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The researchers’ work has implications for future quantum devices that require smoothly-guided matter waves, such as atom interferometers which need to sensitively measure the earth’s gravitational field for geo-exploration. Their paper is published today in Nature Communications.

“In an optical fibre, many modes of light can be conducted simultaneously, and they can interfere to produce a speckled pattern of light,” said team member Professor Ken Baldwin from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum-Atom Optics at ANU.

“We have shown that when atoms in a vacuum chamber are guided inside a laser light beam, they too can create a speckle pattern - an image of which we have captured for the first time”.

 

Artist's impression of the speckle pattern created by a multimode light beam (top, red), and the image measured in this experiment created by a multimode beam of atoms (top, blue). Source: Dr Tim Wetherell, ANU.

The team trapped a cloud of cold helium atoms at the focus of an intense laser beam pointed downwards at the imaging system, and then gradually turned down the laser intensity until the speckled image appeared. The work was done with PhD students Sean Hodgman and Andrew Manning.

“We then made the atoms even colder,” says team leader Dr Andrew Truscott, “until they behaved more like waves than particles, forming a single quantum wave called a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC).  When the BEC was loaded into the guide, the speckle pattern disappeared, showing that just one mode was being transmitted – the single quantum wave.”

The physicists demonstrated that by measuring the arrival time of the atoms on the imaging system, they were able to distinguish between the multimode (speckled image) guiding, and the single-mode (smooth image) guiding.

“Measurements for the multi-mode beam showed the atoms arriving in groups as a result of their interference – so-called atom bunching,” said team member Dr Robert Dall. “However, the BEC represents just a single quantum mode with no interference, so when we guided the BEC - we saw no bunching.”

The guiding behaviour agreed with a theoretical model developed by team member Mattias Johnsson.  “We have shown that atoms can be guided in a laser beam of light, with the same properties as light guided in an optical fibre made of glass,” said Dr Johnsson.

Source: PhysOrg

 

The study has just been published online in the latest edition of the top international journal Development and Psychopathology.

Common stressful events included financial and relationship problems, difficult pregnancy, job loss and issues with other children and major life stressors were events such as a death in the family.

Lead author, Registered Psychologist Dr Monique Robinson, said while previous studies have shown a link between stress and poorer outcomes, this study goes further by analysing the timing, amount and kinds of events that lead to poorer outcomes.

"What we have found is that it is the overall number of stresses that is most related to child behaviour outcomes," Dr Robinson said. "Two or fewer stresses during pregnancy are not associated with poor child behavioural development, but as the number of stresses increase to three or more, then the risks of more difficult child behaviour increase."

Dr Robinson said the actual type of stress experienced was of less importance than the number of stresses, and there was no specific risk associated with the timing of these stress events – early or late – in the pregnancy.

The analysis was undertaken on data from Western Australia's long-term cohort Raine Study, which recruited nearly 3000 pregnant women and recorded life stress events experienced at 18 and 34 weeks of pregnancy, as well as collecting sociodemographic data. The mother's experience of life stress events and child behavioural assessments were also recorded when the children were followed-up ages 2, 5, 8, 10, and 14 years using a questionnaire called the Child Behaviour Checklist.

The percentage of women with more than two stress events was 37.2%, while the percentage with six or more was 7.6%.

Dr Robinson said the study should not make pregnant women stress further about the stress in their lives.

"These types of analyses look at overall population risk, and of course individuals can have very differing responses," Dr Robinson said.

"Regardless of exposure to stress in the womb, a nurturing environment after birth can provide the child with enormous potential to change their course of development. This is known as "developmental plasticity", which means that the brain can adapt and change as the child grows with a positive environment.

"The important message here is in how we as a community support pregnant women. If we think about people who lead stressful lives, they are most often linked with socioeconomic disadvantage. This research shows we should be targeting these women with support programs to ensure the stress does not negatively affect the unborn child."

Dr Robinson said further research is needed to understand the mechanisms behind how stress in pregnancy affects the developing baby, including the impact of maternal stress hormones, attachment and parenting issues and socioeconomic factors.

Provided by Research Australia

Source: MedicalXpress.com

 

It's code red on Mars. A storm has knocked out our Martian colony's main power supply and the base has been running on backup power from a nearby array of solar panels.

But as the storm continues to rage, the winds tear the solar panels from their anchors, dashing them across the Martian rocks. The colonists can't risk venturing outside in these treacherous conditions. There's nothing else for it: time to deploy the programmable matter.

That scenario is a long way in the future, but the first programmable materials are already on their way. Essentially, programmable matter is a clay-like, electronic material that can shape itself into different functional configurations at your command. The simulated Martian scene, which recently played out at a conference on robotics and automation technology, illustrates its potential. One day some innocuous-looking, amorphous material could, at the touch of a button, turn itself into a tool to repair a broken solar panel, an entirely new solar panel, or even a robot to install it for you. And it is not just future Martian pioneers who will benefit. The stuff could make the Swiss army knife look as inadequate as a "spork", put an end to electronic waste, and even revolutionise medicine.

The idea of programmable matter dates back to 1952, though not under that name. John Von Neumann, the father of the architecture used almost ubiquitously in today's computers, was on the hunt for a mechanism that could ape, in silicon, biology's trick of self-reproduction. But his so-called cellular automata stayed in the realm of mathematical fantasy until 1991, when two engineers, Tommaso Toffoli and Norman Margolus, penned a manifesto calling for experiments on machines based on the principles of cellular automata, which they rechristened programmable matter (Physica D, vol 47, p 263). But even by that point, computers were neither small nor powerful enough to bring the idea of microscopic, self-replicating machines much closer to reality.

That's about to change. The astonishing computing advances of the past 10 years have convinced many engineers that programmable matter's time is at hand. To that end, the engineers working on the problem have defined the criteria programmable matter must meet in order to fulfil Von Neumann's original dream. Most crucially, it needs building blocks that can act individually but also as part of a network. Each of these must have an energy source, some way of receiving and processing information and some physical means of acting on that information. And to get to the stage where it can form itself into something useful, these building blocks need to be very small indeed, and they must be mobilised in enormous numbers.

Natural inspiration

These criteria might seem familiar to biologists: they are the same for every multicellular organism on Earth. Consider the basic piece of biological hardware, the cell. It can grow, obtain fuel and carry out complex operations at the behest of its DNA software, while also operating as part of a much larger whole. If part of the organism is damaged, the cells recognise and process the signals, and effect a repair. And when the organism dies, it disintegrates, breaking down into a molecular buffet that can be reused by other organisms. Electronics don't do such things. A smashed-up cellphone stays broken, and when it becomes obsolete, it cannot recycle itself.

The obvious temptation, then, is to hack actual biological cells to our own advantage. At Harvard University, David Liu and his group started down this avenue. Liu's group used complementary DNA base pairs as a "Velcro" to bind together millimetre-scale synthetic building blocks (Nature, vol 394, p 539).

But there is a problem with turning biological systems into programmable matter - the strength of the bond. "It was not nearly as strong as conventional adhesives such as epoxy," Liu says. "The bond's strong enough to hold a glass of water, maybe, but not much more." And that is why other teams have looked to electronics instead.

But while plastic and metal are strong, electronics has its own limitations. Chief among them is the way its intelligence is distributed: whereas a cell has all its sensing and processing mechanisms contained within, electronic devices have just a few "thinking" parts - microchips - in charge of a whole lot of dumb metal. The key to turning an electronic device into programmable matter is to give it more thinking parts. In fact, the intelligence of the whole should be imbued throughout the parts. "We want a robot's body to also be its brain," says Daniela Rus, a roboticist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is working on several approaches to programmable matter.

And indeed, some of the first working prototypes of programmable matter consist of groups of scaled-down, reconfigurable robots. Mark Yim of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, has built a set of programmable, 6-centimetre-wide "CKBots"(pictured, right) that can sense and communicate with each other and work as a team. Some of the cubes have cameras, LED lights and accelerometers, while others have embedded computers, positioning sensors and servo motors that allow them to rotate and manoeuvre.

In 2008, Yim's lab demonstrated the potential of the CKBots by assembling 15 cubes into a crude humanoid shape with two legs and a torso. With a swift kick the modules broke apart and scattered, lying on their sides with their LED lights blinking like the eyes of stunned animals. In reality, though, they were communicating. Each module pulsed a pattern of flashing light that identified its position in the original configuration, and the cameras scanned the scene to catch the signal from their former neighbours. Soon, the clusters began to twitch, flipped up and snaked towards each other. Within a few moments, they had reassumed their humanoid shape and the reconfigured robot took a couple of tentative steps. When Yim and his team uploaded a video of the reassembling robot to the web, it quickly went viral.

