Science Vibes
Daily science vibes

Lao Tzu was an ancient philosopher and writer from China, and is typically dated around the 6th century BCE. He is credited as the founder of Taoism, and as the author of the Tao Te Ching. Followers believe that Lao Tzu was able to achieve the highest state of consciousness a human can experience, which has made him more of a deity than an actual man.

Lao Tzu established four spiritual rules of living, or four virtues through which to center your life. He believed that if you were able to live your life in accordance with these virtues, you would be able to achieve a level of wisdom and consciousness that most people never have the chance to experience. Below are the four spiritual rules he laid out for his followers, which you can find in the Tao Te Ching.

1. Gentleness

Gentleness is something the world needs more of, and it simply applies to all living things. Lao Tzu believed that all life deserved kindness, and that humans shouldn’t be motivated by egotistical desires.

Essentially, being gentle means giving up the need to be right; being kind is more important than being correct or asserting your own beliefs. When we’re gentle, we stop trying to dominate the situation and instead live in harmony with others.

2. Natural Sincerity

This virtue is all about staying true to who you are. Being authentic is incredibly important in regards to being happy or living harmoniously. If we’re constantly swayed by external forces, we’ll lose sight of who we really are, and who we really need to be.

By accepting the truth about ourselves and others, we not only find peace in this life, but we can help others along their paths as well.

3. Reverence for All Life

Lao Tzu believed that respecting all forms of life was essential for harmony.

All creation and creatures were equally important, and they require equal respect. Trying to dominate and control life only leads you away from enlightenment; you can’t find peace in the midst of a struggle for control. Loving and honoring oneself will lead to a mutual respect for all life in this world.

4. Supportiveness

Similarly to the other three virtues, the virtue of supportiveness applies to all life on Earth, including ourselves. When we help ourselves, we become more equipped to help others along the path to happiness. Not only do we need to love and respect all life, but we need to support it as well. Giving is more important than receiving, and that’s what this virtue is all about. Lao Tzu believed that this comes natural for humans, but the world we live in today teaches us to be the opposite.

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Before recently, it was widely accepted that children inherit an equal amount of their intelligence from both parents, but it seems this is no longer accurate. Unfortunately for fathers everywhere, genetic research has found that people get much of their intelligence from the X chromosome, which happens to be the feminine gene. If the research is proven correct with further study, the mother has a much larger impact on their child’s intelligence than the father.

It’s not hard to see that this research is controversial. Studies that involve gene inheritance are always disputed, and they aren’t easy to conduct or prove.

This is even more the case when they pertain to intelligence. When reading about cases or studies like this one, it’s important to stay objective for the sake of science. Science is about growth and change, and of course, interpreting evidence; there are bound to be more studies on this topic in the near future.

In order to understand this research, you have to understand conditioned genes. Conditioned genes are gender specific, and they are made up of a biochemical material that creates a sort of tagging system.

This system allows us to see the gene’s origin, and determine the activated or deactivated state within the body. Activated genes influence development, while deactivated genes don’t.

This means that genes activated by the mother will result in deactivated genes from the father, and vice versa.

Cognition is thought to be influenced by the X chromosome, which we know to be feminine as females carry two and men only carry one. Intelligence is considered to be a highly conditioned gene that comes directly from the mother, which serves as the basis for the study’s hypothesis.

During the study, scientists used mice to prove their theory correct. They found that mice who were administered predominantly maternal genetic material developed a disproportionately larger cranium and brain, but had a smaller body.

Mice who received predominantly paternal genetic material experienced the exact opposite outcome; a smaller brain, but larger body.

In addition, researchers found that paternal genetic material within the cerebral cortex, which is the area of the brain responsible for executive functioning, did not exist.

This is significant because the cerebral cortex controls advanced thinking, language, planning, and the ability to reason logically.

There is no doubt that this study, and further studies of intelligence, will be subject to a high level of scrutiny. However, the study shows that the mother of a child has a much greater impact on intelligence than the father, as of now. Of course, intellect has a great deal to with a person’s experiences and work ethic in addition to genetics, which is why it will also be a topic up for debate.

