Tuesday, February 28

The 7 new Planets

Given NASA has discovered 7 potential Earth-similar planets orbiting a star only 40 light-years away I have posted Gustav Holst - The Planets, which was first composed in 1914. It was highly controversial then with its evocative blend of mystery, majesty, terror and serenity, just as it continues to enthrall todays appreciative audiences.        
I have also composed a poem about the universe as per below:

Whispering Spheres
As red rays of sunset cast their fading light
Surrender to the stars that shimmer at night, 
From planets far beyond our Saturn’s ring    
Are we from the stars, our eternal spring?               

Whispering spheres of a neo light form
Spiritual heavens in explosion and storm
May peace be your energy from the dreamtime? 

May the moon beams caress your delicate skin
Formed first from star dust, planets next of kin?   
Why ponder a fear, like a child in distress   
When the infinite holds no need for redress        

Whispering spheres of a neo light form
Spiritual heavens in explosion and storm
Peace be your energy from the dreamtime ? 

The dawn approaches, tis our daybreak
Birds in their chorus, a new day awake
Refreshed, now, on their merry way
Pray open thinking, for all to- day

Whispering spheres of a neo light form
Spiritual heavens in explosion and storm
Peace be our energy from the dreamtime ?  

Thursday, February 23

A February jaunt through space and time

I remain mindful of the words of one of the great religious philosophers Thomas Aquinas who said ‘All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly'.

His quote is a salutary reminder of our limitations and the need for humility. His likable philosophical style always argues the for’s and againsts before listing his numerous conclusions. He cautions making bold statements based purely on religious texts. Instead, he recommends relevant and or scientific knowledge to be studied beforehand to avoid making a fool of oneself.

Aquinas’ philosophy coincided with the emergence of modern day science when all philosophy was based upon science.
Interestingly enough it is only in more recent times once the volume of scientific knowledge expanded exponentially that we chose to separate the two.

My intention in this essay is to take a stroll through the mysterious realm of space-time to ponder its impact, if any, on traditional religious philosophy. The journey begins with the discovery of the incredible speed of light, I then examine its influence in the special theory of relativity and conclude with the quantum mystery. Along the way I will talk about how such provisional discoveries have shaped our views and/or influenced beliefs.

The speed of light and the special theory of relativity.
Danish astronomer Ole Rømer (1) in 1675 was the first to posit the incredible speed of light from observation of the moons of Jupiter.  
Remarkably he did manage to come up with a speed of 225,000 km/s per second, against the actual speed of 300,000 km/s.  
But it was Faraday (2) who discovered the influence of magnetic fields on polarized light in 1846. Later the Michelson-Morley (3) experiments of 1887, stumbled on the amazing counter intuitive discovery that light always travels at the same speed, regardless of where the measurement is taken. This applies only of course when light travels through a vacuum as if it were to encounter any resistance such as when moving from air to glass, the speed of course would change according to the new medium's index of refraction. Hence you can have the “bending” of light as is the case in understanding how lenses work.  

But in 1905, Einstein (and also the French mathematician Henri Poincaré, both reached the same conclusion: Einstein also realized  ‘that Maxwell’s equations led to an apparent paradox or inconsistency in the laws of physics, because it suggested that if one could catch up to a beam of light one would see a stationary electromagnetic wave, which is an impossibility. Einstein hypothesized, therefore, that the speed of light actually plays the role of infinite speed in our universe, and that in fact nothing can ever travel faster than light (and certainly that nothing in the universe could ever travel at anything like infinite speed). It should be noted that Einstein did not actually PROVE the constancy of the speed of light in all frames of reference. Rather, it is an axiom (an underlying assumption) from which he derived the rest of his theory. The axiom can be experimentally verified, but it is not proven in any theoretic sense.’
This constant in relation to the speed of light and the principle of relativity (mechanical laws of physics are the same for every inertial observer) are the two principal planks to the Special Theory of Relativity. When Einstein combined the principle of relativity with the constant speed of light, it became clear to him the speed of light was also independent of the speed of the observer (as well as of the speed of the source of the light), and that everyone in the universe, no matter how fast they were moving, would always measure the speed of light at exactly the same 300,000 km/s.

