Archaeologists unearth dozens of mummified cats in Egypt

  • Archaeologists in Egypt have found dozens of mummified cats in the tomb of a royal offical.
  • The cats will join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of previously discovered ancient kitties.
  • While the cats are nothing special, the tomb also held well preserved beetles.

There are three things that everybody knows about ancient Egypt: they had mummies, built the pyramids as tombs for kings, and really liked cats. While there is vastly more to ancient Egyptian culture than these details, they are accurate ones. All three of these conceptions were confirmed again this week when archaeologists in Egypt discovered a tomb full of mummified cats.

Mummified cats? 

Cat statue

Photo: The Ministry of Antiquities.

One of the items found at the dig site. It seems to be a very good kitty and not at all cursed.

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has announced the discovery of dozens of mummified cats in a 4,500-year-old tomb. Alongside the cats were gilded statues of felines and a bronze icon of the cat-headed goddess Bastet. The archaeologists also found a large sarcophagus filled with mummified scarab beetles.

Other tombs on the site were dedicated to the royal official Khufu-Imhat. A door engraved with the names of two women was also found, though the archaeologists are still working on who they were.

Is this typical?

Mummified Dung Beetles

Photo: The Ministry of Antiquities.

The beetles and the tiny caskets they were found in. Scarab beetles, including the well known dung beetle, were also considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians.

Yes, since the 1890s, mummified cats have been found all over Egypt. According to Dr. Antonietta Catanzariti, who works with Smithsonian at UC Berkeley, a single massive discovery unearthed 180,000 well-preserved felines. Mummified cats are so common that during the 1880s they were sold off to make fertilizer as museums had little interest in buying more of them.

The Facebook post the ministry made about this discovery spends more time on the beetles than the cats, as the discovery of two, large, well-preserved beetles is a rare find.

Forget the beetles. Why would the Egyptians mummify cats?

The Egyptians mummified millions of animals, from beetles to bulls. According to Richard Evershed of the University of Bristol, this was partly because many animals were seen as the incarnations of gods and giving them the honor of mummification was a pious act. This is why many mummified animals were given the same quality of treatment as humans.

Others mummified their animals because they wanted to be buried with their pets. It’s no different than how some people today spend way too much money on their dogs, get their cats hip replacements, or include them in their will. Humans seem to love their pets no matter where you go and in what era.

How else did the Egyptians show their love of cats? 

Photo by David Savill/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

December 1936: The Great Sphinx of Giza, representing a guardian deity in Egyptian mythology, with the body of a lion and the head of a woman.

The Egyptian love of cats goes back a long way. Mafdet, the protector against venomous creatures, was depicted as having the head of a cat as far back as 2,800 BCE. This depiction was likely a reference to the tendency for felines to kill snakes, as she was also often depicted as with the head of a Mongoose.

Breeds similar to the African wildcat are depicted as being domesticated as early as the 26th century BCE. After the 10th century BCE, the typical person started keeping domestic cats at home. The love endured to the 1st century BCE when a mob supposedly lynched a Roman for killing a cat. It was only when the Roman empire began to suppress paganism that the view of cats as sacred began to decline.

Cats, other than being wonderful pets, also ate rodents that would spread disease and steal grain. In an era before modern medicine or food storage techniques, both of these functions were indispensable. Just as many scholars view the veneration of cows in Hinduism as a result of the dependence of early peoples on cattle as a source of fuel, many Egyptologists suggest cats were so useful to the Egyptian people that they were treated as sacred as a result.

It’s wrong to think that they worshiped their cats, however. According Antonietta Catanzariti’s interview with Smithsonian, the ancient Egyptians’ attitude was one of reverence to the idea of the divine in animals. She explains that:

What they were [actually] doing was associating cats to specific deities because of their attitude, how they were behaving in the natural world. Everything had a meaning. A cat protecting the house from mice. Or it might just protect kittens. These were attitudes that were attributed to a specific goddess.

It isn’t that the cats were divine, but instead that they reflected the divine and should be respected as such; an observation many cat lovers would agree with.

Do dogs speak human?

Archaeologists unearth dozens of mummified cats in Egypt

Archaeologists in Egypt have found dozens of mummified cats in the tomb of a royal offical. The cats will join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of previously discovered ancient kitties. While the cats are nothing special, the tomb also held well preserved beetles.




Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.

Antibiotics have revolutionized healthcare.

