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Death on Mars – Book Review

Author: John E. Brandenburg, Ph.D.
Publisher: Adventures Unlimited Press
Copyright: 2015, ISBN: 1939149381
Review by: Lynard Barnes, 24 December 2016

Summary: And you thought the face on Mars was a case of pareidolia. According to Dr. Brandenburg the face on Mars is indication of life on Mars that arose during the same time as life on Earth. He makes a very strong though fanciful circumstantial case.

 

 
The last book I read about the rock formation on Mars which some saw as a humanoid face was Stanley V. McDaniel and Monica Rix’s CASE FOR THE FACE: SCIENTISTS EXAMINE THE EVIDENCE FOR THE ALIEN ARTIFACTS ON MARS. Written in 1998, the book was based on the 1976 VIKING 1 orbiter imaging of the Mars Cydonia region. DEATH ON MARS takes the story forward with photo examinations from more high-resolution cameras like the MARS GLOBAL OBSERVER. These later images convinced most that the face was an optical illusion, simply a play of light upon rocks. Most were convinced, but not all.

Brandenburg rips into the Jet Propulsion Laboratory–JPL, the robotic exploration people–and the National Space Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contractor, Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS). After the original VIKING 1 photos, the subsequent high-resolution images of the Cydonia region were taken at oblique angles, grossly distorting the overhead images derived from the originals taken by VIKING 1. The results were pictures of featureless rocks setting in a desolate landscape. Dr. Brandenburg however cites the work of Mark Carlotto’s enhancement of the images to confirm the original conclusion based on the VIKING images. Thus, he successfully resurrects the case for a face on Mars. Proving the case for the face on Mars is only on aspect of this book however.

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Be A Wizard With Numbers – Book Comment

by: Jeffrey, Andrew

 

Publisher: Duncan Baird Publishers Ltd, Sixth Flr, Castle House,75-76 Wells St,London

Copyright: Clare Thorpe

comment by: Lynard Barnes, 11/07/2011

Summary: Primer on working with numbers, this little book offers techniques for enhancing basic math skills.

If you are old school mathematics, there is something to learn from this little book (136 pages). First off, Thorpe declares mathematics an art. Refreshing, though it does not help much in “developing your mental muscles”. That still requires learning the fundamentals. BE A WIZARD WITH NUMBERS puts you on the right track. The book presents a number of math tricks, most of which have been around a long time. Solutions to problems are listed in the final section of the book. The book also introduces us to “true dyscalculia”, an “emerging condition characterized by people struggle with the concepts of numbers. It is like dyslexia in which some people have trouble recognizing letters on paper

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Mathematics, The Big Questions – Book Comment

by: Crilly, Tony (Editor)

Publisher: Metro Books,122 Fifth Ave   New York,NY

Cover: Patrick Nugent

Copyright: 2011

comment  by: Lynard Barnes,11/18/2011

Summary:  Tony Crilly is Emeritus Reader in Mathematical Sciences at Middlesex University. The book is a history of mathematical concepts.     

This mathematics primer goes from defining mathematics to answering the question of whether there are any mathematical problems left to solve. There are problems left to solve of course as formulated in David Hilbert’s “23 Problem” which he set forth in 1900.

There are enough intriguing chapter titles to rise the curiosity of even the most mathematically challenged: “Are Statistics Lies?”, “Are Imaginary Numbers Truly Imaginary?”, “Can A Butterfly’s Wings Really Cause A Hurricane?”. Beyond the intrigue, the book does a fairly adequate job of familiarizing readers with the concept and language of mathematics.

A word about the design, layout of the book. For those who love “books” as books, this one is classic. Every book should be designed this way. It even has a built-in page marker–expandable rubber band glued into the cover.

Not a must read, but well worth it if done.

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Physics – Book Comment

by: McPhee, Isaac

Publisher:  Quid Publishing, Level 4, Sheridan House, 114 Western Rd, Hove BN3 IDD, England

Cover:       Lindsey Johns

Copyright: 2010

comment by:      Lynard Barnes, 11/10/2011

Summary: An historical look at the development of physics and the people responsible. A general reader with some technical information. A beginner’s guide.