Yim's CKBots were largely the tools of choice for the Mars simulation, part of the Planetary Contingency Challenge at last year's International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Anchorage, Alaska. Teams were tasked with designing and assembling a remotely operated robot that could scramble across the uneven surface of Mars, pick up the strewn solar panels and reattach them to their original structure. Unless they brought systems of their own devising, the contestants were supplied with CKBots that they could assemble into modular robots with various appendages. The CKBot-based team that covered the ground and reattached the most solar panels in the time allowed was from Harvard University.

Compared with nature's efforts, though, the CKBot is still a decidedly clunky affair. To create real programmable matter, consisting of thousands or millions of bits that can be moulded and remoulded like clay, those units will need to be far smaller than Yim's.

The solution might just be to start smaller. That's what Seth Goldstein is doing at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, using building blocks he calls claytronic atoms, or catoms (IEEE Computer, vol 38, issue 6, p 99). Rather than designing a fully endowed robotic cube, he has coaxed flat silicon to curl into tiny spheres and cylinders 1 millimetre across or less. The obvious problem with this approach, though, is finding space for the robot's innards.

Fluid movement

Goldstein solved the problem by reducing the robot's insides to circuitry and electrodes printed onto the silicon. The fundamental idea is that when two catoms get near each other, their electrodes become either positively or negatively charged, and that is how they stick to each other. Movement and power comes from an external track that is akin to the third rail of a railroad track, and the electrostatic force it creates attracts the catoms to it. Changing the current running in separate sections along the track drags the catoms along.

Now the team is trying to work out whether they can find a way to get the catoms to move without the track, using only the electrostatic forces between catoms.

Goldstein is dreaming big: hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of these catoms could be deployed at a moment's notice. That could have applications in medicine. "If you could take a pill of this stuff," he says, "it would change its shape inside you, do its job, and then flush itself out." Such applications depend on making the basic unit of programmable matter a lot smaller than a millimetre, and it is as yet not clear how that can be achieved while still allowing them to be smart enough to communicate with each other.

But is that component-to-component coordination strictly necessary? Hod Lipson, a researcher at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, thinks not. Instead of imbuing individual components with the intelligence to adhere to each other, he and his team are manipulating the surrounding environment to coax the components into place. After all, that's how nature does it: biological structures assemble themselves in liquid environments, using random fluid motion as a transit system. Amino acids and proteins might eddy about for several minutes before they find another molecule to which they can attach.

Lipson simply translated that principle. His centimetre-sized cubes are perforated, waterproof computers with a valve on each face. Submerged in water, each cube can autonomously open and close any of its valves. The flow of water through one free-floating cube will subtly pull a second cube toward it. When the second cube latches onto the first, both automatically open the correct valves that will form a new path for the water to flow through. This attracts more and more cubes. Using this method, the team was able to assemble a structure of 10 cubes (IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol 26, p 518). They have similarly experimented with assembling structures out of 500-micrometre silicon tiles (Applied Physics Letters, vol 93, p 254105). "Ultimately, we want to find ways to assemble a million millimetre-scale cubes," Lipson says. "So we still have some way to go."

But there's another option for programmable matter, and it's a bit of a radical departure. Perhaps programmable matter doesn't need to consist of separate bits, says Rus. She and her colleague Robert Wood, at Harvard University, have taken their inspiration from origami to reconceive programmable matter as a single, rigid sheet with inlaid circuitry and predefined creases (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 107, p 12441). This approach bypasses the tricky problem of getting large numbers of robots to talk to each other.

Each crease is created from a shape-memory alloy - a metal that "remembers" its original shape - which bends when electricity flows through the sheet. The sheets are identical, consisting of interconnected triangles, but different programming induces them to adopt one of a number of predetermined shapes. So far, the shapes are small and fairly rudimentary, but it's a good start. Eventually, the researchers hope the shapes could be determined by stickers that would contain programming instructions that direct electricity through the desired circuitry. So, for example, applying a "tripod" sticker would cause the sheet to fold itself into the shape of a tripod. "If you had a stack of smart sheets in your backpack, you could grab one and make it turn into anything on demand," says Rus.

Some of these approaches might not see applications for decades. That's why some researchers, like Neil Gershenfeld of MIT, are focusing instead on a parallel research effort called functional digital materials, which may deliver benefits in the shorter term. Like programmable matter, these building blocks can be assembled into relatively complex structures. Unlike programmable matter, however, they can't do it themselves, instead requiring a machine to assemble them. Gershenfeld's mechanism is a cross between a 3D printer and a rapid-prototyping machine. The machine can assemble complex structures out of different building blocks, printing, for example, a cellphone's circuit board out of lego-like conductors and insulators. But here's the kicker. After the machine has created a structure, it can disassemble it back into the original constituent bits, and then reuse those parts to make something new. "It's just like when a plant dies in the forest, and its components turn to mulch," he says. "It's going to mean the end of trash."

Gershenfeld predicts that his prototypes will be mass-produced within about five years. Commercial applications of programmable matter, by contrast, are at least 20 years away. Nonetheless, he says, all the research now under way is solving different parts of what were once thought fundamental roadblocks. Catoms are small; shape-memory sheets can create specific designs; fluid cubes can self-assemble. One thing is for sure, however. The precursor fields to programmable matter - including functional digital materials and reconfigurable robotics - will soon bear fruit. For reconfigurable robots in particular, real-life applications aren't far off: Yim is already using CKBots to build search-and-rescue robots for operations that are too dangerous for humans.

Meanwhile, competitors are flexing their muscles for a rerun of last year's modular robotics competition in Alaska, which this year will be in Shanghai. And here's another sign that the field is advancing: unlike in previous years, when most contenders had to be furnished with CKBots, all the contestaVnts are now expected to bring their own robotic modules.

Source: NewScientist

 
By Admin (from 17/07/2011 @ 11:00:48, in en - Science and Society, read 1290 times)

Can you fool the human sense of taste in the world of virtual reality? Up until recently that question was impossible to answer, most because it had not been tested. Most of virtual reality relied on sight and sound. Virtual touch is also a fairly new area of research. Now, with the help of your nose, virtual taste may be on the way.

 

A virtual reality system, created by a team of researchers at the University of Tokyo, is helping to change that. The system works with smell and sight, to try and manipulate users perceptions of the taste of a cookie. The system works like this. Users are hooked into the system and given a plain cookie. They are then shown an image of one type of cookie and they are exposed to the scent as well. There were seven scent-filled plastic bottles for the researchers to choose from in the testing. Then they are asked to eat the cookie, and tell researchers what type of cookie it is. Thus far, the system has been able to fool people with a fair degree of reliability.

This system, which is being called the Meta Cookie, does have one serious advantage, its texture. Since the users are eating a cookie with no flavor, the food feels like a cookie when users eat it. The system not be able to convince users that they are eating a cookie if they were being served pudding in its place.

The world of virtual reality is growing more 'accurate' every day. Advancements with regards to sense and touch were already enormous, but now it seems the other senses are picking up as well.

Source: PhysOrg

 

Watching a self-resembling avatar in action turns out to be an effective motivational technique to start exercising, according to a Stanford University research project.

Participants who watched digital versions of themselves run on a treadmill ended up exercising nearly an hour longer than those who watched their avatars hang out or viewed avatars of other people exercising. "We're definitely surprised that the manipulation worked," said Stanford doctoral student Jesse Fox, who oversaw the studies. "I was very fascinated."

Fox, who describes herself as a social scientist who didn't even own a computer, was curious how digital technologies could impact health and other behaviors. In three studies, each of which had about 80 participants, she found that virtual representations are a powerful motivation tool. "When we see models that look like us, we're inclined to imitate the behaviors," Fox told Discovery News.

Virtual Treadmill

After watching virtual representations of themselves run on treadmills, study participants were motivated to hit the gym. Stanford University

It could be narcissism, or perhaps an emotional tie, but the sight of a virtual self exercising and making healthy food choices seems to have a positive impact on behaviors -- at least in the short term, Fox concludes. For the studies, digital photographs of subjects were rendered into avatars. Participants wore a virtual reality helmet that projected images of their avatars running on a treadmill. Other subjects watched avatars they didn't resemble exercise, and a third group watched their digital selves just hang out.

When participants were contacted a day later, those who had watched their digital selves exercise reported working out nearly an hour longer than the other subjects, Fox said.

THE GIST:

- Watching avatars that resemble ourselves could influence our behavior.

- Test subjects exercised nearly an hour longer after watching avatars of themselves run on a treadmill.

- The research opens the door for other therapeutic uses for virtual worlds.

For the studies, digital photographs of subjects were rendered into avatars. Participants wore a virtual reality helmet that projected images of their avatars running on a treadmill. Other subjects watched avatars they didn't resemble exercise, and a third group watched their digital selves just hang out.

When participants were contacted a day later, those who had watched their digital selves exercise reported working out nearly an hour longer than the other subjects, Fox said.

