Friday, March 30, 2012

Important discovery of alignments among ancient megaliths of India

In a recent issue of India's Current Science ("a fortnightly journal of research"), a team of three researchers published a study entitled "Stone alignment with solar and other sightlines in South India."

In the study, Srikumar M. Menon, Mayank N. Vahia, and Kailash Rao present evidence that a group of twenty-six ancient menhirs at a site called Nilaskal Biyana ("field with the standing stones") near Byse in Karnataka contains sightlines created by two and in some cases three stones directed to the summer solstice sunrise and sunset, and the winter solstice sunrise and sunset, as well as possibly to the setting points of several important stars.

The paper, which was submitted last April and accepted earlier this year in February 2012, concludes: "this study provides the first strong evidence of a monument with intentional solar and possible stellar alignments among Indian megaliths" (2).

India contains a wealth of megalithic stone circles, dolmens, and dramatic monoliths. This website, Megaliths of India, by Subhashis Das showcases many stunning megalithic sites in India. A statement at the top of the webpage says, "Strangely they are never promoted as heritages of India and in the process are deprived of the dignity these ancient monuments demand as true relics of our country's prehistory. . . sad."

Note that a little less than a quarter of the way down the page, there is a photograph of a sharply-inclined standing stone aligned with a prominent "V"-shaped notch in the natural visible skyline of Zulzul Hill in the background. The caption reads:
The Birbir megalithic complex comprises of an inclined obelisk (at whose front I stand), one triangle facing due east, a human shaped burial cover with a North South orientation and a Recumbent Mother Goddess Form of the Zulzul Hill at the background. Note how the tip of the menhir aligned to the "V" notch of the hill in the landscape.
This technique is strongly reminiscent of the alignment of standing stones with prominent notches in the natural skyline among the megaliths of New Zealand, categorized by the insightful Martin Doutré on his website Ancient Celtic New Zealand. Among many other possible articles from his site, this one in particular highlights the frequent use of such notches in conjunction with massive boulders to this create alignments, often with the sunrise or sunset on the solstices or equinoxes.

Note also the curious stone "lizard" or "turtle" photographed just below the Birbir menhir mentioned above, made by deliberately altering a very large rock. Interestingly enough, the final two photographs at the bottom of this article by Martin
Doutré shows another example of the same kind of large rock sculpture. In the case of the giant lizard cited by Subhashis Das in India, the head faces due east (towards the sunrise on the equinoxes). Similarly, the face at Whangape in New Zealand, which Mr. Doutré believes represents the god Tangaroa, also faces to the east.

Further examination of the many megalithic sites in India might turn up even more remarkable similarities to those in New Zealand. This is an extremely important line of inquiry, as these connections (as well as parallels to sites in Europe which Mr.
Doutré details on his site) strongly suggest the presence of inhabitants in the islands of Aotearoa long before the arrival of the Polynesian Maori in the thirteenth century, inhabitants connected to other ancient megalith-constructing cultures around the globe (or perhaps members of a single megalith-constructing culture). The evidence presented by the skull of the "Ruamahanga Woman" suggests the same possibility.

It is also likely that additional rigorous examination of other stone circles and clusters of menhirs in India will reveal further solar and stellar alignments, as well as (most likely) encoded precessional numbers in their dimensions (Mr.
Doutré points out many of these in his writings, and I note several additional examples of precessional numbers encoded in dimensions of stone circles and other sites -- some of which I believe have not previously been noted -- in my own book).

Srikumar Menon, Mayank Vahia, and Kailash Rao are to be commended for their work in advancing the understanding of the solar and possibly stellar alignments in ancient stone sites in India. We should all wish them well in their future endeavors and hope that they continue to discover more of these important clues to the ancient past.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Philip Ahn (1905 - 1978)

March 29 is the birthday of Philip Ahn (1905 - 1978), who portrayed Master Kan of the Shaolin Temple in the television series Kung Fu from 1972 - 1975. With kindliness and gentleness combined with dignity and firmness, he helped convey the philosophy of the legendary Chan Buddhist martial arts monastery to a wide audience, many of whom had never had much exposure to them before.

As the head of the temple, Master Kan utters the famous challenge to the young Kwai Chang -- one of the most well-known lines from the entire series: "When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave" (which can be seen in the clip below beginning at the 7:10 mark).

In many of the flashbacks peppered throughout the series, Master Kan provides a change of perspective from the conventional by asking questions about seemingly unrelated subjects, and then providing the connection to the particular issue at hand. Often, as others have noticed, Master Kan's lessons appear to be closely related to teachings in the Tao Teh Ching, such as in the vignette below:

In the scene below, Master Kan teaches Kwai Chang (using the metaphor of a single untrustworthy nail discovered while building a house) that we cannot decide to trust no one just because we encounter one untrustworthy person:

We have remarked previously on the possibility that the Buddhist monastic tradition, as well as some of the wisdom contained in Taoism, appear to have clear connections to wisdom that was part of the ancient Egyptian culture. One explanation for this could be the hypothesis that a single unknown ancient civilization predated both China and Egypt and influenced them both (and probably ancient India as well). Another possibility is that early Egyptian influence proceeded east through India and ultimately to China -- or that it went the other direction from China to India and Egypt, or from India to both Egypt and China.

There are clear evidences of aspects of a common esoteric tradition in the precessional numbers that are found in many ancient civilizations and which were preserved in the Shaolin Temple and in the martial arts which traditionally had their origins in the Shaolin Temple.

For example, there is a tradition that a monk, when ready to leave the temple and venture out into the world, had to pass through a hall of 108 mechanical "wooden men," each equipped with a potentially deadly attack that he would have to defeat (sometimes known as the "Hall of Wooden Men" or the "Wooden Man Labyrinth"). The connections to other important manifestations of 108, both in the Mediterranean and around the globe (including in the Americas) are explored in the Mathisen Corollary book.

In the scene below, Master Kan (silently) re-issues his famous challenge with the pebble, and this time Kwai Chang demonstrates that it is now time for him to leave. It is a poignant scene, and Master Kan imparts some final words of wisdom in farewell:

Philip Ahn was an essential pillar of quiet wisdom so important to the power and vitality of the Kung Fu television series that provided millions of viewers (including myself) with their first encounter with the Shaolin Temple.

Rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Genetically-modified cooking oil

Bad analysis can lead to mistaken conclusions which lead to even worse mistakes in the future.

Back in July of last year, we looked at the possibility that the analysis done by Ancel Keys in the 1950s which drew a direct cause-and-effect line between the consumption of saturated fat and the incidence of coronary heart disease could be seriously flawed. Numerous subsequent analysts have pointed to major gaps in his methodology and reasoning.

In spite of these flaws, the connection between consumption of saturated fats (and dietary cholesterol) and heart disease remains so fixed in conventional wisdom that it is widely assumed to be "proven," and questioning it out loud will elicit nervous laughter as people try to figure out if you are really serious.

Rather than cooking in saturated fats (such as butter), we are advised to use polyunsaturated fats, such as those derived from canola, corn or soy. See for example the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010), which tells us to decrease our consumption of eggs and butter and to replace butter, tallow, or other saturated cooking fats with polyunsaturated fats "that promote heart health," such as canola and soybean oils (441, 91, 143).

