Monday, June 19th - Sunday, June 25th
Stories from Aeon, Broadly, Vice, OC Weekly, and Motherboard.
Hello. How are you? Is this life? What comes next? Ice cream?
Anyway, while you're waiting on enlightenment, at least there's this cheeky little newsletter. It's like you're reading a magazine you picked up in the dentist's office, except the dentist is SOURCE CONSCIOUSNESS.
How. Crazy. Is. That.
As wild as quantum mechanics? You decide.
And now, the stories:
Our macroscopic reality is a frozen state of the quantum one.
While many people associate quantum physics with “spooky action at a distance” and the confounding phenomena of wave-particle duality, much of that confusion comes from an antiquated way of framing the relationship between the classical and quantum worlds argues science writer Phillip Ball. In fact, something called decoherence theory explains how our sensible world is simply one state of a quantum reality.
Much of the popular language around quantum physics doesn’t actually have a solid basis in quantum physics, and the much-hyped divide between big and small is overstated, Ball writes. Reinterpreted through decoherence theory, the objects we encounter in the world actually follow from quantum theory.
Strange quantum effects, like particles being in two places at once (called super-position), actually occur relatively infrequently, and happen as a consequence of quantum entanglement, also called coherence. That coherence is contagious, and particles emanate out their respective “wave-functions” but as soon as conflicting patterns interrupt each other, the strange quantum effects like super-position cease. So usually, quantum particles behave like other particles.
As quantum particles interact with their environment, another factor largely disregarded by early quantum theory, they begin a process of decoherence. And decoherence happens extraordinarily fast, around a million times the speed of light. This process is effectively instantaneous and would have started seconds after the Big Bang. Part of what makes this approach groundbreaking is that is doesn’t take an observer to make quantum particles into normally observed particles: the universe itself is looking.
And finally, measurement. The much-hyped “observer effect” occurs because scientists are actually measuring the imprint of particles on other particles. Weird quantum effects happen through the trails left behind, what Ball describes as “replicas.” But some particles produce many, many replicas. So while a single measurement by a scientist might yield weird results, it’s one of an effectively infinite number of replicas.
The effects are still strange and decoherence theory doesn’t explain specific numbers in measurements, but in aggregate, it does offer a way for how quantum physics naturally creates and leads into the world we all walk around in.
Christians are battling witches as worldwide spiritual war over Trump continues.
Witches, as well as other pagan groups, have been casting spells against President Donald Trump since his inauguration. While their efforts have been widely reported, what’s less well known is the backlash. Alarmed Christians like those in Intercessors for America (IFA), a prayer and fasting Christian organization, have begun coordinated prayers on behalf of the American president.
“Whether or not this call for spells pans out and people act on it, we feel compelled, as the body of Christ and intercessors, to come against this evil with immediate and powerful prayer,” read a global call issued by the group.
Taking advantage of the magically powerful summer solstice, the two groups were at it again with groups of witching casting binding rituals and Evangelical Trump supporters responding with a volley of prayers for the president.
Michael Hughes, one of the initiators of the binding ritual, is nonplussed by the counter-move. “These so-called Christians are praying for a narcissistic, crass, hateful, bullying, hypocritical, pussy-grabbing grifter,” he said. “Jesus would go full moneylenders-in-the-temple on all of their asses.”
According to outlets like the Christian Broadcasting Network, Satanists have joined the witches in taking up magical arms against Trump. However, Lucien Greaves, the founder of The Satanic Temple, says this is just a rumor. “Casting spells to make Trump fail is really no different from performing rituals at night to help the sun rise in the morning," he said in an emailed statement, suggesting that the President's failure is a "natural occurrence.”
A Hungarian Holocaust survivor’s quest for his father is now fueling the psychedelic renaissance.
The last time George Sarlo, now a 74-year-old venture capitalist, saw his father was as a four-year-old when Sarlo’s father was conscripted to fight for the Nazis in 1942. Sarlo has suffered from depression for most of his life, specifically anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure.
