From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Break up, break down, break free

Tennyson  (Print by J. M. Cameron)
According to Ashley Mateo of Self, there are three stages concerning the dissolution of an intimate relationship:  break up, break down, break free.

A study featured in the Journal of Positive Psychology indicates that young adults often go through these stages within three months.  In other words, it generally takes at least 90 days for suddenly-singles to develop some positive perspectives about the breakup.

These positive perspectives began to emerge within both parties:  the one who initiated the breakup, and even the one who didn’t. They were expressed by such statements as “I have learned a lot about myself” and “I have grown as a person.”

So it appears that Lord Tennyson was right: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Here’s to the poet within us all that’s waiting (breathlessly) to be ignited by love.


Copyright December 21, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Life on Mars? Follow the flatulence

Methane-producing Archaea  (PM Poon)
A spike in methane levels at the Gale Crater on Mars could be a sign of past and/or present life.

That’s because most of the methane gas on earth has been produced by living organisms.  Polite humans refer to such gaseous excretions as flatulence.

Wikipedia explains that human flatulence stems from “gases generated in the intestines or stomach,” along with 
“swallowed environmental air.”  The generated gases include “oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane.”

This methane is produced by the Archaea, which can “oxidise
hydrogen into methane.” These microorganisms live within 
the colons and navels of many people, as well as within oceans, soils and marshlands.

It is therefore possible that the spike in methane is indicative of Martian microbes.  It is also possible that Martian microbes might be “housed” within more complex forms of life. 


Copyright December 20, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dark matter: Could it be?

Dark Matter, Tinted Blue   (Hubble photo)
Dark matter, which Wikipedia describes as a kind of invisible matter that exerts a gravitational pull, has remained quite elusive.

Engadget reports that even the most powerful telescopes have been unable to make dark matter observable.  This is because “it neither emits nor absorbs light.”

Nevertheless, a team of scientists recently announced that a breakthrough could be imminent.  They observed a spike within data “from the Andromeda galaxy and the Perseus galaxy cluster” that corresponds with current theories about the qualities of dark matter.

“The signal’s distribution within the galaxy…[is] concentrated and intense in the center of objects and weaker and diffuse on the edges.”  If this is, indeed, a sign of dark matter, then scientists now know “where to look and what to look for to observe it.”  They can also customize telescopes to study these signals.

Since it is too early to tell whether or not these unique signals are from dark matter, another question arises.  If not from dark matter, then from what?


Copyright December 19, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pope's 78th: Cake, cards and tango

Tango Show (Photo by Jenny Mealing-Flickr)
It was a regular fiesta for Pope Francis’ recent 78th birthday.

So what do you give the pontiff who seemingly has everything?  The crowd presented him with cake, cards (many made by children), and dozens of tango dancers.

Lest there be questions about the dancing, let it not be forgotten that King David had a similar fondness for such holy exuberance.

Wikipedia explains that the tango has roots in both European and African culture.  African slaves were 
once a huge part of the Argentine population.  They brought with them their native dances, many of which 
had been associated with worship. 

The Vatican Associated Press offered this quote:  The tango is a dance that unites all people no matter where 
they come from.

Perhaps worship in general should include more dance and less talk…  


Copyright December 18, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Who says animals don't feel?

Calf   (Photo by Jim Champion)
The folk song “Dona Dona” has some very sad lyrics.  It contrasts a calf bound for market with a swallow flying freely. 

The farmer in this scenario is unsympathetic to the calf’s plight.  He (or she) says, “Stop complaining.  Who told you a calf to be?” (implying that calves were created in order to be slaughtered).

The lyrics culminate with this assumption:  Calves are easily bound and slaughtered   Never knowing the reason why   But whoever treasures freedom   Like the swallow has learned to fly.

It is highly likely that calves deeply feel their impending doom, and it is highly likely that they treasure freedom every bit as much as a swallow (or a person).

A recent Newsmax article illustrates just how desperate cows are to break free from the death camps we call slaughterhouses.  It tells of the final moments in a condemned cow’s life.

This 1,000 pound heifer “escaped from a meat processing facility by jumping a six-foot fence and racing through the town of Pocatello, Idaho… where it was eventually cornered… [and shot dead].”

The reason given for the shooting was that “the animal might trample someone as it charged through residential neighborhoods…”  In other words, humans don’t want to get hurt.

Apparently, neither do cows.


Copyright December 17, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

For the physicist who has it all

CERN Offices  (Photo by Gillis Danielsen)
If you’re wondering what to get the “Einstein” in your life, consider this:  A particle accelerator can now be stored on a food-prep counter, right there between the toaster and the
blender (because even physicists have to eat).

HNGN reports that this “tabletop” accelerator is able to excite subatomic particles “to the highest energy ever recorded from a compact accelerator.”

So why bother trekking off to CERN when you can party with particles right within the comfort of your own kitchen?

For those who like to plan ahead, next year’s gift should then be a no-brainer.  In order for the accelerator to get fully (and literally) up to speed, a companion “tunnel” would later be needed.

This tunnel would channel the light pulse in such a way that even “more-energetic electrons” could be handled.

Talk about a holiday light show!  Why it’s enough to brighten anyone’s spirit - and then some.  


Copyright December 16, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 15, 2014

Meditation: Your mind on 'rinse'

Sufi Meditative Singing   (PD)
Although most of us wouldn’t want to go a day without washing the body, so many of us go weeks (years?) without “rinsing” the mind.

In an article titled “5 Convincing Reasons to Start Meditating," MSN Lifestyle compares meditation to placing the mind on rinse cycle.  Within the spaciousness of those daily focused moments, the “static cling” of excessive thoughts and desires can be gently swept away.

If you’re thinking that meditation takes time away from an already-overloaded schedule, the facts may be quite different.  Because meditation helps to concentrate the mind, daily tasks can afterwards become easier and faster. Regular meditators have been known to “do less and accomplish more.”

Not only that, entrenched habits that block efficiency will sometimes fade away.  One meditator reported that she “forgot to smoke” after just a few days of practice.

If you've ever gone surfing, you know the powerful feeling of catching a wave and having “the force of nature on your side.”  Meditators sometimes feel as though they are working in conjunction with the force of the cosmos.  This type of alignment can infuse a person with energy.  The Greeks have called it “enthusiasm” (being “infused with the Holy Spirit”).


Copyright December 15, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved