SpaceX Inspiration4 Mission Will Send 4 People with Minimal Training into Orbit – and Bring Space Tourism Closer to Reality
Four people – none of them trained astronauts – are scheduled to launch into orbit aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule on Sept. 15, 2021. NASA Johnson/Flickr, CC BY-NC
On Sept. 15, 2021, the next batch of space tourists is set to lift off aboard a SpaceX rocket. Organized and funded by entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, the Inspiration4 mission touts itself as “the first all-civilian mission to orbit” and represents a new type of space tourism.
The four crew members will not be the first space tourists this year. In the past few months, the world witnessed billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos launching themselves and a lucky few others into space on brief suborbital trips. While there are similarities between those launches and Inspiration4 — the mission is being paid for by one billionaire and is using a rocket built by another, Elon Musk — the differences are noteworthy. From my perspective as a space policy expert, the mission’s emphasis on public involvement and the fact that Inspiration4 will send regular people into orbit for three days make it a milestone in space tourism.
Why Inspiration4 is different
The biggest difference between Inspiration4 and the flights performed earlier this year is the destination.
Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic took – and in the future, will take – their passengers on suborbital launches. Their vehicles only go high enough to reach the beginning of space before returning to the ground a few minutes later. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon vehicle, however, are powerful enough to take the Inspiration4 crew all the way into orbit, where they will circle the Earth for three days.
The four-person crew is also quite different from the other launches. Led by Isaacman, the mission features a somewhat diverse group of people. One crew member, Sian Proctor, won a contest among people who use Isaacman’s online payment company. Another unique aspect of the mission is that one of its goals is to raise awareness of and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As such, Isaacman selected Hayley Arceneaux, a physician’s assistant at St. Jude and childhood cancer survivor, to participate in the launch. The final member, Christopher Sembroski, won his seat when his friend was chosen in a charity raffle for St. Jude and offered his seat to Sembroski.
Because none of the four participants has any prior formal astronaut training, the flight has been called the first “all civilian” space mission. While the rocket and crew capsule are both fully automated – no one on board will need to control any part of the launch or landing – the four members still needed to go through much more training than the people on the suborbital flights. In less than six months, the crew has undergone hours of simulator training, lessons in flying a jet aircraft, and spent time in a centrifuge to prepare them for the G-forces of launch.
Sending a crew of amateur astronauts into orbit is a significant step in the development of space tourism. However, despite the more inclusive feel of the mission, there are still serious barriers to overcome before average people can go to space.
For one, the cost remains quite high. Though three of the four are not rich, Isaacman is a billionaire and paid an estimated $200 million to fund the trip. The need to train for a mission like this also means that prospective passengers must be able to devote significant amounts of time to prepare – time that many ordinary people don’t have.
Finally, space remains a dangerous place, and there will never be a way to fully remove the danger of launching people – whether untrained civilians or seasoned professional astronauts – into space.
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Despite these limitations, orbital space tourism is coming. For SpaceX, Inspiration4 is an important proof of concept that they hope will further demonstrate the safety and reliability of their autonomous rocket and capsule systems. Indeed, SpaceX has several tourist missions planned in the next few months, even though the company isn’t focused on space tourism. Some will even include stops at the International Space Station.
Even as space remains out of reach for most on Earth, Inspiration4 is an example of how billionaire space barons’ efforts to include more people on their journeys can give an otherwise exclusive activity a wider public appeal.
From my standpoint as a video game designer and scholar who specializes in game-based learning, I don’t see a need to limit video game play among students during the school week. Instead, I see a need to expand it – and to do so during the regular school day.
The use of video games in the classroom is nothing new. Many people who went to school in the 1970s through the 1990s may recall the iconic video game The Oregon Trail, which made its debut in a classroom in 1971.
In the game, players lead a group of settlers across the Midwest following in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. The game came just before the video game industry was established with the 1972 release of the video game Pong, an electronic version of table tennis.
Here are five reasons why I think video games should be used in every classroom.
1. Video games can help students stay in STEM
In 2020, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology found that the nation needs to create the STEM workforce of the future. One of the reasons students drop or switch out of science, technology, engineering, and math programs is because of the difficulty of introductory courses such as calculus.
In games such as Civilization, players can be a civic leader and direct the prosperity of nations. In ARTé: Mecenas, learners can become members of the Medici family and become patrons of the arts and successful bankers. Students learn through doing and can gain skills and knowledge through experiential learning that might not be gained in traditional classrooms.
3. Players learn from failure
Games are a natural way to allow students to fail in a safe way, learn from failures and try again until they succeed.
Some games, like Burnout Paradise make failure fun. In the game, players can crash their cars – and the more spectacular the crash, the higher the points. This allows players to essentially learn from their mistakes, correct them and try again.
The late video game theorist and author Jesper Juul wrote in his book, “The Art of Failure,” that losing in video games is part of what makes games so engaging. Failing in a game makes the player feel inadequate, yet the player can immediately redeem themselves and improve their skills.
4. Students stay engaged in content
The average time a student spends learning in a classroom is only 60% of the allocated class time. Extending the school day to give students more time for learning has been shown to be only marginally effective. A more effective way to maximize time for learning is through engaged time on task. When students are interested and care about a topic and it is relevant, they are curious and engaged. This provides a much better learning experience.
In the classroom, teachers can engage students. But when it comes to homework, educators have to rely on other ways to motivate students. One way is through games. Educational games can be designed to improve motivation and engagement, providing students with more engaged time on task.
Educational theories state that students cannot be given knowledge; they construct knowledge in their own minds. Learners build on previously learned concepts to construct higher-level and more complex knowledge to make it their own.
The periodic table of elements is challenging to learn and remember for many students. However, learning a complex three-dimensional matrix with 27,624 values is easily accomplished by middle school students playing the popular video game Pokémon. The essence of the game is figuring out how to combine the 17 different types of attack when battling other Pokémon. Each Pokémon has one or two types of attacks they can use. Players do not learn the different possible combinations by studying a large table with 27,624 entries, but by playing the game. Through playing the game, students gradually construct deeper knowledge of the game and develop core skills, such as literacy, how to compete with grace and sportsmanship, and abstract thinking.
Pokémon was not developed as an educational game, but its design principles – and those of other popular video games – could easily be used to design video games for classrooms that enhance their educational experience.
This video explores the most dangerous of all psychic epidemics: mass psychosis. Mass psychosis is an epidemic of madness and it occurs when a large portion of society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions. Such a phenomenon is not a thing of fiction. Two examples of mass psychoses are the American and European witch hunts 16th and 17th centuries and the rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century.
This video aims to answer questions surrounding mass psychosis: What is it? How does it start? Has it happened before? Are we experiencing one right now? And if so, how can the stages of mass psychosis be reversed?
Dance and Movement Therapy Holds Promise For Treating Anxiety and Depression, as well as Deeper Psychological Wounds
A few years ago, framed by the skyline of Detroit, a group of about 15 children resettled as refugees from the Middle East and Africa leapt and twirled around, waving blue, pink and white streamers through the air.
The captivating scene was powerfully symbolic. Each streamer held a negative thought, feeling or memory that the children had written down on the streamers. On cue and in unison, the children released their streamers into the air, then sat down nearby. Then they gathered up the fallen streamers, which carried their collective struggles and hardships, threw them in a trash can and waved goodbye.
The children were participating in a dance therapy activity as part of our team’s research program exploring body-based approaches to mental health treatment in people resettled as refugees.
As a dancer myself, I always found the nonverbal emotional expression offered through movement to be incredibly therapeutic – especially when I was experiencing significant anxiety and depression in high school and college. Now, through my neuroscience research, I am joining a growing number of scholars working to bolster the evidence base supporting movement-based interventions.
Interventions that offer physical activity and creativity components at a time when children and people of all ages are likely to be sedentary and with reduced environmental enrichment can be beneficial during the pandemic and beyond. Creative arts and movement-based interventions may be well-suited to address not just the emotional but also the physical aspects of mental illness, such as pain and fatigue. These factors often contribute to the significant distress and dysfunction that drive individuals to seek care.
Dance and movement therapy sessions place an emphasis on fostering creativity and adaptability in order to help people develop greater cognitive flexibility, self-regulation and self-direction. This is especially important because research shows that early-life experiences and how children learn to cope with them can have a lasting impact on their health into adulthood.
According to the Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report, 80% of children with anxiety disorders are not receiving the treatment they require. This might be due to barriers such as clinician availability and cultural literacy, cost and accessibility, and stigma surrounding mental health conditions and treatment.
We are finding that dance and movement therapy and other group behavioral health programs can help fill important gaps. For instance, these strategies can be used in combination with services people are already receiving. And they can provide an accessible and affordable option in school and community settings. Dance and movement therapy can also instill coping skills and relaxation techniques that, once learned, can last a lifetime.
Much like yoga and meditation, dance and movement therapy has, at the root of its practice, a focus on deep breathing through the diaphragm. This intentional breathing movement physically pushes on and activates the vagus nerve, which is a large nerve that coordinates a number of biological processes in the body. When I work with kids, I call this form of breathing and nerve activation their “superpower.” Whenever they need to calm down, they can take a deep breath, and by engaging their vagus nerve, they can bring their bodies to a more restful and less reactive state.
An analysis of 23 clinical research studies indicated that dance and movement therapy may be an effective and appropriate method for child, adult, and elderly patients experiencing a wide array of symptoms – including psychiatric patients and those with developmental disorders. And for both healthy individuals and patients, the authors concluded that dance and movement therapy was most effective for reducing the severity of anxiety compared with other symptoms. Research from our team has also shown promise for the benefits of dance and movement therapy in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety in youth who resettle as refugees.
We have scaled up these programs and brought them into the virtual classroom for six schools throughout the metro Detroit region during the pandemic.
Perhaps the most promising evidence for dance and movement therapy isn’t, as the saying goes, what the eyes cannot see. In this case, it is what the eyes can see: children releasing their streamers, their negative emotions and memories, waving goodbye to them and looking ahead to a new day.
