Free-hug man speaks out
2006-09-28, Sydney Morning Herald (Australia's leading newspaper)
The man behind the latest YouTube sensation has spoken out for the first time about his global cuddling controversy. Serial hugger Juan Mann describes the free hugs he hands out...as fast-food emotion. His cuddling campaign received an international dose of publicity today, after a clip showing his public displays of affection won a coveted front page spot on the video sharing website. An American television audience of millions also watched him at work, when the video was broadcast on the prime-time breakfast program Good Morning America yesterday. Today, the hugger was at it again, brandishing his "free hugs" sign in the busy pedestrian thoroughfare, and having quite a few people take him up on his offer. "It's a way to make people smile," Mann said. "For every person who gets a hug, you see five walk past with a smile on their face." But his efforts to spread the love became a little too popular for some people's liking, according to a blurb on the YouTube video, which said: "As this symbol of human hope spread across the city, police and officials ordered the Free Hugs campaign BANNED." Undeterred, Mann collected more than 10,000 signatures on a petition he presented to the City of Sydney council. Demands for a halt to the hugs petered out shortly after, and the end of the clip shows Mann hugging an official. City worker Elly Mitchell, who handed out a few free hugs on her lunch break today, said she was inspired to organise [an] event after seeing the video online. "We're going to hug the city," Ms Mitchell said.
Note: If you haven't seen this powerfully inspiring four-minute video clip, join the over 10 million who have by clicking here. The free hugs movement is rapidly spreading around the world! Click here and here to see more. For several other short, deeply inspiring videos, click here.
The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy
2014-09-19, Washington Post blog
In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones. The handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant. The experts are saying the same about solar energy now. They say that solar is inefficient, too expensive to install, and unreliable, and will fail without government subsidies. They too are wrong. Solar will be as ubiquitous as cellular phones are. Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. By Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years. In places such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and the Southwest United States, residential-scale solar production has already reached “grid parity” with average residential electricity prices. In other words, it costs no more in the long term to install solar panels than to buy electricity from utility companies. The prices of solar panels have fallen 75 percent in the past five years alone and will fall much further as the technologies to create them improve and scale of production increases. By 2020, solar energy will be price-competitive with energy generated from fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis in most parts of the world. Within the next decade, it will cost a fraction of what fossil fuel-based alternatives do. Despite the skepticism of experts and criticism by naysayers, there is little doubt that we are heading into an era of unlimited and almost free clean energy.
Note: This article also points out how some big energy companies and the Koch brothers are lobbying to stop alternative technologies from flowering. Read through a rich collection of energy news articles with inspiring and revealing news on energy developments. And explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Child Psychiatrist Says Past-Life Memories Not So Uncommon in Kids
2006-07-25, ABC News
From the ages of 2 to 6, James Leininger seemed to recall in striking detail a "past life" he had as a World War II Navy pilot who was shot down and killed over the Pacific. The boy knew details about airplanes and about pilot James Huston Jr. that he couldn't have known. James' parents say he also had terrible nightmares about a plane crashing and a "little man" unable to get out. James, now 8, stills loves airplanes, but he is free of those haunting images of the pilot's death. Jim Tucker, a child psychiatrist and medical director of the Child and Family Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Virginia, is one of the few researchers to extensively study the phenomenon of children who seem to have memories of past lives. He says James' case is very much like others he has studied. "At the University of Virginia, we've studied over 2,500 cases of children who seem to talk about previous lives when they're little," Tucker said. "They start at 2 or 3, and by the time they're 6 or 7 they forget all about it and go on to live the rest of their lives."
Tucker -- the author of Life Before Life: A Scientific Investigation of Children's Memories of Previous Lives -- has seen cases like James' where children make statements that can be verified and seem to match with a particular person. "It means that this is a phenomenon that really needs to be explored," Tucker said. "James is one of many, many kids who have said things like this." While about three-fourths of Americans say they believe in paranormal activity, 20 percent believe in reincarnation, according to a 2005 Gallup poll.
