Category: Science


HAMLIT: STEM’s Twin Brother


Yes STEM, the acronym for education in science, technology, engineering and math has a twin brother with the acronym, HAMLIT. This translates into education in history, art, music and literature. For years, HAMLIT has been de-emphasized in both high school and college programs where STEM was and is the focus. This approach along with the increased emphasis on STEM education is establishing the mechanism for a continuous roll-out of highly skilled Sci-Tech professionals. So where does HAMLIT come in?
Right now, HAMLIT, is truly facing the classic “To Be Or Not To Be” question, and it looks like “Not To Be” may prevail. STEM and HAMLIT’s parents embodied the classic liberal arts education which was comprised of grammar, logic, rhetoric along with quantitative reasoning which included geometry, astronomy, arithmetic and music (Elements of Liberal Education). None of this limited or restricted the immense progress of humankind‘s advances in the sciences along with demonstrated genius in the arts. The Renaissance freed humanity from the captivity of the Dark Ages and laid the groundwork for amazing advances in our understanding of ourselves and all that surrounds us. We celebrated this with enormous outbursts of creativity in art, music and literature. Historians, both as watchers on the sidelines and as active participants in this cognitive evolution carefully recorded the events and failures that accompanied these heady moments of progress. It was this process that led to HAMLIT’s birth.
Yes, HAMLIT and STEM are twins and were born at the same time, but they are not identical twins and STEM in his early years was overshadowed by his more aggressive and eager brother. This did not mean they were distant. In fact, HAMLIT was quite solicitous of his brother and made sure to share his many varied interests with him and thus laid the foundation for STEM’s eventual success and importance.
Humans are an ever-changing landscape, but deep within there is a core in which resides the twins HAMLIT and STEM. Their relative strength varies with each human and with the times, but it is essential that they both be there. Right now, as we recognize the call for expanded explorations into both our solar system and beyond, STEM is becoming more and more dominant. HAMLIT must keep pace. As we have discussed above, HAMLIT fills many creative voids that would remain as such if only STEM were present. As STEM induces new discoveries and theories (explanations) their full meaning will never be realized without HAMLIT’s involvement. In many cases, the absence of HAMLIT could lead to complete misinterpretations of the true meaning of new discoveries. Instead of expanded explorations inspired by those discoveries we find ourselves in pursuit of vacuous willow-of-the-wisps. On the other hand those moments of great joy of finding another “new” in our life comes from HAMLIT’s annals of human history.
The following video can be considered an artistic summary of the relationship between the twins. There is science by virtue of archtechture, there is art by virtue of the images, and of course there is music. Summed together they are a creative outburst of art and science. HAMLIT and STEM jointly moving humankind forward progressively and joyfully through an endless age of enlightenment.

IMAGE CREDIT: Fractals are a natural celebration of the interaction of science and art. Image courtesy of Kaneva – http://tinyurl.com/44sw5pp


Dead Earth: Click on the image for more information.