With the advent of modern medicine, life threatening diseases such as smallpox, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus (lockjaw) and measles have essentially been eradicated. More importantly, complicated procedures that increase our risk of infections—including plastic surgery, joint replacement, cancer treatments, and organ transplant, among others—have become routine because any resulting infection can be treated effectively.

But modern medicine depends on antibiotics to treat and cure many kinds of infections—infections that could impact anyone from the premature baby to the elderly. Unfortunately, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has made some infections impossible and others increasingly difficult to treat, threatening the progress we have worked so hard to achieve.

AMR causes 700,000 deaths annually across the globe, a number projected to skyrocket to 10 million by 2050 without intervention.

What is antimicrobial resistance?

Antimicrobial drugs target the microorganisms that cause infection, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, and either kills them or inhibits their growth.

Anytime an antibiotic is used, either appropriately or inappropriately, the 30 trillion or more bacteria that live in or on our bodies undergo selective pressure to become resistant. Any that are sensitive to the antibiotic are killed, while those that remain are resistant or immune from the effects of that antibiotic. This is called AMR. Once a bacterial pathogen has reached a state of resistance to several types of antibiotics, it is colloquially referred to as a “superbug.”

The consequences of AMR can be stated simply: Commonly used antibiotics are rendered ineffective against that pathogen. If an infection caused by resistant bacteria is treated by that antibiotic, the bacteria are unaffected, resulting in disease persistence, worsening of the infection and/or even death. Treatments for both minor and serious infections are compromised, surgeries and other routine procedures become riskier, and the treatment of diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis becomes very complicated. For example, according to the World Health Organization, resistance in Klebsiella pneumoniae—a common intestinal bacterium that is a major cause of hospital-acquired infections, bloodstream infections, and infections in newborns and intensive-care unit patients—has spread to all regions of the world. In some countries, because of resistance, carbapenem antibiotics (often the “last resort” treatments) do not work in more than half of people treated for these types of infections. This results in prolonged hospitalization, increased medical costs and higher rates of death for infections that were easily treated only a few years ago.

“What’s more, AMR is a truly global issue—it can affect anyone, of any age, in any country,” Jill Inverso, Pfizer’s Vice President of Global Medical Affairs and Anti-Infectives, told Big Think.

AMR causes 700,000 deaths annually across the globe, a number projected to skyrocket to 10 million by 2050 without intervention. The rise of resistant pathogens is causing many countries to accrue significantly higher healthcare costs due to longer duration of illness, additional tests, and the need for different medicines to treat patients.

And these costs add up. The World Bank Group estimates that AMR could reduce annual global gross domestic product from 1.1–3.8 percent depending on severity, with up to $10.8 trillion in additional health expenditures.

At Pfizer, we take this growing threat very seriously and are driven by our desire to protect global public health and address the medical needs of people suffering from infectious diseases.

Giving antimicrobial resistance a helping hand

The development of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a natural process. Unlike almost every other class of drugs, antibiotics drive their own obsolescence by selecting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, even when used appropriately according to guidelines. When this happens, resistant bacteria survive and continue to multiply, causing the infection to worsen. These resistant bacteria can then also spread to other patients, causing new infections with these bacteria that are difficult to treat.

Overuse and misuse of antibiotics accelerates this process without providing any benefit to the patient. This happens when patients take a drug without need, do not finish their dose or stop taking the medication mid-course; it could also happen when a drug is either overprescribed or prescribed for the wrong duration/type of illness. All of these misuses create environments in which pathogens are exposed to drugs more often, allowing them to acclimate and breed resistance without any benefit to the patient.

Hence, antibiotics must be used wisely and sparingly.

Fighting the resistance

WHO calls AMR an “increasingly serious threat to global public health” and one that “requires action across all government sectors and society.” Its widespread growth is threatening the United Nations General Assembly’s Sustainable Development Goal of Good Health and Well-Being.

Companies like Pfizer are heavily committed to the fight against AMR, taking action across a variety of areas such as surveillance, stewardship, and prevention and treatment.

On the surveillance front, Pfizer is proud to sponsor one of the largest AMR surveillance programs in the world, the Antimicrobial Testing Leadership and Surveillance (or ATLAS). ATLAS monitors real-time changes in bacterial resistance and tracks these trends in real-time. Gathering information from more than 760 hospitals across 73 countries in many underserved areas, ATLAS has generated 14 years of continuous global data on bacteria. Researchers and healthcare professionals can access ATLAS’s data—free of charge—to study resistance trends, even in emerging market countries like Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

“At Pfizer, we take this growing threat very seriously,” Inverso added, “and are driven by our desire to protect global public health and address the medical needs of people suffering from infectious diseases.”