Note: To watch the engaging ABC News video clip of this incredible story, click here. For an even better Fox News clip, click here. For an excellent survey of powerful evidence of life and death, click here. For a collection of news articles with other powerful evidence of past-lives, click here.
Challenge Day ...
2007-08-31, Denver Post (Denver's leading newspaper)
Wadded-up tissues littered Rishel Middle School's gym floor as tough teenagers sobbed, hugged their peers and told gut-wrenching stories about their lives during an all-day session intended to break down barriers. One 13-year-old said he was abandoned by his parents and that he lies awake at night scared by sounds of gunshots outside his window. A 15-year-old girl talked about attempting suicide and urged anyone with similar thoughts to reach out for help. And a teacher tearfully warned students about their actions by revealing he was a bully when he was younger – until the person he tormented tried to kill himself. The confessions were shared ... as part of "Challenge Day," a nationally recognized anti-bullying program that travels to schools around the country. Challenge Day promotes self respect and acceptance, and inspires students to become positive leaders in their schools and communities. [The] 20-year-old program [was] designed by Yvonne and Rich St. John-Dutra. "We want to create a world where every child feels safe," said Rich St. John-Dutra. The program, which was featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," was brought to Denver Public Schools ... as part of the district's mission to change cultures inside the schools. The events combined ice-breaking routines to get students to drop their guards with soul-searching exercises designed to reveal their true selves. Students wept as their troubles tumbled out - from worries about their parents, medical problems within the family, troubles with gangs, and battles with alcohol and drugs. Students later apologized to others who they had put down or teased over the years. "This is going to change people," said Eddie Castillo, 13. "I never knew people had problems with their families and their brothers and drugs. I never saw that sensitive side until now."
Note: For one of the most inspiring video clips ever, watch the incredibly moving 15-minute clip from an Emmy-award winning documentary on Challenge day available here.
Kenneth Ring: 'You Never Recover Your Original Self'
1988-08-28, New York Times
Probably the oldest mystery to vex mankind is what, if anything, occurs after death. For a decade, Kenneth Ring, a psychology professor and researcher at the University of Connecticut, has looked into the question through the near-death experiences of others. Mr. Ring ... talked with hundreds of people between the ages of 18 and 84 who have come close to physical death. [His books] Life at Death [and] Heading Toward Omega both deal with near-death experiences and how they change people's lives. A near-death experience ... often happens to individuals who find themselves on the verge of imminent biological death. It involves ... a sense of the most profound peace and well-being that is possible to imagine. It's a sense of being separate from the physical body and sometimes being able to see it as though a spectator off to one side or from up above. These people have a sense of moving through a dark space or tunnel toward a radiantly beautiful white or golden light. They are absorbed in that light, having in some cases a panoramic life review in which virtually everything that they've ever done in their life they're able to see; perhaps meeting the spirits of deceased love ones or friends. And in some cases, they are asked to make a decision as to whether they would like to continue or go back to their body. The most powerful antidote to the fear of death is coming close to death ... and remembering one of these experiences. After having a near-death experience, people believe the end of life isn't [the end]; they believe in some sort of life after death. [Those] who have a near-death experience almost totally lose their fear of death.
Note: The documented experiences of those who have been declared clinically dead and come back to life are some of the most mind-boggling and inspiring cases to have ever surfaced. To read some of the most amazing of these cases and explore other excellent resources on the topic, click here.
