A yawn involves a deep inhalation accompanied by a gaping mouth, squinted eyes and sometimes stretching. The average yawn lasts six seconds and is commonly related to situations of boredom or tiredness. However, it also occurs upon waking up, and athletes and musicians have been observed yawning before performing.

Yawning is associated with tiredness, stress, overwork, lack of stimulation, or boredom. Yawning can also be a powerful non verbal message with several possible meanings, depending on the circumstances. In humans, yawning has an infectious quality. Seeing a person yawning, or just thinking of yawning, can trigger yawning which is a typical example of positive feedback. The exact causes of yawning are still undetermined. The claim that yawning is caused by lack of oxygen has not been substantiated scientifically. Another speculated reason for yawning is nervousness and is also claimed to help increase the state of alertness of a person. Paratroopers have been noted to yawn in the moments before they exit an aircraft.

The yawn reflex is often described as contagious. If one person yawns, this may cause another person to sympathetically yawn. Observing another person’s yawning face, thinking about yawning, or even reading this blog entry, can cause you or another person to yawn. The cause for contagious yawning may lie with mirror neurons in the frontal cortex, which upon being exposed to a stimulus from the same species can activate similar regions in the brain.

Mirror neurons have been proposed as a driving force for imitation which lies at the root of much human learning such as language. Yawning may be an offshoot of the same imitative impulse. A 2007 study found that children with autism do not increase their yawning frequency after seeing videos of other people yawning. This supports the claim that contagious yawning is based on the capacity for empathy.

Recently, researchers from the University of Albany proposed that yawning may be a means to keep the brain cool. Mammalian brains operate best within a narrow temperature range. In two experiments, they demonstrated that subjects with cold packs attached to their foreheads and when asked to breathe nasally exhibited reduced contagious yawning when watching videos of people yawning. A similar recent hypothesis is that yawning is used for regulation of body temperature.

Another hypothesis is that yawns are caused by the same neurotransmitters in the brain that affect emotions, mood, appetite, and other phenomena. These chemicals include serotonin, dopamine, glutamic acid, and nitric oxide. As more or less of these compounds are activated in the brain, the frequency of yawning increases. Conversely, a greater presence in the brain of opiate neurotransmitters such as endorphins reduces the frequency of yawning.

Anecdotal reports by users of psilocybin mushrooms often describe a marked stimulation of yawning while intoxicated, especially while undergoing the most intense portion of the psilocybin experience. While opioids have been demonstrated to reduce this yawning provoked by psilocybin, it is not clear that the same pathways that induce yawning as a symptom of opioid abstinence in habituated users are the mode of action in yawning in mushroom users.

Recent research carried out by Catriona Morrison, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Leeds, involving monitoring the behavior of students kept waiting in a reception area, indicates a connection between empathic ability and yawning. She found that contagious yawning indicates empathy and an appreciation of other people’s behavioral and physiological state.

Yet another theory is that yawning occurs to stabilize pressure on either side of the ear drum. The deep intake of air can sometimes cause a popping sound that only the yawner can hear. This is the pressure on the middle ear such as inside an airplane and when travelling up and down hills, which cause the eardrums to be bent instead of flat. Some people yawn when storms approach, which is a sure sign that changes in pressure affect them.

Some movements in psychotherapy believe that yawning, along with laughter and crying, are means of discharging painful emotion, and therefore can be encouraged in order to promote physical and emotional changes.

Certain superstitions surround the act of yawning. The most common of these is the belief that it is necessary to cover one’s mouth when one is yawning in order to prevent one’s soul from escaping the body. The Ancient Greeks believed that yawning was not a sign of boredom, but that a person’s soul was trying to escape from its body, so that it may rest with the gods in the skies. This belief was also shared by the Maya.


According to ancient and medieval science, Ether is the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere. It was imagined in Greek mythology to be the pure essence where the gods lived and which they breathed, analogous to the air breathed by mortals.

Aristotle included Ether in the system of the classical elements of Ionic philosophy as the quintessence, on the principle that the four terrestrial elements were subject to change and moved naturally in straight lines while no change had been observed in the celestial regions and the heavenly bodies moved in circles.

In Aristotle’s system Ether had no qualities, was neither hot, cold, wet, or dry, and was incapable of change. By its nature it moved in circles. Medieval scholastic philosophers granted Ether changes of density in which the bodies of the planets were considered to be denser than the medium which filled the rest of the universe.

Early modern physics proposed the existence of a medium of the Ether meaning upper air or pure, fresh air, a space filling substance or field, thought to be necessary as a transmission medium. The assorted Ether theories embody the various conceptions of this medium and substance. This early modern Ether has little in common with the Ether of classical elements from which the name was borrowed.