Gregg Braden asks the question: do we want to relinquish our humanity, without even knowing what it means to embrace that capacity?
TRANSCRIPT (Gregg Braden)
It’s a moral question. How much of this do we have the right to relinquish? How much do we choose to relinquish? But we can’t even make those decisions if we don’t know what it means to be human. So this conversation is an invitation just to be aware that it’s more than just being able to talk to your computer through your mind.
It’s happening right now. One generation. There’s a battle unfolding and many people don’t know the battle even exists. Yet they are part of the battle because they are willing to embrace this. And other cultures are doing it. Japan, you mentioned, not singling them out, but they are on the forefront. You can marry an AI robot. Many couples are opting for artificially intelligent robotic children, rather the conceiving their own children, because they get to care for them when it’s convenient. And then when it’s not, because they’re very career-oriented, you don’t have to worry about that.
But at the same time, beautiful example, look at what’s happening. The birth rate is declining. Sterility in men, men are becoming more sterile. Women’s fertility rates are dropping. They don’t know if there is a correlation. They suspect there’s a correlation and this is one of the places where they’re really looking into this. But this is just one example of how can we possibly make these kinds of decisions until we know what it means to be human. And if we don’t know what it means, why would we give it away? Why would we relinquish this extraordinary capacity given no other form of life, without even knowing what it means to embrace that capacity?
I live in a rural community, northern New Mexico. I go to a little Co-op for my groceries. I was behind a man in line who had a lot of groceries. And he went to pay for his groceries and I watched this happen. He pushed up his sleeve and he rolled his sleeve over a scanner and checked out. And I asked the cashier, I said, what did I just see? And he says, yeah, it’s kind of weird, isn’t it? And I said, what happened? He said he has an infrared tattoo in his wrist that is linked to his credit card and his bank account. And he just charged these groceries to his bank account.
And I’m not saying it’s right wrong, good or bad, but I’m saying as we embrace and become so plugged into that technology, how does it change the way we think about ourselves and our humanness?
And the digital technology, you know, we are more connected than we’ve ever been and yet we feel more alone and more separate. Young people spend so much time communicating digitally, emotionally they’re not getting those connections.
And relationships now are developing digitally to the point where you can have a full-blown relationship, even an intimate sexual relationship online, and never, never be in the presence of another person. That’s all done digitally, through accouterments and gadgets that are controlled remotely, and things like that. And we lose the ability to have that intimacy. So is that really something that we want to give up as a species?
Mass Psychosis — How to Create an Epidemic of Mental Illness
Mass psychosis is defined as an epidemic of madness that occurs when a large portion of society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions
The witch hunts that occurred in the Americas and Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, when tens of thousands of people, mostly women, were burned at the stake is a classic example of mass psychosis. The rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century is another
When a society descends into madness, the results are always devastating. Individuals who make up the affected society become morally and spiritually inferior, unreasonable, irresponsible, emotional, erratic, and unreliable. Worst of all, a psychotic mob will engage in atrocities that any solitary individual within the group would normally never consider
The psychogenic steps that lead to madness include a panic phase, where the individual is frightened and confused by events they cannot explain, and a phase of psychotic insight, where the individual explains their abnormal experience of the world by inventing an illogical but magical way of seeing a reality that eases the panic and gives meaning to the experience
Menticide is a term that means “killing of the mind.” It’s a way of controlling the masses by systematically killing the human spirit and free thought. It’s a system through which the ruling elite imprints their own delusional worldview onto society. A society is primed for menticide by the intentional sowing of fear and social isolation
The 20-minute video above, “Mass Psychosis — How an Entire Population Becomes Mentally Ill,” created by After Skool and Academy of Ideas,1 is a fascinating illustration of how mass psychosis can be induced.
Mass psychosis is defined as “an epidemic of madness” that occurs when a “large portion of society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions.”
One classic historical example of mass psychosis is the witch hunts that occurred in the Americas and Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, when tens of thousands of people, mostly women, were tortured, drowned, and burned alive at the stake. The rise of totalitarianism in the 20th century is a more recent example of mass psychosis.
Man’s Worst Enemy
As noted in the video:
“The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.”
That’s a quote attributed to Gustave Le Bon, a French social psychologist renowned for his study of crowds. His book, “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind,”2 takes a deep dive into the characteristics of human crowds and how, when gathered in groups, people tend to relinquish conscious deliberation in favor of unconscious crowd action. Similarly, psychologist Carl Jung once stated that:
“It is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer, but man himself who is man’s greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes.”
When a society descends into madness, the results are always devastating. Jung, who studied mass psychoses, wrote that the individuals who make up the affected society “become morally and spiritually inferior.” They become “unreasonable, irresponsible, emotional, erratic and unreliable.”
Worst of all, a psychotic mob will engage in atrocities that any solitary individual within the group would normally never consider. Yet through it all, those affected remain unaware of their condition and cannot recognize the error in their ways.
What Causes Mass Psychosis?
To understand how an entire society can be driven to madness, you must first understand what drives any given individual to insanity. Barring drug or alcohol abuse, or a brain injury, psychosis is typically triggered by psychogenic factors, i.e., influences that originate in the mind.
One of the most common psychogenic factors that can trigger psychosis is a flood of negative emotions such as fear or anxiety that drive the person into a state of panic. When in a panic, the natural inclination is to seek relief. A psychologically resilient individual may adapt by facing their fear and ultimately defeating it.
Another coping mechanism is a psychotic break. As explained in the video, a psychotic break is not the descent into chaos, but rather a reordering of one’s an experiential world in a way that blends fact and fiction, reality and illusions, in such a way that a sense of control is restored and panic ends. The psychogenic steps that lead to madness can be summarized as follows:
A phase of panic — Here, the individual begins to perceive the world around him or her in a different way and is frightened on account of it. There’s a perceived threat, whether it be real, fabricated, or imagined. Confusion grows as they can’t find a way to rationally explain the strange occurrences taking place around them.
A phase of psychotic insight — Here, the individual manages to explain his abnormal experience of the world by inventing an illogical but magical way of seeing reality. The term “insight” is used because magical thinking allows the individual to escape from the panic and find meaning again. However, the insight is psychotic, because it’s based on delusions.
Just as a psychologically weak and vulnerable individual can be driven to madness, so can large groups of weak and vulnerable people descend into madness and magical thinking.
Totalitarianism Is a Society Built on Delusions
In the 20th century, we’ve seen a rise in totalitarianism, defined by professor and religious studies scholar Arthur Versluis as:
“The modern phenomenn of total centralized state power coupled with the obliteration of individual human rights: In the totalized state, there are those in power and there are the objectified masses, the victims.”
In a totalitarian society, there are two classes: the rulers and the ruled, and both groups undergo a pathological transformation. Rulers are raised to a god-like status where they can do no wrong — a view that easily leads to corruption and unethical behavior — while the ruled are transformed into dependent subjects, which leads to psychological regression.
Joost Meerloo, author of “Rape of the Mind,” compares the reactions of citizens living in totalitarian states to that of schizophrenics. Both rulers and the ruled are ill. Both live in a delusional fog, as the entire society and its rules are sustained by delusional thinking.
As noted in the video, only deluded people regress to a child-like state of total submissiveness, and only a deluded ruling class will believe they possess the knowledge and wisdom to control society in a top-down manner. And, only a deluded person will believe that a power-hungry elite ruling a mentally regressed society will result in anything but mass suffering and financial ruin.
The mass psychosis that is totalitarianism begins within the ruling class, as the individuals within this class are easily enamored with delusions that augment their power. And no delusion is greater than the delusion that they can, and should — indeed are destined to — control and dominate all others.
Whether the totalitarian mindset takes the form of communism, fascism or technocracy, a ruling elite that has succumbed to their own delusions of grandeur then sets about to indoctrinate the masses into their own twisted worldview. All that’s needed to accomplish that reorganization of society is the manipulation of collective feelings.
The killing of the Mind
Menticide is a term that means “killing of the mind,” and it’s an ancient way of controlling the masses by systematically killing the human spirit and free thought. It’s a system through which the ruling elite imprints their own delusional worldview onto society.
A society is primed for menticide by the intentional sowing of fear. A particularly effective way to induce fear and panic that results in psychosis is the unleashing of waves of terror, and it doesn’t matter if the “terror” in question is real or fictitious. The waves of terror technique can be graphed out as an escalating wave pattern where each round of fear is followed by a round of calm.
After a short period of calm, the threat level is elevated again, with each round of fearmongering being more intense than the one before. Propaganda — fake and misleading news — is used to break down the minds of the masses, and over time, it becomes easier and easier to control everyone as confusion and anxiety give way to the magical thinking and psychotic insight presented as solutions through the media.
Contradictory reports, nonsensical recommendations, and blatant lies are deployed intentionally, as it heightens confusion. The more confused a population is, the greater the state of anxiety, which reduces society’s ability to cope with the crisis. As the ability to cope withers, the greater the chances a mass psychosis will develop.
As noted in the video, “Confusion heightens the susceptibility of a descent into the delusions of totalitarianism.” Or, as Meerloo noted in his book:
“Logic can be met with logic, while illogic cannot. It confuses those who think straight. The big lie and monotonously repeated nonsense have more of an emotional appeal … than logic and reason. While the people are still searching for a reasonable counterargument to the first lie, the totalitarians can assault them with another.”
The Rise of Technocracy
What sets modern-day totalitarianism apart from previous totalitarian states is technology. The means to incite fear and manipulate people’s thinking has never been more efficient or effective. TV, the internet, smartphones, and social media are all sources of information these days, and it’s easier than ever to control the flow of that information.
Algorithms automatically filter out the voices of reason and rational thinking, supplanting them with fear narratives instead. Modern technologies also have addictive qualities, so many voluntarily expose themselves to brainwashing. Commenting on man’s reliance on technology, Meerloo notes:
“No rest, no meditation, no reflection, no conversation. The senses are continually overloaded with stimuli. Man doesn’t learn to question his world anymore. The screen offers him answers already made.”
