domingo, 19 de outubro de 2008

The Sound of Science

May 2007
By Jimmy Leslie

Sound Healing Conference introduces the world to the concept of sound as medicine

Silence like a cancer grows...” sang Paul Simon in 1966, but as prophetic as he could be, the great bard probably had no idea that people forty years later would be applying the opposite of silence — sound — toward heightening creativity, addressing psychological disorders and curing disease.

Unknown to many, “sound healing” is focused largely on stress relief, mental acuity and spiritual connectivity. Sprouting from a small but growing, less-than-connected community of scientists, alternative medicine practitioners and holistic-minded musicians, its sonic umbrella covers a range of ideas that boil down to any instance of audio inducing a positive physical, mental, spiritual or metaphysical reaction in the patient/client.

Examples of sound healing include listening to a CD custom-designed to relieve anxiety in a particular person, ultrasound pulses used to disintegrate kidney stones, and — in the case of one the genre’s most popular figures — the application of techniques received from beings from another planet/dimension.

Many of sound healing’s leaders will be presenting their work at The World Sound Healing Conference, slated for the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco May 11-14. The confab is among the first of its kind and perhaps also the largest. “There has never been a bigger gathering of presenters in the field,” says conference organizer David Gibson.

Gibson, 50, also hopes the conference helps raise awareness. He believes that an informed public will ultimately demand increased funding for the field (as it did in the early ‘90s for other alternative medicine like chiropracty and acupuncture), which will help provide peer-reviewed proof of sound’s potential as medicine.

“Sound healing is starting to become a serious field that is developing more quickly as people share overlapping research, rather than working independently,” explains Gibson, the founder and director of the Globe Institute. Gibson founded the SF-based school four years ago and describes it as the only place in the world where one can earn an accredited certificate or associates degree in sound healing.

A sound engineer and producer known for his popular books The Art of Producing and The Art of Mixing, Gibson says he became interested in the field through his exploration of three-dimensional imaging to help him visualize a balanced recording mix in a recording studio.

Now his school situated in the SOMA district is home to the Sound Therapy Center. Once there, patients choose from therapies like computer voice analysis, “root frequency entrainment,” Tibetan Bowl massage, chakra balancing and tuning fork treatments. The most popular, according center director Alex Theory, is vibroacoustic therapy. “Imagine an internal sonic massage,” he says. “It promotes blood and oxygen flow. It’s an FDA-approved pain reliever. NASA uses it to maintain bone marrow levels for astronauts in space.” Costing $50 to $125 per hour, vibroacoustic therapy is where a patient lies on a special table and barely-audible-to-human frequencies are channeled through the body.

Sound Healing: What the Bleep!?

Over 50 presenters — including eight keynotes — are appearing at the conference. One of the most recognizable is Masaru Emoto, the bestselling author of The Hidden Messages in Water. The hit cult movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? also featured his groundbreaking work with frozen water crystals. Emoto is not a sound healer but his work goes a long way in proving the basic sound healing principle. When positive intentions — such as love or melodic music — are focused on water, the frozen crystals appear as organized, geometrical patterns. Negative intentions — such as hate or dissonant music — appear as random, chaotic images when frozen into crystalline form.


Dr. Jeffrey Thompson is a chiropractic physician whose extensive alternative medical studies led him to develop a clinical sound healing practice. He’s the director of the Center for Neuroacoustic Research in Encinates, California, near San Diego. Over the phone, in a soft and even voice, he describes his holistic, three-pronged “Bio-Tuning” method, which uses cutting-edge medical technology to achieve homeostasis, balance, in his patients.

“The first approach in Bio-Tuning involves physical resonance,” Thompson says in-between patients at the center. “Everything has a fundamental resonance — an atomic frequency. It is the reason why a wine glass vibrates when you hit a certain note. I use imaging equipment, including EEG [Electroencephalogram, a diagnostic test of brain electrical activity helpful in diagnosing epilepsy], to monitor how your body reacts to precise frequencies in order to find out which ones will bring balance to the nervous system and promote healing. The second method is brainwave entrainment,” he continues. “Binaural beats are two tones slightly out of tune that create a pulse. If the speed of that pulse is a brainwave speed, then your brainwaves time themselves to it, and therefore change your state of consciousness. Method three,” he says, “is working with primordial sounds — sounds that have a deep affect on the unconscious mind, including recordings of one’s heartbeat, respiration, internal organ noises and womb sound environments, which are similar for everybody.”

A truly holistic thinker well versed in Chinese Meridian Therapy, Thompson ties all three of the methods together: First he records the patient vocalizing his or her own resonant frequency then he uses a table with built-in speakers to deliver the tone at various octaves — doubling or halving the frequency. A mid-range tone might be felt in the skin, whereas lower octaves would hit lower tissue densities, and then bones. Once the sound is dropped below the lowest threshold of human hearing at 20 hertz, it becomes a string of brainwave frequencies that are perceived in the subconscious and induce the lower brainwave states one routinely enters during sleep.

“People come in with every disease you can imagine. The imbalances in ones glands, or bones, or wherever, are only doing what they’re told to do from the central command [the autonomic nervous system]. I have a medical monitoring device that can monitor those systems, and use sound frequencies to force them into a state of balance. If you can balance the central command station, everything else should ultimately fall in line,” says Thompson, who lists his best successes with stress-related conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety, allergies, depression, ADD and chronic fatigue.


“Frequency, plus intent, equals healing,” says Jonathan Goldman, a musician, teacher and healer based in Boulder, Colorado. Goldman’s background is in psychoacoustics: the study of sound on the human nervous system.

“The ancients and our modern quantum physicists are in agreement: everything in the universe is in a state of vibration, which means they are in motion, and all objects in motion create sound. This includes every portion of the human body,” he says.

Anyone who has ever sung a note in choir might remember how higher pitches resonate as “head tones” while lower notes resonate as “chest tones.” According to Goldman, one’s own voice is the most powerful sound healing tool, and psychoacoustics is centered in vocal harmonics (harmonics are the mathematically related overtones that color a sound) pitched at various frequencies to vibrate targeted areas of the body.

In a phone interview from his home at the base of the Flatirons, Goldman tries to sum up his approach: “Sound health,” he explains in a deep voice worthy of the radio, “is when everything works in concert. But, to use a metaphor, what happens when the second violinist loses her sheet music? In allopathic medicine they would give the player enough drugs to pass out or, to make a surgical analogy, simply lob her head off with a broadsword. But what if you could give this player back the sheet music by projecting the correct frequency to the disharmoniously vibrating body part and restore it to its natural healthy form? That is the basic principle for using sound as a healing modality.

“Sound has the ability to rearrange molecular structure,” he adds. “It has the potential to heal anything, but the healing process can be very complicated. Some people have extraordinary experiences with sound and music therapy. I’ve seen healing of everything from headaches to terminal diseases. On the other hand, sometimes nothing happens. I believe any sound and all music can be healing. It’s different from person to person.”