Pfizer also encourages good stewardship practices and supports education and training programs to help ensure patients receive the correct antibiotic only if needed, at the right dose and for the right duration.

“We believe that everybody can play a part in AMR stewardship by not taking an antibiotic unless provided by a healthcare professional, sticking to antibiotic regimens when prescribed, and keeping their vaccinations up to date,” said Inverso. She added, “Vaccines are administered to help prevent infections from happening in the first place, thereby reducing the need for antibiotic usage that can lead to the development of resistance.”

To date, several studies have demonstrated the beneficial role vaccines play in the reduction of AMR, such as reducing the use of antibiotics by preventing bacterial infections which may, in turn, prevent antimicrobial resistant infections from developing. Pfizer is committed to continue the development of new, innovative vaccines to help prevent infectious diseases globally.

We believe that everybody can play a part in AMR stewardship by not taking an antibiotic unless provided by a healthcare professional, sticking to antibiotic regimens when prescribed, and keeping their vaccinations up to date.

Given this, we should ask ourselves the following:

  • Have I ever not finished an antibiotic given to me by my doctor?
  • Have I ever used an antibiotic given to someone else?
  • Am I up-to-date on my vaccinations that prevent infections that would need antibiotics?
  • Have I ever demanded an antibiotic for myself or a child that the doctor thought was caused by a virus?
  • Have I ever saved antibiotics given to me for one infection and used it at a different time?

The key takeaway? AMR is a pervasive, growing threat that cannot be tamed without the collective efforts of government, industry, health systems, society and others. Working together, we may have a fighting chance.

Related Articles Around the Web

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bigthink/main/~3/R_DPf4KZVjY/antibiotic-resistance-superbugs-health-threat




What humanity will gain by going to Mars

Leland Melvin: So, for humans to live on Mars and not just make a lot of potatoes and live off the potatoes for a while it’s just the habitat, the systems itself for a robust life support system that’s going to keep you alive for this long period of time. I mean we go to the space station that’s been up there since 2000 and its been working, but we have a day and a half trip to get something to the space station if something fails and we need a spare part. Mars is going to take six to eight months to get something there. So trying to build systems that are super redundant but also have ways to fix things like with 3-D printing. I mean that’s another thing that we have on the space station but we haven’t had to utilize it for making things that are critical that are in situ [ph] right there. And so I think that is one of the things a habitat that’s bullet proof. The food aspects, you know, eating food that not only tastes good but it also has a nutritional value that you’re going to get all the nutrients that you need to function and liver for this extended period of time. The Martian environment is very harsh with the thin atmosphere, 3/8ths G, solar radiation, all these things, building suits that can handle that when you’re doing these excursions and going out and cleaning the solar panels and doing these things having robust systems that will keep you alive.

[0:06:37.4] And then just water and food. I think I heard it’s going to take 24,000 pounds of food for I think a colony of four or five to live up there so do you pre-position? Do you fly those and pre-position that there and hope that a dust storm or something doesn’t wipe it out and know that it’s still there? And then a shelf life of five years, whereas the shelf life for the food on the space station is 18 months, so a five year shelf life and every time an item of food sits there for another month, another month, another month it loses nutritional value, it loses flavor, it loses texture. So making sure that we have something that people are going to want to eat and will eat to stay healthy in this environment. [0:07:23.1]

[0:02:32.5] Leland Melvin: We as a race, the human race, are intrinsically curious and we are wired in our DNA is that we are explorers. We look up at the night sky we wonder what’s up there, especially as children. And so this journey of exploring the things around us, whether they are close or far, that’s what we do, that’s what we do as humans. And I think all the things that we’ve done with exploration, whether it’s walking on the moon or building an International Space Station, all these things help advance life back on earth. And so exploration leads us to a better life, heart pacemakers, smoke detectors, all these things that have come out of the space program. But it’s also not just the technological things, but it’s the part that brings us together as a humanity. I was in space on my first commission with African-American, Asian American, French, German, Russian, the first female commander, people we used to fight against are now breaking bread at 17,500 miles an hour going around the planet every 90 minutes seeing a sunrise and a sunset every 45 while breaking bread listening to Sade Smooth Operator. That was surreal. That blew my mind and it gave me this perspective shift when I look back at the planet like Ron Garan’s book Orbital Perspective.