At this time, on this planet, Earth, the environment and climate change naysayers constantly dispute the proven fact that humankind is directly contributing to the decline of life. The dispute is based on the belief that whatever is happening is in no way humankind’s fault and that much of the purported dangers are fraudulently conceived to empower liberal politics. This is tragic and even more tragic is the possibility that none of this is unique. It is possible that these sames kinds of disputes and ongoing abuse of the environment and life systems has occurred and is occurring throughout the Cosmos.
Yes, there is what we could call competitive evolution in which one life form in its evolution may threaten the existence of one or more other life forms, but all of this seems to follow a rather random but orderly pattern that appears to be a part of the thrive of planetary life systems (at least on this planet). The evolution of humankind as, for now, the top life-form, introduces a species that does not necessarily follow any orderly pattern and generally threatens a large segment of all life on the planet. At the same time, some segments of the human species is mindful of this threat to other life and seeks to alter human behavior to reduce that damage and also enhance the endurance and progress of all life on the planet. Therein resides the cause for the dispute mentioned above. The net effect right now is that life on Earth is imperiled.
Have we carried Darwin’s theory of “natural selection” too far? Are we convinced that we are the ultimate species and that there is little or no interdependence of life within our environment? Science says it is otherwise. Based on current scientific research and analyses there is a very high probability that life inhabits other planetary bodies (exoplanets) throughout the universe.  It is also possible that some forms of human life exists on some of those exoplanets. Can we also assume that some or all of those human-like lives have evolved and in a manner similar to ours? In my opinion, that answer should be yes. The next question could be, are those humans abusing their environments just as we are or are they like our Native American bretheran who still believe and practice a respectful interrelationship with planet Earth? The intriguing and entrancing scifi movie “Avatar” clearly illustrates this diversity of attitudes toward the environment.
What if it is true, that human life, in whatever form and wherever, is abusing their planetary environments much as we are? Even though life in some form will most likely continue to generate and regenerate throughout the Cosmos, there is also the possibility that there could be a gigantic collapse of life throughout the Cosmos due to widespread abuse of life supporting environments. If this should all come to pass within an envelope of time, it is highly possible that we could have a silent Cosmos. By silent, I mean without life in any form and its evolutionary processes. This is avoidable, and for Earthlings, though a cosmic consciousness is desirable, the key concentration must be on planet Earth. We have the power, the technology, the science, and the economic drive that should enable us to both progress and preserve and protect our environment. On the other hand, if we submit to greed and addiction to power we could quickly accelerate the total extinction of all life on Earth. Capitalistically, that is a lousy investment. Environmentally it is stupid. Sociologically it is suicidal.
Lastly, as mentioned above we are learning and beginning to respect the interdependence of all life here on Earth and to envision that concept prevailing throughout the Cosmos. That is a purely glorious and stimulating realization. We are not alone. We have immense linkages across the universe, and with that we have the power to progress and enrich all that surrounds us. In a cosmic sense, to me at least, this is our ultimate mission and reason for our presence.  Yes, life has a reason, and we should neither neglect nor abuse it.
Like the Na’vi of Pandora we must prevail and in prevailing we could be the incentive that ensures that the Cosmos will never go silent.


It has been over 3 centuries since my earliest ancestors from Scotland and Ireland set foot on this continent. Regardless of that time interval I, to this very day, have deep feelings for my links to both those two countries. Every once in awhile, just like ET, I have this urge to “call home”, but unlike him I am not sure who to call. I do have one compensation in that by posting a few articles for a British online magazine, The Urban Times, I have contact with that broad home-base of my ancestors.
ET’s yearnings will, in my opinion, be ours to experience someday as we succeed in exploring and, in some cases, settling on distant planets both in this galaxy and beyond. I am also certain that those new space-pioneers will experience the ET-effect.
Perhaps there is a genetic link or geological imprint that is passed along from generation after generation. Again, in my opinion, that imprint could be a composite not just of family linkages, but deep seated associations with the physical and emotional pull of our home-base; in this case our planet. Science-fiction notable, Ray Bradbury, documents this in his short story, “The Martian Chronicles.” In that regard, I suspect Bradbury also has experienced the ET-effect.
Going a step further, scientists are researching the source of our beginnings, and are currently documenting the fact that we are “stardust people.” By that they mean, the critical biochemical ingredients that lead to our coming into being have come from the Cosmos. Is it possible then that our deep urging to reach out and explore into deep, deep space, is a cosmic ET-effect? In other words, as stardust people, do we possess a cosmic imprint that makes us yearn to not just call home, but to explore where that home might be? Furthermore, does this imprint have a spiritual impact as well? In either of these cases we can only be enriched if, in fact, they are real.
Perhaps one of the most potentially exciting and rewarding results would be when we have a meet-up with ET, and because of our mutual cosmic imprint we quickly achieve a comradeship that welcomes us into our real home; the COSMOS. Suddenly many of our Earth-born irritations and prejudices shrink to nothing as we embrace our real home. Yes, there will be evolutionary and developmental differences between us and the ETs we meet, but they become insignificant because of our growing mutual sense of unity and belonging. We are really home and among a host of amazing kinfolk. – JOY!