When it comes to bone and immune system health, perhaps there’s no more important vitamin than Vitamin D. Not only does its consumption directly impact bone and immune system strength, but it’s also known to stave off a number of other serious health conditions as well.

A Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly associated with the condition known as rickets, or brittle bones, in children. When a child has rickets, their bone tissue doesn’t fortify or mineralize the way it should, which makes the skeletal system weak. This can lead to a wealth of injuries and even bone deformities with age.

Research now suggests that Vitamin D may play a role in both the prevention and treatment of multiple conditions such as hypertension, type1 and type2 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. In essence, you need Vitamin D; it boosts your immune system, strengthens your bones, and keeps you from developing serious issues. Here are four signs you need more.

1. Weak or Impaired Immune System

When the Vitamin D levels in your body are low, your immune system will be serious affected.

The immune cells contain a large number of Vitamin D receptors, which indicates that this area of the body needs a good amount to function properly. In a study conducted in Japan, students who were given Vitamin D supplements suffered from illness less than those who did not receive the supplement.

2. Pain and Muscle Weakness

You may not notice this symptom at first, but as long as you keep deny your body the Vitamin D that it desperately needs, the pain can get severe. When Vitamin D is metabolized, it enhances muscle contraction, which is an essential part of the bone strengthening process. The greater the deficiency, the weaker the muscles and the bones.

3. Increased Sweating

A symptom of Vitamin D deficiency that people are surprised to learn is excessive sweating. Medical experts are exactly sure what about the deficiency causes people to sweat excessively, but there is a direct link between the two.

It could just be another way for your body to tell you that it needs something it doesn’t have. The body is one of the best communicators in nature; all you have to do is listen.

4. Heart Trouble

The most common cause of death globally is related to hear disease.

There is a direct correlation between a Vitamin D deficiency and heart disease, which doctors attribute to calcium build up or plaque that forms within a person’s arteries. Vitamin D can reduce the amount of plaque buildup, and lower the amount of bad cholesterol in the body.

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Technology, media, politics, and whatever else modern-day life throws at us can be bleak. Many of us try to stay positive, without letting ourselves become too pessimistic when faced with reality. If you’re anything like me, this positive attempt at daily life can be easier said than done some days. Here are 20 pictures that use a dark humor in order to paint the bleak reality we sometimes experience and see in everyday life.

See if you can relate to any of them; more than a few seemed all too real…

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Did you happen to notice that the majority of these were about technology? Technology and money have an absolute power over people that can be unhealthy and crippling emotionally. Find that thing in life that you love, regardless of how much monetary value it gives you.

That’s when you’ll discover true meaning.

Stop trying to please others and enhance your image on the Internet. Never forget that an online profile can only give people a glimpse at the surface; your physical appearance, and what you want others to think, see, and know about you. Be yourself and be satisfied with who you are as a person. That’s when you’ll find true happiness.

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When a planet goes into retrograde, it appears to move in the opposite direction than it normally travels. It’s said to have profound effects on our lives when planets move into retrograde, but all planets are different, which means they can all have a different retrograde effect.

Mercury has been in retrograde for about three weeks, but it also has two shadow periods at the beginning and end, which last two weeks each. This extends the amount of time Mercury’s retrograde makes an impact. Mercury is all about clear thinking, communication, truth, and travel, so when it moves into retrograde, the opposite tends to be the case. Many have attributed Mercury’s retrograde movements to the current political situation, and it’s not hard to see why.

However, like I said before, different planets have different retrograde effects, and Jupiter has just started going in reverse. First, Jupiter’s retrograde is much longer than Mercury’s although it doesn’t occur nearly as often. Second, Jupiter is said to rule wisdom, progress, and luck.

When it’s not in retrograde, it promotes movement, active changes, and new opportunities. Unlike Mercury though, the retrograde motion doesn’t mean these things come to a halt, it just means they occur more slowly than usual.