Inner Connections

One of sound healing’s most popular figures is Tom Kenyon, who founded Acoustic Brain Research (ABR) in 1983 to document the effects of music and sound on consciousness. A musician, author and teacher based in Washington state with a master’s degree in psychological counseling, Kenyon’s ABR tapes and CDs utilize “BioPulse Technology,” in which tones known to affect brain states are mixed into the music in order to alter awareness.

“Specifically designed music can slow brainwave activity,” Kenyon says from the road on his way to Seattle for a speaking engagement. “Awareness becomes softer, and more fluid. We call that increased alpha activity. That leads one to reach inside, and when we turn inward, there is something transpersonal — a spiritual connection to all of life.”

Kenyon claims not only connections to life as we know it, but to other-dimensional life as well. On his website, one can find multiple pages of transmissions from a group of “dream beings” he refers to as the Hathors. “The Hathors are a group of beings that are connected to intergalactic intelligence,” Kenyon says matter-of-factly. “They work through the Hathor fertility cult of ancient Egypt. You get in touch with them by altering your brain activity so you’re able to go into an altered state, focusing on the heart chakra, and entering through that point.”

Regardless of their nature, Kenyon claims they played an essential role in his understanding of sound. “The Hathors imparted very valuable information about sound, and specifically about sacred geometric patterns in the brain that could be used to increase consciousness and function,” he says. “All geometries have associated vibrational sounds, and all vibrations have a corresponding geometry.”

Kenyon instructed a test group on how to use this inner technology through sound and music therapy and he claims that the subjects experienced increased health and awareness, such as writers and artists breaking through creative blocks, and people with brain function problems showing improvement in terms of hard markers, and in terms of being able to better function in the real world.

Kenyon says that his fourth-dimensional connections are the most misunderstood aspect of his career, and that it’s a topic that does not lend itself well to sound bites. Concerning his own popularity in the field, he humbly says, “I have no idea. I’m just excited about the interface of consciousness and sound, and my programs are proven to work.”

Echoes of Uncertainty

Sound healing is still a young field. Like any newbie, it’s been met with a certain degree of skepticism by the mainstream. Few question the value of sound healing when it comes to something as easy to understand as blasting kidney stones with ultrasound, but appreciating sonic neuroscience or taking the leap of faith required to believe that sound can heal one’s “soul,” as some portend, is another matter. Concepts and processes on display at the conference may ultimately prove ineffective or misguided. However, down the clinical road, some may prove to be effective, insightful, or downright revolutionary.

It will be interesting to see which aspects of and approaches to sound healing are eventually embraced by the larger scientific community, and which fall on deaf ears.

For more information, visit

Jimmy Leslie is a San Francisco-based musician and writer who contributes monthly to Guitar Player and Bass Player magazines. He performs regularly with his band at the Boom Boom Room and other Bay Area venues. Leslie’s journalism, music and events can be found at


quinta-feira, 16 de outubro de 2008

Idiotas Chipados

Julho 29, 2008
by Pedro Nunes

Está consumada. Uma barbaridade que nunca julguei possível.

O chipamento da vida dos cidadãos.

Claro que "apenas" nos carros em que se deslocam.
Claro que "só" por motivos utilitários e reactivos a uma insegurança que, como não respeita nada nem niguém, tem resposta pronta e adequada de quem nos "governa".
Claro que é para o nosso bem....

O que acontece é que cada vez menos gosto desta sociedade em que vivo. Cada vez mais me inquieta que esteja a criar um filho inocente - futuro cidadão - para o entregar nas mãos de um monstro silencioso.

E por imperativos de moral e de razão não estar a artilhá-lo com as ferramentas de violência adequadas a responder-lhe, quando velho não me couber já a mim lutar num combate de uma outra dimensão, com a vitalidade que então já não terei.

Há muito que a questão do "divórcio entre cidadãos e os seus governantes" está ultrapassada...

[...O "divórcio" entre os cidadãos e o próprio "sistema democrático" que os rege nunca sequer esteve sobre a mesa, na medida em que ninguém se "divorcia" de algo a que nunca esteve intimamente ligado.]

...Hoje - resultado de um intrincado processo e de uma intrincada manipulação - os cidadãos estão divorciados de si mesmos. Cada qual já não procura saber o que pode fazer pela Nação, mas também já nem lhe interessa saber o que a "Nação" pode fazer por si - exercício penoso de intelecto e civismo a que ninguém se sujeita - cortado em qualquer sentido o cordão umbilical que o ligaria à comunidade dos seus semelhantes.

Hoje, o cidadão divorciado de si mesmo não procura intervir sobre o seu meio, atrofiado na sua iniciativa. Não procura intervir sobre a quem, de forma diferida, poderia caberia essa intervenção, atrofiado na sua voz.

Hoje, o cidadão constitui o isolamento a sua forma de integração social. [Que ainda que conducente à sua fragilidade e ao seu - inevitável - desespero, tanto o seduz pela ociosidade como lhe surge difuso na anestesia pop do mediatismo e do consumo.]

E, desenraizado, perde os seus referenciais. O seu contexto, a sua identidade e o seu auto-respeito.

Perde a noção de uma origem e de um futuro colectivos - cuja alusão o enchem de um espanto genuíno e de uma indiferença exuberante, nascidos da ignorância, da inconsciência e do orgulho.

Perde o sentido da sua existência.

E está pronto para a ceifa.

Quando o Presidente da República promulga o decreto-lei que permitirá a instalação de chips (...não, não são batatas!) em todos os veículos motorizados, sob pretextos de "facilitar o trabalho das forças de segurança, que terão acesso à informação sobre inspecção periódica e seguro automóvel", "permitir o reconhecimento de veículos acidentados e abandonados" e "ser utilizado na cobrança de portagens e outras taxas rodoviárias", "entende que as dúvidas relativas à reserva da intimidade da vida privada podem ser resolvidas pelo Governo".

Ora, tanto os motivos alegados estão pela insignificância cobertos de ridículo, como o laçarote formal dado à ameaça da privacidade dos cidadãos acrescenta à estupefacção toda a repulsa possível.

Não existe motivo plausível para o controlo em tempo real da circulação individual.

Para a sua vigilância.

Para a sua indexação.

Para o seu arquivamento metódico.

Para a sua consulta cirúrgica.

Nem motivo plausível, nem justificação aceitável.

Só numa Nação em que mais por folclore que por convicção se desfraldam os pendões da luta democrática, se admite que se venda em hasta a liberdade de agir do cidadão.

...Porque é dela que se trata!

Se alguém não é livre no resguardo dos seus movimentos, é coarctado neles.

E quando a segurança dos cidadãos é prometida às mãos - não só dos políticos, mas - de um "Governo" que nasceu e vive sob o signo da manipulação, todo o alarme social seria justificado...