The Prophet of Garbage
2007-03-00, Popular Science - March 2007 Issue
The Plasma Converter ... can consume nearly any type of waste—from dirty diapers to chemical weapons—by annihilating toxic materials in a process ... called plasma gasification. A 650-volt current passing between two electrodes rips electrons from the air, converting the gas into plasma. The plasma arc is so powerful, it disintegrates trash into its constituent elements by tearing apart molecular bonds. The system is capable of breaking down pretty much anything except nuclear waste. The only by-products are an obsidian-like glass [and] a mixture of primarily hydrogen and carbon monoxide that can be converted into a variety of marketable fuels, including ethanol, natural gas and hydrogen. Perhaps the most amazing part of the process is that it’s self-sustaining. Once the cycle is under way, the 2,200°F syngas is fed into a cooling system, generating steam that drives turbines to produce electricity. About two thirds of the power is siphoned off to run the converter; the rest can be used on-site for heating or electricity, or sold back to the utility grid. Even a blackout would not stop the operation of the facility. New York City is already paying an astronomical $90 a ton to get rid of its trash. According to Startech, a few 2,000-ton-per-day plasma-gasification plants could do it for $36. Sell the syngas and surplus electricity, and you’d actually net $15 a ton. But the decision-making bureaucracy can be slow, and it is hamstrung by the politically well-connected waste-disposal industry. Startech isn’t the only company using plasma to turn waste into a source of clean energy. A handful of start-ups—Geoplasma, Recovered Energy, PyroGenesis, EnviroArc and Plasco Energy, among others—have entered the market in the past decade.
Note: Why isn't this amazing, proven machine and technology making front page headlines? Read this exciting article to find how it is already being used. For why you don't know about it, click here. And for another amazing new energy source not yet reported in the major media, click here.
12-Year-Old Spiritual Prodigy Akiane
2006-12-14, CNN Video Clip
A self taught artist who says her inspiration comes from above.... [These] Paintings ... are spiritual, emotional, and created by a 12-year-old prodigy. Her name is Akiane. She picked up the brush when she was just six years old, but the visions -- what she calls inspiration from God -- started when she was just four. She began to describe to her mother in great detail her visits to heaven. "All the colors were out of this world. There are hundreds and millions of more colors that we don't know yet." Her mother remarkably was an atheist. The concept of God [was] never discussed in their home. [Akiane:] "I explained to her you have to believe me. This is a different way ... a way that's so mysterious that God wants me to go through." To four-year-old Akiane, God quickly became a part of her daily life, and eventually became a part of her family's life, too. Her talent doesn't stop at her art work. Only a few months ago she decided to learn the piano and is now already composing her own music. But it is her painting that truly captures the incredible spirituality of this young girl. The visions to me [are] like he's explaining himself to me and what he does. She is a self taught painter, and as she grows older her paintings grow more expressive, more colorful, [and] more complex. A girl -- who armed only with a brush and some paints -- is determined to capture the essence of her faith, and hopefully along the way inspire others to feel the same way. [Akiane:] "It's just so beautiful! The most important things in this world is faith, because without faith you cannot communicate with God."
Note: The above CNN link takes you to a three-minute video (after commercial) showing the incredible talents of this amazingly gifted girl. If the link fails, click here. For her website, click here. For a collection of videos showing Akiane and her inspiration as she gets older, click here.
Strongest Dad in the World
2005-09-17, Canadian Runner/Sports Illustrated
Eighty-five times [Dick Hoyt has] pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars -- all in the same day. Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. And what has Rick done for his father? Not much -- except save his life. This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs. "He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life," Dick says doctors told him. But the Hoyts weren't buying it. [Eventually,] rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was...able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!" And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do that." Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. "Then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks." That day changed Rick's life. "Dad," he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"
Note: Don't miss the entire incredibly moving story with links to the Hoyt's beautiful website, inspiring photos, a deeply touching video clip, and lots more at www.weboflove.org/050917dadtrulycares.
