Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Health Benefits of Chili Peppers



Chili pepper also called chile pepper or chilli pepper (from Nahuatl term "chilli" ) is the fruit of a plant from the genus Capsicum, in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Chili peppers originally grew in America, but spread around the world after the discovery of the continent by Christopher Columbus. 

The fiery fruit found its way into many ethnic cuisines. Its medicinal qualities were quickly discovered and applied for variety of ailments. Modern science confirms most of the popular uses.

The main active compund that gives chili peppers their intensity when ingested or applied topically is capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide). Several other related chemicals, collectively called capsaicinoids, work in synergy to the same effect.

Chili contains vitamin A, C, B6, and folate. When ripe and red, it contains significant amounts of beta carotene. The hot fruit is also an important source of phosphorus, iron, sodium,  magnesium and silica. They are also rich in lycopene, lutein, and zeaxantin - compounds that help fight free radicals in the body.

Regular intake of chili peppers delays oxidation of serum lipids, and lowers and improves insulin and glucose profiles following a meal, both of which contribute to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Australian researchers also demonstrated that the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar after a meal is reduced if the meal contained chili pepper. When chili was consumed on regular basis, the insulin requirements dropped even more.

The benefits of chili may even increase with a higher body mass index - an obesity indicator. In obesse individuals, chili not only significantly reduces the amount of insulin required to lower blood sugar levels after a meal, but it also results in a lower ratio of C-peptide to insulin, an indication that the rate at which the liver is clearing insulin has increased. 

The levels of C-peptide in the blood also indicate how much insulin is being produced by the pancreas. The pancreas produces proinsulin, which splits into insulin and C-peptide when it is secreted into the bloodstream. Each molecule of proinsulin breaks into one molecule of C-peptide and one molecule of insulin. Lower levels of C-peptide indicate that less insulin has been secreted into the bloodstream. Since chili positively affects this ration, regular consumption of chili may help prevent adult diabetes.

Capsaicin improves the ratio of bad versus good cholesterol in blood and stimulates the liver enzyme responsible for the fat metabolism.

Scientists found out that chili stimulates blood circulation and is a great anticoagulant. Both, capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin reduce platelet aggregation and the activity of blood clotting proteins in blood samples. Regular consumption of hot peppers may help reduce the risk of thrombosis and prevent stroke.

A team of scientists found out that capsaicin has the potential to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in the cells of the prostate cancer. The cancer cells alter their genetic information to avoid the genetically programmed apoptosis. Capsaicin demonstrated the ability to interfere with this maneuver and slow the proliferation of the cancer cells and the development of prostate tumors.

Hot peppers can provide some relief for cold and sinus problems because capsaicin has as expectorant effect. It increases lung function and facilitates the elimination of mucus.   

There is a strong scientific evidence that capsaiconoids in chili boost metabolic rate. This brings hope to many who wish to lose weight. Chili stimulates receptors in the bowel when a spicy meal is eaten and increases thermogenesis. Increased heat means increased energy expenditure and thus the boost to the metabolic rate. It must be said, however, that excessive consumption of hot chili peppers may irritate stomach in sensitive individuals. A safer option for weight loss is available on the market in form of a non-irritant capsaicin pill.

Capsaicin has been used externally with great success to control pain. Such conditions as painful joints, arthritic inflammation, muscle pain, athletic injuries, and frostbite improved considerably with topical application of capsaicin containing ointments. Scientists in Scandinavia found out that capsaicin increases the DNA synthesis and triggers production of pain suppressing collagenase and prostaglandin.

Since capsaicin improves blood circulation, hot chili may be used as an aphrodisiac. It is wise, however, to avoid contact with the genitalia as the stinging may have an adverse effect. 

Adding a little chili to daily meals not only makes a bland diet tastier and more appealing, but, most importantly, helps prevent disease and improve many degenerative conditions associated with aging.

By Dominique Allmon

*Information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.