...Não fosse já o alarme social o último ingrediente necessário ao caldo da desarticulação da cidadania.

Cidadãos entorpecidos, superficiais e impotentes, não necessitam senão de um empurrão para que aos seus olhos qualquer fórmula manhosa de salvamento seja providencial.

"A criminalidade crescente requer actos radicais."

[Aterrorizar/controlar. Enfraquecer/dominar.]

Primeiro, sob o olhar de uma câmara indiscreta, omnipresente, em circuito fechado paternal sobre o homem...

...Depois, sob uma mesma câmara, fria e penetrante, cerrado no abraço esmagador de um círculo fechado sem apelo.

("Tal e qual como nos States..." - Pela boca tantos morrem...)

Tal como no livro de Orwell.

Mas contra a probabilidade, parece ter aparecido quem ouvisse a notícia. Quem se pusesse a pensar e tirasse conclusão. Parece que até houve mesmo alguém com opinião. E que ousou partilhá-la. E que na largura da net chamou outros a fazê-lo.

...E que de novo mostrou que isso é fácil e é fértil.

Não fui eu, mas aderi. Porque o medo e a revolta também os transporto em mim. Por mim, por quem passa a meu lado, por aqueles que me seguem e pelos que hão-de vir... Porque o desgosto galopante de viver no idiotismo também me revolta as entranhas!

Por continuar a crer que a corja que nos apouca nada pode contra nós.

Queiramos. Façamos. Ousemos.

E ser livre pode ser já.


A Intelligentsia e sua missão revolucionária


Adendo: Confesso que não estou totalmente satisfeito com a palavra intelligentsia. Agradeço sugestões de uma palavra melhor, uma palavra moderna que descreva essa dinâmica mas diminuta, infeliz, isolada e solitária parte da sociedade estadunidense de hoje que tanto deseja mudança dramática, radical, revolucionária.

O Manifesto Pessoal de um membro da intelligentsia.

- Não sou objetivo, posto que a verdadeira objetividade é um mito. Nem imparcial, o que é mais ou menos a mesma coisa. Não tenho nenhum desejo de não ser tendencioso. E queira Deus que eu nunca me torne a-partidário — oh, essa feia palavra hifenizada! Só esse hífen é o bastante para tornar-me partidário.

- Tradicionalmente, supõe-se que os jornalistas sejam objetivos e imparciais. Quem disse isso, porém? Minha resposta é que posso ser parcial e subjetivo o quanto quiser. O quanto for necessário. A propósito, a maioria dos jornalistas faz a mesma coisa, embora disfarce sua parcialidade com belos eufemismos. [Para a maior parte da mídia, e para o público, o mero fato de trabalhar num jornal comercial ou estação de tv constitui prova 'de facto' de ser-se um "profissional".]

- Como o grande Gabriel García Márquez ensinava a seus alunos de jornalismo, acima de tudo você precisa aprender a ser parcial. Esqueça regras a respeito de imparcialidade e de recurso aos fatos estabelecidas pelas pessoas medíocres. Bobagem! Dane-se o recurso aos fatos. Os tais fatos incontroversos! A obsessão com fatos cria pessoas de mentes tacanhas. Durante toda a nossa vida elas nos martelam com eles. Quando alguém diz 'Vamos agora ao ponto essencial da questão' ou 'os fatos são', é hora de ficar alerta. Então dois mais dois são quatro! Como se apenas as coisas que acontecem, ou que se diz acontecerem, valessem a pena! Os fatos obscurecem a verdade real. Lemos montanhas de fatos e acreditamos que sabemos o que está acontecendo, mas ainda não sabemos nada a respeito do centro das coisas, as verdades essenciais.

- Nenhum jornalista-escritor honesto pode permitir-se ser não tendencioso e objetivo. Afinal de contas, poucos de nós são acadêmicos.

- Ademais, imparcial em relação a quê? A mentiras? A hipocrisia desenfreada? A fraudes? O que há para ser-se imparcial a respeito, se não tais fatos odiosos? Como se devêssemos ser imparciais e não ter opinião a respeito dos fatos fictícios que criaram guerras no Afeganistão e no Iraque, que cimentam o caminho para a guerra contra o Irã, que esmagaram a Sérvia e criaram o Kosovo, que levaram a arengas e delírios — oh, os tais fatos! — contra Chávez na Venezuela, que apóia listas de nações bandidas e movimentos terroristas tais como o Hamas e o Hizbollah. Deveríamos ser imparciais em relação aos homens e às instituições — como Wall Street e seus subordinados fundamente incrustados no governo, frequentemente indistinguíveis da classe política — que nos deram repetidas recessões e depressões em nossa história, destriparam e maladministraram a economia estadunidense para atender a suas próprias agendas, criaram um reino de crescente desigualdade econômica e social, e agora, em 2008, ameaçam coroar sua roubalheira de alto nível com um assalto ao contribuinte estadunidense da ordem de triliões de dólares?

É seguramente uma questão do círculo de giz das massas que o Poder cultiva. Ninguém deve pisar fora dele. Não há necessidade de clonagem genética ou biológica.

Como nos lembra Baudrillard, o indivíduo já está clonado cultural e mentalmente ... por eles. Sentimo-lo em torno de nós cada dia, só em vivendo em nossa sociedade. O poder quer mais; o homem clonado é fácil de controlar.

O indívíduo é outra coisa.

Não rejeitamos a idéia do indivíduo integral que não pode ser dividido. No entanto, queremos ser semelhantes a nossos companheiros humanos, um animal social mas ainda assim diferente, mais do que uma cópia em tamanho reduzido dos outros seres humanos. Individualidade? Sim, mas não ao custo da eliminação dos outros.

Viva o viés!

Residente em Roma, Gaither Stewart é Correspondente Europeu do Jornal Online do Cyrano. Experiente jornalista e crítico, seus ensaios e relatos têm sido publicados por inúmeros sites preeminentes e na mídia impressa em todo o mundo.


Concepção espírita dos sonhos


O sonho é um fenômeno corriqueiro, comum a todas as pessoas, que sempre intrigou os seres humanos e que está intimamente ligado ao sono. Quem já não sonhou estar voando? Quem já não sonhou com pessoas falecidas ou desencarnadas...?

por Christiano Torchi

O sonho é um fenômeno corriqueiro, comum a todas as pessoas, que sempre intrigou os seres humanos e que está intimamente ligado ao sono. Quem já não sonhou estar voando? Quem já não sonhou com pessoas falecidas ou desencarnadas...?