Although hypotheses of the Ether vary somewhat in detail they all have certain characteristics in common. Essentially it is considered to be a physical medium occupying every point in space, including material bodies. A second essential feature is that its properties gives rise to the electric, magnetic and gravitational potentials and determines the propagation velocity of their effects.

Therefore the speed of light and all other propagating effects are determined by the physical properties of the Ether at the relevant location, analogous to the way that gaseous, liquid and solid media affect the propagation of sound waves.

The Ether is considered the overall reference frame for the universe and thus velocities are all absolute relative to its rest frame. Therefore, any physical consequences of those velocities are considered as having absolute or real effects.

Recent Ether theories of velocity effects, phenomenon of gravitation and planetary motion, creation of proton, of stars and planets, etc., exist but are not generally accepted by the mainstream scientific community.

John Bell, interviewed by Paul Davies in The Ghost in the Atom has suggested that an Ether theory allows a reference frame in which signals go faster than light. Bell suggests the Ether was wrongly rejected on purely philosophical grounds, in that what is unobservable does not exist.

Einstein found the non-Ether theory simpler and more elegant, but Bell suggests that doesn’t rule it out. Besides the arguments based on his interpretation of quantum mechanics, Bell also suggests resurrecting the Ether because it is a useful pedagogical device. That is, lots of problems are solved more easily by imagining the existence of an Ether.


In the Latter Day Saint movement, Kolob is a star or planet mentioned in the Book of Abraham as being nearest to the throne or residence of God. The literal existence and the exact nature of Kolob is a controversial topic in Latter Day Saint movement theology, as is the Book of Abraham, which has not been canonized by the Community of Christ and several other denominations.

In an explanation of an Egyptian hypocephalus that was part of the Book of Abraham scrolls, Joseph Smith interpreted one set of hieroglyphics as representing Kolob, signifying the first creation nearest to the celestial or the residence of God. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth.

The Book of Abraham describes a hierarchy of heavenly bodies, including the earth, its moon, and the sun, each with different movements and measurements of time, where at the pinnacle, the slowest revolving body is Kolob, where one Kolob day corresponds to 1000 earth-years:

Modern Egyptologists have made an analysis of the facsimile and with fragments of the papyrus from which the Book of Abraham was translated, and disagree with Joseph Smith’s interpretation. In response to criticism that Joseph Smith’s interpretation is not consistent with Egyptologists interpretation, some Mormon apologists promote a loose, symbolic interpretation of the facsimile they say is consistent with Smith’s translation.

According to the literal interpretation, Kolob is an actual star in this universe that is near to, or perhaps the sun of, the physical throne of God. This interpretation has significant formative impact on Mormon belief and criticism, leading to conceptions such that the faithful will be made gods of planets in this universe, that God dwells within this universe rather than transcending it, and that the Biblical creation is a creation of the local earth, solar system, or galaxy, rather than the entire known physical reality.

A metaphorical interpretation relatively uncommon in Mormonism suggests that Kolob represents Jesus Christ rather than a physical object and location in this universe. Advocates of the symbolic interpretation believe it harmonizes better with other Mormon beliefs and with beliefs in the greater Christian community, as it does not require that God have a physical throne within this universe.

Kolob is similar to an Iroquoian word which expressed the power of life, healing, and rebirth, as symbolized by the rising of the Sun in the east each day. North American Tribes residing in the Eastern United States associated the rising of the sun with the direction of east, and associated Sunrise with divine power, rebirth, healing, and resurrection. The word kolob is similar to the Iroquoian word kalvg, pronounced kah-luh-g, which means east or Sunrise. The rising of the sun was associated with Asgaya Gigaei, the Red Man of the East, a pseudonym for the Apportioner or Creator Spirit, unelanvhi.

Some of the elements of the two Battlestar Galactica science-fiction television shows seem to be derived from the Mormon beliefs of its creator and chief producer, Glen A. Larson. In both the original series from 1978, and the 2003 new series, the planet Kobol is the ancient and distant mother world of the entire human race and the planet where life began, and the Lords of Kobol are sacred figures to the human race.

Kolob was also the name of a short-lived record label company founded by the Osmond Brothers in the 1970s. Released in association with MGM Records, the logo consisted of a hand holding a ball of clay resembling the planet. The Osmonds also recorded an album called The Plan which deals with themes in Mormonism related to Kolob.


Crepuscular rays are sunbeams that are basically individual quantities of sunlight that poke through or around some object, usually a cloud. They’re made visible by dust or vapor that scatters light from them to our eyes, and by the contrast with the cloud’s shadow. Frequently, the rays project from a hole in cloud cover, appearing to spread out and widen.

They are also known as sun rays, cloud breaks, God’s rays, or the Fingers of God. They appear to radiate from a single point in the sky. They often occur when objects such as mountain peaks or clouds partially shadow the sun’s rays like a cloud cover.