[0:03:51.4] And so as we do this space station thing, as we maybe go back to the moon and build a habitat, but eventually we’re going to be going to another planet. And Mars is our closest neighbor that we can get to; there are potential resources there; there’s water at the poles; iron is in the soil that we can turn into other things, the perchlorates. So I think that as a race of people I think it’s imperative that we continue to explore, but also that we visit this neighbor that might have been like our planet at one time before. So this can be a harbinger of maybe things to come that we need to understand what happened there and what’s going to potentially happen here on earth. No matter what that timeframe is understanding that is very important.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bigthink/main/~3/WkK48w40z0c/what-humanity-will-gain-by-going-to-mars




Conflict Photographer Lynsey Addario on Art, Love, and War

  • a story of survival that leaves our host speechless
  • and a story of casual cruelty that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief

Think about all the images you see in a day. The advertisements. The photos and videos as you search the web or scroll through social media, if you do that. Now think back a century and a half or so to when photography was new. Imagine the first time a British monarch saw a picture of an Inuit family, or vice versa. What did they make of each other? What did it remake in themselves?

My guest today, photographer Lynsey Addario, has spent over two decades traveling the world taking intimate and dramatic portraits, often of lives in crisis—the perpetrators and victims of tyranny, revolution, famine, and rape. Her work spans over 70 countries and has won her a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize, but has never been gathered into a book until now. Of Love and War gives her most compelling photos the space they deserve, along with essays, interview excerpts, and letters she wrote home to process the things she was witnessing.

Lynsey’s pictures offer people like myself, living out our lives in privileged circumstances, a window into the beauty, suffering, and everyday humanity of our contemporaries across the world. And like it or not, ready or not, when you stop scrolling long enough look into one of these images, it looks back into you.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:

Bruce Feiler on happy families

Conflict Photographer Lynsey Addario on Art, Love, and War

a story of survival that leaves our host speechless and a story of casual cruelty that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief Think about all the images you see in a day. The advertisements. The photos and videos as you search the web or scroll through social media, if you do that.




This is how we end hyper-partisan politics

ALICE DREGER: “Breaking bread with the enemy” is something I mean literally—not if you’re gluten intolerant. But if you’re not, literally having food with people who are on the other side of an issue often allows you to go back to a very early thing that developed in us as we evolved, and that was the idea of: sharing resources creates connections between us. It allows us to begin to understand where other people are coming from, it allows us to have more charity in ourselves with regard to understanding their point of view and I think, all in all, it leads to a situation where you have better outcomes. It’s not always the case. This can go too far, as when politicians spend time with particular lobbyists and special interest groups and end up shifting not based on rationality and not based on justice but shifting basically on loyalty of who they hang out with. But I do recommend to a lot of activists that they try to literally sit down at a table with somebody who is “the enemy” and see if they can have a conversation, and preferably to do it over food or drink, because there is something very primal in us about sharing food and drink that allows us, I think, to open our hearts and our minds.

If the tools you’re using to do activism are tools that can be used in highly destructive ways, I often recommend to people to think carefully about deploying those tools. We don’t want an arms race in activism. We don’t want a situation, for example, which has happened in many cases, where people go after people’s families or children in terms of social media attacks, where they do things that are just out of line, make false charges against people. If you’re using those kinds of tools, those are the kinds of tools that then become ever more common in our society and it doesn’t help anybody. So I try to encourage people who do activism to think really carefully about this: Whatever you’re doing, would you want it to be done to you? Is it something that has integrity? Is it something that will maintain your integrity? And are you not creating an arms race? Because an arms race isn’t going to help anybody.

It may sound really strange to say to an activist that a way to be a good activist is to take time to be nonpartisan, because by definition activism is partisan. And yet I think it’s really important and valuable to step back when possible and try to spend a little time doing descriptive research—not normative research that says ‘this is good, this is bad, this is true, this is false’, but rather trying to do descriptive work that simply understands what’s happening in the world. One value of that is it gets you knowledge that is useful in terms of understanding how to achieve your goals. But another reason that is super useful is because it actually reminds you of what the other side may be seeing that you may be missing because you’re blinded by your partisan side. So it allows you to step back and say to yourself, “Okay, what other points of view might there be here? What other knowledge might there be that I’m missing?”