By way of a down to earth example we are all familiar with the concept of a game of table tennis noting it takes the same time for the ball to pass over the net when playing a game in a fast moving train as it does if the game was played on the platform. However for an observer located on the station looking into the fast moving train this is not the case since the trains speed plus the speed of the ball will equal the total speed of the ball as far he is concerned. So you can see the actual speed of the ball is the same for both scenarios,   just as it is for all observers, but the important point is it is relative to motion. On the other hand light for any observer anywhere will always only be seen as the same absolute speed of light.
Hence we can understand all the laws of science are the same to all observers regardless of their location in space after allowing for gravitational effects. Just to reiterate Einstein’ discovery paved the way for this conclusion (which however will be challenged later on) that our observations are relative to our motion and we can only think of time in the context of space-time.
After discovering the special theory of relativity Einstein incorporated the gravitational field effects which cause warping within his general theory of relativity.

A brief excursion into the slippery concept of time differences.
The obvious conclusion following on from the theory of special relativity is that any movement through space reduces our time in space to the point theoretically once you have reached the absolute speed of light, time becomes frozen.

This idea of course in reality is quite farcical since any object travelling through space at that speed would develop such an unimaginative amount of mass as it would approach the equivalent of all matter already present in the entire universe.
However there is a relative difference for all of us depending on our motion through space but the miniscule differences on planet earth can effectively be ignored and we can feel comfortable with our outdated Newtonian view of time. We can have no doubt however as to the soundness of the theory since it is has been independently verified by extremely accurate atomic clocks stationed on board aircraft. Spend your entire life flying in planes and you will be younger than your comparable walker but the differences are so small that on your death bed the flyer would scarcely have the additional time to think about even saying a few ‘Hail Mary’s’.
However in the vast distances of space the effects can be calculated to show huge disparities.
Imagine one in a spacecraft in the future when we have discovered a way to travel at close to the speed of light to find some remarkable consequences. Since our motion at close to the speed of light this drastically reduces our time in space for any prolonged space journey requiring us to wind forward our clocks hundreds of thousands of years on reentry into planet earth.
But our stay at home earthlings have long since perished as those who welcome us home are thousands of generations later than those present when we left. That is because time has not slowed for them as it has for the space travelers whilst the biological aging is no different for either group. In attempting to explain the outcomes using simple numbers consider the following:

Spacecraft intrepid travelers take up a most of space time with motion so that time is only a tiny fraction of (.1) with motion at 99.9. The opposite effect applies to the stay at home earthlings whose time makes up 99.8 plus motion at a tiny slither (.2)
These are simply arbitrary numbers I have chosen to help illustrate my point.
At this point can we draw any religious philosophical conclusions?
Since the universe is subject to unique laws which unfolded miraculously in exact sequences to allow life to form one can posit that we are the product of a creation in an evolving mystery which I think can only leave us in state of wonderment.
For me there is abundant evidence around us everywhere to indicate that all life and nature itself is simply miraculous. By virtue of the laws of science we might also posit we live in the most probable of many possible universes which leads us to reasonably suggest within those predestined routes there only exists causality for freedom of thought or actions or choice. That causality I see as an evolved creation gift which gives us the sense of freedom or free will within the determinism arising from constraints of those (but only big picture if you will) predetermined laws.
Although we can measure time we cannot say what it is and can only better understand time by combining time with space for the absolute concept of space-time.
But even this concept may turn out to be fatally flawed since it only works in the application of large scale physics. However if we accept the idea for the moment then for a creator GOD both past present and future becomes irrelevant. That is to accept the proposition we remain trapped within what seems to be to us our enclosed universe.

And so it does seem necessary for our existence time does always indicate an arrow always moving forward except for possibilities inherent in extreme warping effects of gravity.
But so far we have only barely scratched the surface to already reveal our rather tenuous grip on reality and our brief sojourn into space -time.

