Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Our Selected Paradigm-Shifting Stories of 2012

By Soulthriller

Our Selected Paradigm-Shifting Stories of 2012

There have been so many incredible realizations, insights and discoveries in 2012 and this article is by no means an exhaustive list. However, it includes some of the most paradigm-shifting stories to come into our field of awareness here at Peace and Loveism and today we share them with you. We could only imagine what amazing things lay in store for us in 2013 and beyond.

New study suggests humans are not naturally violent

A new study published in Nature Journal suggests that humans are naturally good. This study adds to the mounting evidence against the popular misconception that corruption is a trait of human nature. In ten experiments using economic games, scientists observed that faster decisions result in more cooperation and generosity, while slower, calculated decisions show a decrease in cooperation and generosity. The conclusion is that the automatic reaction is to be friendly, generous and cooperative, and only upon further consideration do humans become greedy or violent.

The first time this issue was brought up in the mainstream scientific community was in 1986 when scientists from around the world got together to discuss the psychological and biological evidence proving that human nature is no excuse for violent behavior. The findings that were released came to be known as “The Seville Statement”.

This statement made 5 propositions, which are:

1. “It is scientifically incorrect to say that we have inherited a tendency to make war from our animal ancestors.”
2. “It is scientifically incorrect to say that war or any other violent behavior is genetically programmed into our human nature.”
3. “It is scientifically incorrect to say that in the course of human evolution there has been a selection for aggressive behavior more than for other kinds of behavior.”
4. “It is scientifically incorrect to say that humans have a ‘violent brain’.”
5. “It is scientifically incorrect to say that war is caused by ‘instinct’ or any single motivation.”

Listening to complainers is bad for your brain

Listening to too much complaining is bad for your brain in multiple ways, according to Trevor Blake, a serial entrepreneur and author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life. In the book, he describes how neuroscientists have learned to measure brain activity when faced with various stimuli, including a long gripe session. “The brain works more like a muscle than we thought,” Blake says. “So if you’re pinned in a corner for too long listening to someone being negative, you’re more likely to behave that way as well.”

Even worse, being exposed to too much complaining can actually make you dumb. Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity–including viewing such material on TV–actually peels away neurons in the brain’s hippocampus. “That’s the part of your brain you need for problem solving,” he says. “Basically, it turns your brain to mush.”

Scientific evidence proves why healers see the ‘aura’ of people

Researchers in Spain have found that many of the individuals claiming to see the aura of people –traditionally called “healers” or “quacks”– actually present the neuropsychological phenomenon known as “synesthesia” (specifically, “emotional synesthesia”). This might be a scientific explanation of their alleged “virtue”. In synesthetes, the brain regions responsible for the processing of each type of sensory stimuli are intensely interconnected. This way, synesthetes can see or taste a sound, feel a taste, or associate people with a particular color.

The University of Granada researchers remark that “not all healers are synesthetes, but there is a higher prevalence of this phenomenon among them. The same occurs among painters and artists, for example”. To carry out this study, the researchers interviewed some synesthetes as the healer from Granada “Esteban Sánchez Casas”, known as “El Santón de Baza”.

Cloud height decreasing on Earth and NASA scientists are unsure why

Earth’s clouds got a little lower — about 1% on average — during the first decade of this century, finds a new NASA-funded university study based on NASA satellite data. The results have potential implications for future global climate. Data from NASA’s MISR instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft show that global average cloud height declined by about 1 percent over the decade from 2000 to 2010, or around 100 to 130 feet (30 to 40 meters). Lead researcher Roger Davies said that while the record is too short to be definitive, it provides a hint that something quite important might be going on. Longer-term monitoring will be required to determine the significance of the observation for global temperatures.

A consistent reduction in cloud height would allow Earth to cool to space more efficiently, reducing the surface temperature of the planet and potentially slowing the effects of global warming. This may represent a “negative feedback” mechanism – a change caused by global warming that works to counteract it. “We don’t know exactly what causes the cloud heights to lower,” says Davies. “But it must be due to a change in the circulation patterns that give rise to cloud formation at high altitude.” NASA’s Terra spacecraft is scheduled to continue gathering data through the remainder of this decade. Scientists will continue to monitor the MISR data closely to see if this trend continues.

Animals have conscious awareness, just like us

An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus.

“The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states,” they write, “Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors.” Consequently, say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.

Water discovered on Mercury

New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters. Three independent lines of evidence support this conclusion: the first measurements of excess hydrogen at Mercury’s north pole with MESSENGER’s Neutron Spectrometer, the first measurements of the reflectance of Mercury’s polar deposits at near-infrared wavelengths with the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA), and the first detailed models of the surface and near-surface temperatures of Mercury’s north polar regions that utilize the actual topography of Mercury’s surface measured by the MLA.