Com o advento da Doutrina Espírita, a partir de 1857, muita luz se projetou sobre o enigma do sono e dos sonhos1, cujos princípios repousam sobre o axioma de que o homem é um ser integral, constituído de corpo e alma, independentes entre si, premissa que tem auxiliado grandemente o entendimento do fenômeno. Observando a incapacidade humana de compreender os sonhos, os Espíritos exclamaram: “Pobres homens, que mal conheceis os mais vulgares fenômenos da vida!”2

Todos sonhamos, ainda que não nos lembremos! O sonho, a catalepsia, a letargia3 e o sonambulismo4 são todos fenômenos de emancipação ou desdobramento da alma. O Espírito se desdobra, quando se desprende parcialmente do corpo físico, permanecendo unido a este por um cordão ou laço fluídico5 (conhecido, vulgarmente, como “cordão prateado6”), situação que ocorre diuturnamente nos momentos do sono físico ou mesmo durante um leve cochilo.

Ao dormirmos, ficamos, temporariamente, no mesmo estado em que permaneceremos depois da morte física, motivo pelo qual se diz que o sono é um treino para a morte. Sob esta ótica, pode-se dizer que todos os dias morremos.

O sonho é a lembrança mais ou menos nítida das experiências que o Espírito traz, ao despertar, de sua excursão pelo Plano Espiritual. Constitui, por isso, uma das evidências da realidade da alma. Quando o corpo repousa, o Espírito libera um pouco mais suas faculdades, ao contrário do que acontece quando se encontra acordado, lembrando-se, muitas vezes, do passado e até penetrando o futuro.

Se não dormíssemos, a encarnação e o nosso progresso espiritual certamente estariam comprometidos, uma vez que é no mundo espiritual a nossa pátria verdadeira onde buscamos forças para enfrentar as dificuldades do dia-a-dia, no plano físico. Não sem razão os Espíritos disseram, na q. 402 da primeira obra básica que o sono é a porta que Deus abre aos homens, para que possam relacionar-se com os amigos do céu; é o recreio depois do trabalho.

Graças ao sono, os encarnados estão sempre em contacto mais estreito com os desencarnados e inclusive com outros encarnados. O Espírito jamais está inativo. O sono, além de proporcionar o descanso e o refazimento do corpo físico, facilita a ampliação das percepções psíquicas e fornece maior intensidade ao raciocínio e à memória.

A interpretação onírica é um dos aspectos mais controvertidos deste tema. Muitas teorias exóticas, para não dizer fantasiosas, já se levantaram sobre a interpretação dos sonhos.

Em 1900, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), considerado o “pai da Psicanálise”7, lançou a obra A interpretação dos sonhos, que trouxe uma contribuição acadêmica importante ao estudo deste interessante fenômeno. Entretanto, Freud não levava em consideração o elemento espiritual, motivo por que as suas teorias psicanalíticas nem sempre explicam todos os fatos relacionados com os sonhos, apresentando, mesmo, diversas lacunas.

Conforme anotado pelo Espírito André Luiz, na obra “Os Mensageiros”, “Freud foi um grande missionário da Ciência; no entanto, manteve-se, como qualquer Espírito encarnado, sob certas limitações. Fez muito, mas não tudo, na esfera da indagação psíquica”8.

Portanto, muito antes de Freud, o Espiritismo já havia desvendado os sonhos, que podem representar diversas situações.

Algumas delas são:

a) visão atual de coisas presentes ou ausentes;

b) visão retrospectiva do passado;

c) em alguns casos menos freqüentes, pressentimento do futuro;

d) comumente, constituem quadros alegóricos (simbólicos) que os bons Espíritos nos apresentam como úteis advertências ou salutares conselhos;

e) de outras vezes, esses quadros alegóricos são produzidos por Espíritos imperfeitos, quando tentam nos enganar e explorar nossas paixões;

f) em outras circunstâncias, o sonho pode representar apenas uma ruminação das experiências vividas durante o período em que o Espírito permaneceu acordado.

Nesse caso, o sonho não retrata propriamente lembranças de fatos ocorridos na espiritualidade, mas apenas criações fluídicas do pensamento derivadas de alguma preocupação ou experiências mais fortes vivenciadas durante o dia, fenômeno designado pela Psicanálise de “restos do dia”.

Como lembram os imortais na q. 404 de O Livro dos Espíritos, “os sonhos não são verdadeiros como o entendem os ledores de buena-dicha [adivinhos], pois fôra absurdo crer-se que sonhar com tal coisa anuncia tal outra. São verdadeiros no sentido de que apresentam imagens que, para o Espírito, têm realidade, porém que, freqüentemente, nenhuma relação guardam com o que se passa na vida corporal”.

O despertamento do sono indica que o Espírito, acompanhado de seu envoltório, o períspírito, este de natureza semimaterial sutil ou quintessenciada, retornou ao casulo carnal, trazendo as memórias de suas experiências pelo mundo espiritual, as quais, entretanto, em virtude do contacto do perispírito com as células, são abafadas pelo corpo denso, cujos átomos vibram com maior lentidão.

Por causa disso, muitas vezes não lembramos dos sonhos ou apenas nos recordamos de partes deles, que nada mais são do que trechos de lembranças de nossas experiências pelo mundo invisível, fazendo com que se apresentem estranhos, sem muito nexo, como se estivéssemos lendo uma página em que algumas palavras, linhas ou mesmo frases inteiras estivessem apagadas, truncando ou impedindo a compreensão integral da mensagem.

Tal fenômeno ocorre porque a apreensão dos fatos, nos sonhos, é feita diretamente pelo pensamento, não passando pelos órgãos dos sentidos. Pondere-se, ainda, que a linguagem do pensamento é universal, enquanto a linguagem das palavras articuladas é revestida de símbolos que nem sempre traduzem, com exatidão, a essência das experiências vivenciadas pelo Espírito, que não encontram analogia no estreito vocabulário humano. Isso, de certo modo, explica por que duas pessoas estrangeiras, mesmo não conhecendo o idioma um do outro, podem se comunicar pela via telepática.

Ao penetrar o mundo espiritual, pelas portas do sono, o encarnado entra em relação mais próxima com outros Espíritos, encarnados ou desencarnados, onde influencia e é influenciado, para o bem ou para o mal, conforme suas afinidades e tendências. Muitas decisões que tomamos e idéias que temos, durante o dia, são hauridas desses relacionamentos extracorpóreos.

Por isso, os Benfeitores Espirituais recomendam que sempre oremos antes de dormir10, para que nos constatemos com Espíritos que estejam em condições morais superiores à nossa, ocasião em que podemos receber ajuda, além de sermos úteis, promovendo boas obras e inclusive auxiliando Espíritos necessitados, se for o caso. Como alerta Carlos Torres Pastorino, em seu opúsculo Minutos de Sabedoria11, não devemos nos impressionar com os sonhos. Isto poderia levar-nos a extravagâncias ridículas.

Vivamos acordados no bem que os nossos sonhos serão belos e bons. Se alguma característica de verdade nos for revelada em sonho, aceitemo-la com simplicidade, mas não nos deixemos levar por interpretações supersticiosas. Procuremos sempre o lado bom das coisas.

