Alternate Universe

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufailA Universe is a set of photons that interact together, and which do NOT interact, generally, with photons of other universes which have other characteristics.  This might better be said to be the spason of the universe that interact determine the characteristics of the universe, but since they determine the properties of the photons. This then amounts to the same thing.Theoretical physics has brought us the notion that our single universe is not necessarily the only game in town. Satellite data from WMAP, along with string theory and its 11- dimensional hyperspace idea has produced the concept of the multiverse, where the Big Bang could have produced many different universes instead of a single uniform universe. The idea has gained popularity recently, so it was only a matter of time until someone asked the question of how many multiverses could possibly exist. The number, according to two physicists, could be “humongous.”

Andrei Linde and Vitaly Vanchurin at Stanford University in California, did a few back-of- the- envelope calculations, starting with the idea that the Big Bang was essentially a quantum process which generated quantum fluctuations in the state of the early universe. The universe then underwent a period of rapid growth called inflation during which these perturbations were “frozen,” creating different initial classical conditions in different parts of the cosmos. Since each of these regions would have a different set of laws of low energyphysics, they can be thought of as different universes.
Linde and Vanchurin then estimated how many different universes could have appeared as a result of this effect. Their answer is that this number must be proportional to the effect that caused the perturbations in the first place, a process called slow roll inflation, — the solution Linde came up with previously to answer the problem of the bubbles of universes colliding in the early inflation period. In this model, inflation occurred from a scalar field rolling down a potential energy hill. When the field rolls very slowly compared to the expansion of the universe, inflation occurs and collisions end up being rare.

Using all of this (and more – see their paper here) Linde and Vanchurin calculate that the number of universes in the multiverse and could be at least 10^10^10^7, a number which is definitely “humungous,” as they described it.

The next question, then, is how many universes could we actually see? Linde and Vanchurin say they had to invoke the Bekenstein limit, where the properties of the observer become an important factor because of a limit to the amount of information that can be contained within any given volume of space, and by the limits of the human brain.

The total amount of information that can be absorbed by one individual during a lifetime is about 10^16 bits. So a typical human brain can have 10^10^16 configurations and so could never distinguish more than that number of different universes.

Given some of science’s current ideas about high-energy physics, it is plausible that those other universes might each have different physical interactions. So perhaps it’s no mystery that we would happen to occupy the rare universe in which conditions are just right to make life possible. This is analogous to how, out of the many planets in our universe, we occupy the rare one where conditions are right for organic evolution.

The possibility of a multiverse comes from both string theory and inflation theory, the idea that our universe underwent a rapid expansion just after the Big Bang. Inflation theory does a good job of explaining why space is fairly smooth on large scales, but researchers can’t explain what started the expansion and what stopped it. These problems have led physicists to consider the possibility that inflation could occur at other places and times, generating new universes in addition to our own.

The idea of a multiverse is highly controversial. One problem is metaphysical: the universe seems big already, without having to contend with a potentially infinite number of others. Yet perhaps a bigger problem is scientific. If observations are limited to our own observable universe, how can scientists test whether a bigger multiverse exists? The answer to that has been that, from time to time, another universe in the multiverse might collide through ours, leaving a “wake” in its path. But figuring out precisely what such a wake would look like hasn’t been easy.

Now, however, Kris Sigurdson of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and others say they have calculated the detailed features of a cosmic wake. They have considered the possibility that our universe collided with another before our inflation period, because, they say, the latter would have erased the wake’s evidence. Even though this happened more than 13 billion years ago, the wake would have been preserved in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which was formed some 380,000 years into the universe’s existence.

The focus of the prediction is in the polarization of photons in the CMB. Photons have two transverse polarization states, and any that come from a certain region in the CMB might be mostly in the same polarization state, or in a mix of both. Sigurdson and colleagues calculate that, providing the wake was big enough, it ought to imprint the CMB with a characteristic “double peak”: two close rings where the photons sway towards a single polarization state.

The prediction is not strictly the first to arise from multiverse theory. In 2007 researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz, US, also suggested that a cosmic wake could imprint itself on the CMB; then, earlier this year, a group led by Hiranya Peiris of University College London found hints that this prediction was true. But these predicted features were too vague, say Sigurdson and colleagues, and might have existed in the CMB anyway.

Evidence for string theory?

“[Our] features represent the first verifiable prediction of the multiverse paradigm,” write Sigurdson and colleagues in their preprint, which they uploaded to the arXiv server last month. “A detection of a bubble collision would confirm the existence of the multiverse, provide compelling evidence for the string theory landscape, and sharpen out picture of the universe and its origins.”Physics World was unable to speak to the researchers about their preprint because they are submitting it to a journal that employs an embargo policy.

