science

The intensity of a monk’s meditation states befuddles science alvin May 3, 2018 - 11:00am

“While his brain was probed by the fMRI, Mingyur (a Buddhist monk) followed the instruction to engage compassion. Once again the minds of everyone watching in the control room felt as though they had stopped. The reason: Mingyur’s brain circuitry for empathy rose to an activity level 700 to 800 times greater than it had been in the rest period just before.”

“Such an extreme increase befuddles science; the intensity with which those states were activated in Mingyur’s brain far exceeds any that had ever been seen in ‘normal’ people. The closest resemblance is for epileptic seizures, but those episodes last brief seconds, not for a full minute. And besides, brains are controlled by seizures, in contrast to Mingyur’s display of intentionally controlling his brain activity.”

~ from a story about brainwave tests of a monk in 2002

Mashable asked astronauts if they think aliens exist

Mashable asked astronauts if they think aliens exist. Here’s part of the article I found interesting:

“The math isn’t easy. How many stars are in the universe? Well, that depends on the size of the universe. We’re able to observe the cosmic microwave background (CMB), radiation formed around 400,000 years after the Big Bang. It tells us the observable universe goes back around 14 billion years. But there could be something beyond the CMB, or even other universes contained in a massive ‘multiverse.’”

“Within the constraints of the observable universe, there could be 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or septillion) stars, according to astronomer David Kornreich. (He conceded to Space.com that the number could be a gross underestimate.)”

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

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.”