Creative Commons License
Health Benefits of Chili Peppers by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Enlightenment


Enlightenment - that magnificent escape from anguish and ignorance - never happens by accident. It results from the brave and sometimes lonely battle of one person against his own weaknesses. - Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano


Also of interest

         

Friday, November 25, 2011

A New Mindset for the Black Friday



All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume. - Noam Chomsky

While some stores in the US decided to open their doors for the Black Friday super sale at midnight, countless employees had to cut their Thanksgiving celebrations short. Hundreds of shoppers probably did not celebrate at all spending their Thanksgiving Holiday in the line at their favorite store...

It appears incomprehensible that some people would forgo a seldom chance of spending some quality time with family and friends, and decide instead to go shopping.

Since the economy is in a rather bad shape, the retailers do not expect record sales. The shoppers, on the other hand, are rather careful with their money and hope to find the best deal ever. Some may even get lucky. But as every year, much money will be spent on things no one really needs, simply because they are "on sale".

The employees of Macy's and Target stores have very little choice. They have to go to work. But the consumers are free to decide whether they go shopping at all. They can celebrate with joy a consumerism-free day and decide to buy things they need when they need them.

Wishing everyone a thoughtful and stressless Black Friday - Dominique


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. - John F. Kennedy
May you have a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving!


         

Monday, November 21, 2011

Leaves



How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow.

By Elsie N. Brady

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Foundation of Abundance



Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Image source unknown but greatly appreciated

Friday, November 18, 2011

Social Security, Ponzi Schemes, and the Need for Reform


 

By Michael D. Tanner

Recently there has been much debate over whether Social Security is or is not a Ponzi scheme.

Clearly Social Security has many structural characteristics that resemble those of the classic Ponzi or pyramid scheme. For example, like a Ponzi scheme, Social Security does not actually save or invest any of a participant's payments. When a worker pays taxes into the system, that money is used to pay current beneficiaries. Therefore, participants receive payments, not from returns on their own investments, but directly from inflows from subsequent participants.

As a result, Social Security was able to pay early participants a windfall return on their money. But as demographic changes result in fewer workers paying into the program and more recipients taking benefits out, the return to subsequent generations grows steadily worse. Today's young workers will receive a rate of return far lower than what they could receive from private markets.

However, there is one crucial distinction between Social Security and a Ponzi scheme. Once Ponzi was unable to talk enough people into investing with him, his scheme collapsed. People participate in Social Security because the government makes them. And if the Social Security system begins to run short of people paying into the system, as it is now, it can always force those people to pay more.

Yet, Congress's ability to preserve Social Security through higher taxes and lower benefits should not distract from the more fundamental problem that the program's Ponzi-like structure makes it unable to pay currently promised levels of benefits with current levels of taxation. In short, the program is facing insolvency without fundamental reform.

Instead of just making a bad deal worse, that reform should fundamentally restructure Social Security. It should remove the Ponzi-like aspects of the program and allow younger workers to save a portion of their payroll taxes through privately invested personal accounts. 

Article source CATO Institute

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nothing Exists in Isolation



All things are interrelated and interdependent; nothing exists in isolation. The entire universe is one ecosystem, similar to a spider web - if one part is touched, the entire net shimmers. As a result of interrelatedness and interdependency, every expression of energy, including our thoughts and intentions, ultimately touches and affects everything else. - Matthew Flickstein

Image source unknown but greatly appreciated


Also of interest

    

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally



What is diabetes and how does it affect the body?

Diabetes is a very common, serious condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high as the body has difficulties to utilize it properly. Diabetes occurs
  • when the pancreas does not produce any insulin
  • when the insulin production is insufficient
  • when the insulin produced by the pancreas does not work properly (insulin resistance)
There are many forms of diabetes, but the two most common are Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body destroys its own insulin-producing cells, the pancreatic beta cells. This type of diabetes afflicts children and young adults, although the disease onset can occur at any age. People with this type of diabetes require daily injections of insulin to survive. There is currently no cure for Type 1 diabetes.