The name comes from their frequent occurrences during crepuscular hours, the times between dawn and dusk, when the contrasts between light and dark are the most obvious. Various airborne compounds scatter the sunlight and make the rays visible, due to diffraction, reflection, and scattering.

Crepuscular rays are nearly parallel, but appear to diverge because of linear perspective. Actually, the rays are straight and nearly parallel to each other. Because they come from the Sun, which is very far away and much larger than the Earth, they appear to be a lot longer and bigger than they look. The bottom of a ray can be miles closer to us than the top, where it comes out of the cloud. Some rays make it all the way across the sky.

If we were to see the rays exactly sideways at a 90-degree angle, they would be parallel with each other, and slanted at whatever angle corresponds to the height of the Sun in the sky. But if we see the rays from any other angle, especially head on, they appear to fan out, and the rays seem to get wider and farther apart from each other the closer they are to us. In exactly the same way, if we look down train tracks, they appear to converge and finally disappear in the distance.

This illusion, known as perspective, is based on the fact that light travels off objects in straight lines at definite angles. The farther away an object is the smaller the angle of vision and the smaller the image it projects on the retina. As we look into the distance, the angle of vision gets smaller and smaller until it effectively reaches zero, the vanishing point.

There are three primary forms of crepuscular rays. The first consists of rays of light penetrating holes in low clouds, and are also called Jacob’s Ladders. The second appears as beams of light diverging from behind a cloud. The third type contains pale, pinkish or reddish rays that radiate from below the horizon, which are often mistaken for light pillars.

The rays of the second and third types may extend across the sky and appear to converge at the antisolar point, which is the point on the sky sphere directly opposite the sun. They are called anticrepuscular rays. Like crepuscular rays, they are parallel shafts of sunlight from holes in the clouds, and their apparently odd directions are a perspective effect.

Crepuscular and anticrepuscular rays behave in the same manner. Crepuscular rays are usually red or yellow in appearance because the atmosphere acts as a giant lens, which refracts low sunset rays into long curved paths that pass through up to 40 times as much air as rays from a high midday sun. Particles in the air scatter short wavelength blue and green rays much more strongly than longer wavelength yellow and red.

Crepuscular rays can also occasionally be viewed underwater, particularly in arctic areas appearing from ice shelfs or cracks in the ice.


Fruit Flies are of the species Drosophila, typically pale yellow to reddish brown and black with red eyes. Many species have distinct black patterns on the wings. Most are small, about 2–4 millimetres long. Fruit flies can be a problem year round, but are especially common during late summer and fall because they are attracted to ripened or fermenting fruits and vegetables.

Tomatoes, melons, squash, grapes and other perishable items brought in from the garden are often the cause of an infestation developing indoors. Fruit flies are also attracted to rotting bananas, potatoes, onions and other unrefrigerated produce purchased at the grocery store. Fruit flies are primarily nuisance pests.

They are common in homes, restaurants, supermarkets and wherever else food is allowed to rot and ferment. Fruit flies lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist, organic materials. Upon emerging, the tiny larvae continue to feed near the surface of the fermenting mass. This surface feeding characteristic of the larvae is significant in that damaged or over ripened portions of fruits and vegetables can be cut away without having to discard the remainder for fear of retaining any developing larvae.

The reproductive potential of fruit flies is enormous. Given the opportunity, they will lay about 500 eggs. The entire lifecycle from egg to adult can be completed in about a week. Males are known to have the longest sperm cells of any organism on Earth. The cells are mostly tail and are about .25 millimetres long, although this is still about 100 times as long as a human sperm.

Fruit flies are especially attracted to ripened fruits and vegetables in the kitchen. But they also will breed in drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans, trash containers, mops and cleaning rags. All that is needed for development is a moist film of fermenting material. Infestations can originate from over ripened fruits or vegetables that were previously infested and brought into the home. The adults can also fly in from outside through inadequately screened windows and doors.

The best way to avoid problems with fruit flies is to eliminate sources of attraction. Produce which has ripened should be eaten, discarded or refrigerated. Cracked or damaged portions of fruits and vegetables should be cut away and discarded in the event that eggs or larvae are present in the wounded area. A single rotting potato or onion forgotten at the back of a closet can breed thousands of fruit flies.

Once a structure is infested with fruit flies all potential breeding areas should be located and eliminated. Unless the breeding sites are removed or cleaned, the problem will continue no matter how often insecticides are applied to control the adults. Finding the sources of attraction and breeding can be very challenging and often will require much thought and persistence. Potential breeding sites which are inaccessible such as garbage disposals and drains can be inspected by taping a clear plastic food storage bag over the opening overnight. If flies are breeding in these areas, the adults will emerge and be caught in the bag.

