1964 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

CommUnity of Minds — Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking in December of 1964: I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.

Therefore, I must ask why this prize is awarded to a movement which is beleaguered and committed to unrelenting struggle; to a movement which has not won the very peace and brotherhood which is the essence of the Nobel Prize.

After contemplation, I conclude that this award which I receive on behalf of that movement is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time – the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

The tortuous road which has led from Montgomery, Alabama to Oslo bears witness to this truth. This is a road over which millions of Negroes are travelling to find a new sense of dignity. This same road has opened for all Americans a new era of progress and hope. It has led to a new Civil Rights Bill, and it will, I am convinced, be widened and lengthened into a super highway of justice as Negro and white men in increasing numbers create alliances to overcome their common problems.

I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome! (01/20/2014)

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David Suzuki on Population

Future Positive — Some interesting human population facts: The planet earth can sustainably support; 15 billion people if all consumption was at India’s levels; 18 billion people if all consumption was at Rwanda’s levels; 2.5 billion people if all consumption was at Britain’s levels; or 1.5 billion people if all consumption was at USA levels.

The worlds human population was self-regulated to about 1 billion up until the year 1800, since which time the exploitation of fossil fuels has seen the population explode to the current number of 7.1+ billion. The worlds population is currently increasing by 2 people every single second.

If this doesn’t get your attention watch this 3.5 minute video by David Suzuki. (01/20/2014)

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Smart Contact Lens Measures Glucose

BBC Medical Technology — Google has said it is testing a “smart contact lens” that can help measure glucose levels in tears. It uses a “tiny” wireless chip and a “miniaturised” glucose sensor embedded between two layers of lens material. The firm said it is also working on integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed certain thresholds …

Many global firms have been looking to expand in the wearable technology sector – seen by many as a key growth area in the coming years.

Various estimates have said the sector is expected to grow by between $10bn and $50bn (£6bn and £31bn) in the next five years. Within the sector, many firms have been looking specifically at technology targeted at healthcare. Google’s latest foray with the smart contact lens is aimed at a sector where consumer demand for such devices is expected to grow.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, one in ten people across the world’s population are forecast to have diabetes by 2035. People suffering from the condition need to monitor their glucose levels regularly as sudden spikes or drops are dangerous. At present, the majority of them do so by testing drops of blood. Google said it was testing a prototype of the lens that could “generate a reading once per second”. (01/20/2014)

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Preventing Blindness

Graphic showing gene therapy to prevent blindnessBBC Medical Science — Surgeons in Oxford have used a gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind. The operation involved inserting a gene into the eye, a treatment that revived light-detecting cells. The doctors involved believe that the treatment could in time be used to treat common forms of blindness.

Prof Robert MacLaren, the surgeon who led the research, said he was “absolutely delighted” at the outcome. “We really couldn’t have asked for a better result,” he said. …

If the improvements seen in the patients continue, the aim will be to offer the treatment to younger choroideremia patients to prevent them from losing their sight. The condition is relatively rare: it is thought to affect a thousand people in the UK. But Professor MacLaren believes that success with choroideremia demonstrates the principle that gene therapy could be used to cure other forms of genetic blindness including age-related macular degeneration. This condition causes blindness in 300,000 people in Britain and causes a deterioration in the vision of one in four people over the age of 75.

“The mechanisms of choroideremia and what we are trying to do with the treatment would broadly be applicable to more common causes of blindness,” the professor explained. “Choroideremia shows some similarities with macular degeneration in that we are targeting the same cells. We don’t yet know which genes to target for macular degeneration but we do know now how to do it and how to put the genes back in.”  (01/20/2014)

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The Value of Vaccine

BBC Medical Science — India is marking three years since its last reported polio case, a landmark in the global battle against the disease. It is seen as confirmation of one of India’s biggest public health successes, achieved through a massive and sustained immunisation programme. India’s health minister hailed it as a “monumental milestone”.

In 2012 the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed India from the list of polio-endemic countries. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria remain on it. The list refers to countries in which the virus is circulating freely and the transmission of the infectious disease has not been stopped. Despite India’s success, health experts fear a resurgence of polio in other parts of the world.