We've already seen that some researchers believe that cooking with polyunsaturated oils may be extremely harmful to the human body, and that some studies appear to suggest that populations which switch from diets featuring traditional cooking in saturated fats to modern diets featuring foods commonly cooked in vegetable oils rapidly develop the familiar and deadly ailments plaguing western society, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Now, taking this potentially erroneous analysis to a new level, major corporations involved in the development of genetically-modified plant traits are actively working towards plants which will produce cooking oil "with a reduced fat profile" (as discussed on the website describing one such genetically-modified oil; other major GMO-producing companies are working on similar projects).

We have already discussed the evidence suggesting that serious further analysis should be done before reaching a conclusion that any genetically-modified foods are a good idea (and the possibility that, far from being a good idea, GM foods might actually lead to horrific problems, although again more analysis needs to be done before we can conclude that either). To rush out and create genetically-modified cooking oil based upon a potentially false hypothesis connecting dietary fat and cholesterol with heart disease seems to pile one set of insufficient analysis on top of another.

The dietary theories that we take as "settled science" and "proven beyond debate" turn out to be a very good parallel to other theories that have achieved a similar status of being "beyond question in polite company" but which may also rest on terribly flawed analysis. If you think that questioning the "lipid hypothesis" of Ancel Keys (and the US government's "dietary guidelines for Americans") creates uncomfortable reactions, try mentioning the possibility that the accepted Darwinian mechanism of evolution is flawed, or that the theoretical foundations of plate tectonics appear to be riddled with errors, or that ancient civilizations probably knew the size and shape of the ellipsoidal earth and crossed the oceans regularly.

To entertain such possibilities is as heretical in our generally close-minded society as it is to entertain the possibility that eating fat and cholesterol does not cause heart disease (and that it is thus possible that we should not be creating genetically-modified soybean plants to produce oils based upon that theory).

The comparison to the lipid hypothesis brings out another aspect of the other orthodox beliefs such as the belief in the Darwinian hypothesis or the belief that ancient mankind could not have possessed advanced scientific knowledge, and that is the fact that following flawed theories can actually be dangerous.

If the Darwinian theory is false, then the many conclusions about human behavior (and, yes, the human diet) that are based on Darwinian assumptions could be -- not just wrong -- but harmful.

Similarly, if the theory of steady advancing human progress is based on faulty analysis (and if an ancient civilization or civilizations existed with sophistication and scientific knowledge rivaling our own, followed by ages of relative ignorance), then remaining blind to the implications of that fact can also be very dangerous (as discussed briefly here and in more detail in the Mathisen Corollary book).

A skeptic might ask, if there was such an advanced lost civilization, what happened to them? It's actually a good question. Perhaps they started modifying the DNA of their crops in order to improve the "fat profile" of their cooking oil.

Monday, March 26, 2012

James Cameron and the first solo descent to the floor of the Mariana Trench

Earlier in the past 24 hours, director James Cameron became the first individual to descend solo to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, to a depth of 35,756 feet (6.77 miles) and remaining for three hours. It was not the first manned dive to the deepest part of the ocean: two explorers (Lt. Don Walsh of the US Navy and Jacques Piccard of France) had ventured there inside the US Navy bathyscaphe Trieste in January of 1960, remaining at a depth of 35,814 feet for about 20 minutes before rising again to the surface. No humans have been there since 1960, although two previous unmanned submersibles had successfully made the dive in the intervening years.

Here is a link to a Wall Street Journal discussion of the dive and the fact that -- although the dive did not succeed in bringing back the samples hoped for -- the successful descent by a human to the bottom of the deepest trench in the deepest ocean in the world can "fire the public's imagination" just as the moon landing or the films of Jacques Cousteau fired the public's imagination in previous decades, leading to greater awareness and exploration.

The great trenches of the deep constitute an extraordinarily important set of evidence regarding the forces that have shaped our planet. We have seen in several previous posts that the evidence of the trenches poses some serious problems for the reigning tectonic theory of earth geology.

For example, this post discusses the fact that -- as West Point and MIT graduate Dr. Walt Brown has explained -- the deep Pacific trenches (including the Mariana trench) form a distinctive "arc-and-cusp" pattern that is very difficult to explain using the idea of plate subduction (the conventional hypothesis proposed as the causative mechanism for these trenches). Take a look at the trench patterns shown on the image of the Pacific floor shown on this page of Dr. Brown's online book (which he generously makes available in its entirety on the web at no charge) and try to envision the plate mechanics that involve the ongoing subduction of a single plate that would cause this arc-and-cusp trench pattern (if you can).

Elsewhere in his book, Dr. Brown gives fifteen reasons (each of which is listed next to a series of linked page-numbers that will take the reader to discussions of the evidence supporting that reason) to believe that "subduction" does not actually occur anywhere on earth, let alone as the cause for the deep ocean trenches.

Among these reasons is the powerful evidence that underneath the trenches there are "mass deficiencies" rather than "mass excesses" such as we would expect to find if trenches were really created by the force of one miles-thick plate "subducting" under another miles-thick plate. This previous post, entitled "Geoids, relative gravity differences, and the deep Pacific trenches" discusses the way that recent very precise gravity measurements have revealed this mass deficiency beneath the trenches.

Dr. Brown's hydroplate theory (an alternative to the currently-popular tectonic theory), however, proposes a very cogent explanation for the formation of the deep ocean trenches. In a detailed discussion found here in his book, Dr. Brown explains that, during the eruption of the "waters from under the earth" which led to a global flood (and which are described as coming from under the earth in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures as well as in the traditions of many peoples around the globe), the violent erosion of millions of tons of earth by the escaping waters created the cliffs we know today as the continental shelves, and the removal of this weight led the basement floor beneath to spring upwards, beginning at the center of what is today the Atlantic Ocean:
As the flood increasingly altered the earth’s balanced, spherical shape, growing gravitational forces tended to squeeze the earth back toward a more spherical shape. Once a “tipping point” was reached, the portion of the subterranean chamber floor with the most overlying rock removed, rose at least 8 miles to become today’s Atlantic floor. This caused the Pacific floor—the region inside the ring of fire—to subside (sink) and buckle inward, producing folds called ocean trenches. (Measurements and discoveries near trenches confirm this subsidence and the absence of diving plates.) Shifts of material inside the earth began producing “oceans” of magma, most of which became earth’s outer core. Other magma escaped to the earth’s surface, especially onto the subsided Pacific floor. Mass imbalances in the earth remain, so earthquakes now occur and continents sporadically shift—not drift—toward the trench region of the western Pacific.
Previous posts have demonstrated that Dr. Brown's explanation of the evidence provides a much better model for the cause of earthquakes -- and a scientific reason why changes in electric charge in earth's ionosphere might be accurate early warning for powerful earthquakes -- than the conventional tectonic explanation. The likelihood that Dr. Brown is correct, and that the tectonic theory is flawed, should be carefully examined by scientists, and studies should be funded to see if changes in ionosphere at altitudes of 40 miles and more above the earth can be used to help save lives and prevent suffering.

Dr. Brown's theory does not in any way reduce the awe we should feel when we consider the deep ocean trenches -- quite the contrary. He describes these magnificent features of our planet in quite dramatic terms:
Imagine standing at the edge of a vast depression that reminds you of the Grand Canyon, but this “canyon” is several times deeper. Its smoother walls are almost as steep as the Grand Canyon’s, but the view across the 60-mile-wide depression is never obstructed by intermediate land forms. This “canyon,” thousands of miles longer than the Grand Canyon, does not have sharp turns. Such depressions, called ocean trenches, would be the leading natural wonders of the world if water did not hide them. (Average ocean depth is 2.5 miles; the deepest trench reaches 6.86 miles below sea level.)
Congratulations are due to Mr. Cameron for his bold and courageous descent to a point on our planet covered by so many miles of ocean, where the pressure is over 1,000 times that of our atmosphere at sea level. We can all hope that, just as the Wall Street Journal discussion cited above opines, this accomplishment will "fire the public's imagination" regarding these wonders of the natural world.