Concluindo, os sonhos encontram explicações nas leis que governam as relações entre o mundo físico e o mundo espiritual, decorrentes da existência do Espírito, do perispírito e dos fluidos espirituais, a chave que faltava para a melhor compreensão desses fenômenos.


1. Sobre o sono e os sonhos, consulte o que os Espíritos superiores disseram a Kardec, no cap. VIII da parte 2ª de O Livro dos Espíritos, sob os títulos “Da Emancipação da Alma” (q. 400 a 412) e “Visitas Espíritas Entre Pessoas Vivas” (q. 413 a 418).

2. KARDEC, Allan. O Livro dos Espíritos. 72ª ed. Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 1992. Cap. VIII, “Da Emancipação da Alma”, p. 222 (questão n. 402).

3. A catalepsia e a letargia são uma espécie de sono físico de ordem patológica e caracterizam-se pela perda temporária da sensibilidade e do movimento do corpo físico, que assume, temporariamente, a aparência da morte biológica. É um fenômeno bastante comum, embora pouco pesquisado. Muitas vezes, o corpo da pessoa é sepultado sem que tenha ainda realmente ocorrido a morte. Alguns desses fenômenos estão descritos no Novo Testamento (Lucas, 7:11-17 [o filho da viúva de Naim] e Mateus, 9:23-26 [a filha de Jairo]), sendo o caso mais conhecido o da ressurreição de Lázaro (João, 11:1-46).

4. O sonambulismo “é um estado de independência do Espírito, mais completo do que no sonho, estado em que maior amplitude adquirem suas faculdades. A alma tem então percepções de que não dispõe no sonho, que é um estado de sonambulismo imperfeito” (q. 425 de O Livro dos Espíritos).

5. Sobre o laço fluídico, consulte O Livro dos Médiuns, de Allan Kardec, cap. VII, item 118, e o cap. XXV, item 284.

6. Eclesiastes, 12:6.

7. Método desenvolvido para tratar de distúrbios psíquicos a partir da investigação do inconsciente.

8. Obra citada. 24a ed. Rio de Janeiro: FEB, 1991. Cap. 38, “Atividade Plena”, p. 202.

9. Sobre a interpretação dos sonhos, na ótica espírita, consulte também O Livro dos Médiuns, cap. VI, “Das Manifestações Visuais”, item 101: “Ensaios Teóricos Sobre as Aparições”; e A Gênese, cap. XIV, “Fatos Tidos como Sobrenaturais”, item 28: “Vista Espiritual ou psíquica. Dupla Vista. Sonambulismo. Sonhos”.

10. A respeito da importância da oração antes do sono, consulte o item 38 do cap. XXVIII, de O Evangelho Segundo o Espiritismo: “Coletânea de Preces Espíritas. Preces por aquele mesmo que ora. A hora de dormir”.

11. Obra citada. 39a ed. Petrópolis-RJ: Vozes, 2000, p. 33.

Artigo publicado no Boletim GEAE /Ano 16 – 2008/ Nº 536


Portugal é o primeiro a nível mundial no aproveitamento da energia das ondas


Póvoa de Varzim – Vai ser inaugurado hoje, na Póvoa de Varzim, o primeiro parque mundial de aproveitamento da energia das ondas. Três máquinas oscilarão ao sabor das ondas para produzir electricidade.

O projecto é uma iniciativa do grupo Enersis, que se dedica às energias renováveis em Portugal, com a parceria da escocesa Ocean Power Energy (OPD) terá capacidade para produzir, numa primeira fase, energia eléctrica suficiente para alimentar uma povoação com cerca de seis mil habitantes.

Foram instaladas três máquinas de aproveitamento energético, a cerca de cinco quilómetros ao largo da Póvoa de Varzim, com capacidade para produzirem 750 kilowatts (kw) cada uma, o que permitirá uma produção média anual de sete gigawatts por hora (Gwh).

As máquinas têm forma cilíndrica e medem cerca de 50 metros de comprimento, com um perímetro de 3,5 metros, dos quais apenas um fica acima do nível da água.

A energia produzida pelas ondas do alto mar, consideradas mais estáveis do que as ondas de rebentação, é depois encaminhada através de um cabo submarino para uma subestação de ligação à rede eléctrica.

O investimento neste projecto é financiado em 15 por cento por apoios públicos, sendo o restante integralmente assumido pelos dois parceiros envolvidos, a Enersis e a OPD.

(c) PNN Portuguese News Network


domingo, 12 de outubro de 2008

Hugo Chavez in Portugal... again

02 October 2008

Hugo Chavez (second from left), pictured here with Portuguese Economy Minister Manuel Pinho (left), Prime Minister José Sócrates (centre) and Minister for Public Works, Mário Lino (far right)

Of all the European countries, Portugal seems to have found a special place in the heart and mind of Venezuela’s maverick President Hugo Chavez.

He has visited Lisbon no fewer than four times in just 10 months and has a particularly close relationship with José Sócrates, who visited Venezuela earlier in the year.

It seems a relationship in stark contrast to that with the United States, which he irritated by staging naval war games with the Russians off the Venezuelan coast recently. Or with Spain, for that matter, with whom relations hit rock bottom after King Juan Carlos famously asked him “why don’t you just shut up?” at a summit for Latin American and Spanish speaking countries.

Visiting a small country like Portugal so frequently - which doesn’t have oil, precious metals, advanced technological know-how or a vast export market – seems, at first glance, strange.

Hugo Chavez was in Lisbon on Saturday to cement the signing of a series of eight economic accords between the two countries at FIL in the city’s Parque das Nações.

So what exactly is it that Portugal has got that seems to attract the fruitcake leader to Lisbon like a fly to a lamp?


Perhaps the question should be inverted. Why is Venezuela so important for its Minister for the Economy Manuel Pinho and Minister for Public Works, Mário Lino?

One answer is a similar one as the question, why is Libya so important to the United States all of a sudden?

The answer is oil – Venezuela is the eighth largest oil producer in the world and Portugal has known economic dependencies on this black gold.

But it is its relationship with Lisbon, much more than flogging off one million heavily subsidised Magalhães laptop computers to Venezuelan schools, or millions of pre-fabricated homes to re-house the country’s desperately poor urban dwellers living in slums and shanty towns on the outskirts of Caracas.

For Chavez the relationship with Portugal is worth infinitely more than the 10,000 barrels of oil sold to it per day.

“Chavez has clear political objectives in setting foot so often on Portuguese soil,” says Peter Molina, Professor of International Relations at the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Los Andes.

“He might think he has an ideological friend in Sócrates, but left-wing politicians in Latin America are worlds apart in terms of beliefs than in Europe,” he added in a telephone interview with the Portuguese daily newspaper Público last week.

