilyn Renfree, a reproductive and developmental biologist at the University of Melbourne and one of the authors of the new study. “This study has given us proof that one can ask these sorts of questions and get answers.”

To prove that DNA from an extinct species can still work, the team chose a regulatory element, called an enhancer, which regulates the Col2a1 gene and has been conserved throughout evolution in animals with backbones, says Andrew Pask, a molecular biologist at the University of Melbourne.

Enhancers serve as landing pads for proteins that turn genes on. Only specific proteins are granted landing privileges and only at prescribed times of development in particular types of cells. The Col2a1 enhancer turns the gene on only in chondrocytes — cartilage-producing cells— in mouse embryos. The enhancer works similarly in birds and mammals, so the researchers hoped that the thylacine DNA would also produce a familiar pattern of gene activity.

That hope was fulfilled. Mouse embryos engineered with the thylacine enhancer turned on production of a marker that the researchers use to track gene activity. The enhancer worked only in chondrocytes.

The new study is the first using extinct DNA that does not encode a protein but controls how genes are turned on and off. In previous studies, mammoth and Neandertal genes were used to produce proteins in cell culture, not in living animals.

“This is the next logical step to try to bring ancient DNA into an animal or biological system,” says Stephen Schuster, a genomicist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. Researchers might use the technique to find enhancers and other regulatory elements that could make a chicken look like a dinosaur or an elephant look like a mammoth, he said. But such methods, even if they could achieve such dramatic results, would not bring back dodos, dinosaurs and mammoths.

“If you had a very hairy African elephant, that would be a first step to looking like a mammoth, but of course it wouldn’t be a mammoth. It would just be a weird-looking elephant,” Schuster says.

Even though the thylacine enhancer seems to work the same way as the mouse enhancer does, that’s no guarantee that the researchers have the correct answer to how thylacine DNA functions. Mice and marsupials are so different that sometimes enhancers might misbehave when placed in a mouse, giving researchers the wrong impression about how such bits of DNA worked in extinct animals, says Lalueza-Fox.

“To use an animal model is always difficult, but to use an eutherian [placental] animal model for a marsupial is really quite risky,” he says.

Other researchers concede that genetically engineered mice might sometimes yield misleading data, but see no alternative way to study gene function from extinct species.

“The problem with extinct animals is that they’re extinct,” says Michael Hofreiter, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. “Cell cultures or the mouse models are the only possibility we have of learning how non-coding DNA worked in extinct animals. The question is not whether this is the best way forward — it’s the only way forward.”

These kinds of studies are necessary to understand where and when genes are turned on and off in the bodies of extinct animals. That information may be encoded in the DNA of the animals, but predicting how variations between two species changes gene function is not well understood. Such studies could show how the thylacine got its stripes or what made mammoths so woolly.

Even armed with information about how thylacine genes worked, the technology used in the study is unlikely to bring back the Tasmanian tiger, Hofreiter says. In order to re-create the thylacine from a mouse using this technique, researchers would have to replace the mouse genome bit by bit, using about 10 million short pieces of DNA. That would take years and be would be extremely costly, not to mention that at some point, a chimeric animal (part-mouse, part-thylacine) would be unlikely to survive, he says.

Schuster favors a bigger, bolder approach to re-creating extinct animals, one that admittedly is still science fiction. He would stitch together entire chromosomes from an extinct animal and replace a host animal’s chromosomes with the synthetic creations. In that way, an elephant’s genetic material might be replaced with mammoth DNA, essentially reincarnating the Ice Age icon.

Scientists are only just beginning to learn how to create whole chromosomes.

“With DNA we’re very good at reading information, but we’re not good at writing. It’s like we’ve got a computer, but we don’t have a printer,” Schuster says.

Thylacines have no living counterpart. Their closest living relatives are Tasmanian devils, but no one has ever genetically engineered a Tasmanian devil, making it an unlikely host should the technology to clone extinct animals become available.

Re-creating extinct organisms captures the imagination, Schuster says, but it is far easier and less expensive to protect the endangered animals still living on Earth.

 

Belated Respects May 5, 2008

I would like to pay my deepest respects to Dr. Hofmann, who passed away on April 29, 2008 at the age 102.