Ancient measures demonstrate sophisticated understanding of our globe

The study of ancient weights and measures is an extremely important one, although it can be somewhat daunting, involving as it does large numbers (many of them seemingly quite unwieldy) and generally unfamiliar terms (how many of us are familiar with the ancient Egyptian atur, for instance?). There is also the further complication that different ancient measurements, such as the cubit, appear to have had many different lengths.

While a full examination of ancient metrology is beyond the scope of this post, perhaps the most important aspect of this subject to consider is the possibility that the measurements of the ancients were designed to reflect a very sophisticated understanding of the size of the spherical earth. Because the orthodox timeline of human history does not admit the possibility that ancient peoples could have possibly displayed such scientific understanding, this aspect of traditional measurements is not well known today.

In an appendix to Peter Tomkins' groundbreaking 1971 work Secrets of the Great Pyramid, professor of ancient history Livio Catullo Stecchini (1913 - 1979) provides detailed arguments supporting the likelihood that the ancient Egyptians understood the size of the earth, that they laid out their measurements to relate to fractions of the distance of latitude, and that they even "developed a simple formula for calculating the length of a degree of latitude at all parallels between the equator and the pole" (328).

This would imply that the ancient Egyptians not only knew the size of the earth with great precision, and that they knew that it was a sphere, but that they understood that the earth is actually an imperfect "spheroid" (or "ellipsoid"), causing the distance between parallel lines of latitude to be longer near the poles than near the equator. This revelation is somewhat astonishing.

Some of the evidence he gives includes the infamous decision by Pharaoh Akhenaten to move the capital from Thebes to Akhet-Aten, and he demonstrates that this decision not only placed the capital at the "true and just" navel of Egypt (as inscriptions from the period insist) from a mathematical standpoint, but that the size of the city indicates an understanding of the size of a degree of latitude that was extremely precise.

He then points out that other kings in history appear to have emphasized measurements relating to the size of the earth, taking a brief detour to discuss King Athelstan of England, who published a series of laws and decrees, among which is a description of "the king's girth," a perimeter around the king's "burh" (or fortified place) within which no man was permitted to raise his hand against another -- an area of amnesty and protection.

A description of this circle around the king's capitol can be found in British Weights and Measures as Described in the Laws of England from Anglo-Saxon Times, by Colonel Sir C. M. Watson, K.C.M.G., C.B., M.A., late of the Royal Engineers (1910). On page 12, that book lays out the measurements of the king's girth given by Athelstan, and notes that the same regulation is repeated in the laws of Henry I, except for one variation. Dr. Stecchini cites the variation of Henry I as being the same as that of Athelstan, and quotes the measure Colonel Watson says was Henry's.

Dr. Stecchini says, "Athelstan prescribed that the king's girth shall extend from the royal residence for a distance of 3 miles, 3 furlongs, 9 acres, 9 feet, 9 palms, and 9 barleycorns. The King's girth was the area considered a direct extension of the King's place of residence and as such the area in which the King's peace was in force. This was the area in which attacks on private persons were crimes against the Crown" (344).

Dr. Stecchini notes that when this measurement is converted into feet, an extremely interesting result is obtained. We know that a mile is 5,280 feet (so three of them are 15,840 feet). A furlong is 600 feet (so three of them are 1,800 feet). Acres are measures of area, but Colonel Watson's quotation shows that the original law read "acres' breadths."

Acres can actually be of varying dimensions (as long as the sides enclose an area of the appropriate size), but the traditional standard of "a chain by a furlong" means that the breadth of the acre would correspond to 66 feet, so nine of these breadths would equal 594 feet.

The nine feet need no conversion to be expressed in feet, so we add 9 more feet to the total we are working towards in addition to the measurements above.

Dr. Stecchini tells us that a palm is three-quarters of a foot, and a barleycorn is a third of an inch. Based on this, nine palms would be 6.75 feet and nine barleycorns would be 0.25 feet (three inches, or a quarter foot). So nine palms and nine barleycorns give us seven more feet to the total.

Summing these together, we find that the king's girth had a radius of 18,250 feet. Thus, as Dr. Stecchini points out, the entire circle described by the king's girth would be 36,500 feet across. As it turns out, this is a very close approximation of one-tenth of a degree of latitude at the latitude of Athelstan's part of England (ten times the diameter of the king's girth would be 365,000 feet, which equates to 111,252 meters: you can see the size of a degree of latitude at various latitudes by visiting this Wikipedia entry and scrolling down to the section entitled "The length of a degree of latitude").

Was this just a lucky guess by Athelstan (who seems to have been quite precise in delineating the size of the area of protection around his residence)? Or, as is more likely, are our familiar English measurements derived from the size of our spherical globe? If so, the fact that the king's laws clearly dictate a distance related to the size of that globe shows that this fact was perhaps known by some even in the supposedly benighted ages in which Athelstan ruled.

There is much more that can be explored on this subject. The very insightful and thorough Martin Doutré has a discussion of ancient weights and measures and volumes on his website here, in which he presents evidence that these measurements "were already thousands of years old when King Athelstan pressed them anew into service." Dr. Richard L. Thompson has some interesting connections to ancient Hindu measures in an article which can be found here (note the significant precessional numbers that pop up in that discussion, including 108 and 432).

Suffice it to say that a serious study of ancient metrology appears to provide still further compelling evidence that ancient humanity achieved far more than we give them credit for. The records that they left are telling us quite plainly, if we would only listen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Moon March 2012

Earlier today, the moon passed the point directly between the earth and the sun, known as conjunction.

While this point of conjunction is now officially the moment of new moon, the ancient writer Philo of Alexandria (20 BC - AD 50) wrote that the festival of the new moon takes place when "the sun begins to illuminate the moon with a light which is visible to the outward senses, and then she displays her own beauty to the beholders" (from the Special Laws II, chapter XXVI ["The Third Festival"] 141).

From this passage, it appears that Philo (and probably other ancients) identified the celebration of the new moon with the evening that observers on our planet could first begin to see the very edge of the illuminated side of the moon (on the actual moment of new moon as defined by conjunction, the non-illuminated side is turned towards us and the illuminated side is facing the sun, so that observers on earth cannot see the moon's illuminated side and therefore cannot see the moon; scholars have determined that the moon must gain at least 7.5° of separation from the sun before its first crescent becomes visible to observers on earth, or sixteen to twenty-four hours after conjunction).

This beautiful monthly phenomenon will take place just after sunset on March 23rd, as illustrated in the second diagram down the page on this helpful webpage from Sky & Telescope for this week. This is the third new moon of the year 2012, with previous new moons having taken place on February 21st and January 23rd (a previous post published on February 23rd described the first visible crescent which could be seen after sunset on February 22nd).

For discussions of the celestial mechanics which cause the first very thin waxing crescent to appear after the sunset following a full moon, and which cause the crescent to grow thicker as the moon lags behind the sun further and further each evening (setting later and later behind the sun on its way to a full moon which is so far behind the sun that it only crosses the center of the sky at midnight), see this previous post.

The video above is also helpful, although the choice of music is somewhat jarring and not what we would generally expect given the subject matter (the importance of music appropriate to different moods is well understood by Hollywood movie studios, and reflects the fact that music has a potent effect on our entire being, discussed in a series of previous blog posts such as this one and this one; the deliberate or accidental juxtaposition of inappropriate tones or inappropriate musical signals constitutes one of the low-level forms of "persistent torture" common to modern life, to use a quotation from John Anthony West).