Isolation — A Mass Psychosis-Inducing Tool
Aside from the onslaught of fearmongering and false propaganda, the ultimate tool to induce psychosis is in isolation. When you are deprived of regular social interactions and discussions, you become more susceptible to delusions for a number of reasons:
1. You lose contact with corrective forces of positive examples, role models of rational thinking, and behavior. Not everyone is tricked by the brainwashing attempts of the ruling elite, and these people can help free others from their delusions. When you’re in isolation, the power of these individuals greatly diminishes.
2. Like animals, human behavior is significantly easier to manipulate when the individual is kept in isolation. As animal research has discovered, conditioned reflexes are most easily developed in a quiet, secluded laboratory with a minimum of stimuli to detract from the indoctrination.
When you want to tame a wild animal, you must isolate the animal and patiently repeat a particular stimulus until the desired response is obtained. Humans can be conditioned in the same manner. Alone, confused, and battered by waves of terror, a society kept in isolation from each other descends into madness as rational thought is obliterated and replaced with magical thinking.
Once a society is firmly in the grip of mass psychosis, totalitarians are free to take the last, decisive step: They can offer a way out; a return to order. The price is your freedom. You must cede control of all aspects of your life to the rulers because unless they are granted total control, they won’t be able to create the order everyone craves.
This order, however, is a pathological one, devoid of all humanity. It eliminates the spontaneity that brings joy and creativity to one’s life by demanding strict conformity and blind obedience.
And despite the promise of safety, totalitarian society is inherently fearful. It was built on fear and is maintained by it too. So, giving up your freedom for safety and a sense of order will only lead to more of the same fear and anxiety that allowed the totalitarians to gain control in the first place.
How Can Mass Psychosis Be Reversed?
Can totalitarianism be prevented? And can the effects of mass psychosis be reversed? Yes, but just as the menticidal approach is multipronged, so must the solution be. To help return sanity to an insane world, first you need to center yourself and live in such a way as to provide inspiration for others to follow. As noted by Jung:
“It is not for nothing that our age cries out for the redeemer personality, for the one who can emancipate himself from the grip of the collective psychosis and save at least his own soul, who lights a beacon of hope for others, proclaiming that here is at least one man who has succeeded in extricating himself from the fatal identity with the group psyche.”
Next, you need to share and spread the truth — the counternarrative to the propaganda — as far and wide as possible. Because the truth is always more potent than lies, the success of propaganda relies on the censoring of truth. Another tactic is to use humor and ridicule to delegitimize the ruling elite.
A strategy proposed by Vaclav Havel, a political dissident who became the president of Czechoslovakia, is called “parallel structures.” A parallel structure is any kind of business, organization, technology, movement, or creative pursuit that fits within a totalitarian society while being morally outside of it.
Once enough parallel structures are created, a parallel culture is born that functions as a sanctuary of sanity within the totalitarian world. Havel explains this strategy in his book, “The Power of the Powerless.”
Last but not least, to prevent the descent into totalitarian madness, sane and rational action must be taken by as many people as possible. The totalitarian elite does not sit around twiddling their thumbs, hoping and wishing to increase their power and control. No. They are actively taking steps to augment their position. To defend against them, the would-be-ruled must be just as active and resolute in their counter-push toward freedom.
All of this can be extremely challenging as people around you succumb to collective psychosis. But as Thomas Paine once said:
“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
The world’s richest medical research foundation, the Wellcome Trust, has teamed up with a pair of former DARPA directors who built Silicon Valley’s skunkworks to usher in an age of nightmarish surveillance, including for babies as young as three months old. Their agenda can only advance if we allow it.
A UK nonprofit with ties to global corruption throughout the COVID-19 crisis as well as historical and current ties to the UK eugenics movement launched a global health-focused DARPA equivalent last year. The move went largely unnoticed by both mainstream and independent media.
The Wellcome Trust, which has arguably been second only to Bill Gates in its ability to influence events during the COVID-19 crisis and vaccination campaign, launched its own global equivalent of the Pentagon’s secretive research agency last year, officially to combat the “most pressing health challenges of our time.”
Though first conceived in 2018, this particular Wellcome Trust initiative was spun off from the Trust last May with $300 million in initial funding. It quickly attracted two former DARPA executives, who had previously served in the upper echelons of Silicon Valley, to manage and plan its portfolio of projects.
This global health DARPA, known as Wellcome Leap, seeks to achieve “breakthrough scientific and technological solutions” by or before 2030, with a focus on “complex global health challenges.” The Wellcome Trust is open about how Wellcome Leap will apply the approaches of Silicon Valley and venture capital firms to the health and life science sector.
Unsurprisingly, their three current programs are poised to develop incredibly invasive tech-focused, and in some cases overtly transhumanist, medical technologies, including a program exclusively focused on using artificial intelligence (AI), mobile sensors, and wearable brain-mapping tech for children three years old and younger.
This Unlimited Hangout investigation explores not only the four current programs of Wellcome Leap but also the people behind it. The resulting picture is of an incredibly sinister project that poses not only a great threat to current society but to the future of humanity itself. An upcoming Unlimited Hangout investigation will examine the history of the Wellcome Trust along with its role in recent and current events.
Leap’s Leadership: Merging Man and Machine for the Military and Silicon Valley
The ambitions of the Wellcome Leap are made clear by the woman chosen to lead it, former director of the Pentagon’s DARPA, Regina Dugan. Dugan began her career at DARPA in 1996; she led a counterterrorism task force in 1999 before leaving DARPA about a year later.
After departing DARPA, she co-founded her own venture capital firm, Dugan Ventures, and then became special adviser to the US Army’s vice chief of staff from 2001 to 2003, which coincided with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2005, she created a defense-focused tech firm called RedXDefense, which contracts with the military and specifically for DARPA.
In 2009, under the Obama administration, Dugan was appointed director of DARPA by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Much was made over her being the first female director of the agency, but she is best remembered at the agency for her so-called “Special Forces” approach to innovation. During her tenure, she created DARPA’s now-defunct Transformational Convergence Technology Office, which focused on social networks, synthetic biology, and machine intelligence.
Many of the themes previously managed by that office are now overseen by DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, which was created in 2014 and focuses on everything “from programmable microbes to human-machine symbiosis.” The Biological Technologies Office, like Wellcome Leap, pursues a mix of “health-focused” biotechnology programs and transhumanist endeavors.
While Dugan’s efforts at DARPA are remembered fondly by those in the national-security state, and also by those in Silicon Valley, Dugan was investigated for conflicts of interest during her time as DARPA’s director, as her firm RedXDefense acquired millions in Department of Defense contracts during her tenure.
Though she had recused herself from any formal role at the company while leading DARPA, she continued to hold a significant financial stake in the company, and a military investigation later found she had violated ethics rules to a significant degree.
Instead of being held accountable in any way, Dugan went on to become a top executive at Google, where she was brought on to manage Google’s Advanced Technology and Products Group (ATAP), which it had spun out of Motorola Mobility after Google’s acquisition of that company in 2012. Google’s ATAP was modeled after DARPA and employed other ex-DARPA officials besides Dugan.
At Google, Dugan oversaw several projects, including what is now the basis of Google’s “augmented reality” business, then known as Project Tango, as well as “smart” clothing in which multitouch sensors were woven into textiles. Another project that Dugan led involved the use of a “digital tattoo” to unlock smartphones. Perhaps most controversially, Dugan was also behind the creation of a “digital authentication pill.”
According to Dugan, when the pill is swallowed, “your entire body becomes your authentication token.” Dugan framed the pill and many of her other efforts at Google as working to fix “the mechanical mismatch between humans and electronics” by producing technology that merges the human body with machines to varying degrees.
In 2016, Dugan left Google for Facebook where she was chosen to be the first head of Facebook’s own DARPA-equivalent research agency, then known as Building 8. DARPA’s ties to the origins of Facebook were discussed in a recent Unlimited Hangout report.
Under Dugan, Building 8 invested heavily in brain-machine interface technology, which has since produced the company’s “neural wearable” wristbands that claim to be able to anticipate movements of the hand and fingers from brain signals alone. Facebook showcased prototypes of the project earlier this year.
Dugan left Facebook just eighteen months after joining Building 8, announcing her plans “to focus on building and leading a new endeavor,” which was apparently a reference to Wellcome Leap. Dugan later said it was as if she had been training for her role at Wellcome Leap ever since entering the workforce, framing it as the pinnacle of her career.
When asked in an interview earlier this year who the clients of Wellcome Leap are, Dugan gave a long-winded answer but essentially responded that the project serves the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, international organizations such as the UN, and public-private partnerships.
In addition to her role at Wellcome, Dugan is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored task force on US Technology and Innovation policy, which was formed in 2019. Other members include LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, McKinsey Institute Global Chairman James Manyika, former head of Google Eric Schmidt, and President Biden’s controversial top science adviser Eric Lander.
The other executive at Wellcome Leap, chief operating officer Ken Gabriel, has a background closely tied to Dugan’s. Gabriel, like Dugan, is a former program manager at DARPA, where he led the agency’s microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) research from 1992 to 1996.
He served as deputy director of DARPA from 1995 to 1996 and became director of the Electronics Technology Office from 1996 to 1997, where he was reportedly responsible for about half of all federal electronics-technology investments. At DARPA, Gabriel worked closely with the FBI and the CIA.
Gabriel left DARPA for Carnegie Mellon University, where he was in charge of the Office for Security Technologies in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. That office was created after 9/11 specifically to help meet the national security needs of the federal government, according to Carnegie Mellon’s announcement of the program.
Around that same time, Gabriel became regarded as “the architect of the MEMS industry” due to his past work at DARPA and his founding of the MEMS-focused semiconductor company Akustica in 2002. He served as Akustica’s chairman and chief technology officer until 2009, at which time he returned to work at DARPA where he served as the agency’s deputy director, working directly under Regina Dugan.