The majority of all diabetes is Type 2 diabetes (estimated 85%-95%), which in many cases can be prevented or reversed. People with type 2 diabetes cannot effectively use the insulin they produce, but can often manage their condition through diet, exercise, and supplementation, although many go on to require medication, including insulin, to properly control blood glucose levels. It is estimated that 60 per cent or more of type 2 diabetes could be prevented. Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance - a condition where the body cells cannot properly utilize insulin. With time the need for insulin in the body rises, but the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it. Research shows that exercise and moderate weight loss can delay or even prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes in adults with the high risk of developing diabetes.

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes represent a serious health threat. In 2007 diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the USA. It is estimated that approximately 7.8 per cent of the US population has diabetes. About one quarter of all cases remains undiagnosed. Statistics show that people who are obese are three times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than people who manage to keep their weight at optimal levels.
Diabetes can affect every organ in the body. People with diabetes are susceptible to
  • cardiovascular disease that may lead to heart attack and stroke
  • vision problems including blindness in extreme cases
  • nerve damage in the lower extremities that may lead to gangrene and amputation
  • kidney damage
  • gum disease that may lead to the loss of teeth
To prevent the diabetes related diseases, people with diabetes must make radical changes in their lifestyle:
  • they have to lose weight if they are obese and learn to keep their weight in the optimal range
  • they have to change their nutrition and follow a healthy meal plan
  • they have to increase their physical activity and develop an exercise program
  • besides keeping their blood glucose at the healthy level, they must control their blood pressure and their cholesterol levels
Diabetes reversal plan has to involve healthy nutrition and supplementation with blood glucose regulating supplements as well as physical activity. Self-education is vital. When we understand the dangers of diabetes and what is happening in our body when we eat, it is easier to introduce lifestyle changes and follow healthy nutritional plan. These strategies are not only life-saving. They allow people with diabetes to live a more normal, happier lives.

Anti-diabetes action plan involves:
  • healthy nutrition
  • supplementation
  • exercise
  • stress control
Nutrition

Obesity is maybe one of the most important factors in developing insulin resistance syndrome and Type 2 diabetes. About ninety per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes are obese. It could not be stressed enough that weight loss is vital in reversing in preventing Type 2 diabetes. Weight loss is very important as the fat cells secret pro-inflammatory proteins that interfere with the insulin receptors. There are some risks associated with a rapid weight loss. It is therefore advisable to consult a nutritionist who will be able to assess overall health of a person and devise an optimal nutritional plan. A low glycemic load (GL) diet created by the British nutritionist Patrick Holford as well as the Mediterranean Diet have proven to be most effective for preventing and reversing Type 2 diabetes. Nutrition rich in healthy oils, lean protein, whole grains, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is beneficial to health. It is important to avoid saturated and hydrogenated fat, sugar and all foods with sugar added to it, as well as coffee as it negatively affects the blood sugar levels. For those with a "sweet tooth" choosing a healthy alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners, such as stevia, is important. 

