mystery and paranormal

Look like you’re listening


People are often broken into two groups when doing hypnosis research. High hypnotizable people and non-hypnozable people. As most people have heard, hypnosis does not work on everybody. But why is that? Research shows that high hypnotizable people actually have structural differences in their brains.

{ Quora | Continue reading }

Till her eyes were green stones


Researchers have found that placebo treatments—interventions with no active drug ingredients—can stimulate real physiological responses, from changes in heart rate and blood pressure to chemical activity in the brain, in cases involving pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and even some symptoms of Parkinson’s.

The challenge now, says Kaptchuk, is to uncover the mechanisms behind these physiological responses—what is happening in our bodies, in our brains, in the method of placebo delivery (pill or needle, for example), even in the room where placebo treatments are administered (are the physical surroundings calming? is the doctor caring or curt?). The placebo effect is actually many effects woven together—some stronger than others—and that’s what Kaptchuk hopes his “pill versus needle” study shows. The experiment, among the first to tease apart the components of placebo response, shows that the methods of placebo administration are as important as the administration itself, he explains. It’s valuable insight for any caregiver: patients’ perceptions matter, and the ways physicians frame perceptions can have significant effects on their patients’ health. […]

What if he simply told people they were taking placebos? The question ultimately inspired a pilot study, published by the peer-reviewed science and medicine journal PLOS ONE in 2010, that yielded his most famous findings to date. His team again compared two groups of IBS sufferers. One group received no treatment. The other patients were told they’d be taking fake, inert drugs (delivered in bottles labeled “placebo pills”) and told also that placebos often have healing effects.

The study’s results shocked the investigators themselves: even patients who knew they were taking placebos described real improvement, reporting twice as much symptom relief as the no-treatment group. That’s a difference so significant, says Kaptchuk, it’s comparable to the improvement seen in trials for the best real IBS drugs.

{ Harvard Magazine | Continue reading }

photo { Erwin Blumenfeld, Nude Light,Shadow, New York, 1952 }

Hell of a racket they make. Maybe he understands what I.


Since its introduction in 1846, anesthesia has allowed for medical miracles. Limbs can be removed, tumors examined, organs replaced—and a patient will feel and remember nothing. Or so we choose to believe. In reality, tens of thousands of patients each year in the United States alone wake up at some point during surgery. Since their eyes are taped shut and their bodies are usually paralyzed, they cannot alert anyone to their condition. In efforts to eradicate this phenomenon, medicine has been forced to confront how little we really know about anesthesia’s effects on the brain. The doctor who may be closest to a solution may also answer a question that has confounded centuries’ worth of scientists and philosophers: What does it mean to be conscious?

{ The Atlantic | Continue reading }

The chord in any circle being less than the arc which it subtends


{ Why is the polyp Hydra immortal? Researchers from Kiel University decided to study it — and unexpectedly discovered a link to aging in humans. | Kurzweil | full story }

‘The only thing good about this shithole is their screening of Night of the Hunter. Everything else can burn.’ –James Tung


In the 1990s, Thomas Quick confessed to more than 30 murders, making him Sweden’s most notorious serial killer. Then, he changed his name and revealed his confessions were all faked. […]

There were no DNA traces, no murder weapons, no eyewitnesses – nothing apart from his confessions, many of which had been given when he was under the influence of narcotic-strength drugs.

{ Guardian | full story }

image { Marina Abramović, Rhythm 10, 1973 }

On October 4, good luck planet Jupiter goes retrograde (backward) in Gemini, your house of personal goals and new beginnings


Sawing a woman in half is a generic name for a number of stage magic tricks in which a person (traditionally a female assistant) is apparently sawn or divided into two or more pieces. […]

Magician Les Arnold is reported to have been the first to have devised a clear box sawing (known as the “Crystal Sawing”) as far back as 1976. The Pendragons performed a variation called “Clearly Impossible”, in which the box used is both particularly slim and also transparent. […]

As a teenager Dorothy Dietrich became “distinguished as the first woman to saw a man in half” [she is also the first and only woman to have performed the bullet catch in her mouth].