Given its proximity to the Sun, Mercury would seem to be an unlikely place to find ice. But the tilt of Mercury’s rotational axis is almost zero — less than one degree — so there are pockets at the planet’s poles that never see sunlight. Scientists suggested decades ago that there might be water ice and other frozen volatiles trapped at Mercury’s poles.

Dark matter scaffolding of universe detected for the first time

“Scientists have, for the first time, directly detected part of the invisible dark matter skeleton of the universe, where more than half of all matter is believed to reside.” The discovery, led by a University of Michigan physics researcher, confirms a key prediction in the prevailing theory of how the universe’s current web-like structure evolved.

The map of the known universe shows that most galaxies are organized into clusters, but some galaxies are situated along filaments that connect the clusters. Cosmologists have theorized that dark matter undergirds those filaments, which serve as highways of sorts, guiding galaxies toward the gravitational pull of the massive clusters. Dark matter’s contribution had been predicted with computer simulations, and its shape had been roughed out based on the distribution of the galaxies. But no one had directly detected it until now. “We found the dark matter filaments. For the first time, we can see them,” said Jörg Dietrich, a physics research fellow in the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts.

Quantum object teleported 100 kilometers by Chinese scientists

Though quantum teleportation has existed for well over 10 years, it has never actually happened at a distance that would be of any use to people in the real world. But for the first time, Chinese researchers were able to teleport a quantum object nearly 100 kilometers, ramping up the real world applications for the idea.

According to Technology Review, the quantum teleportation does not involve dematerializing and then re-materializing physical matter, but rather using a photon to transmit the quantum state of one object to another, thus allowing the recipient to become a clone of the sender (think of it kind of like your consciousness inhabiting someone else’s body).

Using a 1.3 watt laser, the scientists developed a guide mechanism that allows a photon to make it from point A to point B without getting lost. Satellite based quantum communications—which could be useful for quantum cryptography—are an application which scientists are particularly excited about.

Scientists create ‘time cloak’ that masks an entire event

Scientists have made an entire event impossible to see. They have invented a time masker. What scientists at Cornell University did was on very small scale, both in terms of events and time. It happened so quickly that it’s not even a blink of an eye. Their time cloak lasts an incredibly tiny fraction of a fraction of a second. They hid an event for 40 trillionths of a second, according to a study appearing in the journal Nature.

We see events happening as light from them reaches our eyes. Usually it’s a continuous flow of light. In the new research, however, scientists were able to interrupt that flow for just an instant. Other newly created invisibility cloaks fashioned by scientists move the light beams away in the traditional three dimensions. The Cornell team alters not where the light flows but how fast it moves, changing in the dimension of time, not space.

Human ancestors used fire one million years ago, archaeologist find

An international team led by the University of Toronto and Hebrew University has identified the earliest known evidence of the use of fire by human ancestors. Microscopic traces of wood ash, alongside animal bones and stone tools, were found in a layer dated to one million years ago at the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa.

“The analysis pushes the timing for the human use of fire back by 300,000 years, suggesting that human ancestors as early as Homo erectus may have begun using fire as part of their way of life,” said U of T anthropologist Michael Chazan, co-director of the project and director of U of T’s Archaeology Centre.

Neanderthals were artists and used plants for healing purposes

The world’s oldest works of art have been found in a cave on Spain’s Costa del Sol, scientists believe. Six paintings of seals are at least 42,000 years old and are the only known artistic images created by Neanderthal man, experts claim. Professor Jose Luis Sanchidrian, from the University of Cordoba, described the discovery as ‘an academic bombshell’, as all previous art work has been attributed to Homo sapiens.

An international team of researchers, led by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the University of York, has provided the first molecular evidence that Neanderthals not only ate a range of cooked plant foods, but also understood its nutritional and medicinal qualities. Until recently Neanderthals, who disappeared between 30,000 and 24,000 years ago, were thought to be predominantly meat-eaters. However, evidence of dietary breadth is growing as more sophisticated analyses are undertaken. Researchers indentified material trapped in dental calculus (calcified dental plaque) from five Neanderthals from the north Spanish site of El Sidrón. Their results provide another twist to the story — the first molecular evidence for medicinal plants being used by a Neanderthal individual.

The Red Deer People – Human fossils hint at new species

The remains of what may be a previously unknown human species have been identified in southern China. The bones, which represent at least five individuals, have been dated to between 11,500 and 14,500 years ago. But scientists are calling them simply the Red Deer Cave people, after one of the sites where they were unearthed. The team has told the PLoS One journal that far more detailed analysis of the fossils is required before they can be ascribed to a new human lineage. “We’re trying to be very careful at this stage about definitely classifying them,” said study co-leader Darren Curnoe from the University of New South Wales, Australia.

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