Supplements to regulate blood sugar
  • Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant made by our body. It is present in every cell where it converts glucose into energy. It is both, water and fat soluble. Research shows that it can regulate blood sugar levels. It is also useful in reducing the nerve damage caused by diabetes. As a nutritional supplement it is best taken in its biologically active form as R-lipoic acid. Daily dose is 300 mg.
  • Bitter gourd (Mormodica charantia) is well known in China for its medicinal properties, especially for its ability to regulate blood sugar. At least three active compounds involved in blood sugar regulation have been identified, most importantly charantin and polypeptide P. The Chinese use bitter gourd as vegetable in various dishes or as a tea. In the West an ongoing research is being conducted and the results are very promising as the active compounds appear to regulate sugar metabolism in the body.
  • Chromium polynicotinate is an organic form of the non-toxic mineral, essential for metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat in the body. Chromium helps to restore blood glucose balance. It increases both, insulin binding and insulin effectiveness. Moreover, it increases the number of insulin receptors. Research shows that up to 50 per cent Americans are deficient in chromium. Chromium can safely be taken in a dose of 400-1000 µg per day, which is more than eight times the current allowance. There is no known toxicity even at levels that are ten times higher than the recommended dose.
  • Cinnulin PF is a proprietary water soluble extract of cinnamon (Cinnamomum burmannii). Cinnulin appears to support glucose transport mechanisms and to diminish the blood glucose spikes that normally follow after a meal. The recommended dosage is 250 mg before each meal. It is important to know that cinnamon contains volatile oils that can be toxic if cinnamon is consumed in large amounts over a long period of time. Cinnulin, on the other hand, is extracted in a process in which the toxins found in whole cinnamon are filtered out.
  • Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity. Studies suggest that magnesium-rich diet can significantly lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance can be mitigated with supplementary magnesium. The recommended dose is 400 mg per day. For a better absorption magnesium is best taken with its co-factor vitamin B6.
  • Medicinal mushrooms such as Agaricus blazei, Cordyceps, Maitake, and Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) contain compounds that can significantly lower blood sugar. These mushrooms have been used for centuries to successfully treat diabetes in China and Japan.
  • Vanadium is an essential trace mineral that is associated with the regulation of blood sugar. Vanadium as vanadyl sulfate has been shown to reduce hyperglycemia and improve insulin sensitivity in people with Type 2 diabetes. Some vanadyl complexes, especially the vanadyl complex of garlic compound allixin, show strong insulin-mimetic activity. An extensive research is being conducted all over the world. Recommended doses of vanadium do not exceed 30 µg. Because the much higher therapeutic doses may be toxic to the body, it is not recommended to supplement with vanadium without supervision of a trained health care provider.
  • Zinc is involved in many bodily functions. Among others it is important to normal insulin activity. It regulates the production of insulin by the beta cells in the pancreas and stimulates the insulin receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) activity in the body. A study conducted in Finland shows that zinc helps prevent heart attacks in people with Type 2 diabetes. The recommended daily dose is 15-30 mg. Zinc is best taken with vitamin C and the amino acid histidine.
There are many more herbs and supplements believed to regulate blood sugar. Herbs such as cedar berries, coccinia cardifolia, golden seal root, licorice root, fenugreek, and gymnema are used to support healthy blood sugar. Vitamins A, B complex - especially biotin, C, and E and supplements such as CoQ 10, manganese, and glucomannan are useful in regulating blood glucose. It is important to consult a health care provider before beginning supplementation.

Exercise

Exercise is vital to health in general, and to prevention of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in particular. Regular exercise supports weight loss. It contributes to a better cardiovascular health and optimal glucose economy in the body. Regular exercise helps to increase insulin sensitivity. It is considered that at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week is beneficial because the muscles use more sugar and oxygen during exercise sessions. Studies also show that walking as little as 2.2 miles a day may improve cardiovascular health and contribute to a permanent weight loss.

A continued moderate exercise would decrease blood sugar as the muscles store up to twenty times more glucose than they normally do in a resting state. Intense exercise, on the other hand, may have an opposite effect - the blood sugar level may increase. To the body intensive exercise is stressful and it responds to it by releasing stress hormones that call for more glucose to fuel the muscles. It is important to pay attention to the symptoms of too little or too much blood glucose during or after exercise in order to avoid complications. 

Type 2 diabetes and stress

The latest research shows that chronic stress negatively affects blood sugar level in people with diabetes. In people with Type 2 diabetes the blood sugar level goes up. When we are stressed, the body produces stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine. These hormones cause the blood glucose level to increase as the body needs energy for the "fight or flight" response. In healthy people the blood sugar goes back to normal with the help of body's own compensatory mechanisms. However, when a healthy person suffers from a chronic stress, the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases. In people with Type 2 diabetes stress not only increases the blood sugar level, it also prevents the body from releasing insulin. The blood sugar remains elevated for a prolonged period of time causing irreversible damage in the body. It is absolutely vital to learn how to manage stress and relax properly in order to keep blood sugar from spiking. Moderate exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, or autogenic training are very helpful tools for stress control.