"There is quite a bit of research in psychology indicating that if people mentally visualize themselves performing some task or behavior, they can then in reality actually improve their performance on that task. It's often used in sports psychology," John Suler, a professor of psychology at Rider University's Science and Technology Center, wrote in an email to Discovery News.

"The premise seems to be that if you can imagine it, you can start to make it real. Avatars and virtual environments take that process one step further. Avatars become a way to make more tangible what you would like to imagine yourself to be, which then might activate the potential to actually become what you imagine," Suler said.

Fox would like to take the experiment out of the lab and into more accessible virtual worlds, such as Second Life or possibly mobile applications. She also plans to study other behaviors, such as smoking, tanning and safe sex.

Source: DiscoveryNews

 

A British company called Peratech has announced a new technology for touch screens that registers pressure as well as the position of a finger. This could provide new ways of interacting with apps for touch screen mobile phones and tablets.

Transparent touch: Inventor David Lussey displays a sample of QTC Clear. Credit: Peratech

In addition to adding pressure sensitivity to screens, the company claims that the technology, called Quantum Tunneling Composite (QTC) Clear, could make touch screens thinner, more rugged, and more energy-efficient.

Peratech aims to bridge the gap between the two main touch-screen technologies: capacitive and resistive, says joint CEO Philip Taysom. Capacitive touch screens are found in mobile phones and tablets. They respond quickly to multiple fingers at a time, but rely on a grid of electrodes that constantly draw power when a screen is switched on; the bigger the screen, the more power the capacitive sensors gobble up.

Resistive touch screens were used in some early generation handheld devices, and are commonly found at ATMs and point-of-sale screens. They use less power, which makes them more appealing for larger displays, but they aren't as responsive or as durable as capacitive touch screens.

Resistive screens are built by sandwiching a thin layer of air between two sheets of relatively soft material. Applying pressure on the screen forces the layers into contact, closing a circuit and registering a touch. It's a simple approach, but it doesn't allow for high precision or multitouch. And because the screens are constantly deformed, longevity is an issue.

Taysom claims that QTC Clear has the benefits of both technologies while avoiding the downsides of either. A layer of composite material, composed of electrically conducting particles, is sandwiched between sheets of a rigid material like glass. When a finger or stylus presses the top sheet of glass, the particles in the composite conduct electricity proportional to the pressure applied. And, unlike capacitive screens, the system only draws power when touched.

A QTC Clear screen could be more durable than resistive touch screens. Instead of requiring an air gap of millimeters, as with resistive screens, the company uses a six-micron layer of composite material. "There's a lot less of a gap," says Taysom, "and that has a number of significant benefits."

With such a small gap, the materials used to sandwich the polymer don't need to be as soft. Glass, which is much harder than the softer materials found in resistive screens, could make the screens more durable. Additionally, says Taysom, less light is lost through the air gap than through the clear polymer, which translates into less power required to light up the screen.

Peratech isn't the only company developing force-sensitive materials. For years, musical instruments, such as electric pianos, have used a force-sensitive resistor ink, in which microscopic particles conduct electricity in response to varying pressure. In 2009, a startup out of New York University called Touchco that employed transparent force-sensitive resistor ink for touch screens was acquired by Amazon, although no products using the technology have been announced.

Peratech has already licensed earlier, opaque versions of its QTC material. These versions can be found in toys, medical devices, and backpacks with built-in MP3 controls. QTC Clear marks the company's entry into the display industry.

The technology differs from traditional pressure-sensitive inks, says Taysom, because of the electrical properties of the conductive polymers within the composite. Conductive particles in traditional inks are spherical and come in contact with each other when pressure is applied—as more particles come in contact, the material becomes more conductive. QTC's conductive particles, in contrast, are spiky and held together in silicon rubber, which is  electrically insulating. Electrons at the tip of the spikes transfer to the tips of other spikes , conducting electricity over a small distance without touching in a process called quantum tunneling. As a result, the composite responds to even very light pressure, says Taysom.

"Pressure-sensitive space is an important place to be," says Daniel Wigdor, professor of computer science at the University of Toronto. "It adds a third dimension so you can push into the screen and better manipulate things." Wigdor says the low power capabilities of QTC Clear could benefit smaller screens such as those on tablets.

But QTC Clear requires some pressure to be applied in order to respond. "The best user experience today is offered by capacitive screens," says Patrick Baudisch, professor of computer science at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany. "This sounds like a minor detail, but in reality in matters a lot because it allows users to flick to scroll or pan through documents or Web pages."

Consumers will soon have a chance to feel for themselves. According to Taysom, Peratech has licensed QTC Clear to manufacturers. He expects the first product to be available by the end of the year.

Source: TechnologyReview

 

Anonymous Author, 2010.

PLEASE NOTE: This letter has been written in a special way. It contains difficult but necessary truths. Some people may feel uncomfortable or upset while reading the first half of the letter, but it is important to keep reading until you reach the second half.

When you get there, you will understand why the first part needs to exist. Please do not be upset or afraid. That is just your ego reacting the way all egos do. Merely observe the negative feelings and let them pass. This letter has been written to help you.

Dear YOU,

Straight away, before anything else, I want you to understand that what you are about to read is a love letter, written because I love you. In fact, it's very possible that I love you even more than you love yourself, which is why I'm writing to you today.

It's also why I'm going to tell you some things that might be hard to hear. In fact, they WILL be hard to hear. The first thing I'm going to tell you might hurt worst of all.

YOU, my dear beloved creature, are INSANE. Not just a little insane, in the way you think of the people you may know who are diagnosed with "depression" or 'bipolar disorder" or what have you. Your insanity isn't something so easily treated with a pill or a visit to a therapist. I wish it were.

Your insanity is systemic, very nearly universal, and absolutely incurable from within the system that sustains it. Every "professional" you might go to for help is as crazy as you are. Get that straight right here and right now. Your insanity is not recognized, acknowledged, or understood by the "mental health system." In fact, all that system can do is help you become a happier crazy person.

Yes, my dear beloved human being, you are as crazy as a shithouse rat, and there's absolutely nothing anybody you might be have trusted to help you can do about it, because they are as insane as you are.

It's an awful situation you are in, and because you are thoroughly insane, you don't know how to do anything but make it worse.

Don't get me wrong, help for your deadly condition does exist. There have been qualified doctors who have tried to help you many times, but because of your insanity, most of you have either ignored them, jailed them, and/or or tried to kill them. And those of you who did want the help they offered still weren't able to accept it, because you're just too crazy, thanks to the crazy world around you.

In your madness, you projected your own twisted and warped ideas onto these doctors and tried to make them into gods, villians, lords, martyrs, and damn near anything else your diseased minds could think of to transform them into something other than what they were - your brothers and sisters in humanity who recognized and shared your suffering. All they ever wanted to do was help you, because they loved you that much. They loved you more than you love yourselves, and they paid the price for it.

And how did these doctors want to help you? Without exception, they had only one prescription - to lead you back to you who you really are. In fact, you probably don't know it, but that's all "religion" really is and all it was ever meant to be, at least before it was hijacked by hordes of self-serving crazy people. "Religion" means "reconnection" - reconnecting with your real nature - who and what you really are. If you're a stickler for details, like most of you crazy folks are, go ahead and look it up. That's the root of the word "religion."

But before your knee-jerk aversions and pre-programmed ideas kick in and cause you to flee from this page in fear of being assailed by typical proselytizing, let me assure you that I'm not here to preach religion to you - at least not in the crazy, insane sense that you understand religion. I'm not here to convert you to Jesus, Buddha, Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the fencepost. Don't be scared. I care about your freedom of conscience as a sentient being and I wouldn't do that to you. Only crazy people are into the whole concept of conversion, because it's totally insane.

Instead, what I'm here to do is guide you toward the very same medicine those "doctors" I mentioned tried to prescribe for you (with the possible humorous exception of the Flying Spaghetti Monster). But please pay attention - I'm not here to tell you about what you might already THINK those guys taught. It's a very safe bet that you really don't have a clue what they actually taught, because the only source of information you have about them is the insane distortions and misunderstandings projected onto them by your fellow crazy people.

So, who the hell am I, anyway? Because I know you much better than you know yourself (just like all sane people understand crazy people better than crazy people understand themselves), I know that's what you're probably wondering right about now. What's my whole deal and what right do I have to talk to you like this? In addition, you're probably starting to strongly suspect that I'm the crazy one, not you. All the signs are there - or at least all the signs your fellow crazy people have taught you to help you detect people who are actually sane and label them nuts. You see, that's the whole game - that's how your insanity maintains itself. You label the people who are actually sane as crazy. It's so simple that you couldn't call it rocket science, and yet it's also diabolically brilliant. And, just in case you care, it's also progressively killing your whole so-called "civilization" deader than a doornail.