In 2012, Gabriel followed Dugan to Google’s Advanced Technology and Products Group, which he was actually responsible for creating. According to Gabriel, Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin tasked Gabriel with creating “a private sector ground-up model of DARPA” out of Motorola Mobility. Regina Dugan was placed in charge, and Gabriel again served as her deputy.
In 2013, Dugan and Gabriel co-wrote a piece for the Harvard Business Review about how DARPA’s “Special Forces” innovation approach could revolutionize both the public and private sectors if more widely applied.
Gabriel left Google in 2014, well before Dugan, to serve as the president and CEO of Charles Stark Draper Laboratories, better known as Draper Labs, which develops “innovative technology solutions” for the national-security community, with a focus on biomedical systems, energy, and space technology. Gabriel held that position until he abruptly resigned in 2020 to co-lead Wellcome Leap with Dugan.
In addition to his role at Wellcome, Gabriel is also a World Economic Forum “technology pioneer” and on the board of directors of Galvani Bioelectronics, a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline, which is intimately linked to the Wellcome Trust, and the Google subsidiary Verily.
Galvani focuses on the development of “bioelectronic medicines” that involve “implant-based modulation of neural signals” in an overt push by the pharmaceutical industry and Silicon Valley to normalize transhumanist “medicines.”
The longtime chairman of the board of Galvani, on which Gabriel serves, was Moncef Slaoui, who led the US COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution program Operation Warp Speed. Slaoui was relieved of his position at Galvani this past March over well-substantiated claims of sexual harassment.
Jeremy Farrar, Pandemic Narrative Manager
While Dugan and Gabriel ostensibly lead the outfit, Wellcome Leap is the brainchild of Jeremy Farrar and Mike Ferguson, who serve as its directors. Farrar is the director of the Wellcome Trust itself, and Ferguson is deputy chair of the Trust’s board of governors.
Farrar has been director of the Wellcome Trust since 2013 and has been actively involved in critical decision-making at the highest level globally since the beginning of the COVID crisis. He is also an agenda contributor to the World Economic Forum and co-chaired the WEF’s Africa meeting in 2019.
Farrar’s Wellcome Trust is also a WEF strategic partner and cofounded the COVID Action Platform with the WEF. Farrar was more recently behind the creation of Wellcome’s COVID-Zero initiative, which is also tied to the WEF.
Farrar has framed that initiative as “an opportunity for companies to advance the science which will eventually reduce business disruption.” Thus far it has convinced titans of finance, including Mastercard and Citadel, to invest millions in research and development at organizations favored by the Wellcome Trust.
Some of Wellcome’s controversial medical research projects in Africa, as well as its ties to the UK eugenics movement, were explored in a December article published at Unlimited Hangout.
That report also explores the intimate connections of Wellcome to the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the use of which has now been restricted or banned in several countries. As mentioned in the introduction, the Wellcome Trust itself is the subject of an upcoming Unlimited Hangout investigation (Part 2).
Southeast Asia was obviously a much less regulated environment for someone in the medical-research industry wishing to indulge in groundbreaking research. Although based in Vietnam, Farrar was sent by Oxford to various locations around the globe to study epidemics happening in real-time.
In 2009, when swine flu was wreaking havoc in Mexico, Farrar jumped on a plane to dive right into the action, something he also did for subsequent global outbreaks of Ebola, MERS, and avian flu.
Over the past year, many questions have arisen regarding exactly how much power Farrar wields over global public health policy. Recently, the US president’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, was forced to release his emails and correspondence from March and April 2020 at the request of the Washington Post.
The released emails reveal what appears to be a high-level conspiracy by some of the top medical authorities in the US to falsely claim that COVID-19 could only have been of zoonotic origin, despite indications to the contrary. The emails were heavily redacted as such emails usually are, supposedly to protect the information of the people involved, but the “(b)(6)” redactions also protect much of Jeremy Farrar’s input into these discussions.
Chris Martenson, economic researcher and post-doctorate student of neurotoxicology and founder of Peak Prosperity, has had some insightful comments on the matter, including asking why such protection has been offered to Farrar given that he is the director of a “charitable trust.” Martenson went on to question why the Wellcome Trust was involved at all in these high-level discussions.
One Fauci email, dated February 25, 2020, and sent by Amelie Rioux of the WHO, stated that Jeremy Farrar’s official role at that time was “to act as the board’s focal point on the COVID-19 outbreak, to represent and advise the board on the science of the outbreak and the financing of the response.”
Farrar had previously chaired the WHO’s Scientific Advisory Council. The emails also show the preparation, within a ten-day period, of the SARS-CoV-2 “‘origins” paper, which was entitled “The Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2” and was accepted for publication by Nature Medicine on March 17, 2020.
The paper claimed that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could only have come from natural origins as opposed to gain-of-function research, a claim once held as gospel in the mainstream but which has come under considerable scrutiny in recent weeks.
Shaping the presentation of an origin story for a virus of global significance is something Farrar has been involved with before. In 2004–5, it was reported that Farrar and his Vietnamese colleague Tran Tinh Hien, the vice director at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, were the first to identify the re-emergence of the avian flu (H5N1) in humans.
Farrar has recounted the origin story on many occasions, stating: “It was a little girl. She caught it from a pet duck that had died and she’d dug up and reburied. She survived.” According to Farrar, this experience prompted him to found a global network in conjunction with the World Health Organization to “improve local responses to disease outbreaks.”
An article published by Rockefeller University Press’s Journal of Experimental Medicine in 2009 is dramatically titled, “Jeremy Farrar: When Disaster Strikes.” Farrar, when referring to the H5N1 origin story stated: “The WHO people—and this is not a criticism—decided it was unlikely that the child had SARS or avian influenza.
They left, but Professor Hien stayed behind to talk with the child and her mum. The girl admitted that she had been quite sad in the previous days with the death of her pet duck. The girl and her brother had fought over burying the duck and, because of this argument, she had gone back, dug up the duck, and reburied it—probably so her brother wouldn’t know where it was buried.
With that history, Professor Hien phoned me at home and said he was worried about the child. He took some swabs from the child’s nose and throat and brought them back to the hospital. That night the laboratory ran tests on the samples, and they were positive for Influenza A.”
With Farrar now having been revealed as an instrumental part of the team that crafted the official story regarding the origins of SARS-CoV-2, his previous assertions about the origin of past epidemics should be scrutinized.
As the director of a “charitable trust,” Jeremy Farrar is almost completely unaccountable for his involvement in crafting controversial narratives related to the COVID crisis. He continues to be at the forefront of the global response to COVID, in part by launching the Wellcome Leap Fund for “unconventional projects, funded at scale” as an overt attempt to create a global and “charitable” version of DARPA.
Indeed, Farrar, in conceiving Wellcome Leap, has positioned himself to be just as, if not more, instrumental in building the foundation for the post-COVID era as he was in building the foundation for the COVID crisis itself.
This is significant as Wellcome Leap CEO Regina Dugan has labeled COVID-19 this generation’s “Sputnik moment” that will launch a new age of “health innovation,” much like the launching of Sputnik started a global technological “space age.” Wellcome Leap fully intends to lead the pack.
“Rulers” of the Gene-Sequencing Industry
In contrast to the overt DARPA, Silicon Valley, and Wellcome connections of the others, the chairman of the board of directors of Wellcome Leap, Jay Flatley, has a different background. Flatley is the long-time head of Illumina, a California-based gene-sequencing hardware and software giant that is believed to currently dominate the field of genomics.
Though he stepped down from the board of Illumina in 2016, he has continued to serve as the executive chairman of its board of directors. Flatley was the first to be chosen for a leadership position at Wellcome Leap, and he was responsible for suggesting Regina Dugan for the organization’s chief executive officer, according to a recent interview given by Dugan.
As a profile on Illumina in the business magazine Fast Company notes, Illumina “operates behind the scenes, selling hardware and services to companies and research institutions,” among them 23andMe. 23andMe’s CEO, Anne Wojcicki, the sister of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, told Fast Company, “It’s crazy. Illumina is like the ruler of this whole universe and no one knows that.”
The report notes that 23andMe, like most companies that offer DNA sequencing and analysis to consumers, uses machines produced by Illumina.
In 2016, Illumina launched an “aggressive” five-year plan to “bring genomics out of research labs and into doctors’ offices.” Given the current state of things, particularly the global push toward gene-focused vaccines and therapies, that plan, which concludes this year, could not have been any better timed.
Illumina’s current CEO, Francis DeSouza, previously held key posts at Microsoft and Symantec. Also in 2016, Illumina’s executive teams forecast a future in which humans are gene tested from birth to grave for both health and commercial purposes.
Whereas most companies have struggled financially during the coronavirus pandemic, some have seen a massive increase in profits. Illumina has witnessed its share price double since the start of the COVID crisis.
Jay Flatley, Executive Chairman, Illumina, speaking at World Economic Forum in Davos 2018. Source: WEF
In addition to his long-standing leadership role at Illumina, Jay Flatley is also a “digital member” of the World Economic Forum as well as the lead independent director of Zymergen, a WEF “tech pioneer” company that is “rethinking the biology and reimagining the world.”
Flatley, who has also attended several Davos meetings, has addressed the WEF on the “promise of precision [i.e., gene-specific] medicine.”
At another WEF panel meeting, Flatley, alongside UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock, promoted the idea of making genomic sequencing of babies at birth the norm, claiming it had “the potential to shift the healthcare system from reactive to preventative.”
Some at the panel called for the genomic sequencing of infants to eventually become mandatory.
Aside from Flatley as an individual, Illumina as a company is a WEF partner and plays a key role in its platform regarding the future of health care. A top Illumina executive also serves on the WEF’s Global Future Council on Biotechnology.