True, there are more than half-a-million Portuguese living in Venezuela doing very nicely, thank-you, economically in small and medium-sized companies, which is an excellent excuse to use Portugal, who is liked and listened to by everyone in Europe, as a useful springboard to lucrative European Union markets.

On the other side of the coin, Manuel Pinho, the Minister for the Economy and Innovation, has been working tirelessly promoting Portuguese small and medium-sized construction and technology-led companies in developing Latin American and North African states to make up for lost investment from the EU which has fled to Eastern Europe.

Other Western countries, too, have seemed anxious to get into bed recently with the extreme left regime and its madcap leader who praises the Russians, Cubans and hurls abuse at the Americans. Chavez has been received by France, Spain and Italy this year alone.

Carlos Gaspar at the Portuguese Institute for International Relations at Lisbon’s Nova University explains: “Chavez is trying to step into the shoes vacated by the ailing Fidel Castro as anti-American leader and champion or ‘caudillo’ of the Latin American states.

“This gives him popularity and profile in Latin America but isolates him from the rest of the word, and Europe. Portugal can act as an insulator to lessen the effects of that isolation and open up markets in Europe,” he concludes.


Anti-Democratic Nature of US Capitalism is Being Exposed

October 10, 2008
by Noam Chomsky
The Irish Times

Bretton Woods was the system of global financial management set up at the end of the second World War to ensure the interests of capital did not smother wider social concerns in post-war democracies. It was hated by the US neoliberals - the very people who created the banking crisis writes Noam Chomsky

The simultaneous unfolding of the US presidential campaign and unraveling of the financial markets presents one of those occasions where the political and economic systems starkly reveal their nature.

Passion about the campaign may not be universally shared but almost everybody can feel the anxiety from the foreclosure of a million homes, and concerns about jobs, savings and healthcare at risk.

The initial Bush proposals to deal with the crisis so reeked of totalitarianism that they were quickly modified. Under intense lobbyist pressure, they were reshaped as "a clear win for the largest institutions in the system . . . a way of dumping assets without having to fail or close", as described by James Rickards, who negotiated the federal bailout for the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management in 1998, reminding us that we are treading familiar turf. The immediate origins of the current meltdown lie in the collapse of the housing bubble supervised by Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, which sustained the struggling economy through the Bush years by debt-based consumer spending along with borrowing from abroad. But the roots are deeper. In part they lie in the triumph of financial liberalisation in the past 30 years - that is, freeing the markets as much as possible from government regulation.

These steps predictably increased the frequency and depth of severe reversals, which now threaten to bring about the worst crisis since the Great Depression.

Also predictably, the narrow sectors that reaped enormous profits from liberalisation are calling for massive state intervention to rescue collapsing financial institutions.

Such interventionism is a regular feature of state capitalism, though the scale today is unusual. A study by international economists Winfried Ruigrok and Rob van Tulder 15 years ago found that at least 20 companies in the Fortune 100 would not have survived if they had not been saved by their respective governments, and that many of the rest gained substantially by demanding that governments "socialise their losses," as in today's taxpayer-financed bailout. Such government intervention "has been the rule rather than the exception over the past two centuries", they conclude.

In a functioning democratic society, a political campaign would address such fundamental issues, looking into root causes and cures, and proposing the means by which people suffering the consequences can take effective control.

The financial market "underprices risk" and is "systematically inefficient", as economists John Eatwell and Lance Taylor wrote a decade ago, warning of the extreme dangers of financial liberalisation and reviewing the substantial costs already incurred - and proposing solutions, which have been ignored. One factor is failure to calculate the costs to those who do not participate in transactions. These "externalities" can be huge. Ignoring systemic risk leads to more risk-taking than would take place in an efficient economy, even by the narrowest measures.

The task of financial institutions is to take risks and, if well-managed, to ensure that potential losses to themselves will be covered. The emphasis is on "to themselves". Under state capitalist rules, it is not their business to consider the cost to others - the "externalities" of decent survival - if their practices lead to financial crisis, as they regularly do.

Financial liberalisation has effects well beyond the economy. It has long been understood that it is a powerful weapon against democracy. Free capital movement creates what some have called a "virtual parliament" of investors and lenders, who closely monitor government programmes and "vote" against them if they are considered irrational: for the benefit of people, rather than concentrated private power.

Investors and lenders can "vote" by capital flight, attacks on currencies and other devices offered by financial liberalisation. That is one reason why the Bretton Woods system established by the United States and Britain after the second World War instituted capital controls and regulated currencies.*

The Great Depression and the war had aroused powerful radical democratic currents, ranging from the anti-fascist resistance to working class organisation. These pressures made it necessary to permit social democratic policies. The Bretton Woods system was designed in part to create a space for government action responding to public will - for some measure of democracy.

John Maynard Keynes, the British negotiator, considered the most important achievement of Bretton Woods to be the establishment of the right of governments to restrict capital movement.

In dramatic contrast, in the neoliberal phase after the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970s, the US treasury now regards free capital mobility as a "fundamental right", unlike such alleged "rights" as those guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: health, education, decent employment, security and other rights that the Reagan and Bush administrations have dismissed as "letters to Santa Claus", "preposterous", mere "myths".

In earlier years, the public had not been much of a problem. The reasons are reviewed by Barry Eichengreen in his standard scholarly history of the international monetary system. He explains that in the 19th century, governments had not yet been "politicised by universal male suffrage and the rise of trade unionism and parliamentary labour parties". Therefore, the severe costs imposed by the virtual parliament could be transferred to the general population.

But with the radicalisation of the general public during the Great Depression and the anti-fascist war, that luxury was no longer available to private power and wealth. Hence in the Bretton Woods system, "limits on capital mobility substituted for limits on democracy as a source of insulation from market pressures".

The obvious corollary is that after the dismantling of the postwar system, democracy is restricted. It has therefore become necessary to control and marginalise the public in some fashion, processes particularly evident in the more business-run societies like the United States. The management of electoral extravaganzas by the public relations industry is one illustration.

"Politics is the shadow cast on society by big business," concluded America's leading 20th century social philosopher John Dewey, and will remain so as long as power resides in "business for private profit through private control of banking, land, industry, reinforced by command of the press, press agents and other means of publicity and propaganda".

The United States effectively has a one-party system, the business party, with two factions, Republicans and Democrats. There are differences between them. In his study Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age, Larry Bartels shows that during the past six decades "real incomes of middle-class families have grown twice as fast under Democrats as they have under Republicans, while the real incomes of working-poor families have grown six times as fast under Democrats as they have under Republicans".

Differences can be detected in the current election as well. Voters should consider them, but without illusions about the political parties, and with the recognition that consistently over the centuries, progressive legislation and social welfare have been won by popular struggles, not gifts from above.

Those struggles follow a cycle of success and setback. They must be waged every day, not just once every four years, always with the goal of creating a genuinely responsive democratic society, from the voting booth to the workplace.