But enough about that right now. By the end of this letter, you'll either see it or you won't. As for me, my "personal identity" is not important. Don't bother trying to discover it, as I'll deny it even if you happen to guess right. The only purpose of knowing "who I am" in terms of my mundane life in this crazy world would be to check me out and get my "bonafides" in order to figure out if I'm qualified to be talking to you like this. Well, let me tell you straight off, I have no "bonafides" whatsoever in your crazy society. I have no degrees attesting to my ability to pass crazy tests designed by crazy people. I have no insane titles - academic, religious, psychological, or otherwise - to indicate my exceptional achievement in jumping through misguided hoops devised by an insane world. Why on Earth would I choose to spend a single minute pursuing any such thing? Can you tell me? Think about it for a moment or two, and then let's move on.

Now that that's out of the way, let me tell you my *actual* bonafides - the actual things that qualify me to write you this rather unusual love letter. Firstly, and most importantly, I care about you. I've said it several times already, but it bears repeating. Because you are insane, you don't understand actual love in the slightest and have to be continually reminded that it isn't the sentimental nonsense you're trained to expect from romantic comedies and Hallmark cards, nor is it the self-serving lies you are told by politicians, world leaders, or celebrities of any kind. I'm writing to you today because you are in a life-threatening state of emergency. Your mind is occupied by a deadly, world-killing insanity and I want to help you cure yourself of it. It's just that simple. I'm no god, guru, lord, master, or martyr. I'm simply an unusual kind of doctor, if you will - one who is not licensed to practice in any state or municipailty in the world other than the hearts and minds of those who sense that something is dreadfully wrong. And those are the only places I need to practice.

Secondly, I'm qualified to talk to you this way because I've spent far more time and energy figuring out how to be sane than most of you have spent doing anything in your entire lives. While you were wasting time at your insane, world-killing jobs, schools, and churches (sorry, but it's true), I was working hard every day, all day, 7 days a week trying to figure out how not to be as crazy as you are. I did this for 15 years. That's 15 long, hard years, trudging through 10 miles of psychological snow every day, uphill both ways. I have given blood, sweat, and tears for a scrap of actual sanity - just a scrap. And in comparison to your crazy society, a scrap of actual sanity is like a ten-ton hammer.

And why did I do such a thankless thing? Because I care for you. I see your suffering. I see your world dying - being murdered. I see the never-ending tide of your pain and tears. I see your self-inflicted tragedy reflected in six billion hauntingly brilliant shades and colors, and because I am not insane like you are, I cannot simply stand by and watch it happen without doing anything in my power to help. I'm not a hero, a martyr, or a grandiose person by any means. I'm just a flawed, ordinary human being like yourself who, through a fortunate series of misfortunes, had the dumb luck to become distanced enough from your crazy world to get a glimpse of actual sanity. That's the only real, significant difference between you and I. It doesn't matter that my IQ is higher than yours (which it perhaps isn't) or that I read better books or comb my hair backwards or smoke Camels instead of Marlboros or anything else. It only matters that I, though no fault, merit, or intention of my own, just so happened to end up living a rather different sort of life than most of you have, and therefore I have gained access to a rather different sort of perspective.

However, on the other hand, don't take me for one of your beer buddies, because that would be just as wrong as the opposite error. Don't doubt that after 15 years of practice, I understand every bolt and screw in your diseased minds better than most of you will ever understand yourselves, even in 100 crazy lifetimes. Believe me when I tell you that should you find yourself in my presence, it would take no more than smallest flick of my metaphorical wrist to psychologically destroy you in any way I should so choose. I'm not exceptional or special in this regard - all sane people have the very same ability. Like Jeff Goldblum's cable TV repairman character in the movie Independence Day says to his father when asked how he managed to triangulate someone's location electronically, "all cable guys can do it, Dad." It's not hard to manipulate the crazy fears and insecurities of the insane. Your "authorities" and "rulers" also know just enough about how the madness of your world works to be capable of turning your screws to destroy you for their benefit, - and guess what? That's exactly what they do. But I don't, because I have no interest in enslaving or exploiting you.

On the contrary - I want to free you, which is a much taller order.

Because destruction is not what I want for you, I will never stop caring about you no matter how many times you laugh in my face, belittle me, spit on me, or attempt to mistreat me in any of the ten thousand ways your insane society has taught you to marginalize and neutralize the threat of people who dare to be sane. Your attempts to turn me against you lost their power years ago. Rest assured, I've got training in this, because you started early with me. You tried to destroy me in your insane school system long before a hair had even thought to sprout on my chin - but I survived, recovered, and grew beyond anything you could have imagined.

Pay attention - the fact that you think this is a self-pitying "sob story" indicates just how insane and clueless you are. It is precisely the opposite. Do you want to know what fear is? Then read and understand now - you cannot stop me from caring for you. I will do everything in my power to drag you, quite possibly kicking and screaming for all you're worth, into the light. I will do everything I can to save you from yourselves no matter how hard you fight to defend your twisted attachment to self-destruction. Through the priceless gift of over thirty years of your ceaseless opposition, you have given me that power, and I thank you for it on behalf of all those who have benefited and will benefit until the day they shove me into a pine box and I am forced by Nature herself to stop doing my own small part to free a suffering world.

Incidentally, just in case you care, Jesus and Socrates had the same love for you, and you killed them for it - exactly as they had planned and willingly allowed. In permitting you to fool yourselves into thinking you had destroyed them, they became more powerful than entire civilizations and empires. You read their words today because they did as I have done, and as all sane people must do in the face of your insanity - they allowed you to give them the gift of your ignorance and hatred. As you hated them more fiercely, so did their light shine ever-brighter, until in at last killing them, you ignited them as eternal stars in the heavens, never to die.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm nowhere near the level of of a Jesus or a Socrates. You can put away that "he's a lunatic who thinks he's Jesus" label you're trying to stick on me as one of your predictable little pre-programmed defense mechanisms. Only in my dreams am I at such a level - but I don't need to be at that level to tell you what you need to be told. A lesser degree of development will suffice just fine, because to be frank, it doesn't take Einstein to figure out that our world, under your insane psuedo-democratic "leadership," is in serious trouble. Heap big trouble, kemosabe.

But this letter is not about me, Jesus, Socrates, or anybody other than YOU. And that, of course, is where the tricky part comes in. You see, while I have the power to destroy what is good and beautiful, just as you do (and which you have a habit of psychotically utilizing at every opportunity), I lack the power to do the opposite. I cannot give you the gifts of sanity, love, and freedom. If I could, I would do it instantly. I would do it with such force as to imprint compassion and truth on your soul irrevocably. But I can't. You have to freely accept the gift of sanity of your own volition, and that's incredibly hard for you to do, because you're so thoroughly insane.

Oh yes, you are disastrously insane. I know I'm in danger of the broken record effect, but have I really made that clear enough yet? Have I repeated it frequently enough for it to begin to penetrate the massive concrete bunker of crazy that is your mind, even just a little? No, probably not. But perhaps, just maybe, the utter "weirdness" of what I am saying has interested you enough to keep reading. Maybe you want to see where this whole bizarre trainwreck leads, because that's still what it is to you, isn't it? A bizarre trainwreck obviously written by a crazy person. Something on the order of the Unabomber or David Koresh, no doubt. You're programmed to associate any sudden appearance of actual sanity with those caricatured, media-pimped bogeymen to make it go away. That's okay, I don't mind. Please go right ahead reading under the assumption that I'm a nut. I don't blame you at all, because you have absoutely no other way to see it - at least for the time being.

Nonetheless, please understand that your world IS crazy, regardless of whether or not I am. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you are some seriously whacked-out people. You do crazy, crazy, batshit crazy and insane things and label them "normal," "necessary," or "justified." Don't you see that when you do that, you are declaring to all the world that you are crazier than a shithouse rat? You go to war and justify it as "a fact of life." Thousands are slaughtered for the sake of absolute lies and evil motives, and you don't bat an eyelash. That's not "just the way life is," it's batshit crazy - I mean drooling, straightjacket batshit crazy. Can you imagine YOURSELF doing it? Would you REALLY fire a deadly weapon at another human being just because "your leaders" told you to? If you would, then my God, you are really crying out for the tender mercies of Nurse Ratchet.

But that's not even the worst of it. Like a group of sugar-buzzed, frenetic children playing a massive game of "Hungry, Hungry Hippos," you view life as a contest, a race, or a competition to control as large a share of the world's resources as you can get your hands on in the 80 trifling years you have on Earth - and you don't see a damn thing wrong with that, even as your brothers and sisters in humankind starve and die because of it. In fact, you celebrate this madness, preach about its "necessity" and "morality," and assure the world that "there is no alternative." That is murderously, shockingly, abysmally crazy. It is among the craziest things that any intelligence could concieve of. Even God Himself would have considerable difficulty devising a more insane world than yours - the very same one you are trained to think of as "normal."