This is book (176 pages) covers the movers and shakers of physics from Thales (ca. 624-546 BC) to Stephen Hawking (1942 to present). It is an entertaining and biographically informative introduction to investigations into our physical world. Within the eight chapters of this book, problems in physics are presented along with action-scenarios depicting the physicist who solved the problem. In general, the presentation of solutions is so condensed as to be of meager specfic use but do provide a general understanding. For instance, in the relatively extensive discusion of Albert Einstein and his theory of special relativity, we learn that the famous formula E=mc[2] assumes that the “object” with mass has a velocity of zero. The formula which factors in mass is slightly different. There is also a delightful discussion of Erwin Schrodinger’s quantum mechancis problem, aptly called “Schrodinger’s Cat”. In short, this book is an excellent introduction to the concepts involved in physics. Just don’t expect an “education”.

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Bursts – Review

by: Barabási, Albert-László

Publisher: Dutton, Penguin Group USA Inc

Location: New York

Copyright: 2010

Cover: Richard Hasselberger, Terry Chan/Shutterstock

Type: Hardcover

 

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 8/3/2010

 

Summary: The predictability of human behavior? or the nodes of changing circumstance? A statistical basis for examining human behavior.

 

This is not a must read book. However, there are snippets and gems scattered throughout and a read would definitely not be a waste of time.

It is almost an intuitive realization that people are predictable. BURST is a refinement of this intuitive, gut feeling. Indeed, Professor of Physics Albert-László Barabási and his team have put a number on that predictability. Ninety-three percent of human behavior is predictable. For those who participated in the B. F. Skinner mechanical behaviorism (operant conditioning) versus, for lack of a better term, human spiritualism wars of the 1980s, either vicariously or in word-combat, the 93% rating of human behavior may be a wave of the let’s-fight-this flag. Just as we intuitively recognize that human behavior is predictable, we have a reflex attitude that, no, human behavior is not predictable.

To his credit, Barabási bases his 93% predictability rating on sound, scientific observation. Cell phones-their use and abuse (which, in our opinion is mostly abuse). Who can possibly argue with science? Rhetorical question. Especially if you start with science as a sub-set of reality. But if you don’t want to expend the energy to delve into quantum physics and tick-off the requisite indicators of “reality”, accepting the 93% predictability rating for human behavior is the smart thing to do. Still . . .

BURSTS proceeds from an assumption that what you do today is based on what you or someone else did yesterday and before. Consequently, “you are far more predictable that you are willing to admit.” Into this nice little box of scientific precept is Hasan Elahi who the author describes as a thirty-year-old media installation artist. More significantly, the box includes György Székely’s (or György Dózsa) and the failed Hungarian peasant uprising of 1514. Barabási makes good use of both Hasan and Székely to bolster his contention that our behavior is 93% predictable.

Major chapters of the book are devoted to quantifying the extremes of randomness, least some think that human behavior is random and that our broader world is comprised of random events. What is the travel-universe of a dollar bill? What keeps pollen suspended in dew drops in constant, jittery and irregular motion? Does the seemingly haphazard roaming of wild animals in search of food follow any type of search pattern? Can we ever reach a point in sociology in which we can describe human behavior as accurately as we describe the physical world? Barabási addresses these questions and more. He provides an enjoyable foray into the exploration of predictability and behavior patterns. Still . . .

Barabási’s book loosely defines “bursts”, which “permeate human activity”, as an apparently sudden intensity of activity that was dormant for a time. He pursues this definition as it relates to activity lists: how tasks are prioritized and accomplished; the dependency of an item list upon some other item on the list, and so forth. It is a dauntingly complex definition that, in essence is relatively simple. People perform behaviors based on past behavior and, in most instances, perform behaviors which are dependent upon previous behaviors. What’s new here?

Did the resultant failed Hungarian uprising headed by György Székely have all the elements of a predictable failure? Did the constant travel lifestyle of Hasan Elahi lead inordinately to questioning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation? These questions are answered-sort of-in the author’s book. But you really have to dig for answers. Or, after reading about the circumstances, you can simply rest with your intuitive answers. This, believe it or not, brings us back to cell phones.

Barabási and his team at Northeastern University, the team being really a network of scientists, studied the mobility patterns of 100,000 anonymous cell-phone users who were randomly selected from six million users (see the news@Northeastern for the story). Results of the study indicated that people follow a “simple pattern regardless of time and distance, and they have a strong tendency to return to locations they visited before.” Is there anything surprising here? The real question is however is whether it is possible to predict the behavior of an individual?

The behavior of individuals is probably in the neighborhood of 99% predictability. FBI profilers have been trudging this road since the mid-1980s.Barabási’s “bursts” definitely adds a brick or two to the required protocol for analyzing individual behavior. Read the book. But do not expect any light-bulb moments.