As diabetes in on the rise worldwide, it is more important than ever to stay informed and understand this disease. Radical lifestyle changes may be life saving. Healthy nutrition, physical activity, and careful supplementation can help prevent or even reverse Type 2 diabetes and improve the overall quality of life.

By Dominique Allmon

*Information in this article is for educational purposes only. Diabetes is a serious condition. Please, consult your health care provider before you begin the natural diabetes reversal program. 



Creative Commons License
Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally by Dominique Allmon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Puppet Master



Old George Orwell got it backwards. Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed. He’s making sure your imagination withers. Until it’s as useful as your appendix. - Chuck Palahniuk

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happiness Now!



Everyone is looking for happiness. We are living in turbulent times and some of us experience uncertainty or even fear.

Aristotle said: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”

But how happy are you?

Do you still feel as though you’re seeking something that others already seem to have? 

Something that eludes you?  You feel as though you aren’t quite in the right place?

The potential for true happiness and freedom exists within you right now.

But most people don’t see it. Instead, they focus on the problematic gray clouds. They never realize the beautiful blue sky that always exists just behind them.

An amazing new program called Happiness Now is probably the only technique that helps you uncover your true happiness and freedom - in the most natural and simple way possible!

You can let go of doubt and fears. You can learn how to develop higher self-esteem. You can empower yourself to embrace fantastic relationships. The program will help you discover the real you… And much, much more - all, when you ask yourself a few simple questions, using the simple Happiness Now technique.

You won’t believe how powerful this course is - and how it can change your life.

So, if you find yourself still “seeking” in any way, make the decision to explore this one final key. Surprise yourself!

If you wish to find out more please follow this link

         

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembering Corporal Jason Lee Dunham


Cpl Jason Lee Dunham (November 10, 1981 - April 22, 2004)
Cpl Jason Lee Dunham
(November 10, 1981 - April 22, 2004)

This man was destined to become a Marine! Born thirty years ago on the US Marine Corps birthday, Jason joined the Marine Corps in 2000.

He earned the Congressional Medal of Honor while serving with the 3rd Battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment during the Iraq War. 

His unit was attacked during a patrol in Husaybah near the Syrian border. Fighting hand-to-hand with an Iraqi attacker, Jason covered a grenade with his helmet hoping to contain the blast and save his fellow Marines. When the grenade exploded Jason sustained serious injuries. He was transported to the United States via Germany. He died eight days later in the Bethesda Naval Hospital.

His bravery and selflessness are unsurpassed. He is the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in the War on Terror, and the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. 

Short before his death, he also received the Purple Heart. 

Jason was buried in his hometown of Scio, New York. 

A US Navy destroyer, USS Jason Dunham, was named after this courageous warrior. 

RIP Brave Soul!


         

Happy Veterans Day!


The Tomb of the Unknowns at the Arlington National Cemetery
 The Tomb of the Unknowns at the Arlington National Cemetery

In 1918 King George V proclaimed that "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" would be observed as the Armistice Day throughout the British Empire in commemoration of the end of the Great War - a war that was supposed to end all wars.

A year later, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 a holiday in the United States. Armistice Day was celebrated until 1954 when the word "Armistice" was replaced with the word "Veterans" in honor of all US Veterans.

On this day we thank the surviving Veterans of the Great War and the Veterans of all wars that followed for their service and sacrifice. We remember those who perished in countless battles hoping that at some point we would never have to fight another war. 

Dominique Allmon

P.S.

In 1921 the remains of an unknown soldier killed in France were buried in a temporary crypt at the Arlington National Cemetery. On November 11, 1932 his resting place was dedicated as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On Memorial Day in 1958 the bodies of two other unknown soldiers were buried in the crypt. The tomb was then renamed the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Image source unknown but greatly appreciated

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Few. The Proud. The Marines!



Some people wonder all their lives if they've made a difference. 
The Marines don't have that problem. 

Ronald Regan

Happy 236th Birthday US Marine Corps! Thank you for your service brave men and women! Thank you for your service and sacrifice!


