One of the central plot devices in Frank Herbert's 1965 science-fiction epic Dune is melange - colloquially known as 'spice' - a naturally-occurring drug found only on the planet Arrakis which has numerous positive effects, including heightened awareness, life extension, and prescience. These effects make it the most important commodity in the cosmos, especially as the prescience allows for faster-than-light interstellar starship navigation (and thus trade) by the 'Guild Navigators'. The spice also has other more, deleterious effects, which begin with its addictive properties, a symptom of which is the tinting of the whites and pupils of the eye to a dark shade of blue.
This central theme of Dune has often prompted assocations with psychedelic culture - the mystical-surrealist avant-garde film-maker Alejandro Jodorowsky, who once attempted to make a film based on Dune, said that he "wanted to make a film that would give the people who took LSD at that time the hallucinations that you get with that drug, but without hallucinating". The popular nickname for the strong hallucinogen dimethyl-tryptamine (DMT) - 'spice' - may also have taken some inspiration from the novel.
But it seems the origin of the spice theme actually does have a direct link to the psychedelic experience: in his book Mycelium Running, legendary mycologist Paul Stamets notes that not only was Frank Herbert a talented and innovative mushroom enthusiast, but that the sci-fi author confessed to him that Dune took its inspiration from Herbert's experiences with magic mushrooms:
Frank Herbert, the well-known author of the Dune books, told me his technique for using spores. When I met him in the early 1980s, Frank enjoyed collecting mushrooms on his property near Port Townsend, Washington. An avid mushroom collector, he felt that throwing his less-than-perfcct wild chanterelles into the garbage or compost didn't make sense. Instead, he would put a few weathered chanterelles in a 5-gallon bucket of water, add some salt, and then, after 1 or 2 clavs, pour this spore-mass slurry on the ground at the base of newly planted firs. When he told me chanterelles were glowing from trees not even 10 years old, I couldn't believe it. No one had previously reported chanterelles arising near such young trees, nor had anyone reported them growing as a result of using this method." Of course, it did work for frank, who was simply following nature's lead.
Frank's discovery has now been confirmed in the mushroom industry. It is now known that it's possible to grow many mushrooms using spore slurries from elder mushrooms. Many variables come into play, but in a sense this method is just a variation of what happens when it rains. Water dilutes spores from mushrooms and carries them to new environments. Our responsibility is to make that path easier. Such is the way of nature.
Frank went on to tell me that much of the premise of Dune — the magic spice (spores) that allowed the bending of space (tripping), the giant worms (maggots digesting mushrooms), the eyes of the Freman (the cerulean blue of Psilocybe mushrooms), the mysticism of the female spiritual warriors, the Bene Gesserits (influenced by tales of Maria Sabina and the sacred mushroom cults of Mexico) — came from his perception of the fungal life cycle, and his imagination was stimulated through his experiences with the use of magic mushrooms.
It seems Frank Herbert did indeed 'let the spice flow'!
Isn't it time to change the tune??
- Is the recent Israel/Palestine conflict just another war over natural resources?
- Camaraderie in the trenches of WWI.
- The Australian government is making sure there will never be another Julian Assange.
- "Who controls the polls, controls the future (of the Internet)"
- Graham Hancock interviewed by Abby Martin, on Breaking the Set.
- This 10,000-year-old rock painting in India is going to raise the hairs of you-know-who!
- Rehabilitating the Swastika, in 5 easy steps.
- Photographer shares his close encounter with UFO abductee Betty Hill.
- Radio Misterioso interviews filmmaker & animator Patrick Connelly, who's currently making a documentary about the Contactee movement.
- 'Angelic' UFO over Italy.
- While touring in London, Mike Clelland had a past-life hypnotic regression. Here's what happened.
- Hallucinatory voices are 'shaped' by local culture, according to Stanford anthropologist.
- Ghost-hunter Hayley Stevens recounts 3 weird things that happened to her --and why she STILL doesn't believe in ghosts.
- Physicist Sean Carroll on why his fellow scientists should stop saying silly things about Philosophy.
- The ethical & legal implications of child sex-bots.
- Red Pill of the Day: Ugandan Police shoots 'aggressive tortoise'. Hostile chelonian was buried alongside its ninja regalia.
Thanks to Inannawhimsey
Quote of the Day:
"What we call imagination is actually the universal library of what's real. You couldn't imagine it if it weren't real somewhere, sometime."
We all love some Weird Al here at the Grail Tower, so there were a few laughs today when we came across his latest parody music video, 'Foil', a take-off of New Zealand singer Lorde's 'Royals'. The title gives away the link to conspiracy theories, but I'll leave you to check it out without any more spoilers...
After reading some of the crazy news briefs today you'll be all like this…
- Ancient Amazonians built massive circular structures before the rainforest existed.