Interestingly, scientific studies have confirmed that the monthly menstrual cycles of women are most correlated with the time around the new moon (see this report in the US National Library of Health in the NIH website). Another study which looked at four years of telephone-call frequency data from a single crisis-call center found an increase in crisis calls from females during the new-moon period.
These studies would suggest that the motion and position of heavenly bodies, such as the moon, actually have an impact on our human bodies, moods, and behavior. In a previous post discussing the alleged astrological influence of the planet Mars during its period of apparent retrograde motion, we looked at some reasons not to be too quick to dismiss the idea that the physical arrangements of our surroundings (to include our more distant surroundings, such as the bodies in the solar system) might have some influence over our human activities.

Many hunters and fishermen have for many years noticed that the phases of the moon appear to have a measurable impact on the behavior of fish, deer, and other animals. Below is a video from Matt Allen of TacticalBassin discussing the impact of moon phase on bass fishing.

Hope you have the opportunity to look for the very thin crescent moon after the sun disappears below the horizon the evening of March 23rd.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Genetically Modified Food

This post does not purport to tell you what to think about genetically-modified crops (although I have come to some of my own conclusions about the subject, some of which you might detect as you read on).

The reason this post will not tell you what to think about genetically-modified crops (in addition to the fact that this blog does not try to tell you what to think about anything but rather invites you to consider evidence about certain important issues) is that the subject of this blog is the intersection of geology, astronomy, archaeology, and ancient civilizations: the evidence that our most basic geological models may be fundamentally flawed, the evidence which supports a very different geological theory to explain the evidence in the world around us, the way that very different geological theory can shed considerable light on a lot of other evidence (archaeological, numerical, mythological, and astronomical) which suggests that ancient human history unfolded very differently from the timeline that is taught in school from the primary grades through the university level, and the importance of examining the evidence with an open mind in order to reach a conclusion (rather than simply accepting the conventional explanation without critical examination of the other possible explanations for the evidence).

In the investment world, the importance of examining the evidence oneself with an open mind and a healthy dose of skepticism is known as "due diligence." If you were tasked with investing a few million dollars (for yourself, or for someone else who was paying you to invest it), it would behoove you to conduct your own due diligence on every single investment security that you considered as a potential investment, rather than simply taking someone else's word for it and plunking down millions of dollars into something that you had not investigated yourself with a level of due diligence appropriate to the situation. If you ignored the need for due diligence, very bad things could happen.

Although we may not think about it, the food that we decide to put into our mouths for the sustenance and actual incorporation into the cells of our bodies turns out to be a fairly significant investment as well. It may be that failing to perform some due diligence in this area could lead to "very bad things" as well.

Thus, while this blog post does not purport to tell you what you should decide about the question of genetically modified foods (also known as GM foods, falling into the broader category of genetically-modified organisms or GMOs, sometimes called "transgenics" to signify the introduction of genetic material from other organisms), it does seem that every individual should conduct a proper level of due diligence on this important subject, especially since GM foods are amazingly prevalent in our food supply.

It would also appear that we are not being invited to conduct due diligence on this subject, and that in fact we are generally discouraged from doing so. In fact, although I may not have been paying much attention and therefore might have missed it, I do not recall being urged to consider this important subject at all when the first GM foods were introduced into the food supply in the 1990s. Now, as the number of crops containing genetically-engineered traits authorized to be grown for human consumption expands, I do not see widespread due diligence taking place either.

Thus, the purpose of this post is not to argue one side or the other of this question (which admittedly falls somewhat outside of the general subject matter normally examined in this blog and in the related book), but to argue for due diligence in this area. In that sense, this subject is exactly in line with the main theme discussed in the Mathisen Corollary book and this blog, which is the importance of conducting due diligence on some widely-accepted but potentially flawed beliefs about human history and the planet we live on, and the fact that failure to conduct proper due diligence can blind us to serious potential dangers (dangers we might avoid if we had done better analysis and obtained a more accurate vision of the real situation).

One individual who is fighting a spirited campaign against the use of genetically modified crops in our food supply (and in the food supply of animals which later enter the food supply) is Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette.

In the video below, which is from 2009, Mr. Smith unloads a startling array of arguments which appear to cast some doubt on the safety of the introduction of transgenic traits into widely-used human food crops.

Everything You HAVE TO KNOW about Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods from Jeffrey Smith on Vimeo.

Some of the concerns include the potential for unexpected side effects, including the possibility that crops engineered to produce pest-killing or pest-resistant traits could cause harm to humans or harm to the beneficial bacteria that live in our gut and whose crucial role in human health is widely acknowledged by the scientific community, even if their role is not always fully appreciated or even completely understood.

There is also the chilling possibility that some of the genetic material introduced into the plants (genetic material originally found in bacteria) could transfer to the bacteria in the human gut, causing it to change and begin to manufacture the pesticide-traits that the genetically-engineered plants are designed to manufacture.

Other concerns include the increase in allergic reactions which may be linked to the introduction of genetically-modified crops, the potential for the creation of unpredictable or hard-to-detect side effects (side effects which may manifest as a lingering problem but remain "below the radar" of physicians because the symptoms go unreported, or unreported in large enough numbers for anyone to "connect the dots"), and the fact that GM crops, once introduced, can cross-pollinate and infiltrate other crops with their modified DNA, remaining in the food supply forever with little chance of ever being completely "recalled" if something harmful is discovered later on down the line.

It is also fairly difficult to argue with the idea that crops that are genetically-engineered specifically to be resistant to various herbicides will be doused with lots of herbicides, probably with more herbicides than they would have been exposed to if those plants had not been engineered to survive that assault. With new herbicide-resistant traits engineered into the crops, the entire acreage can be sprayed with herbicides (weed-killers), killing off the weeds and leaving the GM crops. The potential for increased consumption of chemicals by the end user seems to be something that should at least be carefully considered.

We must also consider the possibility that, even if various herbicides, pesticides, or genetically-modified pesticide-manufacturing food crops are not specifically harmful to humans, they might be harmful to our gut bacteria which come in contact with these foods or chemicals.

Of course, there are those who criticize Jeffrey Smith, and argue that he is nothing but a scare-monger using non-peer-reviewed studies to dupe a gullible public. The website "GMO pundit," written by Dr. David Tribe, a lecturer in food science, food safety, biotechnology and microbiology in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne, Australia, who has degrees in chemistry and biochemistry and a PhD in molecular genetics, calls Mr. Smith's claims "misleading and inaccurate" and labels them "scare tactics."

You can read his arguments against Mr. Smith's concerns in this post, for example, in which he raises some serious reasons to doubt the Russian study by Irina Ermakova cited by Mr. Smith in the above video and in his book, and dismisses Mr. Smith's other concerns by saying that sheep who died after eating GM crops might well have died for many other reasons, and that a substance that Mr. Smith warns about as a byproduct of one genetically-modified corn brand (NAG or N-acetyl-L-glufosinate) has been deemed to be "unlikely to present a public health concern" by the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues.

Elsewhere, there is this website called "Academics Review," which also argues that Jeffrey Smith's claims are unsupported by science and which contains a point-by-point refutation of his arguments (the site's purpose appears to be to refute Jeffrey Smith, as its home page declares: " launches with point-by-point analysis of Jeffrey Smith’s claims against GM foods and genetic engineering, holding each up to peer-reviewed, international science"). On that website, this page contains a lengthy list of rebuttals which should be carefully considered.