“This monumental milestone was possible due to unwavering political will at the highest level, commitment of adequate financial resources, technological innovation … and the tireless efforts of millions of workers including more than 23 lakh (2.3 million) vaccinators,” Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters. The WHO is expected to formally certify India’s polio-free status next month after testing its last samples. …

After the eradication of smallpox in 1980, polio is the second disease in India that has been eliminated through immunisation. Nearly 2.3 million volunteers vaccinate some 170 million children under five years of age in India during every round of immunisation.

Polio is capable of causing crippling disability or death within hours. It plagued societies in ancient times – and was present in more than 100 countries even in the 1980s, when it left 350,000 people paralysed each year. Global cases have decreased since then as part of a mass eradication programme – to 372 last year.

Despite the quarter-century-long vaccination programme, experts fear it could make a comeback in countries riven by fighting. Most of last year’s cases were in conflict areas like Somalia and Syria, where polio had previously been eradicated.  (01/20/2014)

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November 2013, Warmest Weather Recorded

The Atlantic Journal– Rebecca J. Rosen reports: If you live in the eastern half of the United States, last month probably seemed like a normal November for you, perhaps even a bit chilly.

But, historically, the month was anything but.

According to NOAA, November 2013 was the warmest November since at least 1880, the year when NOAA’s global temperature records begin. During the 20th century, the average global temperature for November was 55.2° F; in 2013 we managed to beat that by 1.40° F.

The longer three-month period, stretching from September to November, was also unusually warm—the second warmest on record since 1880; only 2005 was warmer. For the entire year to date, 2013 is on track to be among the top five or six warmest years since we started keeping track. All ten of the ten warmest years on record have happened in the past 15 years. (12/18/2013)

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Understanding Mechanism and Consequence
CommUnity of Minds

First Atomic Bomb Explosion

CommUnity of Minds — Timothy Wilken, MD writes: Human intelligence develops over time and can achieve four levels of understanding. We start with PERCEPTION then develop and sometimes master CONCEPTION, then develop and sometimes master MECHANISM and finally develop and sometimes master CONSEQUENCE. These levels are sequential–CONCEPTION follows and depends on first mastering PERCEPTION, MECHANISM follows and depends on first mastering CONCEPTION, and  finally CONSEQUENCE follows and depends on first mastering MECHANISM.

It is possible for most humans to understand, and then master their intelligence fully. Those who choose to do so, can with practice, develop the ability to access five modes of thinking: Survive, Adapt, Control, Create, and Co-Operate at will. With additional study and contemplation they can gain mastery of the four levels of knowing: PERCEPTION, CONCEPTION, MECHANISM, and CONSEQUENCE.

PERCEPTION is the understanding of space and sameness—spacial integrity— recognizing WHAT is associated with Good Space and WHAT is associated with Bad Space. PERCEPTION is also knowing WHERE to go to enable or avoid a recognized event—knowing WHERE to go to secure Good Space and WHERE to go to avoid Bad Space. PERCEPTION enables the ability of Adaptation.

CONCEPTION is the understanding of time and difference—temporal sequence—local cause and effect, and from that understanding knowing WHEN to act in time to encourage a desired event, or WHEN to act in time to discourage an undesired event from occurring. CONCEPTION enables the ability of Control.

MECHANISM is the understanding of HOW things work together—what events and actions are necessary to produce a desired resultant—knowing how PERCEPTION and CONCEPTION relate to each other. MECHANISM enables the ability of Creation.

And finally, CONSEQUENCE is the understanding of the potential risks and benefits of our actions and their effects on our selves and upon others. CONSEQUENCE enables the ability of Co-Operation.

Let me provide one example of these four levels of knowing, and how they might apply to one problem currently threatening our civilization. As Albert Einstein warned us over sixty-six years ago: “The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

Einstein had discovered one of Nature’s MECHANISMS: E=mc2

The scientists and technicians working at the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico used their KnowHow to weaponize this MECHANISM of Nature with the creation of nuclear bombs.

Now let us examine the threat of nuclear weapons from the perspective of our four levels of human knowing.

PERCEPTION is the level of knowing necessary to adapt to a nuclear event — to know what is associated with a nuclear blast, and to know where to go to escape from the blast of a nuclear weapon. Where is Good Space? Where can I go to avoid Bad Space?

CONCEPTION is the level of knowing necessary to control a nuclear event — to know when to act to either detonate, or deactivate a nuclear weapon. What is the proper sequence of actions to control the process? And, when do I enter the activation code? Or, when do I enter the deactivation code?