WHIMSYIt has existed since humankind began, but it didn’t acquire its name and general definition until around 1605.  Some are inclined to call it brain spooling, but that includes more than just whimsy. It is the position of this blog article that whimsy is the root source for imagination, creative ideation, simple silly thoughts, and more. The above image maps out that inter-connective influence of whimsy.
Yes, the definition Meisters indicate that whimsy is akin to fanciful, silly, giddy, and more (see the image above for more examples). We see it as a state of mind where the brain is essentially allowed to spool on its own and at its own pace and direction. No, it is not night-dreaming. It could be day-dreaming. It could also be essentially sub-conscious in that we are generally unaware.  In most cases it is very relaxing and can lead to drowsiness and sleep or it can ease us into awareness as fanciful thoughts dance around and suddenly grab our attention.
Review of the literature essentially places the products of whimsy in the arts; in either the forms of art, music or literature. Well, what about science; no whimsy? We think it is there too, but being able to separate it from the very orderly and precise concepts that characterize scientific ideas is difficult. For example, when Einstein, as a very young man was musing about light and light rays he considered what it would be like to be at the extreme forward end of a beam of light. Hmm,  could this have started as a whimsical thought that grew quickly into a serious question and  then a serious scientific theory? In our view, we tend to credit whimsy as the possible spark that eventually gave us E=MC^2.
In the very popular modern movie, “Avatar” there is definitely a large supply of whimsy, but no viewer can watch the entire movie and come away with only an awareness of some fanciful fiction without any appreciation for the social messages hammered home in the movie. Here whimsy is both obvious and dominant, but we believe that for most viewers that whimsy fires off an array of ideas, reactions, and emotions. Our minds are fuller on exit than when we began watching. Depending on our particular philosophies, experiences, and social concepts “Avatar” and its solid dose of whimsy stimulates our thinking in a host of different ways and often for a prolonged period of time. Moreover, comments from some viewers indicate that the Avatar whimsies induced a whole, related set of their own whimsical thoughts. This, of course, is exactly what the author, producer and director wanted to have happen.
Would it be ridiculous to consider the Cosmos in a whimsical way? We think not. In fact if you carefully listen to those wonderful commentaries by the scientist Carl Sagan you cannot help but sense a subtle application of whimsy. It does not detract from his messages. It gently and almost surreptitiously pulls you into his explanations of  the Cosmos. “We are stardust people” is both lovely whimsy and solid science.
The human brain is so versatile, so astoundingly powerful and its abilities to integrate and assimilate definitely produces the seeds of whimsy. Unfortunately some of the more reality-driven tend to downplay, even cruelly mock evidences of whimsy even in the arts. This should be avoided at all costs. If nothing other than moments of delight, imaginative escapes or delirious excursions into a fantasy world are all that we experience, they are moments of respite for our minds, our emotions and even our spirituality. With a little practice and an increased appreciation for whimsy we may find we have gained a powerful stimulus for our own creative output.

IMAGE CREDIT: The whimsy diagram image is from: http://tinyurl.com/3sqzva2


In the composite image above, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay are at a pinnacle of mutual accomplishment. Alongside those two great achievers are astronauts Bill McCarthur and Valery Tokarev the Commander and Engineer, respectively, of the International Space Station (Expedition: 12 ) They too, are at a pinnacle of mutual achievement. Most importantly neither of these great moments occurred without the full support of each partner for the other.  Furthermore, in each case all of the team members are from different nations. Global success was a fact and not an impossible dream for both of those great moments in history.

Ego is good.  If by that we mean we are stable in both our self awareness and self confidence. We all possess it in varying levels of healthiness. When we say ego is bad are we really talking about ego or are we talking about how it is being misapplied? Following the preceding explanation we would suspect misapplication is the dominant reason.

As parents, friends, employers, in fact all society, declare we are expected to excel. This is good and healthy too. Here again, if we mature, with a balanced awareness between excelling and compassionate fairness to others we should be leaders. Unfortunately there are others who place excelling, by any means, as vital and at the usual expense of others. History records that many of these types become leaders. History also records the ongoing endless and often violent power struggles between these ego-abusive leaders. In these settings, humankind is held hostage, and any progress is more by accident than design.

In the “dynamic duos” depicted above. ego is definitely present and strong. Yes, there are even momentary clashes, but these are modulated by that sense of compassionate fairness that is actively present. So, we should not attempt to stamp out ego in an effort to achieve more peaceful and cooperative global unity. We should both honor it, and strengthen those compassionate elements by giving those who possess and practice them leadership responsibilities. Right now, in a very limited, but successful way, we are doing  just this with our space programs such as the International Space Station.