Understanding classical physics through the time application of the quantum.
So far we have viewed the universe through the time prism of classical physics (a jaunt confined to seeing only big pictures) which confidently predict planetary movements and space travel to the extent we can have confidence in these evidence based outcomes. But if we attempt to understand classical physics on the micro scale the picture becomes blurred and all our well tested notions seem to be turned on their head as if a dark cloak was thrown over the picture we are attempting to view. At the outset the applications of the quantum (the subatomic level of particles present in the universe) you begin to question the veracity of previously adopted universal laws. Indeed the general theory of relativity barely clings on to its integrity when you begin to contemplate the bizarre behaviors of the smallest of those fragile tiny particles known within our universe and what ultimately comprises that remarkable you or me. Einstein’s explanation for quantum mechanics (the probabilities and uncertainties of sub atomic particles known as quantum laws) where particles split into respective waves or particles to mimic behaviors as if they were still one, regardless of their distances apart, was to say those correlations were due to the underlying properties already present prior to and after disentanglement. In other words these 'spin characteristics' were integral to the separated particle and its wave function before and after they became separated.
Once again Einstein’s elegant theory seemed plausible enough but other physicists were doubtful. The matter was settled once and for all when Einstein and other brilliant physicists that followed him were all proven to be wrong half a century later.
There is now overwhelming evidence for this so called quantum entanglement. (See Brian Greene – 'The Fabric of the Cosmos – Space, time, and the texture of reality').
The search in modernity continues.  

So the quest continues as I attempt to meander along on our space jaunt to now ask an intriguing question: can quantum theory underpin the idea of the mind and our consciousness to posit an afterlife?
There seems to be at least some anecdotal evidence to support the dualists (Cartesian mind – brain dualism) in that it is plausible for there to be a non-material or “none locally” (a soul if you will) identity to the brain itself. What we can deduce is a pair of separated electrons each of opposite spin and from the same source retain their entangled state until such time as one is observed.  What happens is they exhibit retaining knowledge of one to the other instantly on observation regardless of the immense distance they may be apart. This invalidates Einstein’s theory that nothing can exceed the speed of light. 

This has led to an explosion of ideas to what seems to be an intractable mystery. There are many axioms such as the proposition that if you believe knowledge is reality (which can’t be proven or disproven) it could be we simply do not have sufficient knowledge about the particles since that knowledge is hidden from us. Others posit information may be stored in another dimension upon which we are not privy.
Dualists (those embrace the idea of a spirt separate to the mind) point to the possibility this provides food for thought for the existence of some form of a soul not subject to the laws of the universe. 

The Hammeroff/Penrose school (4) of thought posit quantum information exists at every point in space – time.  Bits are entangled throughout the universe, just as they form part of the human brain. Suffice to say we do not know what space is really made up of other than what we can theoretically calculate and observe, being what was necessary for our existence.   
So at the most fundamental level we still do not have concrete evidence or experience about the reality that underpins the universe. Even the time distortions in our imaginary spacecraft in the future when we have discovered a way to travel at close to the speed of light may not yield the remarkable consequences predicted. In that sense we can return finally to a religious philosophical view and conclude that hardnosed materialistic evidence based science is now leading us to the view our ultimate reality remains a mystery that cannot be explained by science, which may well always be the case. So that trust which is so important in our relationships with others, but so often can be misplaced, is also analogous to the universe, since human experience is not always a good barometer in understanding her rich fabric, bearing in mind ‘ All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly.’
So that all we can do is to have trust in the human spirit and for those who have a religious leaning, an ultimate trust - we need not fear our mortality for in death it seems plausible we return home from whence we came. References


Tuesday, February 21

Buteyko heath and breathing

I first enrolled in a Buteyko heath and breathing course a few months ago with the aim of reducing or eliminating my prednisolone medication which I take to avoid nasal polops and Asthma. My aim was to reduce my existing Asthma attacks and or eliminate the use of Ventolin. As a naturally sceptical type of person I was not convinced there would be ensuing benefits but so far the early results are encouraging.

What is Buteyko
Buteyko is based entirely on heathy breathing exercises and breathing habits which will naturally increase the levels of carbon dioxide retained for increased production of steroid levels in the body so that allergic reactions are eliminated once balance is restored. The course is also for Sleep Apnoea, Snoring, Anxiety and Sinus problems. Hence its aim is to restore heathy breathing and ensure practices are adopted such as always breathing through the nose and sleeping on the left side and avoiding “mouth breathing”.
Such measures will underpin healthier breathing which also extend to exercising where one needs to breathe through the nose and not the mouth wherever possible but except of course when swimming.  