         

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dangerous Institutions?



I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around (the banks) will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

Attributed to Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States (1743 - 1826)


Monday, November 7, 2011

America, the Great



The greatness of America doesn't begin in Washington; it begins with each of you - in the mighty spirit of free people under God, in the bedrock values you live by each day in your families, neighborhoods, and work-places. Each of you is an individual worthy of respect, unique and important to the success of America. And only by trusting you, giving you opportunities to climb high and reach for the stars, can we preserve the golden dream of America as the champion of peace and freedom among the nations of the world. - President Ronald Reagan, November 5, 1984

The American Presidency Project

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Intuitive Perception



Not too long ago thousands spent their lives as recluses to find spiritual vision in the solitude of nature. Modern man need not become a hermit to achieve this goal, for it is neither ecstasy nor world-estranged mysticism his era demands, but a balance between quantitative and qualitative reality.

Modern man, with his reduced capacity for intuitive perception, is unlikely to benefit from the contemplative life of a hermit in the wilderness. But what he can do is to give undivided attention, at times, to a natural phenomenon, observing it in detail, and recalling all the scientific facts about it he may remember.

Gradually, however, he must silence his thoughts and, for moments at least, forget all his personal cares and desires, until nothing remains in his soul but awe for the miracle before him. Such efforts are like journeys beyond the boundaries of narrow self-love and, although the process of intuitive awakening is laborious and slow, its rewards are noticeable from the very first.

If pursued through the course of years, something will begin to stir in the human soul, a sense of kinship with the forces of life consciousness which rule the world of plants and animals, and with the powers which determine the laws of matter. While analytical intellect may well be called the most precious fruit of the Modern Age, it must not be allowed to rule supreme in matters of cognition. If science is to bring happiness and real progress to the world, it needs the warmth of man’s heart just as much as the cold inquisitiveness of his brain.

Franz Winkler

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Magic of Reality



Magic takes many forms. Supernatural magic is what our ancestors used in order to explain the world before they developed the scientific method. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. The Japanese used to explain earthquakes by conjuring a gigantic catfish that carried the world on its back - earthquakes occurred each time it flipped its tail. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality - science.

Packed with clever thought experiments, dazzling illustrations and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena. What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? Why do the continents look like disconnected pieces of a puzzle? What causes tsunamis? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a page-turning, graphic detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist as well. 

Consider the epic of creation: in considerably less time than it takes to say "Let there be light", all matter, time and space confected itself either from nothing, or almost nothing, about 13.7bn years ago, and within the first second was already on course to become an unimaginably vast arena for dark matter, light, galaxies, stars, planets, comets, asteroids, 92 elements, countless chemical compounds and finally - as far as we know - on just one little speck of a planet, a world of living things. No less wonderful is that this whole story has been transcribed by collective effort in only 400 years, with the agency of light and some help from telescope, microscope and the light-splitting, rainbow-making spectroscope. "Rainbows are not just beautiful to look at," says Dawkins. "In a way, they tell us when everything began, including time and space. I think that makes the rainbow even more beautiful."

Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist and one of science education’s most passionate advocates, has spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers. But now, in a dramatic departure, he has teamed up with acclaimed artist Dave McKean and used his unrivaled explanatory powers to share the magic of science with readers of all ages. This is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever wondered how the world works. Dawkins and McKean have created an illustrated guide to the secrets of our world - and the universe beyond - that will entertain and inform for years to come.


         

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November



There is wind where the rose was,
Cold rain where sweet grass was,
And clouds like sheep
Stream o'er the steep
Grey skies where the lark was.

Nought warm where your hand was,
Nought gold where your hair was,
But phantom, forlorn,
Beneath the thorn,
Your ghost where your face was.

Cold wind where your voice was,
Tears, tears where my heart was,
And ever with me,
Child, ever with me,
Silence where hope was.

By Walter de la Mare

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saints' Day



Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace. - Sylvia Plath 

In the Northern hemisphere November is a perfect time to reflect on the meaning of things, on life in general, on death and dying...