- Transit of Venus in June 2012: a lifetime chance for sky watchers
- How to escape life’s limitations
- Sensory Deprivation Tank: Turn Off Your Mind, Relax, and Float
Posted: 31 May 2012 01:41 PM PDT
A rare alignment between Earth, Venus and the Sun allowed astronomers of the 17th and 18th century to calculate for the first time the precise distance of the Earth from the Sun. Now, astronomers around the world are preparing for the next transit of Venus that will take place on 5 and 6 June, 2012, a phenomenon that will not be repeated for the next 105 years.
On the afternoon of June 5, Venus will begin to pass between Earth and Sun, so it will become visible as a dark spot moving across the fiery solar disk.
“For centuries, the Venus has been considered one of the highlights for astronomers,” said Claude Catala, head of the Paris Observatory.
On the afternoon of June 5, the first phase of the transit will be observable in North America, Central America and the northern part of South America.
In Europe, Middle East and South Asia it will be possible to see only the final phase of the phenomenon just before the sunset of June 6.
The only areas from which the transit will be visible for its entire duration are East Asia and Western Pacific.
Only six transits of Venus have been recorded since the phenomenon was theoretically predicted in the 17th century.
Scientists soon realized that they could theoretically calculate the trigonometric Earth-Sun distance, called the Astronomical Unit (AU), by observing the same transit of Venus from different parts of the world.
For this reason, Britain and France sent their missions to distant places to record the passages of the 1761 and 1769.
The British mission in 1761 departed from Plymouth, but admitted assault by French ships and its members expressed their desire to go back.
Equally dramatic, but with more positive result was the British mission in 1769, when the great explorer Captain James Cook was sent to Tahiti to record the rare phenomenon.
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
Posted: 31 May 2012 10:29 AM PDT
We have complete freedom to do and have anything we want. However, without realizing it, we unconsciously limit our lives. Our subconscious thoughts and ingrained hold us back from taking a full part in our lives.
We are concerned about what other people think about us. We do what is “right” or agree with what sounds “reasonable”. Perhaps the biggest limitation is that we give up our dreams because we think that we do not have enough time for those. Having freedom and limiting yourself is like having a ticket to Disneyland and not using it.
So, let’s see if it is possible to get back on the path to personal freedom, thinking about something in your life that limits you physically. The first thing that comes to mind is an obligation to wear a suit and tie due to a work dress code of many companies. For many people, nothing is more desirable than to come home from work and take it all off, especially in summer period.
Then think about something that does not necessarily limit you physically, but still holds you back in some way. It could be anything: too strict parents, dissatisfaction with career or conflicts at work. Find your cause.
Now let’s take a look inside yourself and find thoughts that might deter you. Read the following questions and pay attention to your physical reactions. Which of these questions give you a sense of confinement, and which give you a sense of freedom?
Expand your sense of personal freedom, starting with small steps, just like a child. Start doing something that you “should not” do – eat all candies at once, leave dishes unwashed or go away from home without telling anyone where you’re going. Enjoy it and you will certainly feel better.
When you are ready, make a list of things that you used as an excuse not to live a full and truly free life. Next to each item write down an action, which will make you gradually approach a sense of complete freedom.
Actions may be like this:
Check your list and start with those items that seem most difficult to execute.
Take a strong stand in achieving freedom and get rid of your limitations. Soon you will see that your life will be like a free flow, saturated more than ever.
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
Posted: 31 May 2012 07:20 AM PDT
John Lennon was not referring to actual floating when he sang, “turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream” in the Beatles’ groundbreaking 1966 record “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Rather, the song was inspired by The Psychedelic Experience, Timothy Leary’s how-to guide for LSD users, based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. But (presumably unbeknownst to Lennon at that time), there is a way to have your own psychedelic experience, without drugs, via flotation!
The sensory deprivation tank (also known as an isolation tank, or the more therapeutically marketable but less descriptive “flotation tank”) was invented by Dr. John C. Lilly in the 1950s. The question he wanted to put to the test was this: if you neutralized all input reaching the brain via the 5 senses, what would it do? Simply shut down? Or create its own stimuli?
The second answer proved to be correct. Lilly was astonished at the elaborate hallucinations he experienced when spending extended periods of time in the tank. Then again, he spent hours and hours there, often under the influence of LSD or ketamine (both unregulated at the time he used them). Since those heady days of consciousness-exploration, the tank experience has been rebranded as a therapeutic spa experience, often given the acronym REST, for Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy.
I’ve tried it a few times myself, in bothNorwich,EnglandandHouston,Texas. Chances are there’s a provider near you; try Google. They range from major spas to home businesses run by charming eccentrics.
The way it works is this: you climb into a lightproof, soundproof vessel (perhaps with earplugs and a mask) and shut the hatch as you recline in a shallow pool of water, heated to a lukewarm temperature and saturated with Epsom salts. These are to increase buoyancy, so you rest in zero-gravity, on almost an invisible mattress of water, as one famously does in the ultra-salty Dead Sea. The magnesium in them is said to be good for your skin, but it can be irritating if you have any cuts or abrasions. Personally, I was distracted in one of my sessions by an itchy eye, which I rubbed with my saline-covered hand, exacerbating the problem and definitely taking me out of my alpha-wave state.
But in my other, more successful sessions, I found the flotation tank to be a marvelous and fascinating tool for achieving altered states of consciousness. Upon first getting into the tank, there’s an initial period where your mind is still functioning in its usual busy daily way, and you’re consciously thinking about what you’re doing, how strange it is, feels nice, etc. Then as you settle in to the experience, there comes (or did for me) a brief interlude of anxiety or claustrophobia, which I think is that phenomenon described above: the brain realizing that it’s deprived of its usual stimuli, then racing to fill the void. This resolves itself and is followed by a state of extraordinary peace and relaxation.
Just about then, your hour is up, which can be a letdown. I recommend booking two hours. This allows you to abide awhile in that alpha state, and by the end of your session, you get a glimpse of the truly trippy potential of this device. Your sense of spatiality and the boundaries of your own physical body are blurred, and your brain is likely to go to some weird places, almost like a waking dream. Lilly himself got really far out, writing in his books of fantastical experiences involving inter-dimensional travel and contact with alien entities. That won’t happen to you in a REST therapy session (perhaps unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), but you will emerge from your bizarre baptism with a feeling of mental and physical rejuvenation.
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
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