No, no, there is no way to legislate this type of global relationship. We must work to help it evolve. Our international efforts with the space station, with the Hubble and other space telescopes are exactly the ideal environment. We focus ourselves and our egos on working together toward common goals. We mutually and joyfully share the GLORY of our successes! The host nations beam with pride and welcome compatriots from other nations with honor.

Well, how many disadvantaged, oppressed and hungry will any of this directly affect? Directly, none. Indirectly, many and over time possibly all. How? We do it by boosting global pride (call it ego) and by expanding each nation’s involvement in some level of the exploration of space. This, in turn, can begin to create a national atmosphere that enables changes in governance and care for all its citizens. Yes, individual nations will lose their unique moments of glory, but will greatly enjoy shared progress. Now we know this can happen, it has in the past, high upon Everest and continues today, up there in Low Earth Orbit. It also grows through the multi-national eyes of our powerful space telescopes. Next, way before Mars, we should be jointly establishing another great International Space Station; this time on fair Luna. Luna belongs to all of us, and an international Moon Base will achieve a new, and exciting unity that again can lead to newer and stronger steps toward world peace.

This concentration on mutuality and shared glory could also impart flacid egos. This is definitely a possibility, but it can be avoided by preserving the focus of our international missions and goals. Demand is constant and insistent. Resting on one’s laurels presumes we have all the answers when actually what we have accomplished is a multitude of new questions. Our focus on mutual goals is enlivened and sharpened. We remain motivated.

Well, just how sure-fire successful would all of this be?  We will not know for certain unless we continue what we have started. Nations will begin to change because their citizens now enjoy a real and expanded ego boost as opposed to the vicarious boosts from flawed egos they have regretfully elected to lead them. They will look for new leaders who have those compassionate elements and the desire to share in humankind’s progress. Above all else, those of us who are currently enjoying this progressive status must do all we can together to promote and strengthen it, globally. International efforts for space exploration are very positive ways to put ego in its proper place and humankind back on a progressive path.

Those days of glorious, courageous single nation moments in space history are. past. From this point forward we must go forth again, but jointly, joyously, heroically and for the betterment of all humankind. No longer is space exploration a unique expedition, it is forever now a global obligation.

IMAGE CREDITS:

Image on Mount Everest of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay: Courtesy of “A Continuous Lean” http://tinyurl.com/3cp8sux

Image of astronauts McCarthur and Tokarev Courtesy of Space.com



A Blue Cosmic Hug Courtesy Of Hubble Space Telescope

Looking for a quick and easy, everyday spiritual boost?

Well, have you tried a Cosmic Hug? They are all around you. Right under your nose. Let’s look over some various nearby and distant samples and the reasons why they are cosmic hugs.

Our own cosmos and associated hugs: The image on the left is a part of my local cosmos, but every one of us has one. All we need to do is look for it. It doesn’t hide. If we cannot see it, it is because we are not looking for it.

The image of the gulls in both flight and reflection are cosmic elements that enthrall us. Experiencing that uplifts us just as if we had been given a warm, affectionate hug. The sound of the gulls’ sometimes gleeful, sometimes plaintive cries also draws us in to that cosmic moment and we feel tension; even bitterness or grief fly away from us.

Well, not everybody is for the birds. Be assured they do not mind, and you are not abandoned either. Many of us are often stopped in our tracks by the stunning beauty of a wildflower calmly waiting for our discovery. No musical cries, often not even an enticing odor. The only thing that emanates constantly from it is pure beauty.The lovely wild orchid on the right is also part of my local cosmos, but it can also be yours just as those gulls can be. These cosmic elements are always with us, if we doubt that then most likely we are not paying attention to our local cosmos. While we are taking those hikes in the woods we may also find other stunning examples of our personal cosmos. Like the gulls and the orchid, those examples await us. In each case in some very unique and personal way we are both surprised and renewed. We actually feel it course through our bodies as we welcome a treasured cosmic hug.

Although venturing forth across our earthly cosmos or even beyond and into the great Cosmos is an appealing goal. Our first efforts should begin locally. It will include all that is and all that surrounds us and they will always be rewarding. Yes, there are pockets of ire, sorrow, hate, and abuse within our human cosmos, but we will never find those perils from the natural world or the Cosmos above us. We can take full refuge within our naturally local cosmos. Once we have made those discoveries then our ventures into the deep glory of  the great Cosmos will bring richer more fulfilling hugs. Most importantly, usually those hugs come from a glance, not from prolonged, difficult searches. The image on the left is an example of a surprise embrace that we only receive if we keep an open spirit to all that surrounds and often awaits us.