You are killing yourselves. And in reality, it is worse than that - you are murdering yourselves, and murdering as much of this beautiful, irreplaceable planet as you can manage to take down with you. But, being blindingly insane, you certainly don't stop at homicide and terracide (the murder of planet Earth). That wouldn't be nearly enough to satisfy your psychotic thirst for destruction. It isn't just that you kill, rape, enslave, and destroy in the name of "war," "politics," economics," "religion," "truth," or a thousand other distorted self-serving fictions and fantasies. Merely doing that would mean that there would be some period of your lives in which you were not behaving insanely, and that simply won't do. Your virulent madness will settle for nothing less than complete domination of the entire human experience, lock, stock, and barrel, 24/7/365.

And so, you enslave yourselves. You sell yourselves to the highest bidder. Without so much as a twinge of conscience, you shamelessly piss away your ONLY two God-given (or Nature-given, if you prefer) resources in this life - your precious time, and your precious energy. And let me assure you, my dear insane friends, these are not resources which you have in great supply. You've been told over and over that your lives are short and your energies are limited, but you don't really believe it, because you are completely in denial. You behave with unbelievable recklessness, acting as if you had unlimited amounts of time and energy to waste on utter trivialities, traps, distractions, mental prisons, and every other kind of insane, diabolical pitfall your fellow crazy people expect you to spend your whole life falling into. And before you can say "Orville Redenbacher," whammo, right out of the clear blue sky and much to your total surprise, you are going to be out of time and wake up dead - but not before realizing at the last minute the enormous true value of what you wasted and threw away.

But hey, I could go on and on (and trust me, I really could), but you get the idea by now - even if you refuse to accept it because of the insane brainwashing you've been callously and cynically subjected to every day of your life right up to this moment. So let's cut to the chase, right? Well, here it is on a silver platter:

Pitiably, regrettably, and disastrously, your insanity almost always prevents you from realizing that all you have to do in life is love each other. That's it. Nothing less, nothing more. That is the ONLY thing that determines whether or not you are "successful" as a human being. Do you understand? All you have to do is really give a damn about your neighbor and act like it. I mean really care, in the same way you care about yourselves. You've been told this before, but your insanity ensures that it is the LAST thing you really want to do. You'll go to any lengths to avoid taking it seriously. You'll move Heaven and Earth - literally - to run away from it.

Because of this, you're destroying yourselves and taking everybody on Spaceship Earth down with you. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but you're crazy - homicidally crazy - and you're killing yourselves along with your brothers and sisters. Worst of all, barely one man or woman in ten thousand even has the small scrap of actual sanity needed to suggest that maybe you ought to cut it out. You are well and truly screwed, and had better start considering the possibility of paying attention to what I'm saying here very quickly. Like yesterday, or last week. You have no time to waste, because even if you don't value your own time and energy, rest assured that I do. What this means is that I am an extremely limited resource. There aren't very many like me in the world (especially since you've worked so hard to erase us all from existence) and your chances of even encountering this message to begin with are extremely slim - but somehow you did anyway. And do you know what that means?

It means that congratulations are in order, because you have just won the lottery. Not the money lottery, of course, which would only entrench you in your insanity even further. If you'll kindly allow me a slight (but relevant) tangent, it bears noting that your love of money is perhaps the clearest sign of your tremendous sickness. If you had any actual sanity at all, you would hate and despise money beyond belief. I know that statement just pegged the needle on the handy-dandy "crazy meter" you've been programmed to use to defend yourself from the dangerous influence of people like me, but just for kicks, why not consider it anyway? You think of yourself as a freethinking person, right? It won't kill you to entertain an idea, will it? Just turn it over in your head, if you have the cojones. As a thought experiment and nothing more, take a minute or two to play with the idea of actually hating and despising money. It feels completely bizarre, foreign, and crazy to you, doesn't it? Guess what. That's because you are thoroughly insane.

There, that was good practice, and if you're still reading, I'll assume it didn't kill you. Give yourself a round of applause, but don't get too carried away. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Money, war, and selfishness are only three of the countless sick, twisted, insane, and evil ideas you believe are "necessary facts of life," but they are perhaps the three finest examples of how deep your craziness runs. Why did I mention selfishness, you may be wondering? Isn't the acceptance of selfishness so well-ingrained in modern thinking as to stand beyond question? Haven't you, for thousands of years collectively and decades individually, heard and been comforted and justified by continual rationalizations of selfishness, its basis as the foundation of human nature, its necessity, and even its virtue? Of course you have, because you are part of a ravaging horde of crazy people trying to convince each other how real and wonderful your twisted and destructive delusions are. That's the gist of it in a nutshell. A nutty nutshell.

Enough beating around the bush. If I spend any more time trying to convince you of how insane your world is, I think we'll both get a migraine. Besides, that's not even the worst of it, at least from your perspective. Here is the reality, which I promise that you will NOT be able to accept without extreme difficulty. Get your blindfolds ready, because this is going to hit far harder than what I've written so far, and cut far deeper. It's far more frightening and offensive to your diseased minds than an eternity of calling you "crazy" and "insane" would be. That, you can handle (because you're used to abuse, given that your whole society is based on it) - but what I'm about to tell you, you can't handle. You've proven it over and over for thousands of years. In fact, I've only been calling you crazy and insane to prepare you for the REAL awful truth - and here it is:

YOU are a beautiful, inherently powerful, irreplaceable, unique and wonderful being of infinite worth and value.

Yeah, YOU. The frustrated, depressed middle manager who has already sold away well over half your precious time and energy to the highest bidder only to have life hand you one shit sandwich after another for your trouble. As you lift a drink to your mouth to wash away the pain of your empty existence, know this and at last have hope:

YOU are a beautiful, inherently powerful, irreplaceable, unique and wonderful being of infinite worth and value.

Yeah, YOU. The kid in school who is picked on continuously, to the point that you've given up on life. As you contemplate suicide and consider the unspeakable act of depriving the world of your irreplaceable presence and all the good you will someday do thanks to the gift of your painful origins, know this and understand:

YOU are a beautiful, inherently powerful, irreplaceable, unique and wonderful being of infinite worth and value.

Yeah, YOU. Whoever you are, whatever you've done with your life up to this very moment (even if all you've ever done is piss it away), and whichever one of the 6 billion unique and irreplaceable facets of human life on this Earth you might happen to be, know this for a fact and feel its truth in your heart - perhaps for the very first time:

YOU are a beautiful, inherently powerful, irreplaceable, unique and wonderful being of infinite worth and value.

And that's the truth you'll never, ever be told by the insane world that wants to use fear and self-loathing to control you, just as they have done all your life so far. Understand me clearly - this isn't about "self-esteem" or some slick self-help nonsense peddled on Oprah's book club. This is about the fact that your incredibly unlikely, miraculous existence is the cold, hard, factual result of a universal process that extends all the way back to Big Bang, the divine moment of creation, the Garden of Eden, or whatever story of creation you happen to prefer. Whether you were created by God, Nature, random quantum fluctuations, or the Noodly Appendage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the simple fact that YOU are here is a miracle. That's not New Age nonsense, it's the very reality of your whole being. I don't care who you are, what you look like, how much money you make, or what anybody else thinks of you - if anything in this endless Universe is a miracle, then you are a miracle. Learn it, love it, and start acting like it.

People of the world, or at least the few who will ever have the opportunity to read this letter, please - listen. Listen for any reason you like, even if only to ridicule me, use me as an example of whatever insanity you want to project onto me, to try to smear my words or my personality, or whatever you like, but simply listen, just for a few more brief moments. I have some special words to share with you, from a special source. I don't care one iota if you want to call that source God, Buddha, Nature, my subconscious mind, the collective unconscious, bipolar disorder, sniffing glue, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Allah, or whatever the hell you like. Simply trust, if only for five minutes, that there is a source beyond the ordinary experience you think of as "reality" - a source not subject to the insanity of your crazy world - and whatever it might be, it has begged and pleaded with you for all of human history simply to hear and take heed of a few simple words.

So, with no further ado...

You MUST stop all of this hatred and division. Not for me, and not only for yourselves, but for ALL LIFE. Do you understand that ALL LIFE is what you really are? No, of course you don't, because your crazy world has denied you this knowledge - but it remains true nonetheless. Can you understand that there is NO SUCH THING as an isolated, truly "independent" being on this world or on any other in this infinite Universe? Every living thing is your brother or sister. KNOW NOW, right now, that this is not some recycled hippie New Age John Lennon "kumbaya" bullshit I'm trying to sell you. That's how you are denied this truth in your crazy world - it is lumped into those tired old dismissive categories and swept out of your sight, never to trouble you again. But nonetheless, it remains true that not even GOD HIMSELF can alter the fact that unity and interconnection is the ACTUAL TRUTH of all existence. It's a fact, a complete, stone cold concrete FACT, and the only fact that matters.