If the prediction is correct, it should be possible to test it in upcoming data from the European Space Agency’s Planck space observatory and future CMB missions, say the researchers. Yet Bennett, the principal investigator on NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, another CMB space observatory, thinks the detection of a cosmic wake would nonetheless be “extremely unlikely”. He says the amplitude of a wake would have to be just right: too small and we wouldn’t see it; too big and it would probably have had severe consequences for our universe’s structure. The number of collisions would also have to be “fine-tuned”, he says.

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‘Intolerant’ Christians Are More Militant than Muslims, Says Equality Chief

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Daniel Martin

Christians are more militant than Muslims in complaining about discrimination, the head of Britain’s equality watchdog has claimed.

Trevor Phillips said Muslims are better at integrating into society, while Christians often complain about bias for cynical political gains.

Mr Phillips, the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, blamed the increasing influence on mainstream churches of African and Caribbean immigrants with ‘intolerant’ views.

In contrast, he said Muslims ‘are doing their damnedest’ to develop ‘an idea of Islam that is compatible with living in a modern liberal democracy’.

He added: ‘I think there’s an awful lot of noise about the Church being persecuted but there is a more real issue that the conventional churches face – that the people who are really driving their revival and success believe in an old-time religion which, in my view, is incompatible with a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural society.

‘Muslim communities in this country are doing their damnedest to come to terms with their neighbours to try to integrate and they’re doing their best to try to develop an idea of Islam that is compatible with living in a modern liberal democracy.

‘The most likely victim of actual religious discrimination in British society is a Muslim, but the person who is most likely to feel slighted because of their religion is an evangelical Christian.’

Senior churchmen, such as former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, have attacked equality laws for stifling Christianity.

However, Mr Phillips said many of the legal cases brought by Christians over homosexuality were motivated by an attempt to gain political influence. He told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘I think for a lot of Christian activists, they want to have a fight and they choose sexual orientation as the ground to fight it on. I think the argument isn’t about the rights of Christians. It’s about politics.

Religious differences: Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has in the past attacked equality laws for stifling Christianity

‘There are a lot of Christian activist voices who appear bent on stressing the kind of persecution that I don’t really think exists in this country.’

But Mr Phillips, who was brought up in a Salvation Army background, said he could ‘understand why a lot of people in faith groups feel a bit under siege’. ‘There’s no question that there is more anti-religion noise in Britain,’ he said.

He also said equality laws should not apply to the internal organisation of religious groups.

‘It’s perfectly fair that you can’t be a Roman Catholic priest unless you’re a man,’ he continued. ‘It seems right that the reach of anti-discriminatory law should stop at the door of the church or mosque.’
Tory MP Philip Davies suggested Mr Phillips was attempting to ‘take the spotlight off his domestic difficulties’ at the beleaguered body. Home Secretary Theresa May has vowed to reform the organisation after a report branded it a costly failure.

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Drugs and Medicines in Historical Context

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

medical_marijuanaDid you know that George Washington used to grow marijuana on the White House lawn? America’s first president often spoke fondly of “female plants,” pointing obviously to marijuana’s medicinal uses. Benjamin Franklin, who avoided alcohol, was an ardent marijuana smoker. Did you know that up until World War II, American farmers could pay their taxes with hemp? Hemp, the mother of marijuana, is a native plant of every continent, and has been used during all periods of history to create rope, paper, cloth, oil, fuel, fiber, and medicine. Avicenna, the medieval Arab author of medicinal textbooks recommended marijuana, the hemp flower, for stomach ailments and many other health problems.

American, European, Asian and Arab-Islamic civilizations combined efforts during the 19th century to upgrade the standard of using drugs. The American Indians introduced the idea of smoking tobacco in a pipe to the world. Until then, Muslims had been using medicinal plants including hashish and opium by cooking them in food. The Arabs were so inspired by the New World to invent the water pipe. Using American tobacco, the Orient supplied the herbs, and a new world culture, a new economy began.

What does Islam say about drugs? According to hadith, if a person is ill, there is no sin on him whether he takes medicine to feel better, or if he chooses not to do so. During the 4th Caliphate, Muslims were introduced to drugs in the far regions of the expanding Islamic empire. But because of the deep fear of the sin of misinterpreting or over-interpreting scripture, there was no punishment for any medicinal plant other than fermented alcoholic beverages. Muslim governments never even destroyed vineyards. Even while wine is haram, grapes are not haram. Plants are protected by God.