A New HOPE
Wellcome Leap currently has four programs: Multi-Stage Psych, Delta Tissue, 1KD, and HOPE. HOPE was the first program to be announced by Wellcome Leap and stands for Human Organs, Physiology, and Engineering. According to the full program description, HOPE aims “to leverage the power of bioengineering to advance stem cells, organoids, and whole organ systems and connections that recapitulate human physiology in vitro and restore vital functions in vivo.”
HOPE consists of two main program goals. First, it seeks to “bioengineer a multiorgan platform that recreates human immunological responses with sufficient fidelity to double the predictive value of a preclinical trial with respect to efficacy, toxicity, and immunogenicity for therapeutic interventions.”
In other words, this bioengineered platform mimicking human organs would be used to test the effects of pharmaceutical products, including vaccines, which could create a situation in which animal trials are replaced with trials on gene-edited and farmed organs.
Though such an advance would certainly be helpful in the sense of reducing often unethical animal experimentation, trusting such a novel system to allow medical treatments to go straight to the human-testing phase would also require trusting the institutions developing that system and its funders.
As it stands now, the Wellcome Trust has too many ties to corrupt actors in the pharmaceutical industry, having originally begun as the “philanthropic” arm of UK drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, for anyone to trust what they are producing without actual independent confirmation, given the histories of some of their partners in fudging both animal and human clinical trial data for vaccines and other products.
The second goal of HOPE is to open up the use of machine-human hybrid organs for transplantation into human beings. That goal focuses on restoring “organ functions using cultivated organs or biological/synthetic hybrid systems” with the later goal of bioengineering a fully transplantable human organ after several years.
Later on in the program description, however, the interest in merging the synthetic and biological becomes clearer when it states: “The time is right to foster synergies between organoids, bioengineering, and immune engineering technologies, and advance the state-of-the-art of in vitro human biology … by building controllable, accessible and scalable systems.”
The program description document also notes the interest of Wellcome in genetic-engineering approaches for the “enhancement of desired properties and insertion of traceable markers” and Wellcome’s ambition to reproduce the building blocks of the human immune system and human organ systems through technological means.
The second program to be pursued by Wellcome Leap is called “The First 1000 Days: Promoting Healthy Brain Networks,” which is abbreviated as 1KD by the organization. It is arguably the most unsettling program because it seeks to use young children, specifically infants from three months to three-year-old toddlers, as its test subjects.
The program is being overseen by Holly Baines, who previously served as strategy development lead for the Wellcome Trust before joining Wellcome Leap as the 1KD program leader.
1KD is focused on developing “objective, scalable ways to assess a child’s cognitive health” by monitoring the brain development and function of infants and toddlers, allowing practitioners to “risk-stratify children” and “predict responses to interventions” in developing brains.
The program description document notes that, up to this point in history, “our primary window into the developing brain has been neuroimaging techniques and animal models, which can help identify quantitative biomarkers of [neural] network health and characterize network differences underlying behaviors.” It then states that advances in technology “are opening additional possibilities in young infants.”
The program description goes on to say that artificial neural networks, a form of AI, “have demonstrated the viability of modeling network pruning process and the acquisition of complex behaviors in much the same way as a developing brain,” while improvements in machine learning, another subset of AI, can now be used to extract “meaningful signals” from the brains of infants and young children.
These algorithms can then be used to develop “interventions” for young children deemed by other algorithms to be in danger of having underdeveloped brain function.
The document goes on to note the promise of “low-cost mobile sensors, wearables, and home-based systems” in “providing a new opportunity to assess the influence and dependency of brain development on natural physical and social interactions.”
In other words, this program seeks to use “continuous visual and audio recordings in the home” as well as wearable devices on children to collect millions upon millions of data points. Wellcome Leap describes these wearables as “relatively unobtrusive, scalable electronic badges that collect visual, auditory and motion data as well as interactive features (such as turn-taking, pacing and reaction times).”
Elsewhere in the document, there is a call to develop “wearable sensors that assess physiological measures predictive of brain health (e.g., electrodermal activity, respiratory rate, and heart rate) and wireless wearable EEG or eye-tracking technology” for use in infants and children three and under.
Like other Wellcome Leap programs, this technology is being developed with the intention of making it mainstream in medical science within the next five to ten years, meaning that this system—although framed as a way to monitor children’s brain functioning to improve cognitive outcomes—is a recipe for total surveillance of babies and very young children as well as a means for altering their brain functioning as algorithms and Leap’s programmers see fit.
1DK has two main program goals. The first is to “develop a fully integrated model and quantitive measurement tools of network development in the first 1000 days [of life], sufficient to predict EF [executive function] formation before a child’s first birthday.”
Such a model, the description reads, “should predict contributions of nutrition, the microbiome and the genome” on brain formation as well as the effects of “sensimotor and social interactions [or lack thereof] on network pruning processes” and EF outcomes. The second goal makes it clear that widespread adoption of such neurological-monitoring technologies in young children and infants is the endgame for 1DK.
It states that the program plans to “create scalable methods for optimizing promotion, prevention, screening, and therapeutic interventions to improve EF by at least 20% in 80% of children before age 3.”
True to the eugenicist ties of the Wellcome Trust (to be explored more in-depth in Part 2), Wellcome Leap’s 1DK notes that “of interest are improvements from underdeveloped EF to normative or from normative to well-developed EF across the population to deliver the broadest impact.”
One of the goals of 1DK is thus not treating a disease or addressing a “global health public challenge” but instead experimenting on the cognitive augmentation of children using means developed by AI algorithms and invasive surveillance-based technology.
Another unsettling aspect of the program is its plan to “develop an in vitro 3D brain assembled that replicates the time formation” of a developing brain that is akin to the models developed by monitoring the brain development of infants and children.
Later on, the program description calls this an “in-silico” model of a child’s brain, something of obvious interest to transhumanists who see such a development as a harbinger of the so-called singularity.
Beyond that, it appears that this in-silico and thus synthetic model of the brain is planned to be used as the “model” to which infant and children brains are shaped by the “therapeutic interventions” mentioned elsewhere in the program description.
It should be clear how sinister it is that an organization that brings together the worst “mad scientist” impulses of both the NGO and military-research worlds is openly planning to conduct such experiments on the brains of babies and toddlers, viewing them as datasets and their brains as something to be “pruned” by machine “intelligence.”
Allowing such a program to advance unimpeded without pushback from the public would mean permitting a dangerous agenda targeting society’s youngest and most vulnerable members to potentially advance to a point where it is difficult to stop.
A “Tissue Time Machine”
The third and second-most recent program to join the Wellcome Leap lineup is called Delta Tissue, abbreviated by the organization as ΔT. Delta Tissue aims to create a platform that monitors changes in human-tissue function and interactions in real-time, ostensibly to “explain the status of a disease in each person and better predict how that disease would progress.”
Referring to this platform as a “tissue time machine,” Wellcome Leap sees Delta Tissue as being able to predict the onset of disease before it occurs while also allowing for medical interventions that “are targeted to the individual.”
Well before the COVID era, precision medicine or medicine “targeted or tailored to the individual” has been a code phrase for treatments based on patient’s genetic data and/or for treatments that alter nucleic acid (e.g., DNA and RNA) function itself. For instance, the US government defines “precision medicine” as “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.”
Similarly, a 2018 paper published in Technology notes that, in oncology, “precision and personalized medicine … fosters the development of specialized treatments for each specific subtype of cancer, based on the measurement and manipulation of key patient genetic and omic data (transcriptomics, metabolomics, proteomics, etc.).”
Prior to COVID-19 and the vaccine rollouts, the mRNA vaccine technology used by the DARPA-funded companies Moderna and Pfizer were marketed as being precision medicine treatments and were largely referred to as “gene therapies” in media reports.
They were also promoted heavily as a revolutionary method of treating cancer, making it unsurprising that the Delta Tissue program at Wellcome Leap would use a similar justification to develop a program that aims to offer tailored gene therapies to people before the onset of a disease.
This Delta Tissue platform works to combine “the latest cell and tissue profiling technologies with recent advances in machine learning,” that is, AI.
Given Wellcome Leap’s connections to the US military, it is worth noting that the Pentagon and Google, both former employers of Wellcome Leap CEO Regina Dugan and COO Ken Gabriel, have been working together since last September on using AI to predict disease in humans, first focusing on cancer before expanding to COVID-19 and every disease in between.
The Delta Tissue program appears to have related ambitions, as its program description makes clear that the program ultimately aims to use its platform for a host of cancers and infectious diseases.
The ultimate goal of this Wellcome Leap program is “to eradicate the stubbornly challenging diseases that cause so much suffering around the world.” It plans to do this through AI algorithms, however, which are never 100 percent accurate in their predictive ability, and with gene-editing treatments, nearly all of which are novel and have not been well tested.
That latter point is important given that one of the main methods for gene-editing in humans, CRISPR, has been found in numerous studies to cause considerable damage to the DNA, damage that is largely irreparable (see here, here, and here).
It seems plausible that a person placed on such a hi-tech medical treatment path will continue to need a never-ending series of gene-editing treatments and perhaps other invasive hi-tech treatments to mitigate and manage the effects of clumsy gene splicing.
Those behind Wellcome Leap frame the problem they aim to tackle with this program as follows:
“We understand that synaptic connections serve as the currency of neural communication, and that strengthening or weakening these connections can facilitate learning new behavioral strategies and ways of looking at the world.
Through studies in both animal models and humans, we have discovered that emotional states are encoded in complex neural network activity patterns, and that directly changing these patterns via brain stimulation can shift mood. We also know that disruption of these delicately balanced networks can lead to neuropsychiatric illness.” (emphasis added)
They add that “biologically based treatments” for depression “are not being matched to the biology of the human beings they’re being used in,” and, thus, treatments for depression need to be tailored “to the specific biology” of individual patients. They clearly state that what needs to be addressed in order to make such personal modifications to treatment is to gain “easy access to the biological substrate of depression—i.e. the brain.”