I run a nonpartisan local newspaper that I founded for my city because we’re living in what’s called a news desert, which means the Internet basically had crushed the economy of local news where I live, which is East Lansing, Michigan, and I was really concerned that the people of East Lansing had no idea what was going on at City Council, at Planning Commission; they would just see building go up and would be upset about it but have no idea it was even coming. They didn’t know we had a $200 million debt happening, even though we have only 20,000 permanent residents, so it’s an enormous debt for our city—they just didn’t know it was going on. And so when I founded that newspaper I realized it needed to be nonpartisan so that people could feel there was a place they could come and get reliable knowledge—and that was pre-Trump. I mean, this was already a problem happening in the mid 2010s, this was 2014 when I started it. And one of the things I’ve learned from doing that is when I have to do nonpartisan news reporting, it really forces me to step back and say to myself, “Okay, who might have a point of view that I haven’t thought about?” And I’ve got to go out and listen to people I wouldn’t normally listen to. I have to go and seek answers to questions. I have to fact-check myself. So my assumption that ‘X is true’, well, maybe X isn’t true and I have to go and look at the facts. And that really changes how we’re all thinking about something. But engaging people in the nonpartisan process—I use citizen journalists—I’ve really found that it helps them understand that they may not know everything. It breeds a kind of humility, it breeds a desire for more knowledge, and interestingly it breeds a kind of political sympathy where, even if they don’t change their mind personally but they’re doing the nonpartisan reporting, they’re understanding much better what somebody on the other side is seeing, and that’s extraordinary. It never would have occurred to me that spending time in nonpartisanships makes you a more sympathetic person, but that often happens.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bigthink/main/~3/azTtMbGAXNk/this-is-how-we-end-hyper-partisan-politics




Study reveals that bitcoin mining uses as much energy as mining for gold

  • New study reveals that mining crypto can be use even more energy than needed to mine gold
  • In order to understand the findings, we must first understand what crypto mining is
  • The crypto community is looking for a way to solve these issue

According to a new study published in the journal Nature Sustainability from researchers Max J. Krause and Thabet Tolaymat, it appears that mining cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin uses more energy than conventional mining for copper and platinum and as much energy—possibly more— as the amount used for mining gold. For some in the tech and environmental sectors, this isn’t new information. In fact, since bitcoin’s inception, environmentalists and tech enthusiasts alike have brought attention to the energy-intensive process of mining the popular cryptocurrency.

However, now researchers have examined the data from cryptocurrency mining operations and compared it to traditional mining of materials like platinum, copper, and gold and found that the amount of energy required to mine bitcoin is nearly twice as much as what’s required for mining copper and platinum. But why is it so energy expensive and what does this mean for the future and sustainability of the cryptocurrency movement?

What’s causing the energy consumption?

To better understand the study’s findings, it’s important to first have a basic understanding of what bitcoin and other cryptocurrency “miners” are doing. Bitcoin is just one type of cryptocurrency, well-known as the original currency with the highest market capitalization, but it’s not the only currency in circulation. Along with many other coins and tokens, bitcoins are digital currency that can be owned by anyone, transferred from one party to another, which are not issued by a central authority like the US dollar or other fiat currency.

The underlying technology powering bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies (though not all) is blockchain technology. The Bitcoin network relies on a decentralized network with a distributed ledger to keep track of all transactions. As people send and receive bitcoins to each other, the network records the transactions. All of the recording is done by a large group of volunteers who maintain the network; these “volunteers” are the miners.

Those “mining” for bitcoin aren’t physically mining, but rather solving difficult cryptographic puzzles proving they’ve recorded the correct transactions and are in agreement with the network before adding a block (a chunk of information, i.e. set of transactions) to the history of transactions in the past (i.e. the “chain”)—that’s how we end up with a “blockchain.” This is also how new bitcoins are generated.

To accomplish this task, the Bitcoin network operates using a consensus mechanism called “Proof-of-Work” (PoW). This requires miners to do an extensive amount of processing and involves a lot of hardware running 24/7/365 in large amounts. If you’ve ever seen a cryptocurrency mining operation before, you’ll know exactly what we mean:

Understanding the scale

The second factor to consider besides the actual mechanics of what’s happening when mining is the size of operations. While there are miners operating small rigs in their college dorm rooms, there are an even larger number of exceptionally large mining operations taking place across the world. Given how energy intensive mining for cryptocurrencies is, energy consumption is only compounded when looking at the global scale of mining.

In fact, some estimates have put the global energy consumption of bitcoin mining higher than energy consumed by all of Ireland. While others believe such estimates to be inflated, the fact remains that mining cryptocurrencies requires a substantial amount of energy, especially after factoring in mining operations from other cryptocurrencies besides bitcoin, like the second highest coin by market capitalization, ether.

What is the community doing to solve this?