Grid parity: Why electric utilities should struggle to sleep at night
2014-03-25, Washington Post blog
What’s good news for those concerned with climate change, and bad news for electric utilities? That’s grid parity. It exists when an alternative energy source generates electricity at a cost matching the price of power from the electric grid. As grid parity becomes increasingly common, renewable energy could transform our world and slow the effects of climate change. Advances in solar panels and battery storage will make it more realistic for consumers to dump their electric utility, and power their homes through solar energy. A 2013 Deutsche Bank report said that 10 states are currently at grid parity: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Vermont. Germany, Spain, Portugal and Australia have reached grid parity. This shift has benefited from a dramatic drop in the price of solar panels, which dropped 97.2 percent from 1975 to 2012. As solar energy gets cheaper, traditional electric utilities are doing the opposite. The cost of maintaining the electric grid has gotten more expensive, but reliability hasn’t improved. If customers leave electric utilities, it starts a downward spiral. Fewer customers will mean higher rates, which encourages remaining customers to jump ship for a solar-battery system. Energy upstarts are led by forward thinkers with disruptive track records and eyes on society’s big problems. NRG Energy chief executive David Crane ... highlighted the climate change concerns in a recent letter to shareholders: “The day is coming when our children sit us down ... look us straight in the eye, with an acute sense of betrayal and disappointment in theirs, and whisper to us, ‘You knew… and you didn’t do anything about it. Why?’”
Note: Read through a rich collection of energy news articles with inspiring and revealing news on energy developments. Then explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Study: Running 5 Minutes a Day Could Add Years to Your Life
2014-07-29, Time Magazine
According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running five minutes per day can reduce an individual’s risk of premature death by about three years. Researchers found that people who ran less than an hour per week also saw an increase in lifespan, not just a decrease in risk of premature death. The study took place over the course of 15 years, testing participants ranging in age from 18-100. Separate research found that running more than 20 miles per week could take years off an individual’s life, providing further evidence that less can be more with regard to exercise. According to that research, individuals who exhibit consistent but moderate workout patterns are likely to live the longest.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Vitamin D May Double Chances of Surviving Breast Cancer
2014-03-07, TIME Magazine
In a new study, researchers found that breast-cancer patients who had high levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to survive [as] women with low levels. They reviewed five studies that observed more than 4,440 women. “The study has implications for including vitamin D as an adjuvant to conventional breast cancer therapy,” study co-author Dr. Heather Hofflich, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego, said in a press release. The researchers recommend that vitamin D should be added to the various treatments given to women fighting breast cancer. The body naturally produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but milk, fatty fish and other foods can also boost production. Patients could also take vitamin D supplements.
Note: This is huge news! Why isn't this exciting development getting more press coverage? Read numerous major media articles revealing potential cancer cures which have received little attention. And see an excellent article with more on the Vitamin D connection.
Meet Jasmine, the dog who has become a surrogate mother for the 50th time
2008-12-31, Daily Mail (One of the UK's largest-circulation newspapers)
When Jasmine the abandoned greyhound arrived at a wildlife sanctuary shivering and desperate for food, she needed all the love in the world to nurse her back to full health. Now it appears the kindness and patience shown to her has rubbed off – for the ... dog has become a surrogate mother for the 50th time. Seven-year-old Jasmine is currently caring for tiny Bramble, an 11-week-old roe deer fawn found semi-conscious in a nearby field. She cuddles up to her to keep her warm, showers her with affection and makes sure nothing is matted in her fur. She has had plenty of practice, having cared for five fox cubs, four badger cubs, 15 chicks, eight guinea pigs, two stray puppies and even 15 rabbits. Jasmine was brought to the Nuneaton and Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary by the police in 2003, having been found dumped in a garden shed. She was cold, filthy and malnourished. It took a few weeks for her to fully trust staff at the centre but with tender loving care she was nursed back to full fitness. Five years on, Jasmine is now the one looking after stray waifs. Geoff Grewcock, who runs the sanctuary, said: "She simply dotes on the animals as if they were her own, it's incredible to see. She takes all the stress out of them and it helps them to not only feel close to her but to settle into their new surroundings. As soon as an animal is brought in, she walks over takes a sniff or two and then licks and cuddles them. It is quite amazing."