* The Bretton Woods system of global financial management was created by 730 delegates from all 44 Allied second World War nations who attended a UN-hosted Monetary and Financial Conference at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods in New Hampshire in 1944.

Bretton Woods, which collapsed in 1971, was the system of rules, institutions, and procedures that regulated the international monetary system, under which were set up the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) (now one of five institutions in the World Bank Group) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which came into effect in 1945.

The chief feature of Bretton Woods was an obligation for each country to adopt a monetary policy that maintained the exchange rate of its currency within a fixed value.

The system collapsed when the US suspended convertibility from dollars to gold. This created the unique situation whereby the US dollar became the "reserve currency" for the other countries within Bretton Woods.


More genetic baldness links uncovered

October 12, 2008

Some men who carry two genetic variants may have a sevenfold increased chance of showing male pattern baldness, international researchers have found.

In Sunday's issue of the journal Nature Genetics, two teams of researchers described the predisposition to male pattern baldness — the most common form of baldness, usually involving hair loss above the temples and at the crown of the head.

Male pattern baldness affects about one-third of men by age 45. Hair loss takes a social and economic toll for some, with hair transplants in the U.S. alone costing $115 million US in 2007, according to the researchers.

In one study, researchers at Montreal's McGill University, King's College in London and drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, along with colleagues in Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands, found that the 14 per cent of men who carry one variant on chromosome 20 and one "androgen receptor variant" showed the sevenfold increased risk.

The findings were made in a study of 1,125 Caucasian men and confirmed in an additional 1,650.

"I would presume male pattern baldness is caused by the same genetic variation in non-Caucasians," said Brent Richards, a professor in genetic epidemiology at McGill. "But we haven't studied those populations, so we can't say for certain."

The scientific discovery identified a cause of male pattern baldness, but a treatment is not imminent, the researchers cautioned.

In a second study, Axel Hillmer of the University of Bonn in Germany and his colleagues showed the frequency of the chromosome 20 variant varied worldwide.

The newly discovered gene on chromosome 20 can be inherited from both the mother and father.

"This helps to provide an explanation for the similarity [in hair growth] between father and son," said Prof. Markus Noethen of Bonn University's Institute of Human Genetics.

In 2005, scientists showed that the first known hair loss gene was inherited from mothers, which explained why hair loss in men often reflected that of maternal grandfathers.

Other links:

Important new hair-loss gene discovered

Researchers discover baldness gene: 1 in 7 men at risk


Repairing genetic mutations with lasers?

October 12th, 2008
by Roland Piquepaille

German researchers at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) think they’ve proved that genetic information can be controlled by light. The group studied the interaction between the four DNA bases — adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T) — by using femtosecond time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy. The researchers think that they’ve demonstrated that DNA strands differ in their light sensitivity depending on their base sequences. The team thinks that it might be possible in the future to gene mutations using laser radiation. One of the project leaders said that “it might even be possible under some circumstances to make transistors from DNA that would work through the hydrogen bonds.” It’s not the first time I’ve heard about DNA computing, but this new approach looks promising.

CAU femtolaser components

You can see above the optical components of the femtosecond fluorescence up-conversion spectrometer used at CAU. (Credit: Friedrich Temps, CAU) Here is a link to a larger version of this photo.

This research project has been led at CAU by Professor Friedrich Temps and Nina Schwalb who is a member of his research group at the Institute of Physical Chemistry at CAU.

CAU femtolaser in action

You can see above Nina Schwalb adjusting the femtosecond laser spectroscope. (Credit: J. Haacks, CAU) Here is a link to a larger version of this photo.

So what exactly did the research group find? “It has been known for many years that the individual bases that code the genetic information contained in DNA show a high degree of photostability, as the energy that they take up from UV radiation is immediately released again. Surprisingly, however, it is found that in DNA, which consists of many bases, those mechanisms are ineffective or only partially effective. It seems that the deactivation of UV-excited DNA molecules must instead occur by some completely different mechanisms specific to DNA, which are not yet understood. Through measurements by a variety of methods on DNA molecules with different base sequences, the research group led by Professor Friedrich Temps at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of Kiel University has now been able to confirm and clarify that assumption.”

Here is a quote from Professor Friedrich Temps about this research project. “DNA achieves its high degree of photostability through its complex double-helix structure. The interactions between bases that are stacked one above another within a DNA strand, and the hydrogen bonds between the base pairs of the two complementary single strands in the double-helix play key roles. Through the different interactions that we have observed the DNA acts to some extent as its own sun-protection.”

And here are more details about Nina Schwalb’s work. “Nina Schwalb investigated many different base combinations in synthetically-produced DNA molecules. Using a femtosecond pulsed laser spectroscope, she measured the characteristic energy release for each combination. She was able to measure the time for which the molecules continued to fluoresce, and thus how long they stored the light energy. She found that for some base combinations these fluorescence ‘lifetimes’ were only about 100 femtoseconds, whereas for others they were up to a thousand times longer. A femtosecond is one millionth of a billionth of a second.”

This research work has been published in Science under the title “Base Sequence and Higher-Order Structure Induce the Complex Excited-State Dynamics in DNA” (Volume 322, Issue 5899, Pages 243-245, October 10, 2008). If you know this research field, you might understand the abstract. “The high photostability of DNA is commonly attributed to efficient radiationless electronic relaxation processes. We used femtosecond time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy to reveal that the ensuing dynamics are strongly dependent on base sequence and are also affected by higher-order structure. Excited electronic state lifetimes in dG-doped d(A)20 single-stranded DNA and dG·dC-doped d(A)20·d(T)20 double-stranded DNA decrease sharply with the substitution of only a few bases. In duplexes containing d(AGA)·d(TCT) or d(AG)·d(TC) repeats, deactivationof the fluorescing states occurs on the subpicosecond time scale, but the excited-state lifetimes increase again in extended d(G)runs. The results point at more complex and molecule-specific photodynamics in native DNA than may be evident in simpler model systems.”

Personally, I don’t fully understand this abstract. But I’m happy to report that Nina Schwalb has probably a bright future as a researcher. Please visit this page and scroll to “Ph.D. student Nina Schwalb wins poster prizes at international conferences.”


Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel news release, October 10, 2008; and various websites

You’ll find related stories by following the links below:

Roland Piquepaille lives in Paris, France, and he spent most of his career in software, mainly for high performance computing and visualization companies. For disclosures on Roland's industry affiliations, click here.


sexta-feira, 10 de outubro de 2008

The Rise: Saunières Magical Workings and the Penitential Movement in Europe

October 11, 2008
by Isaac ben Jacob and Sarah Fishberg

The Rise: Saunières Magical Workings and the Penitential Movement in Europe

Within medieval Europe, a new power was rising. A heresy had infiltrated the hierarchy of the Catholic Church almost to the very top, and begun what would become a centuries-long campaign of altering the Church's original teachings to make them conform to its own.