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There is Life After Death – Review

by: Varghese, Roy Abraham

Publisher: The Career Press, Inc, 3 Tice Rd, PO Box 687

Location: Franklin Lakes, NJ

Copyright: 2010

Cover: Dutton & Sherman Design

Type: Softcover

 

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 1/2/2010

 

Summary: Logical argument for life-after-death, morphing into an argument against reincarnation.

Life after death.

You either believe there is some aspect of your spiritual self that survives the transition of the physical body from life to death, or you don’t. You either believe that some part of your spiritual self has been on this earth before, that you are a “born again” spiritual essence, or you don’t. There is no scientific proof. There is no scientific protocol to establish life after death, nor reincarnation. I believe in both the reality of life after death and in reincarnation and, to borrow a current self-serving solipsism, “god-willing”, there never will be such proof.

So, we take up THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH by Roy Abraham Varghese and discover the edifice that is faith and science. Imagine this edifice as a single story structure in which perception is solely a matter of focus and belief a matter of feverish activity followed by catalytic moments of outward stillness.

The first part of THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH is an extremely effective argument against using science as a yardstick to measure the validity of life after death. Varghese successfully shapes the argument by drawing a distinction between the physical world and the non-physical. This has been done before of course. But the sticking point is always defining precisely what constitutes the non-physical. In Chapter 6, under “10 Hard Transphysical Facts”, Varghese lays out a reasoned argument as to why there is a non-physical world, having tackled the “the brain as a computer” analogy and the whole concept of a physics derived definition of the human mind (Francis Crick’s “nerve cells and their associated molecules”). The question might arise as to why Varghese takes nearly 300 pages to restate the obvious. Well, it does not take much digging to find the answer to that quandary.

Aside from tantalizing tidbits such as pointing out that demographer Carl Haub of the Population Reference Bureau estimates that 100 billion people have died since the beginning of history (whenever that was), and that 234 people will die “while you’re reading this page”, Varghese goes the extra mile to argue that “human persons retain their identity in an after-life”. It is an amazing supposition. He devotes the last half of the book attempting to justify it.

What is a human person’s identity?

After repudiating the validation methodologies of science as an argument against the existence of life after death, Varghese resorts to a scientific methodology-logic–to argue that it is the complete person, the personality and spirit, which survives death. This is something new. It is a reach beyond Plato’s “know thyself”. In a section of chapter 7 titled “The Human Person-A Psychophysical Organism Capable of Thinking and Willing”, he attempts to show that the “person/I/self” is an interaction of spirit and the physical. It is this interaction that results in personality, or the person’s identity. The logic is flawless. The supposition brings to mind a number of quotes. Among them:

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool that for him” – – Bible, Proverbs 26:12

and

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you” – – Bible, Corinthians 3:16

and finally,

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ . . . And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” – Matthew 18:1-4

According to Varghese’s argument, all our love ones who have died, passing from our physical lives, survive as “persons we know” and will greet us when it is our turn to exit the physical world. It is a nice argument. According to this argument, the loving and wise grandfather who influenced you in your early life will meet you on the other side of death and be just as loving and just as wise, as perhaps his grandfather before him. It is an argument like the fundamental argument for life after death. No science. Dig a little deeper into Varghese’s argument however and we find an agenda sprouting from an interpretation of Christian doctrine. The Christian belief in an after life is modeled after the resurrection-body and soul-of Jesus Christ. In short, a “person” goes through the process of life-choices and arrives, in the end, at the gates of Heaven or the portal of Hell. End of story. For this reason, Varghese argues against reincarnation. Indeed, how can there be reincarnation if the “person” survives after death? Since it is the physical body and the soul that makes the “person”, a “person” just can’t jump into another body and be the same person, escaping the final disposition of their life. Flawless logic.

After quoting a poll showing that “an incredible 70 percent” of people who have experienced a near-death-experience believe in reincarnation, Varghese points out that this belief most likely stems from “New Age literature” which promotes a belief in reincarnation. He them elevates a belief in reincarnation into the “theory of reincarnation”. And, to prove the point, he exhibits a list of four critical questions highlighting the implausibility of the “theory”.

The acrobatics of arguing faith makes senile centenarians of us all-all including children. Children however have a fall-back position: because my mommy said so.

After reading THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH, the only explanation I can find for Varghese’s argument against reincarnation is his desire to support the premise that personality survives death. The tactic of using the same logic to support life after death and the implausibility of reincarnation negates both arguments. The juxtaposition however of pro and con arguments standing side-by-side, constructed from the same scaffolding, is rather startling. The tactic makes THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH worth reading as a primer on how NOT to argue matters of faith.

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