Of course, those on the sidelines aren’t the only ones noticing the vast amount of energy consumed by mining cryptocurrencies. Improving efficiency in the cryptocurrency world is already a concern for many of the top minds in the industry.

The founder of the Ethereum project, Vitalik Buterin, has already proposed a new direction for the well-known blockchain-based platform that’s given rise to so many new tokens in recent years. Though currently operating on a Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus mechanism like Bitcoin, the Ethereum network is slated to eventually make the switch to a new Proof-of-Stake (PoS) hybrid method of mining that will reduce energy consumption in the crypto mining industry while still maintaining the integrity of the network. The new initiative has been nicknamed “Casper” and is to be implemented with sharding for a new version of Ethereum known as “Serenity,” according to Buterin.

At the same time, there are others in the community looking at different solutions. Some sources aren’t looking at the energy consumption itself, but rather how miners are getting the energy they require. New initiatives are popping up in the market to offer green energy solutions directly to the mining community with a heavy thirst for energy.

While others, like Timothy Lee with ArsTechnica have pointed out that if the price of bitcoin stays (relatively) consistent, then we’re likely to see energy demands from the network decrease over time, not increase, as block rewards (the amount of bitcoins miners receive) decrease over time. The next “halving” is expected to occur in mid-2020 with the reward dropping by 50% roughly every four years following that until the last of the 21,000,000 bitcoins are completely mined.

Others in the industry dislike the comparison between gold and crypto mining altogether, as CEO and co-founder of cryptopotato.com says:

“I think that this kind of comparison is too shallow; it doesn’t take into consideration two factors which are much more important than the amount of energy consumed. Bitcoin mining farms will always try to reduce their energy price and their consumption as much as they can while trying to find renewable energy resources so as to make processes cheaper and more efficient.

In the case of gold mining, however, electricity is just one of many resources in a process which has a lot of constraints which result in nonrenewable resources being used such as coal and oil which have far reaching environmental repercussions.

Moving forward

Even with the significant energy consumption by cryptocurrency miners, the researcher behind the study, Max Krause, still believes cryptocurrencies will continue to grow in popularity and relevance in society, saying that:

“I believe in the next five years you’ll have the option to buy something on Amazon or a coffee at your local shop with cryptocurrency. But what I want is for people to understand all the costs of the new technology. We can embrace new technology but we should have a good understanding of what exactly we are embracing.”

The question now remains how energy consumption concerns will impact the growth and direction of the cryptocurrency world in the coming future. What do you think?

Related Articles Around the Web

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bigthink/main/~3/1D1yoMC047s/new-study-on-cryptomining-energy




Where might we find aliens? Ice moons, methane oceans, and the red planet

MICHELLE THALLER: So, Stephanie, you ask a great question: How likely is it that we’re going to find life on a planet outside the Earth in your lifetime, say in the next 40 or 50 years? And, of course, this is something that nobody can answer exactly. “We don’t know,” that’s the answer. But I think it’s very likely indeed. Now, when I say life, there’s a lot of ways you can take that word. I’m not really talking about civilizations or spaceships or things like that; I think it’s much more likely that we’re going to find microbes, simple life—but to me, that would be really, really exciting. There are several places in our own solar system right now that we think might be good environments for life. And, as I said before, we haven’t found proof of life yet, but we found some very, very interesting things. For example, on Mars—Mars has an atmosphere that’s much thinner than the Earth’s, but it is still there; we think there might even be water underneath the surface of Mars. And recently we’ve detected organic molecules, which are sort of the building blocks of our chemistry, on Mars as well. It’s possible that the surface of Mars itself is not a very good place for life, but maybe underneath, meters under the soil in the rock you could find bacteria. And there a lot of analogs to this on Earth, similar things on Earth. We find bacteria that can exist a mile under the Earth, we find these things in gold mines very, very deep under the Earth. You break open the rocks and there’s actually bacteria living in the rocks very far down into the Earth.

There are other places in the outer solar system that we think are great environments for life, too. There are moons of Jupiter and Saturn that we know have liquid water oceans. For example, Europa is a moon of Jupiter and we know that Europa has vast reservoirs of liquid water that are protected by a shell of ice. In fact, this one moon of Jupiter, Europa, actually has far more liquid water on it than Earth does. And there are some suggestions that there might be interesting chemistry as well. There’s also a moon of Saturn called Enceladus. And the same thing applies: There’s liquid water under ice. And in the case of Enceladus, you actually have cracks in the ice that the water is flying out of and turning into ice crystals. We actually flew our Cassini spacecraft through these jets coming out of Enceladus and we detected organic molecules, so we know that there is warm salt water, there’s interesting chemistry—it’s a great place to go looking for life. And there’s another moon of Saturn too, called Titan, which is very different from that; it has an atmosphere. We actually think that there are lakes of methane, not water but actually liquid methane on the surface. And below that, there’s probably liquid water underneath. So you have liquid water, you have organics, you have an atmosphere—maybe that would be a great place to go looking for some microbes.