I am contacting you about the imminent release of a book. This book is entitled 'The Rise'.

'The Rise' deals with Europe’s secret history, and tells us about secret religious networks that have presided over the creation and growth of the great monastic orders, as well as played a prominent role in the vast majority of the many conflicts Europe has faced throughout its tumultuous history.

This book also speaks of the still little-known 'heresy' that is Manichaeism. Manichaeism rapidly spread from Persia to Europe, where its followers slowly but steadily infiltrated the Catholic Church’s hierarchy, and eventually gained domination over it.

The perspective of the book, starting out with this broad and far-reaching topic, then focuses upon a more specific, local case which is the Rennes-le-Chateau mystery, i.e. the enigmatic story of a country priest whose sudden and inexplicable riches have spawn an entire book industry.

It is precisely this wide-ranging historical approach based upon the history of the great Christian heresies, which enables 'The Rise' to bring about a genuine revolution in the understanding of the RLC mystery.

Therefore, this book will bring a goldmine’s worth of valuable information to people interested in the secret history of Europe, and of its religions or heresies past and present (Catharism in particular).

Not only is 'The Rise' a first, but it also is a scoop, since it positively demonstrates, using no less than five thousands of document references as pieces of evidence in the process, that the Catholic Church slowly moved away from Christianity over the centuries, only to borrow and integrate most of the principles of Manichaeism into its official doctrine.

'The Rise' is scheduled to be released on October 1st, by Adventures Unlimited Press.

Rennes Le Chateau

And the text below is the description written on the outside back cover.

"In medieval Europe, a new power was rising. A heresy had infiltrated the Catholic hierarchy, beginning a centuries-long campaign to alter the Church's original teachings.

This heresy was a penitent movement, based on a Babylonian cult of the dead.

The bizarre public spectacles they displayed -- and still do today in the streets of Europe -- include acts of penance and self-mortification, but there are smokescreens to draw attention from the movement's true workings.

The authors led a team of researchers tracking this movement from the Middle-East to Italy, Germany and France. Eventually, they realized that the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau, linked with the extraordinary fortune of one Berenger Sauniere, was another episode in the long and intriguing tale of this heretical movement. "The Rise" reveals that within the world of religion, there have long been secret battles between the Church hierarchy and various movements that have tried to penetrate and take it over -- sometimes successfully!"

Isaac ben Jacob

For more information or to purchase this book simply click on the title: The Rise: Saunières Magical Workings and the Penitential Movement in Europe


DNA finger printing could soon reveal your surname

07 Oct 2008
By Richard Alleyne

Scientists could soon be able to tell a person's surname from their DNA, a new study claims

The laboratory which invented genetic fingerprinting believes the same technique could be refined to reveal the surnames of men.

A study of more than 2,500 men bearing over five hundred different surnames found those with the same family name are highly likely to be genetically linked.

The system works by isolating the Y chromosome of the DNA which - like a surname - is passed down the male line virtually untouched. This is then cross-matched against a proposed database of more than 40,000 names.

Read the full story at:

Stevia gets Australian approval for food and beverages

October 8, 2008
By Stephen Daniells

The Australian food authority FSANZ has approved the natural sweetener steviol glycosides (stevia), as an ingredient in foods and beverages in Australia and New Zealand.

The application, made by the Plant Science Group at Central Queensland University and Australian Stevia Mills, will be gazetted tomorrow, according to CQUniversity.

CQUnivesity’s Professor David Midmore welcomed the approval of stevia as a “a safe and valuable addition to food ingredients - look for it as stevia, steviol glycosides or as ingredient number 960," he said.

He added that the approval was based on the results of “hundreds of trials carried out in many countries. The results from these trials were a key factor in the approval by FSANZ.”

In an email communication, Prof. Midmore told “In principle this [approval] is very important, for commercial companies can now put steviol glycosides into their products to sweeten them.”

Such products include soft drinks, and cooked items, such as cakes and biscuits since steviol glycosides are thermo-stable up to 200 °C. Steviol glycosides can also be used in organic ranges that couldn’t use artificial sweeteners, said Prof. Midmore.

A draft approval is already available online and states: “Approval of steviol glycosides as a food additive is proposed... At the levels of use requested by the Applicant, it does not raise any public health and safety concerns.

“The risk assessment of steviol glycosides is based on the best available scientific evidence and the draft variation helps promote an efficient and internationally competitive food industry.

“Use of steviol glycosides is technologically justified since it has desirable qualities that are of interest to the food manufacturing industry.

“The regulation impact assessment concluded that the benefits of permitting use of steviol glycosides outweigh any costs associated with its use.”

Stevia ins-and-outs

Steviol glycosides - the extract of the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana - are a group of intense sweeteners.

"Stevia is not a new invention and thus no company holds a patent and would go to the expense of approval just to let other companies cash in on their approval," said Prof. Midmore.

The sweetener is being lined up initially for beverages. Indeed, two giants of the sector – Pepsi and Coca-Cola – are both active in bringing their own stevia brands to the market based on rebiana, the sweetest, purest part of the stevia leaf, and reportedly about 200 times as sweet as sugar.

The approval from Australia and New Zealand means that such companies “could, I believe, use the current approval to enter into the Australian market,” said Prof. Midmore. “But this is provided that they are not enzymatically modifying the steviol glycosides.”

Supply and demand

Prof. Midmore explained the University made the application because stevia was recognised as a potential new high-value crop for farmers.

However, Prof. Midmore acknowledged that the Australian crop is non-existent. “This will put pressure on world stocks of steviol glycosides,” he said.

“We need to develop short-day insensitive lines and fine-tune agronomic practise, like crop protection, before Australia will be competitive on the world market.”

The state of play in the US

The US market has seen the most intense activity and interest in stevia recently. Stevia, which is permitted for sale in the US as a dietary supplement on the basis of its low glycemic index, is yet to have FDA GRAS status for use in food and beverages.

The US market for stevia is estimated to be worth about $60m, a figure analysts say could triple with FDA GRAS. Currently the biggest markets for stevia are Japan and Korea.

In July, it was announced that PepsiCo has joined with the Whole Earth Sweetener Company (a subsidiary of Merisant Company) to launch its rebiana sweetener PureVia.

Meanwhile Coca-Cola has teamed up with Cargill to use its rebiana brand, called Truvia.

Cargill is already selling Truvia online as a table-top sweetener but the beverage companies are yet to sell drinks with the sweetener in the US.

Cargill and Merisant have notified the FDA that rebiana should be GRAS. However, the US's largest supplier of stevia Wisdom Natural Brands has said that its stevia-based sweetener Sweet Leaf is self-affirmed GRAS, without FDA notification, and the ingredient will be available in soda or food products by the end of the year.