This gives people a chance to catch up. A lot of things are happening this year astrologically. The year of the rooster means things are going to be happening at full force, and at full speed. Jupiter’s retrograde is a chance for us to slow down, catch up, and get things back on the right track.

It’s a great time to focus on a tough decision, look at things from another person’s perspective, and tackle those challenges you’ve been putting off for the sake of other responsibilities.

You may find yourself thinking that astrology doesn’t really mean anything, but you could be wrong there. Recent studies have started to show that there is some truth to astrology, the locations of the planets in the solar system, and stars relative to our planet. It’s hard to ignore glaringly obvious signs or correlations when they’re staring you in the face. These signs are why scientists have been trying to both prove and disprove astrology for decades.

Is something false simply because we can’t explain it? Of course it isn’t; it just means we need to do all we can to gather evidence and prove our hypothesis. Only then will we be able to create a sound and viable conclusion. Astrology is no different.

Frankincense has been used as a form of incense in religious ceremonies and traditions for thousands of years. The belief is that frankincense, or the resin from the Boswellia tree also known as olibanum, contains an aroma that will help one’s soul reach spiritual enlightenment. Religions have written about using frankincense in ancient texts, including both the old and new testaments of the bible.

It is said to have mystical properties, which is a belief still held by many religions today. Not only is it believed to have spiritual capabilities, but that belief is put into practice still as religious followers continue to use the natural resin.

A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem recently conducted a study to see just exactly what was happening during the practice of burning frankincense. In order to conduct the study, the researchers administered the resin to some mice, and found that it actually influences the part of the brain that controls emotion.

More specifically, frankincense actives the protein TRPV3, which is found in all mammal brains. The protein is perhaps best known for his role in controlling our skins’ perception of warmth.

The effect it has on the mind has a strong antidepressant and anxiolytic impact that can make a person feel incredibly relaxed. In other words, it allows a person’s mind to relax and simply exist in the present moment.

Knowing this, it doesn’t seem like much of a coincidence that many religions have been using frankincense for generations. It could very well help a person reflect on life and its meaning as it pertains to humanity. Not only will it help a person feel less stressed about the future, but it will also help a person exist peacefully in the moment.

Frankincense was considered a luxury during ancient times, especially in the Middle East, and it still remains a major export to this day. Almost every major culture used it during their religious practices, including the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Jews, and even Christian churches some time later.

Now, frankincense can be used by people simply suffering from depression. There’s no more need to rush off and buy the latest chemically created drug from major pharmaceutical companies; frankincense can be used as a natural, healthy substitute.

Our sense of smell is strongly linked to the part of the brain called the limbic system, which is associated with motivation and emotion. Frankincense is perfect for people suffering from depression so that they can feel more relaxed, reduce anxiety, and stay calm in the moment.

A natural remedy that works is always better than the man-made alternative.

Déjà vu, when literally translated from French, means already seen. Chances are, most people have experienced this phenomenon at least once in their lifetime, and it occurs when we feel like a person, place, thing, or even series of moments has happened before, exactly the way it’s happening in the present. Usually we just shrug déjà vu experiences off as no big deal, because they aren’t, but have you ever wondered what these moments mean or why they happen at all?

Thanks to the hit movie, The Matrix, déjà vu moments come with a little bit more anxiety than they used to, but I’m willing to bet they don’t actually signal a glitch in the computerized world constructed by robot spiders.

In fact, the strange phenomenon happens to as much as 70 percent of the population, but oddly enough, 15 to 25 year olds experience it the most.

People experience déjà vu in a variety of ways. It can happen while your driving, when you’re talking to a friend, or even when you’re watching a movie. No matter how you experience it, the meaning behind the varied experiences stays the same.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom found that déjà vu occurs so that we can check our memory perception. The team found a way to trigger false memories by offering participants a list of related words. However, the one word that would be missing is the word that links all the others in the list together. During the study, many participants actually believed they heard the linking word, which results in a false memory.

For example, if the list consisted of words like pillow, night, or dream, the linking word would be sleep, but it would be purposefully left off the list.