- The quest to find 12 (real) hidden treasures from a 1982 treasure hunt book, after the author's death.
- 'Holy Grail' stolen. (A police spokeswoman said: “I don’t want to say we are hunting the Holy Grail, but ...)
- Dungeons and Dragons - the game that influenced a generation of writers.
- Waiter awarded half of lottery jackpot after predicting the win in a dream.
- More puzzling radio bursts from deep space.
- Curiosity rover finds a large, shiny iron meteorite embedded in the Martian soil. A possible explanation for this anomaly?
- As the Rosetta space probe approaches its target, new image show that it appears to be a double-comet.
- Why do we have different blood types? It's still a mystery.
- Blindfolded geckos are still able to change to the appropriate colour for camouflage, because they can see with their skin.
- Sunflowers remember their previous sun-directed movements, even when locked away in isolation.
- 'Werewolf' wreaks havoc on livestock in the Philippines.
- Japanese haemorrhoid sufferers point their bums at a 'holy egg' in hope of a cure.
- Giant hole appears at 'world's end' in Siberia. Suddenly this story from Monday's news briefs doesn't seem so crazy...
- Five ways materialists beg the question.
- Thor's a woman, and Archie is dead. We're not in Kansas anymore Toto…
- Voldemort lives on, hidden on Joaquin Phoenix’s forehead. And he’s sporting a mean-ass goatee.
- Image(s) of the Day: The Ancient Kaiju Project augments classic paintings with pop culture monsters and objects.
Quote of the Day:
The cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation.
Two mysteries for the price of one: were some parts of the Amazon rainforests actually grassy plains just a few thousand years ago, and why (and how) were the ancient people of that area building massive circular earthworks? Environmental scientist John Francis Carson and his colleagues are trying to find the answers:
A series of square, straight and ringlike ditches scattered throughout the Bolivian and Brazilian Amazon were there before the rainforest existed, a new study finds.
...Since the 1980s, deforestation has revealed massive earthworks in the form of ditches up to 16 feet (5 meters) deep, and often just as wide... These human-made structures remain a mystery: They may have been used for defense, drainage, or perhaps ceremonial or religious reasons.
Carson and his colleagues wanted to explore the question of whether early Amazonians had a major impact on the forest. They focused on the Amazon of northeastern Bolivia, where they had sediment cores from two lakes nearby major earthworks sites. These sediment cores hold ancient pollen grains and charcoal from long-ago fires, and can hint at the climate and ecosystem that existed when the sediment was laid down as far back as 6,000 years ago.
An examination of the two cores — one from the large lake, Laguna Oricore, and one from the smaller lake, Laguna Granja — revealed a surprise: The very oldest sediments didn't come from a rainforest ecosystem at all. In fact, the Bolivian Amazon before about 2,000 to 3,000 years ago looked more like the savannas of Africa than today's jungle environment.
A classic text of the "Hippies Saving Physics" ESP-researching '70s has been posted to arXiv by Sir Brian Josephson. The 200-page book (proceedings of a Cambridge symposium on consciousness) was edited by Josephson and V. S. Ramachandran, with a preface by Freeman Dyson, who remarks: "The authors of this book ... are accepting a certain risk that their orthodox colleagues will consider them a little soft-headed ... [especially the biologists because biologists] have made the meaninglessness of the universe into a new dogma."
I'm not sure I like the direction computer gaming is heading...
- Psychedelics, parapsychology and exceptional human experiences.
- What’s weird? A closer look at the word, and the place where it lurks in our imagination.
- Rupert Sheldrake discusses morphic resonance and animal telepathy at Scientific American.
- Science vs religion…beyond the Western traditions.
- Pope says 2% of clergy are pedophiles.
- Earth's magnetic field seems to be weakening and migrating to Siberia.
- Astronomer predicts life beyond Earth in "10 to 20 years". And SETI folks have been claiming we'll hear from intelligent aliens within 20 years. Who will win?
- Large Hadron Collider scientists to search for Fifth
ElementForce of Nature.
- Shrinking the spaceship. (not a euphemism)
- Elon Musk donates $1million to new Tesla museum.
- Glenn Miller plane mystery revived after 70 years.
- The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control.
- Pentagon's self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide. Yay humans! *facepalm*
- Superhuman vision coming to mere mortals. Just as soon as we find a way to use it to kill other people.
- 'Sky jellyfish' was a high-flying rocket plume.
- Friends have closer DNA than strangers, research finds.
- 8000-year-old skull with preserved brain matter found in Norway.
- Saharan remains may be evidence of first race war, 13,000 years ago.
- Meet the feisty shrimp that kills with bullets made of bubbles.
- All hail breaks loose in Siberia.
- Want baby-soft skin? Try foetus soap! (Just make sure you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater).
Quote of the Day:
Never turn your back on Fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed.
