Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Daily 2 Cents: Crop Circle Still Unexplained -- Spirituality = Lower Depression Risk -- Visitor In My Bedroom
Crop circle still unexplained
Perhaps aliens got lost on the way to Area 51.
Or a CSU Monterey Bay student came up with a creative capstone project.
An elaborate crop circle in a barley field about six miles southeast of Salinas appeared to have landed from out of nowhere Monday, when a YouTube video depicting its alleged discovery made its way onto the Internet.
By late afternoon, news of the circle outside Chualar had drawn curious onlookers from throughout the Salinas Valley.
Stamped in the middle of the field, the design covered about an acre and looked like a strange computer chip with dots in the middle that some Internet observers interpreted as either Braille or Morse code.
Most crop circle enthusiasts were quick to call it a hoax.
But with the landowner apparently unaware of how it happened, theories were multiplying all over the Internet by press time.
Security guards from San Jose-based Echelon Security were outside the property Monday morning. They said they could not reveal their client, only that they had been hired to stop the area from "becoming a circus."
Ben Johnson, one of the guards, said the circle appeared either Sunday or Monday morning.
The guards were happy to lead reporters to the circle. From ground level it looked like nothing but trampled-on grass cut at different angles.
A representative from the company at its San Jose headquarters said he could not reveal when the firm was hired or who the client was.
The property belongs to Scott and Debbie Anthony. Reached at home where she was ill in bed, Debbie Anthony said she'd heard about the spectacle but knew nothing other than what she was seeing in news reports. Scott Anthony could not be reached for comment.
A man who identified himself as Hector at the ranch office said he had not been able to get out to the field to inspect the design.
In the 2½-minute YouTube video posted Monday morning, two men appear to drive along Chualar Canyon Road before sunrise and see flashing lights in a field.
They get out of a compact car, hop a fence and enter a pushed-down area of weeds on a cultivated field.
"Dude," says one man, "are you seeing this?"
Among the first people to spot the crop circle from above were Julie and Pat Belanger, co-owners of the 111th Aerial Photography Squadron company.
Julie Belanger said they were flying in a Robinson R44 helicopter from South County Airport in San Martin toward Carmel when they spotted the circle.
"Flying through that area is not always very exciting," Belanger said, "and then, all of a sudden, that thing's there."
She said she had never seen anything like it in 20 years of aerial photography.
"I don't know about aliens," she said, "but someone very creative put it there."
Joe Pezzini, chief operating officer of Ocean Mist Farms, one of the largest growers in Monterey County, said he'd "never heard about (crop circles) around here."
The circles are typically discounted as hoaxes, and at times their creators come forward. But there are dedicated researchers throughout the country who try to verify their authenticity.
Jeffrey Wilson of the Independent Crop Circle Researchers Association said there was a "dead giveaway" this circle was a hoax.
He said it was too aligned with the man-made road, looked like human-invented Braille in the center, and the YouTube clip seemed similar to guerrilla-marketing techniques Wilson has seen.
"My guess is that ... it is commissioned work for an advertisement," he said. "Or a commissioned work for a production company making a documentary on crop circles or for some kind of film."
Wilson said it seemed to fit the mold of one professional crop circle-making group, Circlemakers.org, which has done work for the BBC, Nike, History Channel and others.
An email sent late Monday to the company was not answered by press time.
Crop circle researcher Nancy Talbott of the BLT Research Team in Cambridge, Mass., said that at first glance the Chualar circle appeared man-made.
"I looks very mechanical," she said. "... It doesn't look the way most of the genuine circles I've worked on look. That doesn't mean I'm right. - Monterey Herald
The Heck Hypothesis: Crop Circles Unveiled - Highly recommended...Lon
The Heck Hypothesis: Crop Circle Insight
Crop Circles: The Bones of God
Spirituality linked to lower depression risk
For people at high risk of depression because of a family history, spirituality may offer some protection for the brain, a new study hints.
Parts of the brain's outer layer, the cortex, were thicker in high-risk study participants who said religion or spirituality was "important" to them versus those who cared less about religion.
"Our beliefs and our moods are reflected in our brain and with new imaging techniques we can begin to see this," Myrna Weissman told Reuters Health. "The brain is an extraordinary organ. It not only controls, but is controlled by our moods."
Weissman, who worked on the new study, is a professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at Columbia University and chief of the Clinical-Genetic Epidemiology department at New York State Psychiatric institute.
While the new study suggests a link between brain thickness and religiosity or spirituality, it cannot say that thicker brain regions cause people to be religious or spiritual, Weissman and her colleagues note in JAMA Psychiatry.
It might hint, however, that religiosity can enhance the brain's resilience against depression in a very physical way, they write.
Previously, the researchers had found that people who said they were religious or spiritual were at lower risk of depression. They also found that people at higher risk for depression had thinning cortices, compared to those with lower depression risk.
The cerebral cortex is the brain's outermost layer made of gray matter that forms the organ's characteristic folds. Certain areas of the cortex are important hubs of neural activity for processes such as sensory perception, language and emotion.
For the new study, the researchers twice asked 103 adults between the ages of 18 and 54 how important religion or spirituality was to them and how often they attended religious services over a five-year period.
In addition to being asked about spirituality, the participants' brains were imaged once to see how thick their cortices were.
All the participants were the children or grandchildren of people who participated in an earlier study about depression. Some had a family history of depression, so they were considered to be at high risk for the disorder. Others with no history served as a comparison group.
Overall, the researchers found that the importance of religion or spirituality to an individual - but not church attendance - was tied to having a thicker cortex. The link was strongest among those at high risk of depression.
"What we're doing now is looking at the stability of it," Weissman said.
Her team is taking more images of the participants' brains to see whether the size of the cortex changes with their religiosity or spirituality.
"This is a way of replicating and validating the findings," she said. "That work is in process now."
Dr. Dan Blazer, the J.P. Gibbons Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, said the study is very interesting but is still exploratory.
"I think this tells us it's an area to look at," Blazer, who was not involved in the new study, said. "It's an area of interest but we have to be careful."
For example, he said there could be other areas of the brain linked to religion and spirituality. Also, spirituality may be a marker of something else, such as socioeconomic status.
Blazer added that it's an exciting time, because researchers are actively looking at links between the brain, religion and risk of depression.
"We've seen this field move from a time when there were virtually no studies done at all," he said.
Weissman said the mind and body are intimately connected.
"What this means therapeutically is hard to say," she added. - JAMA
Visitor in my bedroom
I`d like to share a terrifying experience i had a few weeks back whilst in bed.
It starts with me in a dream, based around everyday things which leads me back to my bedroom. I`m then aware of being asleep in my bed and dreaming....if that makes sense. As I lay on my side quite comfortable with all of this I become aware a "person" in my bedroom but dont seem to care. (I put this down to my feeling of calm and contentment perhaps?) With eyes still shut I hear this person begin to move towards me and I feel the impression of something rectangular(around the same size as a matchbox) on the side of my head. Strange humming noises begin to fill the inside of my head that trigger a strange messed up memory. Fear engulfs me for I know that I cant do anything about what happens next. I begin shouting and crying like a child for a few seconds, even begging someone to help me. Then everything goes dark, blank and then quiet. I then open my eyes to find myself still on my side with dried tears on my cheeks.
The following morning whilst showering I noticed a 3cm(approx) line cut just below my right shoulder. I`m a nail biter. so I was puzzled as to how I did that in my sleep.
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