To date I have encountered modest yet very worthwhile gains and cut down on my medication as well as some enhanced side benefits such as a reduced resting pulse rate. Doing the exercises twice daily (when I should be doing them 5 times a day) the following benefits are already applicable:

No asthma attacks
Needing substantially less sleep, waking up with far less or scarcely any nose or throat mucus and feeling rested rather than tired- even after only just a few hours’ sleep. 
Slower resting pulse and having more energy.
No sinusitis, reduced sneezing and far less coughing.
Walking briskly with far less breath given I now only breath through my nose. A general more peaceful feeling of control over emotions which is hard to define but I would liken it to the mind feeling more relaxed or rested.  

So what is involved?
The exercises simply involve practicing taking in less air and breathing out more slowly, whilst experiencing a very mild feeling of discomfort. What is best described as a very subtle or gentle feeling like you want just a tad more air. A mild hunger for more air. After a while your brain gets used to that feeling and you start to feel more comfortable. But I hasten to add nothing is meant to have a forced outcome or for you to feel very uncomfortable. Some people say they like to imagine the tide going out slowly. You take in less air in (tide coming in with less strength) but breath out for a bit longer (tide is going out with more strength then it comes in ) until such time as it becomes a pleasant natural rhythm which eliminate over breathing.
It is not to be confused with deep breathing. 
But the technique also involves gently breathing in through the diaphragm to feel it expand just a little and then to breathe out for longer by relaxing the diaphragm. 
After each set you measure your “control pause” which may increase but after waiting a few minutes after each 5 minute set. You keep a record it and chart your progress.
What you will find is your control pause duration will gradually increase over time as you revert to a more natural rhythm assuming you were over- breathing previously.    
What is the Control Pause? 
The control pause has been proven clinically to indicate the retention level of carbon dioxide, since bad breathing leaves you with an insufficient residue for optimum results. 
If you what to test yourself to see if such a course might be of benefit try this out: Start out by being comfortably seated and breathing naturally, but not after just eating a meal or exercising.
Hold your breath after what is for you a normal expulsion. Starting out (for those who may be over breathing)  you may only feel comfortable for say the first 10 – 15 seconds or thereabouts. However if it is longer than that and say it lasts for 20/25 seconds you get still reap benefits since a good reading is 40/50.   
Remember you only hold on until such time as you feel a mild level of discomfort and the distinct need to take in a breath.
The intervening period of time from when you stop breathing (after expulsion )and start again is your control pause. 
Completely different to simply holding your breath in after breathing in where you can hold on for much longer periods.  
Take your pulse before and immediately after to ensure you have not “forced” the issue, as it should be about the same.
I started out only feeling reasonably comfortable holding my breath after exhaling for only about 15-18 seconds naturally. This has since increased to around 30 and at times a bit more after the exercises to reach over 40. To reiterate a good reading is 40/50. 
I sleep each night mostly now on my left side and originally to get myself into good habits I taped my mouth to prevent breathing through my mouth. This might initially “freak out” a habitual “mouth breather” as I was (which is a very bad habit) but I got to quite like the idea.
Since then I no longer sleep with my mouth taped because I have reverted to nose breathing through an unblocked nose. 
Sleeping on your back and breathing through the mouth are habits that increase the propensity to over –breathe. The nose of course is specifically designed to filter air and one has far less propensity to take in too much by way of over-breathing.
The breathing exercises, along with better living and eating practices seem to be giving me a feeling of being more relaxed in the mind and able to concentrate far easier.

So if the treatment is so effective why isn’t it more widely used in treating Asthma and related allergies?
When I first experienced Asthma attacks some 30 years ago my first reaction of course was to seek help from my GP and inevitably I relied on Ventolin and Pulmicort as the traditional approach to treatment which alleviates the symptoms but don’t offer a cure. 
Later on as I developed severe nasal polops (which I had surgically removed on 2 occasions) on specialist advice I reverted to using prednisolone which worked very well and as an added side benefit reduced the incidence of Asthma since it is a steroid. The problem however is this drug as a steroid has a number of severe side effects such as stomach ulcers and calcium deficiency leading to osteoporosis.
Hence I was interested in the possibility the Buteyko heath and breathing course might ensure a way forward to naturally increase  steroid production to the extent it was no longer necessary for me to take the prednisolone and it also eliminated periodic Asthma attacks.   