Obviously, we have to give the Muslims credit for this. The use of the syrup from the poppy flower could kill a person’s pain making an amputation without huge physical trauma possible. Smoking marijuana could give a person dying from cancer the strength to write a book about his life. There is nothing more precious in this world than the ability to physically kill pain or nausea. God gave these things to us. Sometimes we can copy these medicinal effects in pill form. But the fact is, human beings want and require medicine. God gave us plants to reduce suffering. It is a crime against God to make a plant illegal. These plants save lives. These plants save the quality of people’s lives as well.

During World War II, the US used hemp fuel for their airplanes and tanks. Henry Ford actually created a car that was made entirely of cellulite from the hemp plant as well as ran on hemp fuel. It is an amazing idea, that American farmers could actually attain financial security growing the fuel that runs our cars! However, after the oil companies won the war, plant-based fuel became obsolete. The reason was because of Lobbyists.

Around the world today, you will still find many countries such as Canada, Indonesia and Malaysia growing hemp for industrial purposes such as oil or textiles. And it is an unspoken fact that marijuana is the top cash crop in the United States, year after year. People might pay up to $90 for 1/8 of an ounce of these flower buds. That is way more than any farmer could ever hope to get from parsley or chives.

When the Roman Emperor offered Maria and her sister to the Prophet Mohammed (s) as gifts, also included in the gift was some medicine. The hadith does not say what kind of medicine but it was probably opium or hashish given the time period. The Prophet Mohammed (s) returned the drugs and kept the girls. He freed from slavery and married Maria the Copt, who became his youngest wife, and he married her sister to one of his companions. This is the only hadith translated into English that specifically mentions drugs. In this hadith, the Prophet (s) said, “My Sunna is the best medicine.”
In a true Islamic society based on historical norms, drugs would not be illegal. They would be used for positive purposes. We would not distinguish between herbal vs. chemical versions of a medicine. People should be allowed to have access to whatever drugs make them feel better. This is a human right. Modern laws making all drugs illegal are neither halal nor beneficial to society. God gave us so many plants to help alleviate our suffering. It would be a rejection of His Mercy not to fully explore the medicinal properties of all the plants we have on earth.

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IFLC Responds to Threat to Religious Harmony

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

IFLC Press Release

The Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit  (IFLC) has launched a petition drive in response to a potential threat to religious harmony rumored for our region later this month.

An extremist group has announced plans to demonstrate in Dearborn on April 22.

“We are asking people to sign on to ‘A Simple Affirmation for our Community’ as a way to indicate their rejection of fear-mongering and intolerance,” according to Rev. Daniel Buttry, a minister with the American Baptist Churches and a board member of the Interfaith Leadership Council.

The text of the petition reads:

We, as caring neighbors in southeastern Michigan, stand together in condemning the actions of those who spew hate and fear, and who misuse and desecrate holy books of faith.  Instead we call on people to carry out the best traditions of all religious faiths, embodied in the idea of doing to others as we would have them do to us.

In the spirit of cooperation and harmony, the essential basis of this great country, we affirm our support for religious freedom and civil discourse.  We stand together strong in our vision of the beloved community where all are respected and treasured.

The petition is being circulated among religious congregations throughout the metropolitan area and also is available at change.org.

“Our goal is two-fold,” Buttry said.  “We want to give folks the chance to express their own support for the idea of harmony and peace among all people in our region, and we also want to demonstrate to the rest of the world that there are thousands of people in our region who reject hate and support conciliation.”

The Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit is a civic organization comprised of religious and lay leaders of many faiths “who work together to build a community of good will.”

http://www.detroitinterfaithcouncil.com/welcome/2011/4/9/iflc-launches-a-simple-affirmation-for-our-community.html

The InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit is made up of independent, visionary clerical and lay leaders of many faiths whose shared values and desire to build a just community where we live in harmony with one another compels us to be dedicated to the support of interfaith community organizing.

We fully respect our religious differences while building a unified, but not uniform community, where we work together on our shared interests and values.

In short, we bring people of faith together so that we can live together. We have much to do, and are looking forward to working with you to build the beloved community.

Sincerely,

Robert A. Bruttell, Board Chair, InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit.

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Israeli Bestseller Breaks National Taboo : Idea of a Jewish People Invented, Says Historian

October 16, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Courtesy Jonathan Cook, antiwar.com

No one is more surprised than Shlomo Sand that his latest academic work has pent 19 weeks on Israel`s bestseller list – and that success has come to the history professor despite his book challenging Israel’s biggest taboo. Dr. Sand argues that the idea of a Jewish nation – whose need for a safe haven was originally used to justify the founding of the state of Israel – is  myth invented little more than a century ago.

An expert on European history at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Sand drew on extensive historical and archaeological research to support not only this claim but several more – all equally controversial. In addition, he argues that the Jews were never exiled from the Holy Land, that most of today`s Jews have no historical connection to the land called Israel and that the only political solution to the country’s conflict with the Palestinians is to abolish the Jewish state. The success of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? looks likely to be repeated around the world. A French edition, launched last month, is selling so fast that it has already had three print runs.