Later, participants were asked if they heard the linking word. For the sake of example, researchers would ask if participants had heard any words starting with the letter s. They would respond that they hadn’t. Then they would be asked if they heard the word sleep. Although participants would admit that they hadn’t heard it, they said it sounded familiar. In essence, déjà vu had been created.

While participants experienced moments of déjà vu, their brains were watched using an fMRI. What’s interesting is that the part of the brain that showed the most activity wasn’t the hippocampus, which is associated with memory, but the frontal areas associated with decision making. This suggests that the brain is actually conducting some conflict resolution between real and false memories.

When you experience déjà vu, it means your brain is healthy. It’s checking to ensure that it doesn’t mix up false memories with real memories, which will result in a more reliable account of events, dates, and other details associated with an experience. This also explains why more young people experience déjà vu, because their brains are more active and healthy.

So if you experience déjà vu, don’t fret, your brain’s just making sure things are working properly.

Humanity is fascinated by the possibility of alien life in space. Some could argue that it’s the fundamental motivation for pushing the boundaries of our own existence through space exploration. It’s an interesting concept that many people believe, but more importantly, it’s a concept that you can’t explain away. In fact, when you start to do some research and actually get a sense for just how expansive the universe truly is, it’s actually hard not to believe it yourself.

This is why Tabby’s star is so interesting to astronomers and amateur astronomers alike. When the star was first presented over a year ago, interest was piqued because of the rumor of an alien megastructure surrounding it. Even though this rumor has been largely dispelled, the star has some weird, mysterious activity that’s keeping astronomers focused.

The reason the star is so interesting is that it displays unusual dips in starlight. However, after more than a year of study, no one has found anything alien-like around the star at all. What we do know is that because of its unusual light activity, it’s a star like we’ve never found before.

Andrew Siemion, Director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center, and Co-Director of Breakthrough Listen, has been paying close attention the star’s activity.

“The Breakthrough Listen program has the most powerful SETI equipment on the planet, and access to the largest telescopes on the planet,” he explains in a recent statement, “We can look at it with greater sensitivity and for a wider range of signal types than any other experiment in the world.”

Let’s look at some facts. Fact number one: the universe is huge. Not only is it huge, but it’s actually still expanding and getting even more huge. We know this because the continuous expansion of the universe makes itself evident through constant change. Galaxies are getting further away and more spread out, and we can even see changes happening within the Milky Way as well. I remember from my astronomy 101 class in undergrad, complete with textbook verification, that there are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth.

Simply, mind boggling.

Fact number two: NASA already has a team in place where their sole purpose is to find other planets with similar conditions to Earth. This means water, distance from a central star, and the existence of an ozone layer, just to list a few qualities. The Kepler mission, as it’s been called, has found thousands of Earth-like planets as of this May, and more are sure to follow.

These findings come from a very limited scope in regards to our technology. As our technology continues to develop, so will our ability to discover even more planets similar enough to Earth.

My point here is that to claim humanity is the only intelligent life in the universe, you’re basically buying a lottery ticket and claiming you’re the winner before they even choose the numbers. It’s just not very likely when you consider the size and scope of the universe we live in, let alone our own galaxy. It’s no wonder that finds like Tabby’s star get people and astronomers interested. We want to know who else is out there, and if there is other life, we want to make contact.

The reliance we place on fossil fuels has taken its toll. Many of the environmental issues we’re faced with today come as a result of our inability to move away from fossil fuels like coal as a means for energy. Although companies and innovators are coming up with ways to combat harmful air pollution, global warming, and other environmental problems, we’ll never really have a solution until we’re able to rely on renewable energy to power our daily lives. Until we’re able to substitute renewable energy for fossil fuels, any solutions we create will only be covering up the real problem.

However, we are making giant steps in the right direction, and renewable energy is becoming more prevalent throughout the global community. Over 500,000 solar panels were installed each day last year, and renewables finally passed coal in order to become the largest source of power capacity on a global scale. The International Energy Agency, or IEA, reported that renewables accounted for more than half of the new power capacity around the planet. Solar and wind power are responsible for leading this drive away from fossil fuels more than any other forms of renewable energy.