But drug companies are unlikely to fund research into alternative natural cures so the technique is still not widely used despite exhibiting promising results from the limited research undertaken.
The anecdotal evidence is strong and can apply to anyone suffering allergies or breathing difficulties, even mildy so as evidenced by markedly improving the outcomes for a Buddhist Monk. According to this reference he started out with control pause of 25, but on completion of the course and undertaking the exercises it added significantly to his overall well being and the quality of his life.   
I also know of several people as chronic Asthma sufferers who claim it has made a life changing difference. Even so there is no suggestion one should go off any medication at the first sign of any dramatic improvement but rather over time gradually reduce dosages once   optimum results have been sustained.
Should any of this be of interest I suggest you Google Buteyko heath and breathing and visit an accredited practitioner in your area.   

Clinical Trials are few but here are some:
·       We conclude that the BBT may be effective in improving the quality of life and reducing the intake of inhaled reliever medication in patients with asthma. These results warrant further investigation.
·       Six months after completion of the interventions, a large majority of subjects in each group displayed control of their asthma with the additional benefit of reduction in inhaled corticosteroid use in the Buteyko group. The Buteyko technique, an established and widely recognised intervention, or an intensive programme delivered by a chest physiotherapist appear to provide additional benefit for adult patients with asthma who are being treated with inhaled corticosteroid.
·       Buteyko's theory relating to carbon dioxide levels and airway calibre is an attractive one, and has some basis in evidence from experimental studies. However, it is not known whether altering breathing patterns can raise carbon dioxide levels significantly, and there is currently insufficient evidence to confirm that this is the mechanism behind any effect that BBT may exert. Further research is necessary to establish unequivocally whether BBT is effective, and if so, how it may work.
  However, outcomes that were reported from individual trials do show that breathing retraining may have a role in the treatment and management of asthma. Further large-scale trials using breathing retraining techniques in asthma are required to address this important issue.

Monday, February 13

The French Revolution connection -Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Another the Open Doors Diamond Valley choir is currently singing which now has a repertoire of over 70 songs listed below after only just over a year. The list was kindly provided to me by Bryan. The lyrics above are about the French Revolution ?.
"I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own"

"I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listened as the crowd would sing
Now the old king is dead long live the king"

"One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
and I discovered that my castles stand
upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand"

"I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing
Roman cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
Missionaries in a foreign field"
"For some reason I can't explain
Once you'd gone there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world"

"It was a wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn't believe what I'd become"

"Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?"
"For some reason I can't explain
I know St Peter won't call my name"
Never an honest word

Songs in our repertoire. 


And the Drains are blocked


Any Dream Will Do.


A Whole New World


Black Bird - Beatles


Blue Moon.


Bridge over Troubled Waters.


Californian Dreaming




Chariots Comin'


Circle of Life


Coran Fields


Daisy Daisy


Don't bring me down


Do You Hear The People Sing. Les Miserables


Fragile by Sting


Fransicus’s Christmas carol-


Freedom is Coming


Gershwin - They Can't Take That Away.


Gershwin - Lets Call The Whole Thing Off.


Gershwin - S' Wonderfull


Gershwin - Who's Got The Last Laugh Now


Ghosts Riders.




He Lives in You- From The Lion King.  


Homeward Bound.


I Have a Dream


I'm Dreaming of Home


I'm Gonna Wash that Man- South Pacific   




Lean on Me


Let's Dance


Life on Mars


Mamma Mia




Monday Monday


Oh Happy Day


Only Time


Other Side of the World


Pack Up Your Troubles


Penny Lane


Perhaps Love


Rolling in the Deep


Rhythm of Life


Scarborough fair


Singing in the Rain




Somewhere Over The Rainbow




So This is Christmas


Summer Night




The Bell of Creation


The big Yello taxi


The Impossible Dream


The Lion Sleeps Tonight


The Little Drummer Boy


The Mahogany Ship


The Man in the Mirror


The Prayer


There's Nothing like a Dame.  South Pacific


The Way Your Hot


Viva La Vida


Walking In The Air


We'll Meet Again


Wind Beneath My Wings


What a Wonderful World


Why We Sing


You'll Never Walk Alone


You Raised Me Up


You’re My Everything




Wonders of Love

Sound of Silence
We are the World
Another day of Sun
Vois Sur Ton Chemin
The Way You Make Me