Trip of a lifetime: How LSD rocked the world

It’s the psychedelic drug that inspired Hendrix and The Beatles – and shaped the music, art and literature of a generation. As the world bids farewell to the bicycling Swiss chemist who created LSD, John Walsh explores his mind-altering legacy…

It was known as acid, blotter acid, window pane, dots, tickets and mellow yellow. It was sold on the street in capsules and tablets but most often in liquid form, usually absorbed on to a piece of blotting paper divided into several squares: one drop, or “dot”, per square. Lysergic acid diethylamide, or C20H25N30 to give it its snappy chemical formula, derived from lysergic acid, and it introduced you to a world of cosmic harmony and all-embracing love, or a black schizoid hell of paranoia and screaming demons.

The letters LSD once denoted English money in pre-decimalisation days: librae, solidi, denarii, the Latin forms of pounds, shillings and pence. From the mid-1960s, however, the letters had only one meaning: they stood for the most powerful mood-altering drug in the world.

Those who experienced the 12-hour “trip” it engendered would report back with all the fervour and awe of travellers returned from mystic lands, desperate to relay the sights and sounds of their wild adventures, but frustrated by the impossibility of making their listeners see or understand their experiences. Sometimes, they’d been on a physical journey (usually no further than the garden or local shops); but mentally, the trip had taken them into a new realm of consciousness that was a) hard to evoke and b) very boring to listen to. They talked about the blinding sensory enhancement, and the synaesthesia of hearing colours and smelling the stars. They saw profound truths in cracks in the pavement and cosmic harmonies in a match flame. They tended to mention God, several times. The man who invented the stuff had a lot to answer for. He was a Swiss chemist called Albert Hoffman, and he died on Tuesday morning.

The fact that he reached the age of 102 seems a tribute to the efficacy of his invention. But its importance to the 20th century isn’t as a therapeutic medical treatment. It may have altered some lives for the better, but its real importance is cultural. For LSD gave the Sixties a brand-new concept to embrace and apply to every area of life, especially the arts: psychedelia. The word was spelt wrongly – it should, strictly, be psychodelia – but its meaning was clear. It meant the making-visible of the soul: opening up your inner, half-glimpsed metaphysical self for inspection while in a state of profound relaxation and pleasure.

The English writer Aldous Huxley had, of course, been there years before, when he experimented with mescaline in the early 1950s. His 1954 book, The Doors of Perception (the title is taken from William Blake – “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite”) argued that altered-state-inducing drugs were good for you, if you were sufficiently clever.

“To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by the Mind at Large – this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual,” he said. But LSD was, by 1968, becoming available to all, and seemed, for a time, a thing that could change the world.

In theory, the entire young “counterculture” of the West, the same young people who listened to rock’n’roll, smoked dope, rejected the values of their straight, bourgeois parents and demonstrated against the Vietnam War, could all drop acid, discover their transcendent inner being, forsake their redundant ego and refuse to cooperate with the ordinary forms of society. They could, in the immortal phrase of Timothy Leary, LSD’s greatest fan and most articulate zealot, “Turn on, tune in and drop out.

They could share with each other soul-perceptions that were denied to the straights, the military-industrial complex, the politicians and judges…. It didn’t happen. But, for a few years, it felt as if the doors of perception might budge an inch.

The first acid trip was on 16 April 1943. It was an accident. Dr Hoffman had been conducting experiments with LSD-25, which he had synthesised from lysergic acid in 1938 and was trying to make again, having a “presentiment” that it could possess “properties other than those established in the first investigations”. The doctor got some of the stuff on his fingers. In the afternoon he felt dizzy, couldn’t work, went home to bed and wrote later that he entered a dream-like state. Behind his closed eyes, he saw streams of “fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours” for a whole two hours.

Three days later, with a Dr Jekyll-like foreboding, he put himself through a guinea-pig experiment. He took 250mg (a colossal dose by blotting-paper standards) and went for a bicycle ride. Wherever he looked, the landscape became distorted as if seen through a funfair mirror. Though he was moving fast he felt completely stationary, as though the fields were whizzing by him.