Phew, that was a lot of capitalized words. Please don't get the wrong idea and imagine that I'm trying to preach to you like the self-serving spiritual salesmen do, convince you to believe anything through bullshit sophistry, or bully you into accepting anything that isn't already present in your own heart. I cannot do that, even if I wanted to! Not even God, Nature, or David Hasselhoff has that power, much less a mere mortal such as myself.

Instead, what I am trying to do is LOVE you. Do you understand that? Have you ever actually been loved - really loved - in your whole crazy, manipulated, pre-packaged life? Perhaps you've been exposed to so much blithering insanity disguised as "love" that I am the first person to ever really show you what the real thing looks like. Think of what that would mean. If you don't now understand in your heart of hearts how crazy your whole world is - when perhaps the one of the only examples of real love you've ever known is coming into your life through a random internet web page - then perhaps I cannot help you - but I will keep trying anyway.

Look, I'm not above begging, if that's what it takes. Please, please stop hurting yourselves and everyone else. Stop all of this killing, exploiting, enslaving, and self-serving blindness. It's not "necessary," it's not "just the way life is," and there ARE alternatives - an infinite number of alternatives, or at least as many as six billion free and sane human minds can come up with. Your insistence on imagining that utter self-destruction and planet-wide injustice is "just the way things have to be" is so painful. Just in case you're interested in history, please understand that it has torn the heart and soul out of every indigenous culture you have crushed under its heel. There is a reason so many Native Americans sit around on the reservation and drink their lives away - and it ain't what you might think it is. It's not their "laziness," "lack of education," "unemployment," or anything else of that nature. It is the pain of having a sane world stolen from them and replaced with an insane one.

This world has been called a "vale of tears," and it certainly is - but only because you refuse to stop hurting yourselves and everyone else. Doctor after doctor has tried to cure you of your madness without success, and they have done so *fully knowing* that most people would offer them nothing but a piping hot shit sandwich for their trouble. My efforts will be (and have been) received no differently for the most part, but at least perhaps I can plant a seed in a few rare open hearts.

Take this fragile little seed of compassion as my gift to you. Do with it what you will. Throw it out the window into the trash heap ten minutes from now if you must - but just for now, right at this moment and with no thought of the future, take the seed, just because you can. Don't be afraid. It has taken a few of us "doctors" thousands of years to produce it at the cost of sacrificing everything. We have bled for it, died for it, submitted ourselves to every kind of degradation, rejection, and humiliation for it, worn rags for it, starved for it, and willingly accepted every kind of abuse for it - for no other purpose than to pass it on to YOU. But don't pity us, because we knew what we were doing and we did it willingly. Take the little seed we've made for you, just for a single moment, as our free gift. You don't have to say a prayer, bow to anyone, go to any church, join any movement, or do anything besides open your heart just a tiny bit and allow the little seed to take root. That's it. No strings attached, no shipping and handling, no gimmicks. In the words of Huey Louis and the News, "you don't need money, don't need fame. Don't need no credit card to ride this train."

The rest is just a matter of staying out of the way of your own heart. The seed will grow as grass grows - without effort and without struggle - as long as you simply let it be.

Let the seed grow, and as begins to flower into a mighty oak, begin to understand that you must no longer sell your precious time and energy to the highest bidder. You must no longer waste your resources on things as meaningless as the insane world's ideas of "status" and "success." Chasing after those things is a virulent form of insanity that is killing the world, and you have chosen to become sane instead.

Let the seed grow, and as it sinks its strong roots into the fertile soil that is the interconnection and brotherhood of all beings, understand that you must no longer submit to those insane ideas and forces which seek to replace your infinite value and beauty with a false sense of lack. You lack nothing. Whatever belongs to the Universe belongs to you, as your absolute inalienable birthright. If you are being denied any portion of that birthright, it is through no deficiency or failing of your own, but through the machinations of a destructive madness which you have chosen to no longer support. For the first time in your life, you will experience what it is like to be without constant guilt and shame, because for the first time in your life, your heart of hearts knows that you are no longer helping the insane world to kill itself.

Let the seed grow, and as its healthy green leaves turn toward the infinite sun of true Being, understand that the senseless killing, exploiting, and enslaving must end. In the sanctum of your own mind, ask the insane world around you "what part of Thou Shalt Not Kill didn't you understand?" What part of "exploitation and slavery are wrong" don't "normal" people get? Don't hope for a sane answer, though. The crazy world around you is incapable of providing one, but that's okay, because you have chosen to no longer share their delusions.

When you must kill, even a fly, make a practice of apologizing out loud with true regret - and when you do, reflect on how crazy the world would think you are if they caught you doing that. Understand that it's not your insanity for doing so, it's theirs for not. And then know that everything you need to do to live with compassion and actual sanity is just like apologizing to the fly. It is simply a matter of being sane enough to let the whole crazy world think you are nuts for the sake of love. Do you see how this works? Doctor Jiddu Krishnamurti (a "doctor" in the true sense) said it best - "it is no measure of sanity to be well-adjusted to an insane world." Live with true compassion and you'll be called a nut. Understand this, accept it, and do it anyway.

Let the seed grow in a thousand other wonderful and surprising ways, as compassion begins to flower in your heart. Never beat yourself up for anything - let the crazy world take care of beating itself up, as it always has. Don't be afraid to get angry from time to time - no one whose heart knows genuine compassion has ever gone without knowing the burn of anger. You are angry because you care. You are angry because you love.

Most importantly, you are angry because you live in a world that is killing, enslaving, and destroying itself in a state of total self-satisfied, smug arrogance, and by God (or Darwin), you've had it up to here. You aren't just a little miffed or vaguely disappointed at the sorry shape the human race is in. That's for people who don't care much, and don't intend to let such small stirrings of conscience disrupt their TV time. No, that route is not open to you anymore. You already know too much, and try as you might, you can never unsee what you've seen in the few minutes we've spent together. Sorry, Charlie, but I wasn't being completely truthful with you when I said I wouldn't turn your psychological screws. It was a little white lie that was necessary to uproot a big black one.

If you have allowed love and compassion to take firm root in your heart, do not be surprised or dismayed that you are quite capable of becoming enraged, livid, and furious at the insanity of it all. This does not mean you are a "spiritual failure" as the phony, self-seeking "gurus" of the world would have you believe. It means precisely the opposite. You have the capacity for great anger because you have the capacity for great compassion. They are co-identical, like the Taoist concepts of yin and yang, and neither occurs without implying the co-existence of the other. Thousands of children are starving to death every day, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the fact that you may begin to feel absolutely outraged over it. On the contrary - what's so horribly wrong with the world is that everyone else doesn't.

Do not reject anger or try to stifle it with feel-good platitudes, as selfish people who care only for their own happiness do. Instead, use your anger. Allow it to forge your love and compassion for a suffering world into razor-sharp weapons of unbreakable steel. Remember, as it is said, "I come not to bring peace, but a sword." Peace cannot be won without sacrifice. The sword of compassion forged within your heart is not for striking out at others, but for mercilessly slashing away every false and destructive self-deception and every self-justifying excuse in your own mind, until all that remains is an unquenchable desire to do your small but infinitely meaningful part to ease the world's suffering - a desire as keenly felt as a drowning man's desire for air. Become the Bodhisattva, and find your salvation in that of the world.

When anger and frustration come, as they surely will, allow the intensity of these natural feelings to forge your true heart into a fortress that is untouchable and indestructible. Allow them to temper your determination to the point that you will NEVER, EVER stop being willing to reach out to your fellow man in a spirit of true compassion even if they nail you to a cross for it. Allow them to strengthen your resolve so that you know in your heart that not even your own worst fears, or even God Himself, can stop you from reaching out to ease the pain of a suffering world, even if it has to be dragged to the medicine kicking and screaming every step of the way. As Enigma puts it, don't care what people say / just follow your own way. Don't give up and lose the chance / to return to innocence. "Innocence" is simply the nature of who you really are. Know that you will do what it takes to be true to your true self. No, that isn't a redundant or meaningless sentence. If you think it is, read it again until you understand. Read it a thousand times if you must. Whatever it takes.

Let the seed grow, and become strong and powerful, in a way the weak (who are called "strong" in the insane world) will never be able to touch. Never flatter your ego by engaging in self-serving fantasies of yourself as a martyr, but nonetheless prepare yourself to suffer every kind of degradation and abuse for the sake of passing the seed on to just one more open heart. Prepare to be considered "weak" by the "strong" of this world - those who have learned to embrace the insanity, become the craziest inmates of the crazy house, and keep the whole insane system going for their own short-sighted benefit. In the insane world, they call those people "winners," "leaders," "the successful," and "role models." Accept their rejection, condemnation, and abuse without blame. They know no better.