MECHANISM is the level of knowing necessary to create a nuclear event — to know how reality allows the forces of nature to interact and result in a nuclear explosion — E=mc2. And, it also is the level of understanding necessary to invent and manufacture the technology of a nuclear weapon — the Manhattan Project. How do I design a nuclear device?

And finally, CONSEQUENCE is the level of knowing necessary in order to co-Operate — to know why we should never have created nuclear weapons in the first place. Why are we creating these devices? What will be the consequence of their existence? (11/17/2013)

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Remembering Alfred Russel Wallace

Alfred Russel WallaceBBC Science History — James Morgan writes: The 100th anniversary of the death of Alfred Russel Wallace, the “forgotten hero” who co-discovered evolution, is being marked today in London. The first ever statue of the naturalist will be unveiled at the Natural History Museum by Sir David Attenborough.

A new wasp genus – Wallaceaphytis – has been named in honour of the man who has been in Darwin’s shadow ever since they co-published their theory in 1858. The wasp was discovered in Borneo, where Wallace carried out his research.  “It seemed only fitting to name it in his honour, especially as it is the centenary of his death,” said Dr Andrew Polaszek of the NHM, one of the expedition team who found the insect last year. They have published their discovery in the Journal of Natural History – the same annals in which Wallace published his famous paper on the origin of species – “the Sarawak Law”.

Just one millimetre long, the wasp belongs to a group known as parasitoids, which lay their eggs inside other insects or spiders. “Wallaceaphytis is so unusual that one of my volunteers called me over to the microscope saying ‘this looks really strange’,” Dr Polaszek told the BBC. “Not only is it a new species but also a completely new genus. And we found it in Wallace’s old stomping ground.”

The incredible variety of insects Wallace discovered during his travels in the Malay Archipelago inspired his theory of evolution by natural selection He described his ideas in an essay which he sent to Charles Darwin – who subsequently sought to co-publish his own independent version of the theory But while there are many, many monuments to Darwin, there has never been a single one of Wallace – until today.

A life-size bronze sculpture by Anthony Smith will be unveiled at the NHM by Sir David Attenborough, who said, “For me, there is no more admirable character in the history of science.” (11/11/2013)

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Walking and Jumping Plant Spores

Jumping horsetail seeds (c) Philippe MarmottantBBC Plant Science — Victoria Gill writes: Researchers in France have discovered a strange new type of movement in plants – tiny spores that walk and jump. The researchers used high speed cameras to find out how horsetail (Equisetum) spores dispersed.

This revealed that the microscopic spores’ “legs” curl and uncurl when the moisture levels change, causing them to appear to crawl around or even to spring from the ground. The findings are published in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B.

Lead researcher Dr Philippe Marmottant from Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble, explained that the motion of plants provides natural inspiration for self-propelled devices. Jumping enables the spores to enter wind currents, which they use to disperse over large distances

“If you think of a carnivorous plant, [like a Venus flytrap] their motion can be quite fast,” Dr Marmottant told the BBC. “So I was interested in finding new types of motion in plants, and a friend who is a biologist told me about these very special plant spores that have a motion driven by humidity.”

When Dr Marmottant examined the spores under the microscope, he saw their movement. But it was only when he combined the microscope with a high-speed camera that he revealed that the plants were not only moving, but walking and jumping. …

Before this study, it was not clear what the function of the spores’ leg structures was.

“People assumed they were like wings, so they would help dispersal into the wind,” explained Dr Marmottant. “But here we show they actually induce motion on the ground.

“And more importantly, they also enable jumps, which means [the spores] can enter the wind currents. And once you’re in the wind current, you can travel long distances, which is an evolutionary advantage, because it means you can disperse your seeds very widely.”

Horsetail plants, which grew when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, are still found all over the world today. But only now have researchers discovered the strange secret of their mobility, which has helped them disperse so effectively and become so prevalent. (09/11/2013)

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Prototype HIV-vaccine Working in Monkeys

SIVBBC Medical Science — Rebecca Morelle writes: A vaccine for the monkey equivalent of HIV appears to eradicate the virus, a study suggests. Research published in the journal Nature has shown that vaccinated monkeys can clear Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) infection from their bodies.