Wellcome Leap’s program description notes that this effort will focus specifically on anhedonia, which it defines as “an impairment in the effort-based reward system” and as a “key symptom of depression and other neuropsychiatric illnesses.” Notably, in the fine print of the document, Wellcome Leap states:
“While there are many definitions of anhedonia, we are less interested in the investigation of reduced consummatory pleasure, the general experience of pleasure, or the inability to experience pleasure. Rather, as per the description above, we will prioritize investigations of anhedonia as it relates to impairments in the effort-based reward system—e.g. reduced motivation to complete tasks and decreased capacity to apply effort to achieve a goal.”
In other words, Wellcome Leap is only interested in treating aspects of depression that interfere with an individual’s ability to work, not in improving an individual’s quality or enjoyment of life.
Leap notes, in discussing its goals, that it seeks to develop models for how patients respond to treatments that include “novel or existing behavior modification, psychotherapy, medication, and neurostimulation options” while also capturing an individual’s “genome, phenome [the sum of an individual’s phenotypic traits], [neural] network connectivity, metabolome [the sum of an individual’s metabolic traits], microbiome, reward processing plasticity levels,” among others.
It ultimately aims to predict the relationship between an individual’s genome to how “reward processing” functions in the brain. It implies that the data used to create this model should involve the use of wearables, stating that researchers “should seek to leverage high-frequency patient-worn or in-home measurements in addition to those obtained in the clinic, hospital or laboratory.”
One of the main research areas included in the program looks to “develop new scalable measurement tools for reliable and high-density quantification of mood (both subjectively reported and objectively quantified via biometrics such as voice, facial expression, etc.), sleep, movement, reward system functioning, effort/motivation/energy levels, social interaction, caloric intake, and HPA axis output in real-world situations.”
The HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis is mentioned throughout the document, and this is significant as it is both a negative and positive feedback system regulating the mechanisms of stress reactions, immunity, and also fertility in the human body.
The latter is especially important given the Wellcome Trust’s ties to the UK eugenics movement. It is also worth noting that some commercially available wearables, such as Amazon’s Halo, already quantify mood, sleep, and movement.
The program’s authors go even further than the above in terms of what they wish to monitor in real-time, stating, “We specifically encourage the development of non-invasive technology to directly interrogate human brain state.” Examples include “a non-invasive spinal tap equivalent,” “behavioral or biomarker probes of neural plasticity,” and “single-session neural monitoring capabilities that define a treatment-predictive brain state.”
In other words, this Wellcome Leap program and its authors seek to develop “non-invasive” and, likely, wearable technology capable of monitoring an individual’s mood, facial expressions, social interactions, effort and motivation, and potentially even thoughts in order to “directly interrogate human brain state.”
To think that such a device would stay only in the realm of research is naive, especially given that WEF luminaries have openly spoken at Davos meetings about how governments plan to use such technology widely on their populations as a means of pre-emptively targeting would-be dissent and ushering in an era of “digital dictatorships.”
The focus on treating only the aspects of depression that interfere with a person’s work further suggests that such technology, once developed, would be used to ensure “perfect worker” behavior in industries where human workers are rapidly being replaced with AI and machines, meaning the rulers can be more selective about which people continue to be employed and which do not.
Like other Wellcome Leap programs, if completed, the fruits of the Multi-Channel Psych program will likely be used to ensure a population of docile automatons whose movements and thoughts are heavily surveilled and monitored.
The Last Leap for an Old Agenda
Wellcome Leap is no small endeavor, and its directors have the funding, influence, and connections to make their dreams a reality. The organization’s leadership includes the key force behind Silicon Valley’s push to commercialize transhumanist tech (Regina Dugan), the “architect” of the MEMS industry (Ken Gabriel), and the “ruler” of the burgeoning genetic-sequencing industry (Jay Flatley).
It also benefits from the funding of the world’s largest medical-research foundation, the Wellcome Trust, which is also one of the leading forces in shaping genetics and biotechnology research as well as health policy globally.
A 1994 Sunday Times investigation into the Trust noted that “through [Wellcome Trust] grants and sponsorships, government agencies, universities, hospitals and scientists are influenced all over the world. The trust distributes more money to institutions than even the British government’s Medical Research Council.” It then notes:
“In offices on the building’s first floor, decisions are reached that affect lives and health on scales comparable with minor wars. In the conference room, high above the street, and in the meeting hall, in the basement, rulings in biotechnology and genetics are handed down that will help shape the human race.”
Little has changed regarding the Trust’s influence since that article was published. If anything, its influence on research paths and decisions that will “shape the human race” has only grown. Its ex-DARPA officials, who have spent their careers advancing transhumanist technology in both the public and private sectors, have overlapping goals with those off Wellcome Leap.
Dugan’s and Gabriel’s commercial projects in Silicon Valley reveal that Leap is led by those who have long sought to advance the same technology for profit and for surveillance. This drastically weakens Wellcome Leap’s claim to now is pursuing such technologies to only improve “global health.”
Indeed, as this report has shown, most of these technologies would usher in a deeply disturbing era of mass surveillance over both the external and internal activities of human beings, including young children and infants, while also creating a new era of medicine based largely on gene-editing therapies, the risks of which are considerable and also consistently downplayed by its promoters.
When one understands the intimate bond that has long existed between eugenics and transhumanism, Wellcome Leap and its ambitions make perfect sense. In a recent article written by John Klyczek for Unlimited Hangout, it was noted that the first director-general of UNESCO and former president of the UK Eugenics Society was Julian Huxley, who coined the term “transhumanism” in his 1957 book New Bottles for New Wine.
As Klyczek wrote, Huxley argued that “the eugenic goals of biologically engineering human evolution should be refined through transhumanist technologies, which combine the eugenic methods of genetic engineering with neurotech that merges humans and machines into a new organism.”
Earlier, in 1946, Huxley noted in his vision for UNESCO that it was essential that “the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that is now unthinkable may at least become thinkable,” an astounding statement to make so soon after the end of World War II.
Thanks in large part to the Wellcome Trust and its influence on both policy and medical research over the course of several decades, Huxley’s dream of rehabilitating eugenics-infused science in the post–World War II era could soon become reality. Unsurprisingly, the Wellcome Trust hosts the archive of the formerly Huxley-led Eugenics Society and still boasts close ties to its successor organization, the Galton Institute.
The overriding question is: Will we allow ourselves to continue to be manipulated into allowing transhumanism and eugenics to be openly pursued and normalized, including through initiatives like those of Wellcome Leap that seek to use babies and toddlers as test subjects to advance their nightmarish vision for humanity?
If well-crafted advertising slogans and media campaigns painting visions of utopia such as “a world without disease” are all that is needed to convince us to give up our future and our children’s future to military operatives, corporate executives, and eugenicists, then there is little left of our humanity to surrender.
Black Hole Size Revealed By Its Eating Pattern
An artist’s impression of an accretion disk rotating around an unseen supermassive black hole. The accretion process produces random fluctuations in luminosity from the disk over time, a pattern found to be related to the mass of the black hole in a new study led by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers. Credit: Mark A. Garlick/Simons Foundation
The feeding patterns of black holes offer insight into their size, researchers report. A new study revealed that the flickering in the brightness observed in actively feeding supermassive black holes is related to their mass.
Supermassive black holes are millions to billions of times more massive than the sun and usually reside at the center of massive galaxies. When dormant and not feeding on the gas and stars surrounding them, SMBHs emit very little light; the only way astronomers can detect them is through their gravitational influences on stars and gas in their vicinity. However, in the early universe, when SMBHs were rapidly growing, they were actively feeding—or accreting—materials at intensive rates and emitting an enormous amount of radiation—sometimes outshining the entire galaxy in which they reside, the researchers said.
The new study, led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign astronomy graduate student Colin Burke and professor Yue Shen, uncovered a definitive relationship between the mass of actively feeding SMBHs and the characteristic timescale in the light-flickering pattern. The findings are published in the journal Science.
The observed light from an accreting SMBH is not constant. Due to physical processes that are not yet understood, it displays a ubiquitous flickering over timescales ranging from hours to decades. “There have been many studies that explored possible relations of the observed flickering and the mass of the SMBH, but the results have been inconclusive and sometimes controversial,” Burke said.
The team compiled a large data set of actively feeding SMBHs to study the variability pattern of flickering. They identified a characteristic timescale, over which the pattern changes, that tightly correlates with the mass of the SMBH. The researchers then compared the results with accreting white dwarfs, the remnants of stars like our sun, and found that the same timescale-mass relation holds, even though white dwarfs are millions to billions of times less massive than SMBHs.
Explainer diagram – When Black Holes Line Up
The light flickers are random fluctuations in a black hole’s feeding process, the researchers said. Astronomers can quantify this flickering pattern by measuring the power of the variability as a function of timescales. For accreting SMBHs, the variability pattern changes from short timescales to long timescales. This transition of variability pattern happens at a characteristic timescale that is longer for more massive black holes.
The team compared black hole feeding to our eating or drinking activity by equating this transition to a human belch. Babies frequently burp while drinking milk, while adults can hold in the burp for a more extended amount of time. Black holes kind of do the same thing while feeding, they said.
“These results suggest that the processes driving the flickering during accretion are universal, whether the central object is a supermassive black hole or a much more lightweight white dwarf,” Shen said.
“The firm establishment of a connection between the observed light flicker and fundamental properties of the accretor will certainly help us better understand accretion processes,” said Yan-Fei Jiang, a researcher at the Flatiron Institute and study co-author.
Astrophysical black holes come in a broad spectrum of mass and size. In between the population of stellar-mass black holes, which weigh less than several tens of times the mass of the sun, and SMBHs, there is a population of black holes called intermediate-mass black holes that weigh between about 100 and 100,000 times the mass of the sun.
Researchers have discovered a definitive relationship between the mass of Supermassive Black Holes (SMBHs) and their light flickering patterns. This relationship encodes critical information about accretion processes and could be used to help locate elusive mid-sized black holes.