Let the seed grow, and even in the defining moments when you face your personal demons, learn to summon the world-changing strength to love and bless your enemies, for you know something they do not. Even in all their worldly might, they have no power against the seed you carry. Even their shriveled and petrified hearts might someday, somehow be opened to it, much to their shock and horror. No one is beyond redemption, because we all share in the same infinite source. In your "weakness," as seen through the eyes of the insane world, lies your greatest power. By staying true to your true self and the seed (for ultimately they are one and the same), you shall overcome.

If you dare, decide right this moment to turn your life around. I'm sorry if this sounds like an "altar call," but I honestly can't help that. At some point, everyone has to decide which team they are going to bat for. Please understand that I don't mean "turn your life around" in the sense of shouting "praise the lord" or doing some kind of "self-help" program or getting a better job or joining the military or attending the University of Phoenix or deciding to spend 20 minutes a day chanting "AUM." I mean turn your life around in terms of a 180 degree about-face turning away from the whole crazy insanity of this world and toward the REAL truth of who and what you are.

If you dare, decide right now to be "in the world but not of it." Yeah, I know Jesus and some other scary religious people said this, but I can't help that. They said it because they had to. There's no other way to give you any chance of becoming sane. "I am the way, the truth, and the life" doesn't mean that I personally (as in the author of this webpage) am some special awesome being you have to obey and listen to just because I'm The Lord of Lords, Captain America, or even Rick James. Hell no, and please get that crazy rubbish out of your head. Instead, it simply means that this message (the message of compassion) is the only way to actual sanity and a better world - and it meant exactly the same thing when Jesus said it, too. "I, the message of compassion, am the way, the truth, and the life." Sorry about your bad luck, but no man comes to the Father (your true nature) but through me (the message of compassion). Got it now? Okay, good - and don't blame me, meaning "me" as in the imperfect human being who is being used as a vehicle for these truths. I didn't make the rules, and neither did Jesus, Buddha, the Dalai Lama, or anybody else who has tried to carry the message to you.

So, with that in mind, here are some practical steps you can take as soon as you feel ready - but be warned, some of them might be an ouchie at least until you have accumulated some practical experience in not being nuts:

Rather than getting a better job, if you're single and child-free, see if you can figure out how to get rid of your job completely. GASP! The shock! The horror! Well, get over it. I said what I said and I meant it 100%. If you can do something as monumentally "crazy" (in the insane world's eyes) as this, holy mackerel, are you ever on the right track in a big way. Although you'll probably be poor, your spiritual future's so bright you gotta wear shades. You are on the spiritual short list, as opposed to the spiritual short bus. That's the ride everybody else who is still chasing after money is taking.

Rather than joining the military, learn what a "conscientious objector" is and see if you can't become one. Want a hint? It's the totally ridiculous and nutty belief that "war is always wrong." Wow, what a concept, eh? If you can get your crazy little head around that, even if takes you 20 years of arguing with yourself over whether Hitler had to be stopped, then oh boy, are you ever moving in the right direction in a Porsche 944. It might come as a surprise to you, but "thou shalt not kill" is an extremely sane idea. The more you get acquainted with it, the quicker you'll make progress in every area.

Rather than attending the University of Phoenix, why not tear up every degree you might already have and become the dean of your own personal Sanity University? Stop giving credence to the crazy belief that any degree or award the insane world can confer upon you can do one iota to help you move toward actual sanity, happiness, fulfillment, or whatever else you've been falsely promised. If you can manage to never have a thought of chasing another one of their gold stars or seals of approval again, then good lord, are you ever taking off into actual sanity at warp speed. Lao-Tsu said it best - "give up learning, and put and end to your troubles." What you really need to learn, this world doesn't teach.

Rather than chanting "AUM" for 20 minutes a day, start right now to stand up for compassion in every area of your life, beginning from the tip of your nose and extending outward to encompass the whole universe. Aim high and never take "no" for an answer. Don't let anyone tell you you're setting your sights too high. Man's reach must always exceed his grasp or we're all wasting our time doing absolutely nothing. Don't be fooled by those who tell you to "be practical." They only want to kill their consciences by excusing and rationalizing away their own unwillingness to act. Dream big. Resolve to save the whole suffering world and get busy doing it. By doing that, you'll already have succeeded. As Gandhi put it, BE the change. That's all - nothing less, nothing more.

Remember, YOU are a beautiful, inherently powerful, irreplaceable, unique and wonderful being of infinite worth and value. If you're an American, Mister Rogers (one of our truly great spiritual leaders and a thoroughly sane man) told you this as a kid, but the insane world beat it out of you. So now, listen again. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, if you choose to make it one. You have strength beyond measure waiting to be unlocked somewhere deep in your heart. All the "doctors" of history have done their damndest to tell you exactly where to find it, if you'll just shut off the crazy voices of the world in your head for five minutes and really, sincerely LOOK and LISTEN. Turn off the TV and unplug the phone if you have to, just to find a place to start. Never believe that you cannot change the world, for it is really you and ONLY you who can. That's a fact, Jack. Learn it, love it, live it.

But please, for the love of Buddha, don't simply believe anything I'm telling you. I don't care if you "believe" in me, God, Nature, Santa Claus, science, compassion, a spherical Earth, or anything else. In fact, I'd prefer if you didn't "believe" in anything at all. Beliefs are dangerous and you don't exactly have a good history of using them wisely. Instead of believing, go within. Go into the depths of your heart and see if what I've told you rings true. Go to the place where there is no logic, no "truth" that can be formulated in words and used to beat your fellow man over the head, no belief, and no chattering mind. Go to the quiet place where faith lives - and I don't mean Crazytown's phony self-serving sales-pitch version of  "faith" that asks you to send $100 to Benny Hinn, believe that dinosaurs and man walked the Earth together 5000 years ago, or blow yourself up for the glory of Allah. I mean real faith - the universal message of the heart. Put aside everything the crazy world has ever told you, go to that small, still place, and see if what I've said to you rings true. If it doesn't, then I'm sorry I've wasted your time and you can bill me for your two cents worth.

As your brother in humankind, I am at your service forever, even if you choose to hate me, as many of you have already chosen to do throughout our shared lives together here on Planet Crazytown. It's okay - I forgive you and always will, for you truly know not what you do. However, you CAN learn. This is your opportunity. You won't have many more, so take it lightly at your own risk. No conversion, no "sinner's prayer," no church, no collection plate, no robes, no rituals, and nothing other than one totally free being in the universe choosing to open himself or herself to the possibility of a better course for the one and only short little human life any of us have.

As it is has been written in every true medicine book in the world by better doctors than me:

"Treat others as you would be treated, that is the only law."

Or, as one unusually sane man in particular put it:

"Love your neighbor as yourself."

It is up to you now. Will you at least take the seed into your heart, for just a moment? Will you step outside your self-imposed ego prison for just a brief instant and see that the insane ideas, beliefs and attitudes you have been trained to accept as "normal" are killing you and the whole bloody world spiritually, psychologically, and even materially? Will you, like Nero, choose only to fiddle while Rome burns? Can you, just for a moment, set aside this deadly blindness and arrogance? Will you turn away from the madness, at long last, and face the shining Sun of your true infinite being? Will you reach into the depths of your heart and summon the courage to become who you really are?

I know I promised you no religious nonsense, but if you will allow me one small metaphor in closing, it is this: When you accept the seed of compassion into your heart, it is at that very moment that all sentient beings are saved and the universe and its infinite angels rejoice for all eternity - because eternity is within you.

Yours Truly,
Actual Sanity

P.S. You'll find no links to my church, my movement, my seminars, my retreats, or anything else. I don't have any. I don't need any. I told you I had nothing of that sort to sell, push, or preach, and I was telling the truth. You know what to do if you want any of that. It's all out there in a thousand forms and a million places. If you want Jesus, he's not hard to find (although I'd recommend staying away from most churches). Ditto the Buddha, Lao-Tsu, the Dalai Lama, Swami Anybodyananda, Pantheism, Humanism, or whatever appeals to you. As long as you understand that all of these doctors prescribe the same medicine you've just been prescribed here, knock yourself out. Compassion is the only medicine in the world on which you can never overdose.

That is all. This is my whole and complete message to you. Take it for what it is - not some "sermon" from on high, not a lecture from some "guru" or "master," but a heart-to-heart personal letter from a brother in humankind who shares in your pain and heartache. Just for today, and just in the form of these few words, I am merely offering to play the role of your "doctor," not your "master." Your true master is and has always been your own heart and nothing else - and if I have been at all successful in opening your mind to its small, still voice, then that is the true medicine.