Translations are under way into a dozen languages, including Arabic and English. But he predicted a rough ride from the pro-Israel lobby when the book is launched by his English publisher, Verso, in the United States next year.

In contrast, he said Israelis had been, if not exactly supportive, at least curious about his argument. Tom Segev, one of the country`s leading journalists, has called the book `fascinating and challenging.` Surprisingly, Dr. Sand said, most of his academic colleagues in Israel have shied away from tackling his arguments.

One exception is Israel Bartal, a professor of Jewish history at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Writing in Haaretz, the Israeli daily newspaper, Dr. Bartal made little effort to rebut Dr. Sand`s claims. He dedicated much of his article instead to defending his profession, suggesting that Israeli historians were not as ignorant about the invented nature of Jewish history as Dr. Sand contends.

The idea for the book came to him many years ago, Dr. Sand said, but he waited until recently to start working on it. `I cannot claim to be particularly courageous in publishing the book now,` he said. `I waited until I was a full professor. There is a price to be paid in Israeli academia for expressing views of this sort.`

Dr. Sand`s main argument is that until little more than a century ago, Jews thought of themselves as Jews only because they shared a common religion. At the turn of the 20th century, he said, Zionist Jews challenged this idea and started creating a national history by inventing the idea that Jews existed as people separate from their religion.

Equally, the modern Zionist idea of Jews being obligated to return from exile to the Promised Land was entirely alien to Judaism, he added.

`Zionism changed the idea of Jerusalem. Before, the holy places were seen as places to long for, not to be lived in. For 2,000 years Jews stayed away from Jerusalem not because they could not return but because their religion forbade them from returning until the messiah came.

The biggest surprise during his research came when he started looking at the archaeological evidence from the biblical era.

`I was not raised as a Zionist, but like all other Israelis I took it for granted that the Jews were a people living in Judea and that they were exiled by the Romans in 70AD.

`But once I started looking at the evidence, I discovered that the kingdoms of David and Solomon were legends.

`Similarly with the exile. In fact, you can`t explain Jewishness without exile. But when I started to look for history books describing the events of this exile, I couldn`t find any. Not one.

`That was because the Romans did not exile people. In fact, Jews in Palestine were overwhelming peasants and all the evidence suggests they stayed on their lands.`

Instead, he believes an alternative theory is more plausible: the exile was a myth promoted by early Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith. `Christians wanted later generations of Jews to believe that their ancestors had been exiled as a punishment from God.`

So if there was no exile, how is it that so many Jews ended up scattered around the globe before the modern state of Israel began encouraging them to `return`? Dr. Sand said that, in the centuries immediately preceding and following the Christian era, Judaism was a proselytizing religion, desperate for converts.

This is mentioned in the Roman literature of the time.` Jews traveled to other regions seeking converts, particularly in Yemen and among the Berber tribes of North Africa. Centuries later, the people of the Khazar kingdom in what is today south Russia, would convert en masse to Judaism, becoming the genesis of the Ashkenazi Jews of central and eastern Europe.

Dr. Sand pointed to the strange state of denial in which most Israelis live, noting that papers offered extensive coverage recently to the discovery of the capital of the Khazar kingdom next to the Caspian Sea.

Ynet, the website of Israel`s most popular newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, headlined the story: `Russian archaeologists find long-lost Jewish capital.`

And yet none of the papers, he added, had considered the significance of this find to standard accounts of Jewish history.

One further question is prompted by Dr. Sand`s account, as he himself notes: if most Jews never left the Holy Land, what became of them?

`It is not taught in Israeli schools but most of the early Zionist leaders, including David Ben Gurion [Israel`s first prime minister], believed that the Palestinians were the descendants of the area’s original Jews. They believed the Jews had later converted to Islam.`

Dr. Sand attributed his colleagues` reticence to engage with him to an implicit acknowledgement by many that the whole edifice of `Jewish history` taught at Israeli universities is built like a house of cards.

The problem with the teaching of history in Israel, Dr. Sand said, dates to a decision in the 1930s to separate history into two disciplines: general history and Jewish history. Jewish history was assumed to need its own field of study because Jewish experience was considered unique.

`There’s no Jewish department of politics or sociology at the universities. Only history is taught in this way, and it has allowed specialists in Jewish history to live in a very insular and conservative world where they are not touched by modern developments in historical research.

`I`ve been criticized in Israel for writing about Jewish history when European history is my specialty. But a book like this needed a historian who is familiar with the standard concepts of historical inquiry used by academia in the rest of the world.`

This article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/cook.php?articleid=13569

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