Installation of environmentally friendly energy sources was up a total of 15 percent in 2014, which forced the IEA to change its predictions for renewables. They predicted the use of renewables to increase by only 13 percent between 2015 and 2021, underestimating how quickly countries would start following suit. The movement is largely driven by Asia, with China in the captain’s chair, but India and the United States have been contributing significantly. Europe, once thought to be the leader of the renewable energy movement, is falling behind.

“I am pleased to see that last year was one of records for renewables and that our projections for growth over the next five years are more optimistic. However, even these higher expectations remain modest compared with the huge untapped potential of renewables. The IEA will be working with governments around the world to maximize the deployment of renewables in coming years,” explains IEA Executive Director Dr. Faith Birol in a statement.

Although the new capacity added has accounted for a record 153 Gigawatts of renewable power, this type of electricity generation is only expected to make up around 28 percent of all generation globally by 2021. Green, environmentally friendly energy is the fastest growing source of electricity generation in the world, but we’re still falling short in regards to meeting the Paris Climate Agreement, and we won’t be able to keep the planet below a 3.6 degree Fahrenheit warming temperature.

This increase in the use of renewable energy, especially solar and wind power, isn’t only driven by the looming Paris Climate Agreement, it’s also driven by human safety. In Asia, the main concern is air pollution and population health, not meeting the terms of the agreement. Diversifying the energy supply while improving energy security also plays a role in the renewable rise.

As we move forward, we will continue to see a shift in power markets being led by renewables. The market for these types of renewable energies is getting more competitive, which means costs will continue to drop. It’s never been a better time to invest in something real, renewable, and vital.

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The universe is massive. NASA has a team of astronomers tasked only with the responsibility to find planetary objects close to our relative location in the Milky Way. Unfortunately, technology will only allow us to see so far into space; sometimes that’s enough. The existence of a massive planetary object was proposed earlier this year, and the evidence can be found in the impact it has on our Solar System as a whole.

The forces of gravity can be felt for millions of miles, depending on the size of an object in orbit. Orbit itself is caused by the gravitational pull of a relatively nearby body, which could be anything from a star to a super massive black hole. In fact, the gravitational pull from certain objects is so strong that time as we know it is affected. This is the primary way we know of the existence of massive objects in space even if they’re millions of miles away.

There have been two new studies published that provide even more evidence for a massive planet that exists at the edge of our Solar System. The planetary object named Planet Nine was first introduced to us earlier in 2016, but it still hasn’t been directly observed. Considering that the object is 70 times further from the Sun than the Earth, it’s understandable why observations have been limited.

What’s interesting is that astronomers have started studying the potential effects this planetary object could have on the Solar System as a whole. Researchers from the California Institute of Technology, including the original proposers of Planet Nine, suggest that the six-degree tilt in the Sun is actually caused by the gravitational pull of Planet Nine itself.

“Because Planet Nine is so massive and has an orbit tilted compared to the other planets, the Solar System has no choice but to slowly twist our alignment,” explained the lead author of the research Elizabeth Bailey in a recent statement.

In another study published by the Astrophysical Journal Letters, the focus is on four minor objects in the Kuiper belt. These four objects, including the minor planet Sedna, have orbits that are not random. Researchers believe that their movements are caused by a massive object with properties very similar to what is expected of Planet Nine.

“We analyzed the data of these most distant Kuiper Belt objects, and noticed something peculiar, suggesting they were in some kind of resonances with an unseen planet. Our paper provides more specific estimates for the mass and orbit that this planet would have, and more importantly, constraints on its current position within its orbit,” explains lead author Renu Malhotra from the University of Arizona also in a recent statement.

Research is still inconclusive when it comes to the definitive existence of Planet Nine, but evidence is mounting. Astronomers are now searching the outer edges of the Solar System for even more evidence, but they estimate an actual observation of Planet Nine won’t be possible for another three years or so.

Although we don’t know for sure that Planet Nine exists, it’s still a testament to how large the universe is that something can be included in our solar system without us knowing for decades. It forces us to ask, what else is out there?