As it turns out, Dr. Tribe is listed as one of the founders and primary authors of that site as well. This fact, as well as the fact that the site attempts to discredit Smith by noting that he once taught swing-dancing lessons and that he "enjoyed longtime ties to Fairfield’s Maharishi religious group and the state’s Natural Law political party," should raise something of a red flag, as ad hominem attacks on Smith have nothing to do with the actual safety of transgenic traits in food crops (presumably, the authors of the site realize that Fairfield is a city in Iowa and not a state, and presumably they know that the state of Iowa grows an awful lot of corn).

That, and the fact that these websites contain several articles arguing that GM crops can be better for humans and for the environment than non-genetically-modified crops that have been around for thousands of years casts some doubt on the impartiality of those two sites by Dr. Tribe. One article implies that, since white rice can lead to diabetes, "GM rice can be healthier than non-GM rice." This is a very flawed argument -- the real conclusion should be that whole-grain rice is better than white rice, not that GM rice is better than non-GM rice (especially given the possibility of side effects listed above -- if only one of those is claims is proven to be correct, it would be a reason to avoid GM rice).

Towards the end of his video, Mr. Smith notes that most of his critics refuse to seriously consider the most threatening potential problems with GM foods. "They dismiss, they attack, but they don't debate," he says. In other words, they dismiss his claims or ignore his claims rather than addressing all the evidence or all the potential dangers, and they attack him personally rather than dealing with the actual subject. Dr. Tribe seems to be an exception, in that he does actually offer point-by-point rebuttals of Mr. Smith, although some of these rebuttals might be categorized more as "dismissals," some of them seem to be too willing to accept a declaration from a possibly-biased source stating that some GM byproduct is "unlikely to present a public health concern," and some of them could clearly fall into the category of ad hominem attacks on Mr. Smith rather than actual rebuttals.

One example of a fairly disturbing "dismissal" is this rebuttal from the site, which declares that farm animals which experienced reproductive failure after eating feed made from corn engineered to manufacture the Bt delta endotoxin (via the introduction of genetic material from a commonly-occurring soil bacteria) could not have experienced reproductive failure due to the endotoxin in the corn but probably developed those problems because of other mycotoxins that must have contaminated the feed -- although there is no evidence to support this conjecture, and although researchers from Iowa State who proposed that speculative theory were unable to find any evidence retroactively (and the link provided to support this tenuous argument leads to a "dead link" page on the Iowa State website).

The reader should assess the arguments presented, as well as those presented on Mr. Smith's own website (especially on this page of his site, where he presents his arguments and invites debate point by point) and those found in other sources, and decide for himself or herself.

Meanwhile, the use of GM products continues to expand, both geographically and into new food crops. This article from earlier this month indicates that GM corn is being tested for introduction in Europe despite widespread opposition (there is generally a much higher level of awareness of the GM issue in Europe and Japan than in the US, according to most literature on the subject). The CEO of one of the largest French seed companies is quoted as saying, "Europe will not be able to avoid the use of GM crops one day. They will become indispensable to achieve competitive production."

This attitude would seem to imply that due diligence is not required, and that popular resistance is futile: the widespread introduction of GM crops is inevitable. Indeed, in the US it is already extremely difficult (but not impossible) to avoid consumption of GM foods. This website contains free downloadable guides to identifying the most likely GM foods and for avoiding GM products if you choose to do so. Currently, GM foods in the US are not required to carry a label advising consumers that they have been genetically modified.

The eight GM food crops authorized in the US currently include corn (a huge percentage of which is now GM in the US, as well as all the varied corn products made from GM corn, including corn syrups, corn starches, corn oils, etc), soy, cottonseed (consumed by humans as cottonseed oil), canola, sugarbeets (and therefore most sugar and foods containing sugar as an ingredient, unless it specifically says "cane sugar"), more than half of Hawaiian papaya, and a small percentage of zucchini and yellow (crookneck) squash. Alfalfa fed to animals is also widely transgenic. For further details, check out the brochures linked at the site above.

This would appear to be yet another area in which individual due diligence is required. Rather than taking anyone else's word on this subject (mine, Jeffrey Smith's, David Tribe's, or anyone else's), individuals should conduct their own examination of the arguments for and against being concerned about the high levels of GM food already present in the food supply and the ongoing entrance of new GM food into the food supply, and make up their own minds.

I would argue that this is a parallel for the due diligence that individuals should also conduct about the general storyline of history that they have been taught. There is extensive evidence (much of it discussed in this blog, as well as in my book and in books by others) that the rosy picture of human history most of us absorb during our schooling, one in which there is a generally unbroken upward slope of "progress," may be completely false. It is possible that an ancient civilization or civilizations possessed remarkably sophisticated levels of knowledge and technology, before collapsing into relative barbarism.

If this alternative view of history is true, we might want to ask "why" and "how" (although we will probably never ask those questions if we don't even know that it ever happened) -- not least so that we can prevent it from happening to our own civilization. While it might not apply to the causes of that ancient civilizational collapse, we might want to consider the possibility that irrevocably contaminating the food supply might threaten our own civilizational health and well-being.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Equinox 2012

The March equinox is approaching and will arrive in less than 24 hours (23 hours from now, to be exact, or 0514 UTC on 20 March, which is 0014 Eastern in North America on 20 March, or 2214 Pacific on the 19th for those on the west coast), when the earth reaches the point in its orbit at which the plane of the ecliptic (formed by the plane within the circuit of earth's orbit) passes through the plane of the celestial equator (formed by the imaginary circle ninety degrees from the celestial pole).

When this happens, the arc that the sun travels through the sky passes along the celestial equator. Prior to the March equinox (which is the vernal or spring equinox for the northern hemisphere), the arc that the sun travels through the sky for an observer in the northern hemisphere will be closer to the southern horizon than the celestial equator -- it will be "below" the celestial equator. After the spring equinox, however, the sun's path on the ecliptic will be "above" the celestial equator for observers in the northern hemisphere -- the celestial equator will be closer to the southern horizon than the ecliptic (and the sun).

For a diagram and some explanation of what causes the sun's path to cross above and below the celestial equator at the equinoxes, see the diagrams and discussion from this previous post written at our most recent winter solstice.

For a different diagram and a metaphor of the earth as an old-fashioned sailing ship whose bowsprit (the north pole) always points in the same direction as it circles the sun, see this previous post. Once you have checked out that "earth-ship metaphor," you will understand that the equinox is the point in our orbit at which the earth has the sun "at a broadside."

The equinoxes are thus extremely important stations of the year. From this point onwards, the days (which have been growing in length since the winter solstice) will grow longer than the nights in the northern hemisphere, until reaching the summer solstice when they will begin to grow shorter, although they will still be longer than the nights until the earth crosses through the fall equinox in September.

Technically speaking, the total hours and minutes of day are already longer than those of night prior to reaching the spring equinox, due to the fact that the refraction of light caused by earth's atmosphere enables us to see the sun before it actually crests the horizon. Also, as this helpful equinox article from National Geographic points out:
Sunrise is defined as the moment the top edge of the sun appears to peek over the horizon. Sunset is when the very last bit of the sun appears to dip below the horizon. The vernal equinox, however, occurs when the center of the sun crosses the Equator.
The importance of the equinoxes is enshrined in numerous ancient myths, some of which are discussed in the Mathisen Corollary book. The equinoxes are also celebrated in many ancient monuments, which retain their alignments to this day.