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Dolphins Guide Scientists to Rescue Suicidal Girl
2014-05-29, National Geographic
My research team and I were following a school of bottlenose dolphins near shore ... off Los Angeles, California. The dolphins were still feeding in circle near shore, when suddenly, one individual changed direction heading out toward deeper water. A minute later, the rest of the school turned to follow. Seeing them abruptly leave a foraging ground and change direction came as a surprise to the research team. I decided to follow them. The dolphins increased their speed. Somewhere near three miles offshore the dolphin group stopped, forming a sort of ring around a dark object in the water. “Someone’s in the water!” yelled my assistant, standing up and pointing at the seemingly lifeless body of a girl. As the boat neared, she feebly turned her head toward us, half-raising her hand as a weak sign for help. If we didn’t act immediately, the girl would die. We [pulled] the frail and hypothermic body on board. “She is cyanotic,” said one of my researchers, also a lifeguard, after a cursory examination. “She has severe hypothermia. We need to get her warm!” We managed to get some of her wet garments off and wrap her in a blanket. We took turns keeping her warm by huddling with her under the blanket. A couple of hours later, we were all waiting outside the emergency room at the Marina del Rey hospital. The ER doctor came out to talk with us. The girl, it seems, would pull through, and he thanked us for our quick action. He tells us the girl was vacationing in L.A. from Germany and, as the letter found in her plastic bag explained, she was attempting suicide. If we hadn’t found her, if the dolphins hadn’t led us offshore when they did, to that specific place, she would have died.
Note: This article has been adapted from the book Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist. For more on the amazing capacities of dolphins and other marine mammals, as well as the threats they face from human activities, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
After Years in Solitary, an Austere Life as Uruguay’s President
2013-01-05, New York Times
Some world leaders live in palaces. Some enjoy perks like having a discreet butler, a fleet of yachts or a wine cellar with vintage Champagnes. Then there is José Mujica, the former guerrilla who is Uruguay’s president. He lives in a run-down house on Montevideo’s outskirts with no servants at all. His security detail: two plainclothes officers parked on a dirt road. In a deliberate statement to this cattle-exporting nation of 3.3 million people, Mr. Mujica, 77, shunned the opulent Suárez y Reyes presidential mansion, with its staff of 42, remaining instead in the home where he and his wife have lived for years, on a plot of land where they grow chrysanthemums for sale in local markets. His net worth upon taking office in 2010 amounted to about $1,800 — the value of the 1987 Volkswagen Beetle parked in his garage. He never wears a tie and donates about 90 percent of his salary, largely to a program for expanding housing for the poor. His current brand of low-key radicalism ... exemplifies Uruguay’s emergence as arguably Latin America’s most socially liberal country. Under Mr. Mujica, who took office in 2010, Uruguay has drawn attention for seeking to legalize marijuana and same-sex marriage, while also enacting one of the region’s most sweeping abortion rights laws and sharply boosting the use of renewable energy sources like wind and biomass. For democracy to function properly, [Mujica] argues, elected leaders should be taken down a notch. “We have done everything possible to make the presidency less venerated,” Mr. Mujica said in an interview one recent morning, after preparing a serving in his kitchen of mate.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
The miracle of profit-sharing: Year 65 and still no layoffs
When Canadian journalist ... Frank Koller published his book Spark: How Old-Fashioned Values Drive a Twenty-First-Century Corporation: Lessons from Lincoln Electric's U, about the profit-sharing model pioneered at Cleveland’s Lincoln Electric, it encouraged Making Sense to return to the manufacturer after first reporting on them back in 1992. Two years later, Koller now updates us on yet another profitable year for Lincoln. Frank Koller: Here are the latest numbers for the Ohio-based multinational welding manufacturer, now 118 years old. 80: uninterrupted years of paying an employee bonus (i.e. profitable every year since 1934). $33,029: average 2013 bonus per U.S. employee (roughly 3,000 employees). $81,366: average 2013 total earnings per U.S. employee (wages or salary + bonus). $100.7 million: total pre-tax profit shared with employees, Lincoln’s largest bonus pool ever. 0: number of layoffs in 2013 (that makes 65 years without any layoffs) #1: Lincoln Electric remains number one in the global marketplace in its industry. These figures once again provide convincing and reassuring evidence that with an unwavering commitment to respecting employees by offering the opportunity to significantly share in the profits of the firm, while demanding their very best, it is possible to run a very profitable, very large, technologically superior multinational business based in North America while also honoring a firm’s obligations to its customers, investors and society at large.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Marijuana stops child's severe seizures