So some people say that’s not very exciting; we’re not going to find aliens in the sense of spaceships and Klingons and any science fiction you want. I, for one, though, I’m going to be very excited when we find any evidence of life outside the Earth. I actually have a bottle of champagne chilling because I think it could happen almost any day when some of our rovers or some of our satellites around other planets come back with really interesting data. Think about the questions we can answer: Does life, even if it’s at a bacterial level, even if it’s just a tiny little bit of life, does it have DNA? Is it similar to us? Is it different from us? We finally have the next example of how life can form and how life can evolve, and our view of the universe will never be the same again. And my bet is that’s going to happen in the next 50 years.

Where might we find aliens? Ice moons, methane oceans, and the red planet

When and where will we find alien life? NASA’s Michelle Thaller Ask an Astronomer series for Big Think. Alien microbes won’t be like Klingons. Enceladus, Titan, Europa, Mars, water, ice, methane, extraterrestrial organic compounds, bacteria, aliens. We’ll find aliens in the next 50 years.




Why the language of fear won’t help us stop climate change

Cheryl Heller: I just this weekend was at an event called Drawdown Learn with Paul Hawken based on his book Drawdown. And the work that he and the group of scientists have done in explaining what we need to do to drawdown global warming. And what’s remarkable is that it has become practical, in other words they have proven that refrigeration and the chemicals we use in refrigeration is the number one. Paul Hawken’s talked a lot about the language we use to describe climate change. And his principal point was that we treat it as an “evil that we should be afraid of”, the “war against climate change” or the “battle against climate change”. And he went through a whole list of the kinds of expressions we use.

It’s clear when it comes to climate change, as it’s been clear about drunk driving and smoking and all the other things that we want people not to do, scaring them does not work. And the more frightened they become, and the more helpless they feel or powerless they feel, the more they shut down.
What’s brilliant about Drawdown is you don’t need to speak in frightening generalities about climate change, “we’re all going to die and we have ten years,” and all that stuff we talked about, you can say—depending on what someone is interested in—that educating young girls is actually, I forget it’s number three or number eight in their list of what would effect climate change.
And somebody on Paul Hawkins’ team was also talking about this, you can immediately get into political battles and just dead ends when you use the words “climate change”. If you talk about a specific initiative and you explain what it is and you talk to people who have a vested interest in it—farmers have a vested interest in aspects of climate change, coastal cities have a vested interest in certain aspects of climate change—When you can make it real and when you can talk about things that actually could be accomplished, you shift from vague and fearful to concrete and actionable. And that’s where we are now we know the kinds of programs that will actually make a difference.
What I hope the book does is make it clear that leading change and being able to act on the things that matter to people is not inaccessible, it doesn’t require a special degree, it doesn’t require superhuman power, people always say ,”I can’t draw a straight line,” it has nothing to do with that, to become a designer! I hope that people see that it is possible to step up, and that all that’s really needed is for someone to decide to do it and to start where they are, to look at the reality of the things around them and to think about who needs to be part of a conversation and to start a conversation. Meg Wheatly talks about the fact that all change begins with a conversation between people, and that’s really how to begin the process of social change as well.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bigthink/main/~3/kmyhQxd8KfY/stop-global-warming




Dogma-free meditation for calming your mind

Damien Echols: You don’t have to believe in it. There’s no dogma. Even like I said it uses iconography and symbolism from things like gnostic Christianity and esoteric Judaism, things like that. But it doesn’t require you to believe in these things. The reason it uses this symbolism is, for example, in the part of the country that I grew up in there are literally places where you come to a four way stop and there are churches on all four corners. So even if you’re completely atheist, even if you’re repelled by these things, they are still part of your psyche, still part of our culture. So we on some level respond to those things in some way. That doesn’t mean we necessarily have to believe in them for magick to work.

Like I said the people who devise these techniques wanted to know what works, why it works, how it works, and how we can make it work better. You don’t have to believe in any of this any more than you have to believe that your muscles are going to get bigger by going to the gym.