It was effective in nine of the 16 monkeys that were inoculated. The US scientists say they now want to use a similar approach to test a vaccine for HIV in humans. …

The research team looked at an aggressive form of virus called SIVmac239, which is up to 100 times more deadly than HIV. Infected monkeys usually die within two years, but in some inoculated primates the virus did not take hold.

The vaccine is based on another virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV), which belongs to the herpes family. It used the infectious power of CMV to sweep throughout the body. But instead of causing disease, it has been modified to spur the immune system into action to fight off the SIV molecules.

“It maintains an armed force, that patrols all the tissues of the body, all the time, indefinitely,” explained Prof Picker.

The researchers gave rhesus macaque monkeys the vaccine, and then exposed them to SIV. They found that at first the infection began to establish and spread. But then the monkeys’ bodies started to respond, searching out and destroying all signs of the virus. Of the monkeys that successfully responded to the vaccine, they were still clear of infection between one-and-a-half and three years later. …

Prof Picker said: “In order to make a human version we have to make sure it is absolutely safe. We have now engineered a CMV virus which generates the same immune response but has been attenuated [modified to lose its virulence] to the point where we think it is unequivocally safe.”

This would first have to pass through the regulatory authorities, but if it does, he said he hoped to start the first clinical trials in humans in the next two years. (09/11/2013)

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Is the Universe Friendly?

Future Positive – Geoff Oslen writes: Albert Einstein once said the most important question a human being can ask is “Is the universe friendly?”

Think of that for a moment. How would you answer? If you think the universe is truly friendly and supportive of you, this obviously has a huge effect on your perceptions and behaviour. The same applies if you think cosmos is hostile – or just indifferent to your fate.

On a first reading, Einstein’s question is trivially true. If you’ve decided, consciously or unconsciously, that the universe is friendly, your positive outlook is likely to be mirrored by positive responses from others, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy about your world being fundamentally good. You are likely to have more friends, job offers, etc. Conversely, if you are suspicious by nature, or walk around with a cloud over your head, you’re not likely to be much fun at parties, although you may win nodding approval from fellow grumps. At the very least your life is likely to seem a series of disappointments. This is pretty self-evident stuff. From Ralph Waldo Emerson to Dale Carnegie to Wayne Dyer, most of us have heard the drill: life is what you make it.

But if it’s Einstein talking, there’s a good chance there’s more to it than this. Spend a bit of time on it, and you realize the question’s depth. This goes far beyond the soothing homilies about high self-esteem, or the pieties of religious dogmatism. This is about whether universe is friendly (unifiable, consoling) or unfriendly (neutral, fragmented, hostile, “other”). From the choice you make, you can extrapolate the direction of subsequent life decisions. Your state of being could evolve from the answer to that one all-important question. But bear with me; because it’s a big topic and this essay is all over the map, from childhood psychology to the pest problems of a Hollywood star author, to the paradoxes of cosmology and quantum physics, to the “angel” in the library.

The choice to believe in a friendly or unfriendly universe undoubtedly begins in our early years. It may well be that people who are preternaturally content, seemingly at peace with themselves and the world, were introduced to “a friendly universe” through proper nurturing as infants. Their early experiences became the foundation for their psychic life. The results of less desirable childhood beginnings are also obvious. If a child suffers a traumatic birth, and/or their parents abuse their natural trust, that individual may grow up extrapolating their experience to the whole of existence, always suspecting the worst and failing to trust in others.

Rev. Gerard Pantin is the founder of Service Volunteered for All (SERVOL) in Trinidad and Tobago. In a speech he gave in 2000, he noted how the Yequana Indians of Brazil make sure that their babies are in physical contact with the skin of another human being 24 hours a day for the first two years. “These children grow up without that emptiness that we modern people spend our lives trying to heal or cope with. A lot of our modern preoccupation with ‘feeling good’ through sex and drugs dates back to the fact that the way in which we were brought up didn’t give us the opportunity of feeling good about our infant bodies.”

Citing Einstein’s famous line, Pantin adds that “Yequana children, because of close bodily contact, not only see the universe as friendly but feel it to be loving.” Beginning with a bodily, visceral sense of an all-embracing love, the Yequena don’t intellectualize over whether the universe is friendly or not; they carry within themselves the felt conviction that they are loved beings. (09/02/2013)

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I Have a Dream

CommUnity of Minds — Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. said: Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. …

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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