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

images { Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing, 1987 | Irving Penn, Chieftain’s Wife (Torso), Cameroon, 1969 }

‘The possible ranks higher than the actual.’ –Heidegger


In 1922, Scientific American made two US$2,500 offers: (1), for the first authentic spirit photograph made under test conditions, and (2), for the first psychic to produce a “visible psychic manifestation.” […]

Since then, many individuals and groups have offered similar monetary awards for proof of the paranormal in an observed setting. These prizes have a combined value of over $1.69 million dollars.

As of August 2012, none of the prizes has been claimed.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

A queer kind of medium, the mind


When we’re making a snap judgement about a fact, the mere presence of an accompanying photograph makes us more likely to think it’s true, even when the photo doesn’t provide any evidence one way or the other. In the words of Eryn Newman and her colleagues, uninformative photographs “inflate truthiness.” […]

The researchers can’t be sure: “We speculate that nonprobative photos and verbal information help people generate pseudo evidence,” they said.

{ BPS | Continue reading }

photo { 16 year old Jerry Hall on a road trip, photographed by Antonio Lopez }

And the gay lakin, Mistress Fitten, mount and cry O, and his dainty birdsnies


In his seminal 1967 book, The Codebreakers, Kahn marveled at the ability of individuals to discover incredibly complex, albeit nonexistent codes, which he described as “classic instances of wishful thinking” caused by “an overactive cryptanalytic gland.”

“A hidden code can be found almost anywhere because people are adept at recognizing and creating patterns,” says Klaus Schmeh, a computer scientist specializing in encryption technology. Schmeh has updated Kahn’s research, documenting dozens of bogus or dubious cryptograms. Some are more than a century old, but still making the rounds in books and on websites; others are more recent, such as a claim that all barcodes contain the satanic number, 666. […]

Generations of investigators have been convinced that—through divine revelation or the assistance of extraterrestrials—the builders of the Great Pyramid embedded the sum total of scientific knowledge within the dimensions of the structure. Fringe pyramidologists persist in their claims despite a 1992 effort to debunk them by Dutch astrophysicist Cornelis de Jager, who demonstrated the dimensions of any object can be manipulated to yield a desired outcome; he derived the speed of light and the distance between the Earth and Sun from his measurements of a bicycle.

{ Smithsonian | Continue reading }

‘When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ –Sherlock Holmes


The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is in part an embodiment of the idea that in the quantum world, the mere act of observing an event changes it.

But the idea had never been put to the test, and a team writing in Physical Review Letters says “weak measurements” prove the rule was never quite right. […]

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, as it came to be known later, started as an assertion that when trying to measure one aspect of a particle precisely, say its position, experimenters would necessarily “blur out” the precision in its speed. That raised the spectre of a physical world whose nature was, beyond some fundamental level, unknowable. […]

They aimed to use so-called weak measurements on pairs of photons. […] What the team found was that the act of measuring did not appreciably “blur out” what could be known about the pairs. It remains true that there is a fundamental limit of knowability, but it appears that, in this case, just trying to look at nature does not add to that unavoidably hidden world.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

If you want a next-generation roommate who consistently blows your fucking mind with awesomeness, then hit me up


Around 60,000 years ago, modern humans left Africa, the cradle of our species. As we spread across the face of the Earth, we discovered that we weren’t the first or the only humans to make that sojourn. From Central Asia to Europe, we met our distant cousins the Neanderthals, descendants of a 500,000 year old migration; further east were the Denisovans, ranging from Sibera to Southeast Asia. Although these other humans died out around 30,000 years ago, some comfort can be found in the knowledge that a part of them lives on in us. Genetic evidence uncovered in the past few years suggests that our migrating ancestors may have mated with these other humans during their encounters. Not everyone was convinced, though, launching an ongoing debate about whether the genetic similarity might not be due to common ancestry rather than inbreeding.

{ Inspiring Science | Continue reading }

still { Jean Seberg and Geoffrey Horne in Otto Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse, 1958 }

Then tear asunder. Death. Explos. Knock on the head.