The way that I guess one of the things that was so hard about Eastern traditions like Zen was you focus almost entirely on staying in the present moment all the time. That is really, really hard. Once you actually start trying to do that you realize how out of control your thoughts are. Our thoughts chase themselves around like a dog chasing its own tail all the time from the time we get up until the time we go to sleep. And a lot of the Eastern traditions deal with almost wrestling against that. Every time you realize you’re doing it, bringing yourself back to the present moment, back to the present moment over and over and over. For me I didn’t get a lot of results out of that. I never found myself in the present moment m ore than I was whenever I started the practices. Ceremonial magick on the other hand what it does is it doesn’t really address that at all. Instead you’re dealing like, for example, on energy circulation practices where you’re circulating chi through different parts of your body, you’re trying to energize different energy centers. It runs down through your spine. Doing that as a side effect you become more and more present. And I didn’t even realize a lot of these practices say, for example, the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram, when you would learn these things traditionally the organization, the Order, would give you these exercises and they would not tell you what they’re going to do. They would not tell you what they’re for. They would say “go practice this for a year, come back and talk to us then. And if you’re interested in learning more and going forward we’ll talk about it then.” Whenever you came back they would say “okay, well what did you experience?” That’s how they would know if you had actually been practicing them or not. So I would practice these techniques, the middle pillar, the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram, and one day while I was in prison I bent over to tie my shoes and I realized, without even trying to do so, I was in the present moment. And it was almost like an atomic bomb going off because it was for the very first time in my life I realized “oh my god, I’m completely in the present moment!” Of course the second you think that it’s shattered, and you’re back to thinking or whatever. But it was even after years of Zen practice it was the first time that I had truly experienced that, and it was due to ceremonial magick.

One of the techniques that I use, you know, the analogy I used earlier about flushing yourself out like a cup of water, this is a technique that flushes our thoughts out. If you have a song going through your head over and over or if you’re reliving an argument you had with someone a year ago, if you’re obsessed over something that you can’t get out of your head, this technique is good for that as well as just general meditation purposes. It doesn’t have a name. I usually just refer to it as the prison cell meditation. But if you’re interested I’ll do that. Is that okay? All right. You start by closing your eyes and then you envision yourself in a prison cell. Standing in the center of a cell, everything is white. The walls are white. The ceiling is white. The floors are white. The only thing there is in the cell other than you on the back wall is a slit of a window. And it’s up so high that the only way that you can reach it, the only way you can see out of it is by gripping the window ledge high above your head and hoisting yourself up by sheer, brute, physical upper body strength. Almost like you’re doing a pull up or a chin up. So you want to bring as much tactile sensation to the visualization as you possibly can. You want to feel it as much as you can. So picture yourself walking to the back of this wall, pressing yourself against it, reaching up with your hands and gripping the edge of that windowsill with your fingertips. Try to feel what the back wall of that prison cell would feel like pressed against the side of your face, pressed against your torso. Feel the coldness of it, the grittiness of it. And as you start to lift yourself up off the floor using just your arms try to feel what that would actually feel like. Feel the muscles in your shoulders. Feel the muscles in your chest, in your abdomen firing, tensing as you’re pulling yourself up.

Try to feel what the wall would feel like as you scrape against it lifting yourself slowly by sheer strength. As your eyes crest over the rim of the window white light bursts through the window, floods through the window, and obliterates everything: The cell, you, everything, until there’s only white light remaining.

Do it again. Press yourself against the back of the wall, reach up with both hands, and grip the edge of the windowsill. Feel the muscles in your chest, in your abdomen, in your shoulders tensing as you start to lift yourself up. Feel the wall scrape against the front of your thighs, against the side of your face as you hoist yourself until your eyes come over the edge of the window frame, and then white light comes flooding in through the window obliterating everything – you, the cell, until there’s only white light.

Once more. Feel yourself pressed against the wall, raise your arms, hook your fingertips over the window ledge. Begin to raise yourself slowly up by sheer strength, feeling the muscles in your shoulders, your chest, your torso straining as you lift your body weight. Feel the wall of the prison cell as you scrub against it; and as your eyes go over the edge of the window frame, white light comes flooding in, obliterating everything.

And this is one of those things you can do for as long as you have time. You can do it five times, you can do it ten times. The longer you do it the more effective it is. And it gives you something to work with in your visualization instead of just trying to stay in the present moment, which is really, really hard.

http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bigthink/main/~3/J5UIYzHi3i4/dogma-free-meditation-calming-mind