science

A story about a black-hole merger

“About 1.1 billion years ago, two black holes coalesced. They had danced around each other for billions of years, losing energy and swinging closer, until they could no longer resist each other's embrace. Spiraling in, they merged, and released a quaking shout of gravitational waves that echoed across the cosmos.”

Phil Plait on syfy.com has a nice story about a black-hole merger.

A scientific study to capture images of your brain on LSD alvin July 31, 2017 - 5:31pm

QZ.com published information about a scientific study to capture images of your brain on LSD. Quotes from the article:

“Nutt’s study ... was the first to use brain imaging to show the effects of LSD ... it showed that the drug weakens the rhythm of alpha brainwaves, which are known to be stronger in humans than other animals, and are considered a signature of high-level consciousness.”

“The study also found that LSD causes brain activity to become less coordinated in regions that make up the brain’s ‘default mode network,’ which is responsible for maintaining a stable sense of self. The greater the drug’s effect on the brain, the more participants experienced ego-dissolution, where the self melds with world around you.”

From the accompanying video: “LSD can also make people lose their sense of self ... as the higher-level network disintegrates, and normally estranged parts of the brain begin to interact, people’s thoughts and the outside world start to feel like the same thing.”

Make a game of active mindfulness meditation

The best advice I’ve gotten for practicing mindfulness meditation while not sitting in meditation – i.e., in active meditation – is to make something of a game of it. When I wash the dishes it’s like, “How deep can I get while I wash these dishes?” Or when talking to another person, you both put down the cellphones and think, “Okay, we’re both here right now, how much can we focus only on each other and be here in this moment while we talk? How deep can we go?”

I was reminded of this when I read this line recently: “Finally, I got it! The menial tasks I had been assigned to around the temple were meant to be an exercise in meditation. Whatever I was doing, my job was to try to stay in samadhi.”

(That quote comes from the book, The Science of Meditation.)

The Science of Enlightenment: How Meditation Works alvin July 4, 2017 - 9:27am

I just ordered The Science of Enlightenment: How Meditation Works by Shinzen Young. I haven’t read it yet, but he’s someone that I trust implicitly, and the preview of the book looks like what I’d expect from him. Like me — but way ahead of me — he’s interested in the science of meditation.

Just here for the cookies

Some people look at life as a science or engineering puzzle that has to be solved.

Others see the Tao in life, go with the flow, and find peace and harmony.

Me, I’m just here for the cookies.

Trying to examine all of the reasons for the universe to exist alvin May 6, 2017 - 12:02pm

“When I was very young, my spiritual awareness was limited to a foggy sense of the presence of ‘something bigger’ than me and my personal life. During grammar school years, I was intent on trying to discover this elusive something. I was convinced that ‘it’ was the primary source of life and of everything in the world. I hoped to end my spiritual confusion by understand this ‘source’ and clarify the meaning of my life. My method for trying to understand this fundamental essence was to examine intellectually all the reasons I could think of for the universe to exist and to try to envision what had ‘existed’ before the universe came into being.”

(A quote from the book, Zen at Work, which I found in a used book store yesterday.)

When I was young, I’d lay in bed at night, imagine traveling to the end of the universe, and then I’d remember thinking, “It can’t end, it must keep going, right? How can the universe come to an ‘end’ unless it’s a balloon, in which case there is still something outside of the balloon.”