Many people know about the amazing serpent of light and shadow which descends the western balustrade of the northern staircase of El Castillo at Chichen Itza (also known as the Temple of Kukulcán) in the late afternoon of the two equinoxes (shown in the photo above). You can read much more about this important solar feature at this webpage from World-Mysteries.
Less well-known is the equinoctial sunrise alignment at the so-called Temple of the Seven Dolls at Dzibilchaltun, also on the Yucutan. A video shows the equinox sunrise phenomenon below, from the spring equinox of 2009.

A slightly shorter video shows the same phenomenon for the fall equinox at the same location, and due to the way the light rays were captured by the camera it creates an even more dramatic effect on the viewer.

Previously, we looked at the equinoctial alignments at Knowth in the Boyne River Valley in Ireland and at Mnajdra in Malta, and noted that the fact that these very precise alignments are still intact over four millenia after they were built causes some serious problems for the theory of continental drift.

Wherever you happen to be on the globe for the equinox, it remains an exciting and important station of the year.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Boyne River Valley, Ireland

March 17, Saint Patrick's Day, is a major holiday in the United States, due to the important contributions of immigrants from Ireland and their descendents in the history of the country, which continue to this day.

One of the world's oldest and most important megalithic sites is found in Ireland, the Boyne River Valley. The River Boyne is apparently named for the goddess Boann, whose name means "Queen" or "Goddess." Note that the celestial aspects of the goddess known as the Queen of Heaven are discussed in this previous post.

The Boyne River is home to a number of large, ancient, megalithic passage mounds, including Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth, as well as numerous smaller mounds and cairns. Although often referred to as "passage tombs," patient work by observers operating for the most part outside of the conventional academic community (largely during the late 1960s and the entire decade of the 1970s) demonstrated conclusive evidence that the passages in these mounds were deliberately aligned to important solar events, in particular the sunrise (and sometimes also the sunset) on the winter solstice, the summer solstice, the equinoxes, and the cross-quarter days. While they may have been used as tombs later on, it is quite possible that their original function was for heavenly observation.

One of those who drove the meticulous in-person research (often in adverse weather conditions involving early pre-dawn arrivals and long treks to cold and wet sites) that demonstrated the heavenly alignments of these ancient mounds is Martin Brennan, himself an American of Irish descent, as well as an artist (his detailed discussion of the spiral art found in the Boyne River sites in his books is extremely valuable and insightful). His book The Stars and the Stones: Ancient Art and Astronomy in Ireland should be one of the first stops for any analyst of these ancient sites.

Perhaps the most well-known of the Boyne River passage mounds is the mound at Newgrange, which features a cruciform passage over eighty feet in length, aligned to the winter solstice. Newgrange also contains a sophisticated "roof-box" above the entrance -- a narrow upper window 40 inches wide and 9 inches high, framed in stone, that enables a beam of light to penetrate all the way to the back stone of the end recess in the heart of the mound on the sunrise of the winter solstice.

Newgrange also contains beautiful and complex "solar spiral" artwork carved into its stones, which Mr. Brennan shows to have had precise astronomical and solar significance (some incorporate distinctive vertical lines upon which standing stones would cast a shadow on important days).

The passage mound at Knowth contains even longer passages, oriented east and west and aligned to the sunrise and sunset on the equinoxes (one of equinoxes is coming up this week). The passage aligned to the sunrise is over a hundred feet long, and that aligned to the sunset delves into the mound for a similar distance before taking a sharp "dog-leg" and proceeding for an additional twenty-five feet.

Martin Brennan describes the alignments at Knowth:
The beam of light entering the western passage at Knowth extends much further than the beam at Newgrange. According to radiocarbon dating Knowth was built about 500 years before Newgrange. The eastern passage, which cannot be observed because of obstructions, is about twice the size of the Newgrange passage. In the western passage the light beam extends nearly to the sillstone, beyond which the passage veers to the right. [. . .] Because of their length and the time of year they indicate, the passages at Knowth are unsurpassed for their astronomical potential in accurately defining a particular day. The full extension of the light beam entering Knowth West can be observed from the back recess of the passage. From there the appearance of the light beam would indicate equinox. Some archaeologists believe that this area of the passage once formed part of an earlier and smaller mound, although at present there is little evidence to support the idea. In any case, as it stands today, as a solar construct, the passage represents one of the great wonders of the Neolithic world. Stars and the Stones, 107.
As Mr. Brennan explains elsewhere in his book, a passage mound in which a precisely narrowed sunbeam strikes a rock deep within an interior chamber provides a much more accurate indication of an important solar station of the year than a gnomon or menhir casting a shadow.

Conventional historians admit that the mounds of the Boyne River Valley complex were probably constructed as early as 3200 BC. This means that they have stood for an astonishing 5,200 years or more, as of this writing.

When one considers the precision of the alignments of the roof-box at Newgrange and the hundred-plus-foot passages at Knowth, as well as the vertical lines in the carvings which align on significant dates with shadows cast by mighty stones (some of which have fallen over or been moved, but whose intended positions can be determined by surviving sockets), it seems amazing that no one has realized what a damaging blow this site deals to the accepted tenets of tectonic theory and "continental drift." Previous posts, such as this one and this one, have discussed this concept in conjunction with other ancient megalithic sites that retain their heavenly alignments as well (sites located at many points around the world, and not just on one continent).

The Mathisen Corollary book also discusses this telling evidence, how it calls the tectonic theory into question, and how the alternative theory proposed by Dr. Walt Brown -- the hydroplate theory -- not only clears up this geological mystery and many others, but sheds important light on other aspects of ancient civilization and mankind's ancient history.

The Mathisen Corollary book also examines evidence which suggests that the stone structures found in many parts of New England, while not as massive or magnificent as the largest mounds found in the Boyne River Valley, may be related to those of the Old World, and may have been built by members of the same culture, or by descendents of a culture that was influenced by those responsible for the megalithic structures of ancient Ireland.

This possibility, of course, is another that conventional academia refuses to accept. However, just as conventional academia for a century refused to accept the possibility that the passage mounds of the Boyne River Valley might represent sophisticated heavenly observatories, and just as they were eventually forced to grudgingly acknowledge the evidence that heavenly alignments were carefully built into these most ancient of structures, the evidence for ancient contact between the continents is extensive and will eventually be impossible to ignore or suppress.

Perhaps, it will then be possible to say that "immigrants" from the Emerald Isle played a significant role in the history of North America thousands of years earlier than most people suspect!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Earth's magnetic field

Earth's magnetic field is extremely important.

For one thing, the fact that the earth has a north magnetic pole and a south magnetic pole enable compasses to work properly. Even more important, the magnetic field generated between these poles is so powerful that it acts like a shield to deflect incoming ionized solar winds.

Without it, our atmosphere (particularly the ozone layer) would over time be stripped away by the charged particles being emitted by the sun in the solar wind.

But what is the origin of earth's vital magnetic field?

One widely-accepted theory is that the motion of the liquid outer core creates a dynamo which generates our planet's magnetic field.

However, in the past few decades, scientists have confirmed evidence which suggests that the inner core may actually be the source of the magnetic field. This webpage from the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center entitled "Crystal at the Center of the Earth" explains that data seems to suggest that the earth's solid inner core may actually be strongly anisotropic -- that it is directionally oriented such that waves passing through it behave differently when encountering the core along different axes.

Wood is anisotropic: its grains are aligned such that splitting wood is easier when force acts along the axis of the wood parallel to the grain, rather than perpendicular to the grain. Crystals are also anisotropic: light passing through a crystal will behave differently depending on the direction that it encounters the crystal.