Often frantic, sporadic hook-ups are physically refreshing, but are cosmically vacant. The stimulation from these hugs starts in the brain and spreads throughout and usually becomes embedded psychologically.  Perhaps the most effective process for finding and benefitting from these embraces is to practice a Star Trek “shields down” attitude.  We are each a cosmos, so a smile, a friendly greeting to all, or a” hello young man/lady” to a youngster are all elements of cosmic hugs. No contact required; just awareness and acknowledgement.

Do you greet beautiful Spring flowers? Do you laugh with a joyful bird? Do you express sympathy to a fractured or dying tree? All are cosmic and when you share and extend a cosmic hug all are enriched; especially you. Above all, we suddenly realize the opportunity for these hugs is both unlimited and universal.

Have you had your cosmic hug today? Have you given a cosmic hug today? If neither, why? Well, you can get an awesome hug by joining Carl Sagan in a walk along the shores of our Cosmic ocean. Just click the Lady Vinca image below to begin a stroll along the shores of that majestic ocean.

May The Cosmos In All Its Ways Be With You.

IMAGE CREDIT: 

Blue Cosmic Hug – courtesy of Hubble Space Telescope and NASA/ESA

Gulls: Waddell Robey (c) 1968

Wild Orchid: Waddell Robey (c) 1965

Shy Racoon: National Wildlife Refuge images

Vinca: Waddell Robey (c) 1970


The Coralyea Community, above, was founded in 1842 on a small Cay near Cat Island in the Bahamas. Catamara Reef was founded approximately 5,000,000 years ago. It is located in  the chain of islands that make up the West Indies. Like the Coyalyea community, Catamara was formed by living organisms. This is the essential vitality that defines all life above the sea, beneath it, and beyond the boundaries of planet Earth.

Coralyea is fictional and exists as an example for this presentation. The coral reefs of the Caribbean are not fictional. Their sister reef in Australia (the Great Barrier Reef) is the largest living organism on this planet. The key phrase is living organism.

The key to life on Earth and as we now know on any Earth-like extra-solar planet is water. Planetary water is primarily what we call oceans, and it is our ocean that is the essential and vital resource that supports our existence. Simple logic: let that vital resource die and soon thereafter all of its dependents will also expire.

Yep, the “ho-hums” crescendo along with cries of “boring” as we under-react to the decline of life on Earth; better known as species extinction. What we are letting happen to our oceans and the life within them and the lives they support outside is an essential act of self-annihilation. This is absurd. There is too much to live for, there are too many adventures yet experienced, and too little life enrichment yet received to toss it all away.  Please, smirky shrugs will not make any of this go away.

No, no, we are not essentially naughty. We are ill-informed, possibly a bit stupid, and generally indifferent to this critical issue. The deniers tell us it is all out of our hands, sprinkling their shouts with mysticism-based threats. They even pontificate that it is happening to us as punishment. Well it is punishment of all life, but it is BY OUR HANDS! Oh, oh, guilt trip coming! Yes, that is definitely the wrong way to even begin to address life on Earth. Let’s start out by agreeing that, overall, it is absolutely beautiful and wonderful. If we can agree on that, then we are set for the greatest love affair in our lives.

I, personally, was blessed by both being raised my first three years by Navajo Native Americans, and also by living right in the middle of a National Forest. Respect for life, for nature and planet Earth were ingrained in me. The Navajo deep reverence for Earth was imprinted on my daily life. This taught me to be always aware of Mom Nature’s blessings. So, I was lucky, that does not mean the rest of you are unlucky. It has just not been a first order of your early childhood education. Well, it is not too late to acquire that deep awareness and appreciation for our planet, and especially our mother oceans.