The near-death experience (NDE) is a phenomenon of considerable importance to medicine, neuroscience, neurology, psychiatry, philosophy and religion. Unfortunately, some scientists have been deterred from conducting research upon the NDE by claims that NDE’s are evidence for life after death, and sensationalist media reports which impart the air of a pseudoscience to NDE studies. Irrespective of religious beliefs, NDE’s are not evidence for life after death on simple logical grounds: death is defined as the final, irreversible end. Anyone who ‘returned’ did not, by definition, die — although their mind, brain and body may have been in a very unusual state. […]

All features of a classic NDE can be reproduced by the intravenous administration of 50 - 100 mg of ketamine.

{ Karl Jansen | PDF }

People who have had NDEs describe—like some religious visionaries—a tunnel, a light, a gate, or a door, a sense of being out of the body, meeting people they know or have heard about, finding themselves in the presence of God, and then returning, changed. […]

Since at least the 1980s, scientists have theorized that NDEs occur as a kind of physiological self-defense mechanism. In order to guard against damage during trauma, the brain releases protective chemicals that also happen to trigger intense hallucinations. This theory gained traction after scientists realized that virtually all the features of an NDE—a sense of moving through a tunnel, and “out of body” feeling, spiritual awe, visual hallucinations, and intense memories—can be reproduced with a stiff dose of ketamine, a horse tranquilizer frequently used as a party drug.

{ The Daily Beast | Continue reading }


A near-death experience is very similar to an out-of-body experience, which is where people think they’re floating away from their body, turned around seeing their body lying there. In a near-death experience, there is often a tunnel of light you go down towards meeting your maker. […] Other researchers write target numbers or words on pieces of cardboard and place them on top of cabinets and wardrobes in hospital wards, in the hope that somebody having a near-death or out-of-body experience will look down and see them. To date they haven’t. Which again suggests that this is an illusion rather than a genuine experience.

{ Richard Wiseman }

artwork { Lisa Black, Fixed Pheasant Wings }

‘My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.’ –Orson Welles


Whenever a pharmaceutical company tests a new migraine prevention drug, nearly 1 in 20 subjects will drop out because they can’t stand the drug’s side effects. They’d rather deal with the headaches than keep receiving treatment. But those suffering patients might be surprised to learn that the drug they’ve quit is only a sugar pill: the 5 percent dropout rate is from the placebo side.

Lurking in the shadows around any discussion of the placebo effect is its nefarious and lesser-known twin, the nocebo effect. Placebo is Latin for “I will please”; nocebo means “I will do harm.”

{ Inkfish | Continue reading }



Reddit user delverofsecrets posted photos of a cryptic note that he or she obtained from a “homeless looking man” on the 1 train in New York City. The user asked Reddit for help in identifying what the characters might mean, and the post quickly shot to the top of the front page as Redditors discussed and looked for clues.


There’s plenty more money to make.
Figure this out and prepare to meet July 19th, 56th & 6th.
There’s a hot dog stand outside Rue57 cafe. Ask for Mr. Input.

{ Mashable | Continue reading }

photo { Robert Frank, London, 1952 }

previously {–the campaign in advance of the Dark Knight }

‘Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.’ –Kurt Vonnegut


In Namibia of southwestern Africa, the sparse grasslands that develop on deep sandy soils under rainfall between 50 and 100 mm per annum are punctuated by thousands of quasi-circular bare spots, usually surrounded by a ring of taller grass. The causes of these so-called “fairy circles” are unknown, although a number of hypotheses have been proposed. This paper provides a more complete description of the variation in size, density and attributes of fairy circles in a range of soil types and situations. Circles are not permanent; their vegetative and physical attributes allow them to be arranged into a life history sequence in which circles appear (birth), develop (mature) and become revegetated (die). Occasionally, they also enlarge. The appearance and disappearance of circles was confirmed from satellite images taken 4 years apart (2004, 2008).