In the 1980s, scientists began to notice that seismic waves (caused by earthquakes, as well as by powerful explosions and volcanic eruptions) appeared to travel through the earth at different rates depending on whether they went across the globe more parallel to earth's magnetic axis or whether they went across the globe more perpendicular to it. Traveling perpendicular to earth's axis, the seismic waves were noticeably slower -- taking an additional four seconds to pass through the earth than seismic waves that went north-to-south along the axis.

Earth scientists and physicists such as Doctors Jeroen Tromp of Harvard, Ronald Cohen of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, and Lars Stixrude of the Georgia Institute of Technology have suggested that the data suggests that the inner core may be organized as a crystal, as shown in the article linked above and as discussed in this article from 1995. The pressure at the inner core may be so great that iron and magnetite undergoes a phase shift which raises its melting temperature to the point that it can remain solid in the inner core, whereas it is liquid in the outer core (a theory explaining why this solid core may have formed with a north and south magnetic pole will follow below). Here is another webpage which summarizes the evidence that the inner core is anisotropic.

Dr. Walt Brown, the author of the hydroplate theory, explains that the extreme forces surrounding a catastrophic worldwide flood would explain these scientific findings regarding the earth's inner and outer core. In figure 95, found in note 37 on this page of his online book (which he makes available to all for no charge), he presents a simplified diagram showing the effect on the inner earth of the proposed upward springing of the floor of the Atlantic after the release of the floodwaters and the erosion of the sides of the continents, which removed weight above the basement rock that forms today's Atlantic floor (this event was discussed in some detail in this previous post). The caption accompanying the image at figure 95 explains:
The mass rising to fill in the blue region of the top cone (the new Atlantic floor) would, as a first approximation, equal the mass passing through the center of the earth. The rock in the yellow cone would experience extreme shearing stresses and deformations, so rock first melted as it approached (and was extruded through) the constriction at the center of the earth. (This is how the earth’s core, shown in red, began.) As the extruded rock melted, it also shrank, by about half, because it was far below the crossover depth. That, in turn, collapsed the deepest foundations on the Pacific side of the earth and produced more shearing deformations and melting immediately above. A runaway situation quickly developed which formed the ring of fire (shown in green), and produced a myriad of fractures in and below the Pacific plate [to see the different colored areas he is describing, visit figure 95 in his book].
The extreme stresses he describes, triggered by the proposed global flood (an event supported by hundreds of geological pieces of evidence around the planet), could produce the melting required to form the inner and outer cores of the earth.

The alternate explanation, that earth was once molten and that it has been cooling from the outside over billions of years, has enormous problems. Dr. Brown discusses many of these problems here. Among them is the fact that, if earth had ever been completely melted, we would expect very heavy elements such as gold to have sunk towards the center of the earth, rather than being found in the crust as it is to this day.

Dr. Brown's theory explains why the extreme forces that caused the melting were concentrated around earth's core. He goes on to explain how the solid inner core formed, and why it has a magnetic orientation:

Crystals with the highest melting temperatures would not have melted. Those that were denser than the melt would have settled through the melt, initiating the crystalline growth of the solid inner core. This growth explains why a “Giant Crystal” is at the center of the earth and why earthquake waves travel much faster through the inner core in one direction than in the perpendicular direction. [See Endnote 47.] Crystals less dense than the melt would have floated to the top of the melt and pressed against the bottom of the mantle.

Also, in an inset entitled "The Origins of Earth's Powerful Magnetic Field" on this page (about 7/8ths of the way down the webpage), he provides this additional information:

A common and dense mineral that settled through the increasing melt in the inner earth was magnetite (Fe3O4). Its pressure naturally increased as it fell toward the center of the earth. This produced a phase change that increased the mineral’s melting temperature.51 Magnetite, which as its name implies is highly magnetic, retains its magnetic strength as long as its temperature remains slightly below its melting temperature.

As each magnetite crystal fell, the phase change prevented it from melting and allowed it to retain its magnetic strength. Each falling crystal oscillated like a tiny compass needle seeking the north magnetic pole. However, the viscous magma dampened those oscillations, so each crystal’s magnetic field quickly aligned with the earth’s existing magnetic field. That field grew in strength as each tiny magnet was added to the inner core.52

In summary, before the earth’s core began to form, trillions upon trillions of tiny magnetite crystals were somewhat randomly oriented inside the earth, so their magnetic strengths were self-canceling to some degree. When melting and gravitational settling ended, many of those crystals had fallen onto the inner core and aligned with the earth’s growing magnetic field. Thus, (1) the magnetic field increased greatly, and (2) crystals in the inner core are aligned parallel to the axis of the magnetic poles.

The evidence certainly appears to suggest that the material structure of earth's inner core (rather than the supposed "dynamo action" of the liquid outer core) may be the primary cause of earth's magnetic field. This appears to be further evidence which supports the hydroplate theory, and which the hydroplate theory can explain more satisfactorily than competing theories.

The fact that the anisotropic inner core alters the properties of seismic waves suggests that earth's powerful magnetic field may alter other waves as well. If it can impact earthquake waves (and scientists now believe the evidence is conclusive that it can), then is it too ridiculous to suggest that it can impact human beings and other creatures as well?

For example, in a post from September of last year, we examined arguments regarding whether the direction we point our heads when we sleep makes a difference. There is some evidence that other organisms possess powers of "magnetoception" -- the ability to detect magnetic fields. There is evidence that deer and cattle align with earth's magnetic field when they rest (unless in the vicinity of powerful electric lines), and that homing pigeons used magnetoception to supplement their other direction-finding instincts. Apparently, the actual organs used by animals to detect magnetic fields are still unknown.

We have also discussed allegations that ancient monuments, such as Avebury Henge, may indicate that our ancient predecessors understood more about magnetic fields than one would expect based on the conventional timeline of human history. This would harmonize with the fact that some of the ancient Hindu texts discussed in the post on sleep orientation indicate ancient awareness of this subject.

Clearly, the entire subject of earth's magnetic field -- its origin and our daily interaction with it -- is ripe for further exploration and discovery.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Understanding earthquakes

Earlier today (at 0908 UTC on March 14), a powerful 6.8 earthquake shook Japan, just three days after the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake of March 11 last year.

Thankfully, no injuries or damage were reported from this earthquake, which was centered about 120 miles off the coast of the north island of Japan, or from the 6.1 earthquake which followed it and which was off the coast of Chiba near Tokyo (another 5.7 aftershock followed this one as well).

Earlier this year -- on the first of January in fact -- Japan experienced another powerful earthquake, measuring 7.0. These earthquakes -- especially these recent quakes so close to the anniversary of the 2011 tragedy -- have many people around the world wondering what's going on?

Although conventional tectonic theory purports to tell us the general cause of earthquakes (drifting tectonic plates, which tectonic theory says are sometimes subducting under other plates, sometimes colliding with other plates, and sometimes causing sliding and slippage along the surface where two plates meet), there is extensive evidence from around the globe which calls the tectonic theory into question. There is some evidence that earthquakes do not fit the tectonic explanation either (we have pointed out, for example, the fact that many earthquakes take place far from plate boundaries).

The hydroplate theory of Dr. Walt Brown explains hundreds of pieces of geological evidence from around the world better than competing explanations explain them. Because of this fact, Dr. Brown's explanation for the cause of earthquakes should be carefully studied and understood. The best way to do that is to visit his chapter on "The Origins of Ocean Trenches, Earthquakes, and the Ring of Fire," available in its entirety online.