Good luck to you, and may we each do whatever is in our power to cure our shared suffering together, as brothers and sisters on this little blue ball of mud. I will see a few of you on the streets, at the markets, and on the wires, where you will neither know me nor care to know me - but understand that I do know you, and no matter how crazy you are, you will always be my friend.

And that, very simply, is why I will never lie to you about what really matters. You may now be very, very insane - but you don't have to be. The choice is yours.



Want more actual sanity? Please take the time to view the sanest film in the world today:

 

Researchers have developed a new way of producing very dense arrays of carbon nanotubes suitable for making complex integrated circuits.

Nanotube transistors have shown great promise in simple experimental prototypes, but making them into the complex circuits—needed for the chips that run computers and cell phones—has proven tricky. Researchers at Stanford University are using the new fabrication method to build ever more complex circuits that they hope will soon rival the speed of silicon.

Dense tubes: Speedier integrated circuits can be made from these densely packed arrays of carbon nanotubes. Credit: Nano Letters/ACS

For years, computer scientists have worried that, as they continue to miniaturize silicon transistors in order to cram more computing power in ever-smaller spaces, they will come up against the material's physical limits. Many replacements are being explored, including exotic semiconductors and another form of carbon called graphene. For digital logic, though, many believe carbon nanotubes show the greatest promise. "No other material has shown the same ability to scale down as aggressively as carbon nanotubes can," says Aaron Franklin, a researcher at IBM's Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. When silicon transistors are miniaturized to a comparable size scale, they become leaky and unstable.

However, making a single high-performance nanotube transistor is one thing; making a large array of nanotubes integrated into a circuit is quite another. In the past few years, researchers at Stanford have made some of the most complex nanotube circuits yet. They developed workarounds to overcome carbon nanotubes' imperfections—the presence of metallic tubes amongst the semiconducting ones needed for transistors, for example. But these circuits were still relatively simple, performing arithmetic at about the level silicon circuits achieved in the 1960s.

The bottleneck has been making dense arrays of well-aligned carbon nanotubes. Stanford professors H-S Philip Wong and Subhasish Mitra previously used a stamping technique to transfer well-aligned nanotubes grown on quartz to a silicon-dioxide wafer for fabrication into transistor arrays and circuits. But there weren't very many nanotubes in each transistor to carry the current, and the low-current transistors didn't have high enough output to be made into complex circuits. That's because the Stanford researchers were only able to do one transfer step before the nanotubes became tangled up into a mess that couldn't be made into a transistor. When researchers try to lay down more nanotubes hoping for a proportional increase in current, says Mitra, "all sorts of weird interactions happen and sometimes you actually get less current."

The same researchers have now developed a method for holding down layers of nanotubes while more layers are deposited on top. "The nanotubes are like fragile threads that want to interact with one another," says Mitra. "We had to add a thin layer of a solid in between to protect them."

The Stanford researchers put down a thin layer of gold with each stamp. Once the gold and nanotubes are in place, the researchers etch away areas of gold where they want to place each transistor's electrical contacts. They then fill these holes with a metal contact material such titanium and palladium. Finally, they etch away the rest of the gold. This entire structure is built up on top of a silicon dioxide wafer patterned with back gates for the transistors. This work is described online this week in the journal Nano Letters.

Mitra says it should be possible to perform several transfers for for a density of 100 to 200 nanotubes per micrometer. The transfer technique is also compatible with techniques the group has developed in the past to deal with stray metallic nanotubes and the occasional misplaced nanotube.

"Nanotubes are messy to work with today," says Franklin. But "there is no fundamental bottleneck that says this can't be done."

Source: Technology Review

 

The researchers report in Nature Nanotechnology that the transistor's central component -- an island only 1.5 nanometers in diameter -- operates with the addition of only one or two electrons. That capability would make the transistor important to a range of computational applications, from ultradense memories to quantum processors, powerful devices that promise to solve problems so complex that all of the world's computers working together for billions of years could not crack them.

In addition, the tiny central island could be used as an artificial atom for developing new classes of artificial electronic materials, such as exotic superconductors with properties not found in natural materials, explained lead researcher Jeremy Levy, a professor of physics and astronomy in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences. Levy worked with lead author and Pitt physics and astronomy graduate student Guanglei Cheng, as well as with Pitt physics and astronomy researchers Feng Bi, Daniela Bogorin,and Cheng Cen. The Pitt researchers worked with a team from the University of Wisconsin at Madison led by materials science and engineering professor Chang-Beom Eom, including research associates Chung Wun Bark, Jae-Wan Park, and Chad Folkman. Also part of the team were Gilberto Medeiros-Ribeiro, of HP Labs, and Pablo F. Siles, a doctoral student at the State University of Campinas in Brazil.

Levy and his colleagues named their device SketchSET, or sketch-based single-electron transistor, after a technique developed in Levy's lab in 2008 that works like a microscopic Etch A SketchTM, the drawing toy that inspired the idea. Using the sharp conducting probe of an atomic force microscope, Levy can create such electronic devices as wires and transistors of nanometer dimensions at the interface of a crystal of strontium titanate and a 1.2 nanometer thick layer of lanthanum aluminate. The electronic devices can then be erased and the interface used anew.

The SketchSET -- which is the first single-electron transistor made entirely of oxide-based materials -- consists of an island formation that can house up to two electrons. The number of electrons on the island -- which can be only zero, one, or two -- results in distinct conductive properties. Wires extending from the transistor carry additional electrons across the island.

One virtue of a single-electron transistor is its extreme sensitivity to an electric charge, Levy explained. Another property of these oxide materials is ferroelectricity, which allows the transistor to act as a solid-state memory. The ferroelectric state can, in the absence of external power, control the number of electrons on the island, which in turn can be used to represent the 1 or 0 state of a memory element. A computer memory based on this property would be able to retain information even when the processor itself is powered down, Levy said. The ferroelectric state also is expected to be sensitive to small pressure changes at nanometer scales, making this device potentially useful as a nanoscale charge and force sensor.

The research in Nature Nanotechnology also was supported in part by grants from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation, and the Fine Foundation.

Source: Science Daily

 

Graphene is the material from which graphite, the core of your No. 2 pencil, is made. It is also the latest "wonder material," and may be the electronics industry’s next great hope for the creation of extremely fast electronic devices. Researchers at North Carolina State University have found one of the first roadblocks to utilizing graphene by proving that its conductivity decreases significantly when more than one layer is present.

Graphene’s structure is what makes it promising for electronics. Because of the way its carbon atoms are arranged, its electrons are very mobile. Mobile electrons mean that a material should have high conductivity. But NC State physicist Dr. Marco Buongiorno-Nardelli and NC State electrical and computer engineer Dr. Ki Wook Kim wanted to find a way to study the behavior of “real” graphene and see if this was actually the case.

“You can talk about the electronic structure of graphene, but you must consider that those electrons don’t exist alone in the material,” Buongiorno-Nardelli says. “There are impurities, and most importantly, there are vibrations present from the atoms in the material. The electrons encounter and interact with these vibrations, and that can affect the material’s conductivity.”

Buongiorno-Nardelli, Kim and graduate students Kostya Borysenko and Jeff Mullen developed a computer model that would predict the actual conductivity of graphene, both as a single layer and in a bilayer form, with two layers of graphene sitting on top of one another. It was important to study the bilayer model because actual electronic devices cannot work with only a single layer of the material present.

“You cannot make a semiconductor with just one graphite layer,” Buongiorno-Nardelli explains. “To make a device, the conductive material must have a means by which it can be turned off and on. And bilayer provides such ability.”

With the help of the high performance computers at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, the NC State team discovered both good and bad news about graphene. Their results appear as an Editor’s Suggestion in the April 15 edition of Physical Review B.

With a single layer of graphene, the mobility – and therefore conductivity – shown by the researchers’ simulations turned out to be much higher than they had originally thought. This good news was balanced, however, by the results from the bilayer state.

“We expected that the electrons’ conductivity in bilayer graphene could be somewhat worse, due to the ways in which the vibrations from the atoms in each individual layer interact with one another,” Mullen says. “Surprisingly, we found that the mobility of electrons in bilayer graphene is roughly an order of magnitude lower than in a single graphene sheet.”

“The reduction is substantial, but even this reduced number is higher than in many conventional semiconductors,” Borysenko adds.

Buongiorno-Nardelli says that the NC State researchers are turning their attention to remedying this problem.

“If we put the graphene on a substrate that can ‘siphon off’ some of the heat generated by the electric current, the crystal vibrations will decrease and the mobility will increase. Those are our next steps – running the simulations withgraphene and substrates that have this property.”

Source: PhysOrg

 
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Hi, it's Nathan!Pretty much everyone is using voice search with their Siri/Google/Alexa to ask for services and products now, and next year, it'll be EVERYONE of your customers. Imagine what you are ...
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