{ PLoS One | Continue reading | More: Science }

photo { Nicolas Hosteing }

And when you’re running from yourself there’s just no place to hide


Could mirror universes or parallel worlds account for dark matter — the ‘missing’ matter in the Universe? In what seems to be mixing of science and science fiction, a new paper by a team of theoretical physicists hypothesizes the existence of mirror particles as a possible candidate for dark matter. An anomaly observed in the behavior of ordinary particles that appear to oscillate in and out of existence could be from a “hypothetical parallel world consisting of mirror particles,” says a press release from Springer. “Each neutron would have the ability to transition into its invisible mirror twin, and back, oscillating from one world to the other.”

{ Universe Today | Continue reading }

photo { Aaron Fowler }

‘And that alone is love, that which never becomes something else.’ –Kierkegaard


Is there a difference between love and addiction? Is being addicted to love a disease? […]

A group of French researchers, publishing in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, describe the clinical distinctions between “love passion,” “love addiction,” and “sex addiction”. Using advances in neurobiology to compare clinical, neuropsychological, neurobiological, and neuroimaging data on love and passion.

They begin with the most pertinent question: “Is there any legitimate reason to associate a pathological condition (addiction) and a natural, pleasurable one [love]?” […]

“Addiction would be defined as the stage where desire becomes a compulsive need, when suffering replaces pleasure, when one persists in the relationship despite knowledge of adverse consequences (including humiliation and shame).”

The fact that there is currently no data on the epidemiology, genetics, co-morbidity, or treatment of love addiction lead the researchers to conclude that to place some cases of “love passion” within a clinical disorder spectrum […] would be premature.

{ science left untitled | Continue reading }

Of the moon invisible in incipent lunation, approaching perigee


{ The two lower curves in beige and green show the instantaneous luminosity measured by the two largest detectors operating on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), CMS and ATLAS. […] I called the LHC control room to find out what was happening. “Oh, those dips?”, casually answered the operator on shift. “That’s because the moon is nearly full and I periodically have to adjust the proton beam orbits.” | Quantum Diaries | Continue reading }

There was a sort of scholars along either side the board, that is to wit, Dixon yclept junior of saint Mary Merciable


How might one prove the existence of other universes given that we can experience only this one? […]

What is the world made of? One might answer in terms of the electrons, protons, and neutrons that make up atoms. But what are electrons, protons and neutrons? Quantum physics shows how they are observed to behave like waves as they move about. But on reaching their destination and giving up their energy and momentum they behave like tiny particles. But how can something be both a spread out wave with humps and troughs, and at the same time be a tiny localized particle? This is the famous wave/particle paradox. It afflicts everything, including light.

{ Russell Stannard | Continue reading }

painting { Peter Halley, Delayed Reaction, 1989 }

Don’t get creepy in the teepee


In particle physics, antimatter is the extension of the concept of the antiparticle to matter, where antimatter is composed of antiparticles in the same way that normal matter is composed of particles.

For example, a positron (the antiparticle of the electron) and an antiproton can form an antihydrogen atom in the same way that an electron and a proton form a “normal matter” hydrogen atom.

Furthermore, mixing matter and antimatter can lead to the annihilation of both, in the same way that mixing antiparticles and particles does, thus giving rise to high-energy photons (gamma rays) or other particle–antiparticle pairs.

The result of antimatter meeting matter is an explosion.

There is considerable speculation as to why the observable universe is apparently composed almost entirely of matter (as opposed to a mixture of matter and antimatter), whether there exist other places that are almost entirely composed of antimatter instead, and what sorts of technology might be possible if antimatter could be harnessed. At this time, the apparent asymmetry of matter and antimatter in the visible universe is one of the greatest unsolved problems in physics.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

An international collaboration of scientists has reported in landmark detail the decay process of a subatomic particle called a kaon – information that may help answer fundamental questions about how the universe began. The research used breakthrough techniques on some of the world’s fastest supercomputers to expand on a 1964 Nobel Prize-winning experiment. […] “This calculation brings us closer to answering fundamental questions about how matter formed in the early universe and why we, and everything else we observe today, are made of matter and not anti-matter,” says Thomas Blum, associate professor of physics at the University of Connecticut, a co-author of the paper.

{ DailyGalaxy | Continue reading }

photo { Lee Kwang-Ho }