In order to understand the origins of earthquakes according to the hydroplate theory, one must realize that all earthquakes can in a very real sense be considered "aftershocks" of a catastrophic event caused by the physics surrounding a worldwide flood.

During that event, the high-velocity escape of massive amounts of water from deep under the earth's crust eroded tons of sediments as it flooded the earth. During the period that the floodwaters covered the earth, these sediments were sorted into the strata that are found around the world today. The removal of this weight along the line of the rupture where the water escaped, however, started in motion a chain of events that literally continues to this day.

It did not happen immediately, but the basement rock beneath the rupture eventually began to arch upwards, and as it did so, the immense frictional forces involved melted rock deep below it, according to the hydroplate theory. Great quantities of rock were melted. Simultaneously, the plates that hold today's continents (bounded by the sheer edges that mark the rift caused by the escaping water, which are today's continental shelves) began to slide away from this upward bulging line, which began in the Atlantic along the geological feature that remains today as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The removal of this additional weight as the continents began to slide away from the bulge (still lubricated below by some of the subterranean water, hence the term "hydroplates") caused the bulge to spring up even further, accompanied by even more frictional melting and heat.

This upward bulge, of course, did not open up a big "air pocket" in the center of the earth -- instead, the mass below rushed upwards to compensate, with the effect that on the opposite side of the globe, the rock was "sucked downwards" towards the Atlantic, accompanied by massive melting and heat there as well. As rock melted below the surface that would become the floor of the Pacific ocean, the entire area was pulled by gravity towards the earth's center (and towards the Atlantic on the opposite side of the globe).

As Dr. Brown explains:
During the flood phase, frictional heating in the inner earth began melting and contracting solid rock, as explained in Magma Production and Movement on page 151. Because of this contraction, the crust on the Pacific side of the earth (hereafter called the Pacific plate ) fractured at many places within the boundaries of the ring of fire and settled (downward, toward the Atlantic) by at least 10 miles!13 That drop steepened the downhill slope of the sliding hydroplates and allowed them to slide into the Pacific region without major obstructions. Downward buckling and deep faulting formed trenches. Soon, huge volumes of magma began erupting onto the days-old Pacific floor. During the next few years, frictional heating melted much of the inner earth. All this melting lubricated the shifts inside the earth and allowed gravitational settling, which released much more heat, increased earth’s spin rate, and converted the inner earth to today’s inner and outer core—monumental changes. The thick layer of magma that spilled onto the top of the sunken Pacific plate provided most of the heat that drove the ice age and accounts for almost 40,000 volcanoes. Even today, magma breaks out and escapes upward, heating part of the ocean and creating “El Niño” weather conditions.
The creation of an enormous basin on the other side of the earth from the upward bulge of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge only served to increase the slide of the continents towards it and away from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge on both sides. The edges of this violently collapsed section of the globe would become the well-known "Ring of Fire" along which about 90% of today's earthquakes still take place.

The enormous production of magma that took place during these events -- from the movement of so much rock deep within the earth, as well as from the sliding of these plates -- is extremely important for the explanation of earthquakes to this day. As Dr. Brown explains, when rock melts to magma, it occupies more volume than the original rock when it is at the earth's surface (in the form of lava, for example) and at depths of up to about 220 miles beneath the surface. Below that depth, however, melted rock in the form of magma actually occupies less volume than the original rock. At depths of around 220 miles, the magma occupies about the same volume as the original rock.

This fact helps explains the cause of earthquakes, as well as the depths at which earthquakes originate. Magma formed at depths less than about 220 miles tends to migrate towards the surface (which explains all the volcanoes around the ring of fire, as well as all the volcanic flows on the floor of the Pacific and in the Pacific Northwest, and the numerous volcanic archipelagos and seamounts found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean). Magma below that depth tends to seep downwards, towards the earth's core, and is responsible for the formation of earth's liquid outer core.

Magma formed at depths of about 220 miles, where it occupies about the same volume as the original rock, does not have as strong a tendency to migrate. The migration of magma is what creates violent shifts inside the earth, which are felt as earthquakes.

Dr. Brown explains that the many faults that were created by the violent forces described above (as well as by the forces generated when the sliding hydroplates finally ground to a halt) continue to experience heating and melting today. He explains how this can cause a shallow earthquake (at depths less than 220 miles):
As discussed on page 151, frictional heating along the fault melts the grain-sized minerals with the lowest melting temperatures, causing them to expand, because they were above the crossover depth. (Remember: Tiny movements at the extreme pressures deep in the earth create great heat and melting.) Minerals with higher melting temperatures remained solid, maybe for decades, thereby encasing and trapping the tiny droplets of melted rock.

As more frictional heat “soaked” very slowly into the rock on both sides of the fault, the previously encased droplets of melt began to leak. Paths opened up for the expanding melt to escape upward buoyantly, allowing the highly compressed solid “scaffolding” (surrounding the focus and composed of the minerals with the highest melting temperatures) to become unstable and begin to collapse. Frictional heating instantly became extreme, so all nearby minerals suddenly melted. The result: a powerful earthquake.

The terrible earthquake that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 was measured to have its origin at a point twenty miles below the ocean floor, thus qualifying as a shallow earthquake and demonstrating that a "shallow" earthquake can be incredibly powerful.

Similarly, the earthquakes that took place today appear to have been shallow earthquakes. Here is a USGS report for the 6.8 quake (listed here as a 6.9 in the initial report), showing the depth of the epicenter to have been 16.5 miles.

The trigger for a deep earthquake is similar, but the magma displaces downwards towards earth's core instead of upwards, as Dr. Brown goes on to explain:

Similar events occur below the crossover depth, except there the melted minerals “shrink”—become denser—and slowly drain down into the outer core. Near the crossover depth, melted rock has about the same density as the surrounding rock, so that melt has little tendency to rise or sink. For that reason, earthquakes are rare near the crossover depth. This explains the bimodal distribution of earthquakes with depth and locates the crossover depth at about 220 miles down, as shown in Figure 87.
The link at the end of that paragraph shows a chart of earthquakes measuring 5.0 or greater, and there is a strong "barbell" distribution of depths, with the center of one distribution at a depth of 22 miles (shallow earthquakes), and the center of the second distribution at 370 miles (deep earthquakes). There is a noticeable trough in the distribution at the "crossover depth" of 220 miles.

This scientific data strongly argues that the hydroplate explanation for the cause of earthquakes is correct. It is difficult to see how the tectonic theory -- which argues that earthquakes are caused by the ongoing drifting of plates atop a generally liquid mantle -- can explain this bimodal distribution data.

The hydroplate theory argues that the mantle is generally solid (although it contains trapped magma), while the tectonic theory argues that the mantle is generally liquid. The data described in this post appears to support the hydroplate theory on this assertion as well.

Finally, and rather ominously, Dr. Brown makes the statement that, "Drainage into the outer core continues today, releases gigantic amounts of heat throughout the mantle and core,28 and will eventually produce many powerful earthquakes. When this will happen is uncertain.29 "

In other words, the heat released by previous earthquakes can begin the process of "heat sink" described in the passage quoted above (on shallow earthquakes, although applicable equally well to deep earthquakes). This could theoretically mean that over time, powerful earthquakes could generate a "chain reaction" effect, initiating the process of triggering more earthquakes, which in turn lend their heat to new buildups that will develop into earthquakes themselves.

Perhaps this has already been going on for thousands of years, and we don't have to be concerned that it is getting worse. Let's hope that this is the case.