Today, opponents to environmental awareness bark warnings about what we could lose or what it could cost us in productivity if we become more in love with dear sweet Earth. They either intentionally ignore or simply do not know about the costs to all life if we continue to ignore this planet and all its marvelous resources. Sure, we take advantage of them daily. The problem is we make no effort to preserve those resources to make sure they remain abundant and available. This is no different than all the things sane, healthy humans do each day for themselves to stay well and alive. What those Navajo’s taught me was that the whole idea was a respect for a community of life that included all things within the environment; including humans. This attitude of worshipful respect ensured that we were blessed by Earth’s beneficence because we carefully nurtured that community of life.

We are at a brink now. Our indifference, even in some cases, our defiance of preserving our community of life now threatens our continued existence. Perhaps the most dangerous argument is the one that espouses the inevitability of our extinction. This is a direct disregard of the amazing process that brought human life onto this planet, and most probably across the Cosmos. In short it is blatant self denial. With this philosophy it is no wonder there is a grab and run attitude about this precious Earth.  Most probably, civilizations on other distant planets (exoplanets, if you wish) have faced these same challenges, and we may eventually find out that many failed and became extinct. So can we, but we also can learn to preserve our community of life and thus eventually meet up with those civilizations that also fell in love with their planetary homes and resources.

In my own mind, I consider my Navajo mentors were really emissaries from some distant planetary culture that had learned to save their communities of life and were now here to help us do the same. We can do it. Do we want to? Do we care? Look below to see the probable outcome if we do not care.

Lastly, if you wish, watch this video which is a Cherokee expression of their respect and love for this sweet Earth. Yes, the Eagle, the Wolf, the Bear, and the Lion as well as the Buffalo are special treasures, but they hold to this day that the entire community of life around them is truly an Amazing Grace.

Shall we agree to defy extinction, or…?

A DEAD COMMUNITY IS A DEAD COMMUNITY IS A……?

Publication Code: 88GMF5BV7HTW


Scientific reports and articles do not intentionally promote fear, especially those that present information about the universe. Unfortunately some in the media delight in using highly descriptive and generally frightening adjectives such as “monster” “vicious”,”voracious” “evil”, etc to increase the drama of what they consider as otherwise dull information. For many of the public these dramatized, fear-inducing presentations, succeed. The net effect is an unintended emotional reaction to many important scientific revelations.

Yes, many scientific reports do present and discuss dangerous situations within our environment, our lifestyles, and the universe. When these concerns are presented they are done so in a careful and informative way that alerts but generally does not alarm the reader or viewer. Most importantly there is no malice in science or the universe. Malice is totally a human failing.

In the image above, the Space Tweep Society’s mascot, Meco is quite safe where he stands; however should he venture toward the event horizons of those two merging Black Holes,  he would be in danger. This would be true for an unwise boater who carelessly heads directly into a swirling whirlpool. In the case of either the Black Holes or the whirlpool neither are malevolent. They are doing what, for them, comes naturally and hold no vicious intent toward either Meco, the inattentive boater or the rest of us.

Yes, science needs a continuously growing presence in the public’s eye, but it needs at the most to impart caution, but ideally most cases impart amazement and delight. To ensure this, the scientists, must step forward and, for example, object to the media depicting a Black Hole as “viciously devouring a star.” Though descriptive, the phrase imparts aggressive behavior that can be frightening. Most importantly the scientist needs to help the media keep a high public interest in science by providing them with descriptive phrases that both inform and delight; not alarm and discourage. Ideally this occurs in special, science journalism courses. If it doesn’t now, it would be highly useful if it became part of the curriculum.

Lastly, maybe humankind continues to adhere to ancient fascinations with horror and human brutality and this presents the media and science with a challenge to refocus the public’s fascination toward the awesome and beautiful. Importantly, both of those values are inherent in a large majority of scientific revelations about all that surrounds us from microbes, to Black Holes, and to the entire Cosmos. Humankind becomes enriched and science gains new friends and supporters; a necessary relationship for our continuing evolution.

As and added example, the video below is a relaxed, easy-going but informative explanation of some of the facts around NASA’s space exploration program. Astronaut Walter Cunningham, an Apollo 7 pilot, provides the narrative. Informative, awesome and heartwarming science.

Publication Code: 88GMF5BV7HTW

CREDITS:

Image of merging Black Holes : courtesy of NASA/ESA and their powerful terrestrial and space telescopes.

Image of Meco the mascot of the Space Tweeps Society, created by the society’s founder, Jen Scheer and used with her permission.