Charlotte and Chase were born October 18, 2006. They were healthy. Everything was normal. The twins were 3 months old when the Figis' lives changed forever. [Charlotte had a] seizure [which] lasted about 30 minutes. Her parents rushed her to the hospital. They did a million-dollar work-up ... and found nothing. A week later, Charlotte had another seizure. Over the next few months, Charlotte ... had frequent seizures lasting two to four hours, and she was hospitalized repeatedly. She was [put] on seven drugs -- some of them heavy-duty, addictive ones such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines. They'd work for a while, but the seizures always came back with a vengeance. At 2, she really started to decline cognitively. In November 2000, Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, which required the state to set up a medical marijuana registry program. [Then Charlotte's father Matt] found a video online of a California boy whose [seizures were] being successfully treated with cannabis. [Her parents started] Charlotte out on a small dose. By then Charlotte had lost the ability to walk, talk and eat. She was having 300 grand mal seizures a week. The results were stunning. The seizures stopped for ... seven days. [Now] Charlotte gets a dose of the cannabis oil twice a day. [It has] stopped the seizures. Today, Charlotte, 6, is thriving. Not only is she walking, she can ride her bicycle.
Note: There have been plentiful stories of miraculous healing from marijuana, but this may be the first time the major media is reporting it (see links at the bottom of this article for more). That's exciting! We may be seeing a major change here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
16-year-old finds a new way to detect cancer
2013-05-18, CBS News
Sixteen-year-old Jack Andraka's innovative mind led him to create a new way to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer. "I created a new way to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer that costs three cents and takes five minutes to run," he said. After a close friend died from pancreatic cancer, this 16-year-old from Crownsville, Maryland, unleashed his hyper-drive intellect on preventing more cancer deaths. "It's 168 times faster, over 26,000 times less expensive, and over 400 times more sensitive than our current methods of diagnosis," he said. Tinkering in his room and using information readily available online, he came up with a new way to detect cancer. "85 percent of all pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late, when someone has less than a two percent chance of survival. And our current test costs $800 per test and misses 30 percent of all pancreatic cancers," he said. He won last year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The sweet validation came with $100,000 in scholarships, but Jack Andraka's got his eye on even bigger things. "The name of the competition is called the Tricorder XPRIZE," he said. "It's a $10 million prize. Essentially what you have to do is develop something the size of a smartphone that you scan over your skin and it will diagnose any disease instantly." Jack is fielding a team of other high-schoolers to compete against 300 teams of adult scientists and corporations in the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition. He says youth is an advantage -- that new eyes are more likely to solve old problems.
Note: Let's hope this invention gets fast tracked and makes it to market. Notice how little attention this exciting development received. To read about many potential cancer cures reported in major media which have not made it to market for financial reasons, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Dolphins Use Names for Each Other
2013-07-24, ABC News
They escape from aquarium tanks. They locate underwater mines. Now, a new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science claims that dolphins recognized their own name when called. Vincent Janik, one of the authors of the study and a biology researcher at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said that the name is actually a specific type of dolphin vocalization that the animals respond to. "They're these high pitched whistles that have a little bit of a melody," he told ABC News. These sounds are referred to as "signature whistles." Janik and his colleague, Stephanie King, cruised along the east coast of Scotland looking for bottlenose dolphins. After spotting and identifying a dolphin in the wild, the researchers would play one of three different sounds: a modified sound clip of that dolphin's signature whistle, a signature whistle of one of its podmates, or the signature whistle of a completely foreign dolphin. They played the dolphin's own signature whistle and the animal would come up and approach the boat and whistle back. However, the dolphin didn't respond to the other two types of whistles and mostly kept about its business. It may seem odd that the dolphins don't react much to the whistles of their fellow herdmates, but Janik says that copying a dolphin's signature whistle just right is part of their social group. "This copying only occurs between closely associated animals, like between mothers and their calves," he said. Dolphins only need to respond to their own signature whistles, since any socially relevant animal will have learned how to copy it. "It says to them, 'I know that this [whistle] is a friend.'"