Hunter S. Thompson
The website of Scientific American currently has an excellent feature and interview with 'maverick biologist' Rupert Sheldrake, via science writer John Horgan. Though he considers himself a 'psi skeptic', Horgan's piece is warm and open-minded (we find out that Sheldrake does a good impression of his late friend, Terence McKenna) - very pleasant to see these 'heretical' topics discussed in such a convivial manner for a change.
The article covers many topics, but I thought Rupert's description of his theory of 'morphic resonance' was a very good summary for anybody not intimately familiar with, so have excerpted the relevant parts below. Make sure you head on over and read the entire piece though:
Morphic resonance is the influence of previous structures of activity on subsequent similar structures of activity organized by morphic fields. It enables memories to pass across both space and time from the past. The greater the similarity, the greater the influence of morphic resonance. What this means is that all self-organizing systems, such as molecules, crystals, cells, plants, animals and animal societies, have a collective memory on which each individual draws and to which it contributes. In its most general sense this hypothesis implies that the so-called laws of nature are more like habits.
...The idea of morphic resonance came to me when I was doing research at Cambridge on the development of plants. I was interested in the concept of morphogenetic, or form-shaping, fields, but realized they could not be inherited through genes. They had to be inherited in some other way. The idea of morphic resonance came as a sudden insight. This happened in 1973, but it was a radical idea, and I spent years thinking about it before I published it in my first book, A New Science of Life, in 1981.
...There is a lot of circumstantial evidence for morphic resonance. The most striking experiment involved a long series of tests on rat learning that started in Harvard in the 1920s and continued over several decades. Rats learned to escape from a water-maze and subsequent generations learned faster and faster. At the time this looked like an example of Lamarckian inheritance, which was taboo. The interesting thing is that after the rats had learned to escape more than 10 times quicker at Harvard, when rats were tested in Edinburgh, Scotland and in Melbourne, Australia they started more or less where the Harvard rats left off. In Melbourne the rats continued to improve after repeated testing, and this effect was not confined to the descendants of trained rats, suggesting a morphic resonance rather than epigenetic effect. I discuss this evidence in A New Science of Life, now in its third edition, called Morphic Resonance in the US.
...I would like there to be much more research on morphic resonance and I would like to see a lot more evidence for it. If there were, it would not necessarily refute materialism, but could expand the materialist worldview, which has become excessively dogmatic, as I show in my recent book Science Set Free (called The Science Delusion in the UK). I think something like morphic resonance is necessary to make sense of inheritance, memory, the evolutionary nature of nature, and many other phenomena. Lee Smolin, the theoretical physicist, recently put forward a similar idea, which he calls “the principle of precedence,” and perhaps his hypothesis might mesh in better with established science, since it is formulated in the context of quantum physics. The main question is whether or not the effects predicted by the hypothesis of morphic resonance – or the principle of precedence – actually happen.
P.Z. Myers and company getting frothy at the mouth in 3, 2, 1...
It's like something out of The Day After Tomorrow: The video below captures how a group of terrified beach-goers in Novosibirsk, Siberia, are trying to flee from a sudden hail storm which completely disrupted a perfect summer day of 99°F (37°C)(!).
Siberia is known the world over for its ice - but hailstorms of this intensity are rare in summer, when temperatures are similar to Mediterranean resorts.
Towels, beach mats and personal possessions were sent flying by heavy winds as the hailstones pummelled bathers and the beach.
'If we die, I love you,' a female voice is heard saying on dramatic video footage of the deluge.
блин природа вы страшно! (That's Russian for 'Damn Nature you scary!')
The wow, the woo and the WTF?
- 1,500-year-old metal claws intrigue archaeologists in Peru.
- Review of Atheists - the origin of the species.
- I was a die-hard sceptic, but then I saw a poltergeist.
- The mummified ancestors of Papua New Guinea’s Anga tribe.
- El Dorado in the Amazon: a deluded german and three dead bodies.
- Will Storr enters the world of Hollow Earth conspiracy theories.
- Does quantum maths explain human decision making?
- New theory suggests Buzz Aldrin’s UFO might have been a spy satellite.
- Wooden mallet bought for £3 at car boot turns out to be rare Egyptian artefact.
- Is this stone evidence of wizard's grave?
- Andrew May looks at Fortean trends via Google’s N-gram viewer.
- Meet the couple who could be the first humans to travel to Mars.
- Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it.
- Draft criteria for a Space Heritage List.
- Books from the Esoteric Brat Pack.
- Birds may not be dinosaurs after all.
- Author suggests Jack the Ripper was a woman Salvation Army worker.
- Biohackers are engineering yeast to make THC.
- Is this the earliest evidence of race war?
- Tadpole Shrimp: living fossil found in China.
Thanks to Kat for links
Quote of the Day:
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.