An urgent reminder that applies globally

Hello, please consider clicking <HERE> for a You Tube presentation that is a good prelude to this blog article. Hope you will take some time to view and enjoy it. Thanks.

The young girl-child, an eleven year old, had the typical social behaviors of children with one of the forms of autism. Direct exchanges with even family could be an extreme variable with the child often secluding herself in her room with shouts of “go away. go away.”

That same child was an incredible artist. Her sketches were detailed, balanced and accurate. Most of her drawings involved human figures and they were all attractive and often animated (she often drew complete scenes of human activity). There were never any signs of fear or hostility in her work. They were so striking they took your breath away. Problems arose only when someone would stop to view and compliment her on her work. The “go away” demand arose at once, and if a person persisted then the youngster would begin to shout and try to flee. I was one of those admiring persons and my reaction to the girl’s pleas was sadness. I was sad for her; that so much talent was so tightly locked in autism’s grip.

The young girl was not one of my clients, but because of my work with another client I was able to follow her progress. Through the wonderful efforts of a talented therapist and her loving parents, she began to understand her reactions and learned to begin to control them. As this happened she responded more openly and happily to praise and was encouraged by it. I am hoping that now, somewhere she is a successful illustrator and artist; finally at peace with herself and her world.

Yes, the youngster discussed above had clearly obvious talents and could be considered an exception. She is exceptional, but that does not deny the existence of hidden talents or gifts in other children with either severe disorders or with cognitive weaknesses. It is most severe in those children besieged with behavioral problems Those demand therapeutic and parental focus at the price of never discovering those hidden treasures within. Usually through aggressive applications of medications and some therapy these “behaviorally challenged” youngsters are quieted down and then overlooked; mostly from relief than from indifference. This must change to not let “calm” become the ultimate goal.

Regardless of the particular disorder or disability, the process of helping the child to achieve individuality and to expose that hidden gift is expensive, often tension filled, and elaborately time-consuming. Parents, schools, therapist all reach their respective levels of exhaustion and many children end up in a caretaker environment. We are talking about our future, and we need to innovate ways to improve each child’s opportunity to develop to their individual utmost. Right now, organizationally, financially, and professionally we have not got it right.

Part of the answer is extended individual attention, both therapeutic and emotionally supportive. In this regard, the strongest medication is parental love. Yes, even this vital support gets tattered and bruised. In fact it can tear families apart. For the wealthy this is less of a problem because of their ability to bring on “live in” support or at least daily support. For the rest, it is a terrible struggle that is often just levels of coping with limited or no active efforts to help the child control the child. Hidden behind all of this is that one skill or interest that is the key that can liberate the entire family. Finding and nurturing it is extremely challenging, if it is even initiated.

Here are six actions that need full implementation and support: (None of the following are unique and are only partially practiced today. What is needed is better organization, funding and direct prescriptive implementation for each child that is both followed and enforced).

  1. Increase a sustained program of support for families, especially the parents. This includes instructing the parents in ways they can be more helpful to the child, but also ways that they can ease their own anxieties and frustrations.

  2. Intervention therapies should be started as early as possible, and ideally well in advance of school age. Some of this should occur in the home to avoid separating the child from its most important support group.

  3. Behavioral modification based on earned reward concepts does not help the child understand what is going on inside. We must never assume the child does not or cannot understand. The child needs to be an active partner in the therapeutic process not just a recipient.

  4. There are very good existing therapy programs in speech, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and occupational therapy, but all are severely limited by costs and variability of the diagnostic process and subsequent recommendations. It would not hurt, in my opinion, to ban the DSM IV and DSM V guides.

  5. The current reliance on pharmaceutical controls and not working to help the child develop self-controls abuses the use of medications and eliminates the vital “one-on-one” therapeutic exchange between therapist and child.  In a great many cases, the speech therapist winds up being the most successful in that important one-on-one therapy.

  6. The special aide or professional Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) person is a vital element in the entire process both in the home and in the schools. Costs, more than any other reason, are the biggest barrier, although some parents, schools and teachers resent the TSS. This professional is the extension of that “one-on-one” vital process that can fully enable a successful liberation of the real child. A partnership develops and out of that partnership the child can begin to understand the child, and most importantly begin to like the child it gets to know. This opens the door to discovery of those hidden gifts.  For the child and for its parents it represents a newly found freedom and opportunity. For the lucky TSS it is a never forgotten reward.