Note: For an abstract of this intriguing study, click here. For more on the fascinating capabilities of marine mammals, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Mystery Behind the Damanhur Temples
2008-01-21, ABC News
Hidden away in a country renowned for its architectural beauty lies a massive hand-built place of worship many tourists never see. An entrance that looks like a mineshaft opens up to a maze carved inside the mountain holding the Damanhur Temples of Humankind in the Valchiusella Valley, about 30 miles north of Turin, [Italy]. Damanhur narrates the history of human potential through art. With at least nine rooms — some with 25-foot high ceilings — it looks as if the secret doors and passageways were built centuries ago. In truth, the unlikely temple is no ancient wonder and was built piecemeal by 150 people over a 15-year period beginning in 1978. The work was so secret, the Italian government never knew it was going on and never gave permission for it. The handcrafted structure is full of dramatic beauty, and each apparent dead end really leads into another mysterious hall. "You have to think that we did that without any engineer or architect," Ananas said. "Everything has been excavated by hand." At least as mysterious as the temple itself is the utopian society to which it belongs, The Federation of Damanhur. Damanhur, which means city of light, comprises 800 people who live in communal homes. Founded in 1975, the Federation of Damanhur thinks of itself as the builders of a new civilization that stands for peace and human potential. It prides itself on being an eco-society based on ethical and spiritual values. Falco, as the group's founder is known, said that he always dreamed of the elaborate temples. The group wanted the temple to be "a gift to humanity" once it was completed. Visitors to the halls of the temple have expressed awe, delight and intrigue.
Note: To see photos of the stunning beauty of these temples, click here. Damanhur's visionary Falco died of cancer on June 23, 2013. For more on this great visionary, click here. To watch a one-minute ABC News video giving a glimpse of the beauty of these temples, click here. Watch an awesome video tour of Damanhur and the Temples of Humankind available here. And for an intriguing 15-minute video of experiments done at Damanhur attaching plants to synthesizers to make angelic music, click here.
From Finland, an Intriguing School-Reform Model
2011-12-12, New York Times
Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educator and author, [said that in] his country, ... teachers typically spend about four hours a day in the classroom, and are paid to spend two hours a week on professional development. At the University of Helsinki, where he teaches, 2,400 people competed last year for 120 slots in the (fully subsidized) master’s program for schoolteachers. “It’s more difficult getting into teacher education than law or medicine,” he said. Dr. Sahlberg puts high-quality teachers at the heart of Finland’s education success story. Ever since Finland, a nation of about 5.5 million that does not start formal education until age 7 and scorns homework and testing until well into the teenage years, scored at the top of a well-respected international test in 2001 in math, science and reading, it has been an object of fascination among American educators and policy makers. Finlandophilia only picked up when the nation placed close to the top again in 2009, while the United States ranked 15th in reading, 19th in math and 27th in science. In Helsinki, the Education Ministry has had 100 official delegations from 40 to 45 countries visit each year since 2005. Dr. Sahlberg said a turning point was a government decision in the 1970s to require all teachers to have master’s degrees — and to pay for their acquisition. Finland scorns almost all standardized testing before age 16 and discourages homework, and it is seen as a violation of children’s right to be children for them to start school any sooner than 7, Dr. Sahlberg said.
Note: The US continues to push for more testing, while Finland shows that less testing and homework gives better results. For an excellent article on this in the Washington Post, click here. For more astounding facts on Finland's education success, click here.