IMBHs are expected to form in large numbers through the history of the universe, and they may provide the seeds necessary to grow into SMBHs later. However, observationally this population of IMBHs is surprisingly elusive. There is only one indisputably confirmed IMBH that weighs about 150 times the mass of the sun. But that IMBH was serendipitously discovered by the gravitational wave radiation from the coalescence of two less massive black holes.
“Now that there is a correlation between the flickering pattern and the mass of the central accreting object, we can use it to predict what the flickering signal from an IMBH might look like,” Burke said.
Astronomers worldwide are waiting for the official kickoff of an era of massive surveys that monitor the dynamic and variable sky. The Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time will survey the sky over a decade and collect light flickering data for billions of objects, starting in late 2023.
“Mining the LSST data set to search for flickering patterns that are consistent with accreting IMBHs has the potential to discover and fully understand this long-sought mysterious population of black holes,” said co-author Xin Liu, an astronomy professor at the U. of I.
This study is a collaboration with astronomy and physics professor Charles Gammie and astronomy postdoctoral researcher Qian Yang, the Illinois Center for Advanced Study of the Universe, and researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of St. Andrews, U.K.; the Flatiron Institute; the University of Southampton, U.K.; the United States Naval Academy; and the University of Durham, U.K.
Burke, Shen, and Liu also are affiliated with the Center for Astrophysical Surveys at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at Illinois.
More information: A characteristic optical variability timescale in astrophysical accretion disks, Science (2021). science.sciencemag.org/lookup/ … 1126/science.abg9933
Machu Picchu, the famous 15th-century Inca site in southern Peru, is up to several decades older than previously thought, according to a new study led by Yale archaeologist Richard Burger.
Burger and researchers from several U.S. institutions used accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS)—an advanced form of radiocarbon dating—to date human remains recovered during the early 20th century at the monumental complex and onetime country estate of Inca Emperor Pachacuti located on the eastern face of the Andes Mountains.
Their findings, published in the journal Antiquity, reveal that Machu Picchu was in use from about A.D. 1420 to A.D. 1530—ending around the time of the Spanish conquest—making the site at least 20 years older than the accepted historical record suggests and raising questions about our understanding of Inca chronology.
Historical sources dating from the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire indicate that Pachacuti seized power in A.D. 1438 and subsequently conquered the lower Urubamba Valley where Machu Picchu is located. Based on those records, scholars have estimated that the site was built after A.D. 1440, and perhaps as late as A.D. 1450, depending on how long it took Pachacuti to subdue the region and construct the stone palace.
The AMS testing indicates that the historical timeline is inaccurate.
“Until now, estimates of Machu Picchu’s antiquity and the length of its occupation were based on contradictory historical accounts written by Spaniards in the period following the Spanish conquest,” said Burger, the Charles J. MacCurdy Professor of Anthropology in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “This is the first study based on scientific evidence to provide an estimate for the founding of Machu Picchu and the length of its occupation, giving us a clearer picture of the site’s origins and history.”
The finding suggests that Pachacuti, whose reign set the Inca on the path to becoming pre-Columbian America’s largest and most powerful empire, gained power and began his conquests decades earlier than textual sources indicate. As such, it has implications for people’s wider understanding of Inca history, Burger said.
“The results suggest that the discussion of the development of the Inca empire based primarily on colonial records needs revision,” he said. “Modern radiocarbon methods provide a better foundation than the historical records for understanding Inca chronology.”
The AMS technique can date bones and teeth that contain even small amounts of organic material, expanding the pool of remains suitable for scientific analysis. For this study, the researchers used it to analyze human samples from 26 individuals that were recovered from four cemeteries at Machu Picchu in 1912 during excavations led by Yale professor Hiram Bingham III, who had “rediscovered” the site the previous year.
The bones and teeth used in the analysis likely belonged to retainers, or attendants, who were assigned to the royal estate, the study states. The remains show little evidence of involvement in heavy physical labor, such as construction, meaning that they likely were from the period when the site functioned as a country palace, not when it was being built, the researchers said.
Videos of Cosmic Proportions
An animated gif of a meteorite-dropping fireball was observed in Ontario in January 2020.
Western leads global project observing rare meteor showers and meteorite falls
As billionaires battle it out in a space race that only a handful of the world’s richest persons can play, a highly inclusive international project is looking in the other direction – what’s flying towards Earth – and all are welcome.
Led by Western University’s Denis Vida, the Global Meteor Network (GMN) is a collection of more than 450 video meteor cameras hosted by amateur astronomers and professionals alike in 23 countries across the globe.
More than 1,600 Geminid meteors were observed in December 2020 using a Global Meteor Network camera in Croatia. Image by Global Meteor Network
That’s a lot of cameras and more, much more, are on the way. The massive array, working collectively and connectively, is needed to achieve GMN’s mission prime: ensuring that no unique space events, such as rare meteor showers or meteorite-dropping fireballs, are missed.
“The main operational goal of the project is to establish a decentralized, science-grade instrument which observes the night sky every night of the year from as many locations around the world as possible,” said Vida, a postdoctoral associate in Western’s department of physics and astronomy.
A new paper, soon-to-be-published by Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and currently available at arXiv, details the project and also shares some of GMN’s impressive preliminary findings.
Meteor astronomers, like Vida and Western’s Canada Research Chair in Planetary Small Bodies Peter Brown, have a unique challenge to get their data. Unlike other fields of astronomy, where the objects of interest, like planets or distant galaxies, are usually so far away that they can be observed from virtually any point on the globe, meteors occur much closer to Earth and most burn up in the atmosphere at heights of around 100 km.
“Other astronomers can pool their resources to build a big telescope on top of a mountain where the skies are dark and clear year-round, but meteor astronomers need spatial coverage most of all,” said Vida.
Video showing the aurora captured by a GMN camera in Alaska. Video by Bill Witte.
A bright, meteorite-dropping fireball can occur anywhere in the world, and can only be well observed from within a distance of 300 km. To get the exact fall location and the orbit, it needs to be observed by at least two cameras in two different locations. That’s exactly what GMN provides.
GMN cameras installed in the UK. Photo by Roger Banks
Just a few months ago, the Winchcombe meteorite made international headlines. Several GMN cameras in the UK tracked the fireball together with other meteor networks, leading to important data retrieval and its eventual discovery on Earth. Spurred by the Winchcombe event, more than 150 meteor enthusiasts in the UK now want to install GMN cameras.
“There are already more than 100 existing ones in the UK, so that’s really exciting,” said Vida. “Its role in the recovery and analysis of the Winchcombe meteorite fall is proof positive that GMN works.”
GMN started when Vida was an undergraduate student. The first system was installed at Western in 2017, and GMN has continued to grow since with cameras now in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta, as well as the United States, the UK, Spain, Belgium, Croatia, and Brazil.
GMN station locations in North America and coverage area at the height of 100 km.
“A few friends and I realized that we can use low-cost Raspberry Pi single-board computers and reduce the cost of a single meteor observing system by 10 times, allowing us to install many more cameras than was previously possible,” said Vida.
Raspberry Pi computers are considered the most popular single-board systems and are often used in DIY projects or as a cost-effective system for learning to code.
Beyond the thrilling visuals, GMN provides the world’s meteor community with real-time awareness of the near-Earth meteoroid environment by publishing orbits of all observed meteors from around the globe within 24 hours of observation. The network also observes meteor showers in an effort to better understand flight patterns, flux capacities, and even predict future events.
The location of all the cameras and the latest data is available for anyone to explore, via the GMN website.
DISCOVERY: Luminescent “Windows” Could Transform Light Into Power
Engineers from Rice University in Houston developed a novel method of generating power through the use of glowing “windows” that redirect light to the solar cells lining their edges. The windows, known as luminescent solar concentrates (LSCs), are composed of a conjugated polymer sandwiched between two acrylic panels.
The polymer, a light-emitting compound dubbed PNV (poly[naphthalene-alt-vinylene]), is designed to absorb light from the sun and other light sources indoors before channeling it toward the solar cells along the edge of each window pane. The solar cells then convert the light into electricity as usual.
PNV initially absorbed and emitted only red light. But the engineers modified it so that it can absorb light in a variety of colors. Lead author Yilin Li said he began the project as part of a “smart glass” competition. But it quickly grew into a study motivated by the need to solve energy issues for buildings.
Solar rooftops have long been the mainstream solution to that problem. But according to Li, solar panels need to be oriented toward the sun to maximize their efficiency. Their appearance is not very pleasing either. The solution Li and his team came up with was integrated photovoltaics. He said the idea was to build colorful, transparent, or translucent solar collectors and apply them to the outside of buildings.
Their research paper appeared online in the journal Polymer International.
“Windows” could generate power from light
Conjugated polymers are organic macromolecules that can be modified to have specific properties, physical or chemical, for a variety of applications. Today, conjugated polymers are typically used to fabricate organic light-emitting diodes (LED) and optoelectronic devices because of their unique optical properties.
Experts have developed many kinds of luminophores–atoms that manifest luminescence–over the last decade. But experts have rarely done the same using conjugated polymers, said Rafael Verduzco, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Rice University who also took part in the research.
Part of the problem with using conjugated polymers is that they can be unstable. They can also degrade rather quickly. “But we’ve learned a lot about improving the stability of conjugated polymers in recent years,” said Verduzco. In the future, they may be able to engineer the polymers for stability and optical properties.
However, it is worth noting that the amount of power generated by the luminescent panels is far less than that collected by the average solar cells used in commercially available panels. Those panels routinely convert roughly 20 percent of sunlight into electricity.
But the good thing about the group’s luminescent panels is that they never stop working. The panels routinely convert light from inside the building into electricity even after the sun has gone down.
When the group tested how the panels convert sunlight and ambient LED light into electricity, they found that the panels had a power conversion efficiency of 2.9 percent in direct sunlight and 3.6 percent under an ambient LED light. This means that the panels were more efficient at converting ambient LED light into electricity.
The group also simulated the return of energy from panels as big as 120 square inches. They found that panels like these would provide less energy. But they would still contribute to a household’s needs.