I close with the story of an encounter between a therapist and a now college age youngster. The youngster, a young man, greeted and hugged that therapist exclaiming fondly. “you helped to liberate me and taught me to learn who I was and who I could be. I shall remember you and our times together, forever.” This kind of moment must become standard and to do that there must be changes across the entire spectrum of treatment, education and respite protocols for the child, the parents and the entire family.

Are we there yet?


Human Compatibility with Robomatics: A New Enduring Consciousness

*Ossification: a tendency toward or state of being molded into a rigid, conventional, sterile, or unimaginative condition.

Two of my recent blog articles, Nurturing Nature, and An All Digital, Deep Space Voyage have included concerns and commentary about the rise in the use of automation and robotics. This is not meant to imply that either automation or robotics are a threat or bad for humankind. What is of both concern and importance is how humankind manages those developments to its best advantage.

We have already seen evidence of situations where humans have been lulled into dulled attentiveness within an automated or robotically controlled environment. Yes, a good bit of it has been in the form of science-fiction which tends to promote fear and not reason. In reality, though, we have also learned of situations where failed or malfunctioning systems have led to catastrophic events including the loss of human life. Emergency detection and warning systems that fail are one example, another are automated control systems that suddenly fail.

In many instances of these failures serious damages or loss of life are avoided due to the alert and rapid intervention by humans. What happens if there are no humans around; only robots monitoring robots? The risks, if any, would all depend upon the particular automated environment. The higher the risk of a chained failure the more important it is to have immediate and alert human monitoring and intervention. If the environment requires human presence then we must address the real problem of decreasing alertness. Do we depend solely on robotics to alert the human to problems?

Interactive compatibility: The critical challenge: By interactive compatibility we are referring to the increasing high-tech relationships between humans and robomatic (automation + robotics) systems. The word active has always been a critical element. We find it is both expensive and hazardous to take a casual or even indifferent view of our duties in monitoring and adjusting robomatic systems. Compatibility relates directly to the fitness of the human counterpart for these responsibilities. In our view the ongoing, successful interactive compatibility between NASA’s scientists/engineers/technicians and the many robomatic systems they have launched and continue to monitor exists as a key role model for the future.

Compatibility also embraces the engineering design of the various spacecraft that NASA/JPL has created. These spacecraft are not simply pre-programmed systems, they are, in essence, alive and maintain contact with their human counterparts. This is most remarkably illustrated by the very alive and far away Voyager craft, the gleeful explorer-craft Cassini, and, of course, the Mars rovers. Yes, there are many more in the list. The foregoing are just newsbreaker examples. The future with its rapid growth of robomatic systems on Earth and in space will demand entirely new perspectives in areas of scientific and high-tech education/training. This will be especially critical when those relationships between robomatic systems and humans span centuries. Contact with deep space systems will, of necessity, become trans-generational.

Transgenerational interactivity with deep, deep space robomatic systems will introduce an entirely new array of sci-tech skills that become a culture. Yes, a highly scientifically oriented culture is essential for humankind’s growing interrelationship with the Cosmos and with all the exploratory craft we both send and command into that awesome arena. Great grandfather, grandfather, father, son, and so forth will be an uninterruptable and contiguous chain of scientific and technical competence that will carry humankind safely into distant galactic environments and worlds. There will be no room in this culture for regressive or unimaginative thinking. In fact, it will not even exist.

A scary future? For some of us now, it could very well be. This is because our education and with it the encouragement to think creatively has generally been underdeveloped. For others this could appear as a defiance of spirituality whereas in reality it will be an entirely new and highly consoling spirituality. Finally there are no longer any doubts about our status as people in what will become an immense cosmic reality. We feel welcome. We are made whole by this awareness and become joyfully at peace. The power and glory of the cosmos is within us and we are welcome participants in the discovery of all that it is. Lastly, we will finally achieve that great meet-up with other life-forms and fully rejoice that it is certain we are not and will never be alone.

The following video of a talk by Arthur C. Clarke in the 20th century predicting our future in this century is highly relevant because of the accuracy of his predictions. The forward evolution of humankind he predicts is and will continue to progress. So, unleash your minds and let them begin to explore all that surrounds us. You will be warmly welcomed.

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