"I don't have many memories of looking at him and feeling like he was in joy," says his daughter Gabrielle, now 50.
Through his friend and fellow Hungarian Holocaust survivor, Dr. Gabor Maté, a physician known for his interest in entheogens, Sarlo’s quest to reconcile his last memory of his father let him to drink Ayahuasca during the Mexican Day of the Dead, when veils between worlds are thin.
In a vision of a wintry field, Sarlo saw his father among a line of men wearing remnants of prison uniforms signifying that they were conscripted Jewish men. "I thought that he didn't come back because I was a bad boy," Sarlo recalled. "That's what I carried with me."
But in the Ayahuasca induced-vision, his father’s voice answered. “I didn't want to wake you. I thought I would be back the same day,” the voice said. “Look at me. That's my last breath and with my last breath I blessed you and promised to guard you all of your life.”
Since then, years of pain have dissolved and Sarlo has become a powerhouse of funding for psychedelic research. According to Vicky Dulai, who runs Compassion for Addiction, one of Sarlo's charities, he has donated nearly $2 million so far."He's a nexus," says Dr. Maté. "He's important both in the sense that he's a donor and he makes things happen, but also, his house is a bit like a clearinghouse."
"I think psychedelics should be seen as a kind of 'transformative medicine,'" Sarlo says. "They really do have the potential to change the world."
MUFON has helped make Orange Country into a worldwide center for UFO research.
It all started with a sighting in August of 1965. While driving through Santa Ana, Rex E. Heflin’s work radio went dead. Then he saw something moving in the sky to his left. It did an impossible move, then hovered. Using his Poloroid camera, he snapped a photo of a circular object with a squat, semi-flat top that left behind a trail of blue-black vapor.
Three of the four photos he took made the front page of the Orange County Register, which took the story national. It’s still the region’s most famous sighting and it sparked a movement. Half a century later, Orange Country is a hotbed of research, and home to the international headquarters of MUFON, the world’s largest UFO organization.
MUFON has chapters in every US state and members in 43 countries. They hold and operate what they say is the world’s largest and most detailed database of UFO reports. When a sighting is reported, the witness answers a thorough 50 question survey. After the report is filed, MUFON-trained field investigators contact the witness and confirm the details of the report. Most are determined to be explained by mundane causes.
“Before I put ‘unknown’ down on a case, I have to make sure I have exhausted every explanation it might have been,” said Linda Fletchner, a field investigator who covers Ontario. “We don’t just say, ‘Oh, well, I don’t know’ and put down ‘unknown’—it’s not acceptable.”
MUFON’s headquarters are in an innocuous office building near the local airport, and is home to executive director Jan Harzan, who moved the global headquarters to Orange Country. “What else can I tell ya? It’s a real phenomenon,” said Harzan, summarizing his position.
Mozilla is offering a $2 million reward for ideas which can decentralize world wide web.
The nonprofit, known for its flagship Firefox browser, has partnered with the National Science Foundation to offer the prize with the hope of helping to build a decentralized network that can enable connectivity in the aftermath of disasters and in rural communities.
Most of the world, around 4 billion people, doesn’t have access to a reliable internet connection. And even parts of the US have serious connectivity issues. When disasters happen, the local infrastructure is often wiped out. Access to the internet at such vital moments can be critical to coordinating rescue efforts and letting survivors contact their families.
On Reddit, a growing community has been dedicated to building a decentralized meshnet, essentially a way for routers which are near each other to interact and share data. While the main thrust of the project has been to challenge the total control that Internet Service Providers have over access to the internet, and this prize could stimulate new activity.
Other network researchers have developed ideas for more esoteric uses like tracking zebras in the wild or eventually bringing the internet to Mars. To get some enthusiasm going, the Mozilla blog highlighted some early ideas like turning backpacks into roaming routers or repurposing old phone booths.
That’s all for this week. Look out next Monday morning!