Li suggested that their polymer compound could also be modified to convert infrared and ultraviolet light into electricity. Both lights would allow the panels to remain transparent instead of colored.
PNV may even be printed in patterns on the panels so that they can be turned into artwork, said Li.
For full references please use the source link below.
Part of “deciding on our future” includes discussing how to grow their enormous wealth, so the uber-wealthy can exert more control over the lives of ordinary people — which includes exercising more power over government policies.
It’s “where a group of people with a collective wealth of a trillion dollars — more than 16 nations combined — come together to oppose elected democracy,” Brand said. And if there’s any talk of breaking up their billionaire monopolies, “nobody’s got the force to oppose that,” he said.
Brand cited an article published by The Guardian which questioned what happens when mega-billionaires convene at conferences like Sun Valley.
“Everything that happens at Sun Valley will contribute to the ability of attendees like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Mike Bloomberg to increase their society-warping fortunes. They and their fellow billionaires got more than 50% richer during the pandemic year, by doing absolutely nothing but sitting back and watching their capital grow as millions around the world suffered and died.”
“If it was truly about humanitarianism and helping others, they would start paying more taxes, stop lobbying for more power and create some funds that … actually impact the lives of ordinary people.”
Virtual Reality and Its Practical Application in Modern Medicine
IT technologies are actively developing and opening up a wide range of opportunities for the entertainment industry. Virtual Reality is perhaps the most sparkling example. And although this technology is currently used primarily for entertainment, it has broad prospects for use in the development of medicine. Together with experts from the Healthcare IT industry, we reviewed the latest VR trends in medicine.
History of VR with its start from gaming
The announcement of Microsoft’s Project X-Ray prototype caused a flurry of emotions among gamers around the world. The first game was released in the form of a demo, where users wearing VR glasses and holding a special manipulator in their hands were supposed to destroy hostile robots breaking through the walls.
In March 2020, Valve Corporation released Half-Life: Alyx for VR, which has seriously altered ideas about the future of VR technology. In this game, together with realistic graphics, producers introduced a drawing function – this feature has become a small breakthrough.
The history of VR in games dates back to 1990. At that time, no one could have imagined that this technology would be applied anywhere outside gaming. Today, VR and AR are applied in education, scientific and military research, sports, transport, and medicine. The last option will be discussed here.
VR in studying medicine
A significant event in the world of medicine was a surgical operation, during which a cancerous tumor was removed. The operation was performed at the Royal London Hospital and was observed by 13,000 students. The surgeon used Google Glass and streamed the event on the Internet with a one-minute delay.
Why this event was so remarkable:
The audience watched the operation through the eyes of the surgeon.
Viewers could ask questions online.
The broadcast of the operation could be viewed on any device.
The surgeon received questions during the operation – they were displayed as text off to one side, and he could answer them vocally without stopping the process.
Although students could enjoy a full view, they still were passive viewers in the process. This was the main reason why 3D simulations, not only accurately reproducing all details but also intended for students to practice their skills, started appearing.
Medical Simulation Corp offers a product called Simantha that educates future cardiologists. The product is a 3D manikin with a cardiovascular system, which is designed for training for all operations known to cardiological surgeons. Students can inject contrast agents, study the insides of the heart, see the patient’s reaction to certain medical manipulations, etc.
There are more traditional teaching methods as well. HumanSim offers a simulator for learning the basics of communication with patients, first aid (including that in tactical conditions), lung ventilation, etc. Here users can create unique simulations on their own.
Advantages of learning with 3D simulators
An artificial manikin doesn’t provide the same experience of interacting with a patient as simulations do. The virtual simulator reproduces all the anatomical features of the human body, while standard manikins are not able to contain and display all the necessary information. In the case of using a 3D model, a student can even assess the consequences of their mistake, for example, if a blood vessel is damaged. Stanford University has a simulator that even allows for the tactile sensations of conducting an operation.
By polishing up their surgical skills, future doctors gain experience that will allow them to work more delicately and accurately. This will help to improve the qualifications of graduates, and from a practical perspective, this will reduce the number of errors and post-surgery complications. Such simulators are especially useful for microsurgeons and telesurgeons.
Caring for patients
VR technologies can be useful not only for training future doctors but also for managing various mental disorders. For example, using VR, phantom-limb pains and various forms of phobias can be treated. According to experiments carried out at the Chalmers University of Technology, thanks to the use of VR technologies, it was possible to reduce phantom pain by up to 22% through restructuring the neural networks of the patients’ brains. By simulating the presence of a hand, this technology relieved patients of the obsessive thoughts of a missing limb.
VR can also be used in the treatment of autistic people by helping them practice behaving in a society where patients are not ready to act. Provided that technologies are rapidly developing and becoming more accessible, there is hope that, in the near future, we will receive a qualitatively new level of medical care in all areas.
Finally, VR technology may soon be used for diagnosing and monitoring Alzheimer’s disease. About two years ago, scientists from Cambridge University and University College London conducted research where they used VR headsets to detect Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. Those who participated in the experiment (both with mild cognitive impairment that often develops into Alzheimer’s disease and without it) were asked to walk within an artificial environment. The technology helped to detect navigation problems in those participants who previously tested positive for MCI. Such a method for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease may soon prove itself to be better than the tests we have today.
VR is a promising technology in healthcare. The simulated environments that it creates are already used for transferring valuable knowledge in the field of surgery, and it soon might prove itself helpful for diagnosing and monitoring various diseases. This, in turn, leads to significant improvement of the quality of patients’ lives, lifts medicine up to a new level, and opens the potential for the development of innovative healthcare software solutions.
Yellowstone Rattled by Swarm of More Than 140 Earthquakes in Past Day, Geologists Say
Grand Prismatic Spring In Yellowstone National Park
A swarm of more than 141 earthquakes is rattling Yellowstone National Park, geologists said.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Friday that an ongoing earthquake swarm that began at 5:52 p.m. Thursday is centered beneath Yellowstone Lake. There have been 40 earthquakes bigger than a magnitude 2, and two have been above a 3.0 magnitude, USGS said.
In the past day, there have been 10 earthquakes with a 2.5 magnitude or greater, according to USGS. The largest was a 3.1-magnitude quake that shook beneath Yellowstone Lake at 8:12 a.m. Mountain Time.
The earthquake swarm is nothing to worry about, geologists said.
“Earthquake sequences like these are common and account for roughly 50% of the total seismicity in the Yellowstone region,” USGS said on Twitter. “This swarm is similar to one that occurred in about the same place during December 2020.”
Some people, however, still worry earthquakes in Yellowstone are a sign that the “supervolcano” that lies beneath the park will soon erupt, which could have regional and global consequences.
“Such a giant eruption would have regional effects such as falling ash and short-term (years to decades) changes to global climate,” USGS said on its website. “Those parts of the surrounding states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming that are closest to Yellowstone would be affected by pyroclastic flows, while other places in the United States would be impacted by falling ash (the amount of ash would decrease with distance from the eruption site).”
The USGS doesn’t think an eruption at Yellowstone is likely for thousands of years. Even with the current swarm, the alert level at the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory is green, which is normal.
Earthquakes in Yellowstone typically happen in swarms, according to the park. Swarms happen in many places where there is volcanic activity and occur for a number of reasons. The most common is when water gets into faults in the Earth’s crust, according to USGS.
Teens with Secure Family Relationships ‘Pay It Forward’ with Empathy for Friends
Teens with more secure family relationships get a head start on developing empathy, according to my colleagues’ and my new study tracking adolescents into adulthood.
In contrast to popular myths about self-obsessed teens, existing research shows that adolescence is a key stage of development for the growth of empathy: the ability to stand in someone else’s shoes, to understand and resonate with their emotions and to care about their well-being. Empathy is a skill that develops over time, and it has major consequences for teens’ social interactions, friendships and adult relationships.
So how do teens learn this critical skill?
Our team’s new findings, published on July 15, 2021, in the journal Child Development, suggest that teens who have secure, supportive family relationships provide more empathetic support to their friends.
Imagine yourself as a teenager with someone in your life who understands your struggles, offers help and makes you feel supported and connected – that’s what empathetic support is all about.
Our study, led by professor of psychology Joseph P. Allen, followed 184 adolescents from their early teens into adulthood. When teens were 14 years old, we interviewed them about their family experiences and their relationships with their parents.
The interviews were designed to measure attachment security – teens’ confidence that they can explore and build autonomy while trusting others to provide connection, safety and support when they need it. Past research shows that experiences of receiving sensitive care from adult caregivers, especially in times of stress, build secure attachment. In each interview, we rated teens as secure if they expressed that they valued their family relationships and described them in a balanced, clear way.
Then we videotaped the teens at ages 16, 17 and 18, while they helped their closest friend talk through problems they were facing. From these videos, we quantified how much support friends sought from the teens we interviewed – for example, by asking for their opinion on a situation. To measure how much empathetic support the teens provided, we looked for four types of behaviors: showing understanding, helping friends solve their problems, providing emotional validation and actively engaging in conversations.
We found that teens who were more secure in their family relationships at age 14 provided more empathetic support to their friends in early adolescence and showed consistently high empathy over time. Teens who were less secure showed lower levels of empathy at first but improved this skill over time and nearly caught up to more secure teens by age 18.
This finding suggests that teens naturally gain empathetic skills as they get older, but those with more secure family relationships may get there faster.
What is especially interesting is that teens’ friends were more likely to seek out support from secure teens, and friends who sought more help were more likely to receive it. Thus, friendships provide a key context for adolescents to practice giving and receiving empathetic support.
Our research suggests that empathy starts with feeling safe and connected. Building secure relationships, characterized by trust, emotional safety and responsiveness, can give teens a firsthand experience of empathy. With this foundation in place, they can then share that empathy with others.
There’s still plenty we don’t know about teens’ empathy. For instance, what equips teens to empathize with individuals from marginalized groups, with new peers or dating partners, or with their own future children?
Learning how to nurture empathy in adolescence is vital for building a more compassionate society.