Back home, he experienced the world’s first bad trip. He became convinced that he was possessed by a demon, that his neighbour was a witch and that his furniture was trying to kill him. The doctor was summoned, found nothing wrong beyond a dilation of the pupils, and packed him off to bed. Hoffman’s panic subsided and he started to enjoy the visions and exploding colours, the shifting kaleidoscope of shapes breaking up and folding into themselves. Every noise from the street became a visual event.

He woke next day full of beans, refreshed, reborn. His breakfast tasted delicious. In the garden, looking at birds and smelling the flowers, he described his senses as “vibrating in a condition of highest sensitivity, which persisted for the entire day”.

“Bicycle Day”, 19 April, was later commemorated by acid enthusiasts because it was the first conscious “trip” and it had had – just about – a happy ending. But the doors to perception are, for some truth-seekers, booby-trapped and dangerous. When LSD was co-opted by medical staff for recreational use, two decades after Hoffman’s bike ride, users learnt the hard way how impossible it was to control the wild ride once it had started.

At Oxford in the early 1970s, we were frankly intimidated by the drug’s reputation. We all wanted to try it, but were too chicken. The word in the quad was: if you had any secret hang-ups, mental instabilities, phobias, sexual inadequacies or social insecurities (the kind that surface in dreams,) you were wise of steer clear of acid. We knew when one of us was going to try it. “Tonight,” I’d hear during dinner in hall, “Roger’s tripping for the first time. But he’ll have Will and Ollie with him, so he’ll be OK.”

I’ve always remembered Roger’s first trip (so, I’ll bet, has he). We all knew he’d be fine because he was so perfect: cool, handsome, easy-going, a hit with the girls, a dead ringer, with his corkscrewy curls, for Marc Bolan of T. Rex. And he was rich; he owned a Morgan, which he casually parked in the back quad. We knew Roger would survive the experience and bang on about it, like he banged on about his Bang and Olufsen state-of-the-art hi-fi. And anyway, Will and Olly would look after him.

The evening started well. The three students took a tab each, drank some wine and waited for results. An hour later, they were happily tripping on the college lawn, listening to the grass grow and hearing their voices transforming into harp notes. They went to Olly’s room, smoked, listened to Tubular Bells in a haze of bliss. Then Roger went the gents. This proved a mistake.

After using the facilities, he washed his hands, dried them and looked in the mirror. Something caught his eye. He looked closer. Just below his cherubic lower lip, there was a spot. It’s wasn’t huge or septic, but it was unquestionably a skin eruption, a blemish. As he watched, it grew bigger and bigger until it took on the size and texture of a Brussels sprout. Roger was transfixed. He looked on in horror, as the distended spot grew wobblingly larger, and began to pull his features into its green heart. His nose disappeared, his cheeks and eyes began to twist down, his Marc Bolan curls hung uselessly over his aghast, imploding face.

Roger, you see, was indeed a near-perfect human being but he was as vain as a canary. And discovering a spot on his immaculate physiognomy played straight into his worst insecurity: that he might secretly be unattractive. He ended up imagining his whole head was a great blob of pus; and sat screaming with paranoia for two hours as his friends dosed him with orange juice (vitamin C is the only known cure for bad trips). Other occupants of his staircase, alerted by the noise, called in to discover a scenario straight from the locked unit of Bedlam hospital, circa 1880.

During the Cold War, both the British and the US governments were keen to exploit LSD‘s unique qualities, for “social engineering“. They were convinced it would be useful as a “truth drug” during interrogations – a rather prosaic understanding of the kind of visionary truth revealed by communing with one’s soul.

In 1953 and 1954, scientists working for MI6 drugged servicemen with LSD without telling them what to expect; the scientists told them they were looking for a cure for the common cold. One soldier, aged 19, reported that he saw “walls melting, cracks appearing in people’s faces… eyes would run down cheeks, Salvador Dali-type faces… a flower would turn into a slug.” Not surprisingly, the experiment failed; MI6 reported that LSD was of little practical use as a mind-control drug. It took 50 years for the human guinea-pigs to be compensated for what they’d been put through.

::A LIST OF ALBERT HOFMANN’S WORKS CAN BE FOUND HERE::

~R.I.P. Dr. Hof’~