One way to get rid of fruit flies is to construct a bowl trap by placing a piece of old skinless fruit and some wine or some balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and a rubber band, and poke many small holes in the plastic with a fork. The fruit flies go in and can’t get out, but if the holes are too big they will be able to escape. Release the flies outdoors and dispose of the bait.

Another approach is to construct a trap by placing a paper funnel rolled from a sheet of notebook paper into a jar which is then baited with a few ounces of cider vinegar. Place the jar traps wherever fruit flies are seen. This simple but effective trap will soon catch any remaining adult flies which can then be killed or released outdoors.


A Metabelief is a belief about beliefs themselves. It is above or on the next level to the belief under consideration. Thus, a Metabelief Operator is a concept or a function or an agent that operates on, transforms, or introduces changes into belief systems. The Metabelief Operator is outside the belief system that it operates upon. It thinks outside the box, or at least it perceives that there is a box. A Metabelief Operator transforms beliefs, and thereby transforms the perception of reality.

The concept of the Metabelief Operator is useful in understanding the problems posed by the process of our our making facsimiles of the various facets of the realities external and internal. Here the term operator is used in the mathematical sense of something that operates on something else to change or transform it.

The Metabelief Operator can be weak, strong, or nonexistent. If one is quite content with the facsimiles of inner and outer realities, and content with life as it occurs, there may be little need for a Metabelief Operator. One is content with the beliefs with regard to family, business, religion and politics, and the beliefs work satisfactorily. The intention is not devoted to questioning and transforming the beliefs.

In this case, the Metabelief Operator may be so weak as to be insignificant or functions only to entertain the Self. A crisis, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, can activate a Metabelief Operator in someone who previously did not have such an Operator, or strengthen a weak one. A brush with death, a profound religious experience, a serious accident, a prolonged illness, a financial disaster or a sudden unexpected confrontation with violence can generate a need to change beliefs about Self, about external reality and about internal reality. Here the Metabelief Operator may appear and function for a time. It may continue its operations or it may become dormant again.

Some people, geniuses of one sort or another, acquire Metabelief Operators quite early in life and continue to use them throughout their lives or they may let them die. Certain artists, scientists, businessmen, and politicians are creative through such Metabelief Operators. Once successful, the need for the Metabelief Operators may become weakened because the beliefs have become satisfying and the need for change has approached zero. Others maintain their Metabelief Operators throughout their lives. Curiosity and interest in challenging and transforming beliefs may be kept alive for decades and be unaffected by aging.

Consensus reality is that set of beliefs, which includes assumptions, postulates, interpretations, and simulations, that we have learned are real and true in our culture, society, family, school, and so on. Consensus reality is that which is agreed upon to be real and true by a family, a group, a nation, or a group of nations. Some examples are the various human legal structures, like city, county, state, and nation. There are pictures of realities created by media like newspapers, TV and radio. There are financial realities such as those created by banks, taxes, salaries, and wages, and there is also the scientific community’s picture of reality.

It is fairly easy to see consensus reality at work in fanatical cults, yet generally difficult to see their operation in our world. Yet, in a sense, we all live in a cult whose members agree upon what is real and unreal, what is right and wrong, good and bad, possible and impossible.

In other words, consensus reality is a collection of simulations of internal reality and external reality, with which members of a particular group agree or disagree. Most of our sacred beliefs are actually agreed upon simulations of reality. Feedback, positive or negative, from lovers, family, as well as with religious, political, and business groups, generates beliefs and disbeliefs in each of us. Once programmed, beliefs are difficult to unearth because we are generally unaware of their powerful existence and influence on our thinking, doing, and feeling. The degree to which we function from this programming is, in a sense, the degree to which we are robots. Humans are distinctly different from robots, however. The human biocomputer can program its Self.

An important subset of the consensus realities is paper realities and their counterpart, film and digital realities. In our society we record on paper our contracts, our marriages, our wills, our financial transactions, our news, our history, our thoughts, our opinions. These records determine our actions, our thinking, and our doing to a large extent.

We live up to, or break, our contracts. We marry one person and live together according to our beliefs as to what is a marriage. We make a will in the expectation that its provisions will be carried out after our death. A checking account works because enough people believe in its paper reality. Otherwise a check for a thousand dollars is nothing more than a worthless piece of paper. We believe or disbelieve stories printed in newspapers and shown in TV newscasts. We tend to believe as true that which we read in books and magazines and what we see in motion pictures and on TV. To a large extent, paper reality represents consensus reality. We are immersed in a representation of reality fed to us on paper, on film, and digitally.

The metabelief operator can chance beliefs at various rates, from zero to the maximum speed available to the person. During a crisis, the speed of change can be such that the basic beliefs change in a few seconds, hours, or days. By contrast, during slow social change it may take years for beliefs to change.

Consensus reality itself is an aspect of a very large multiple individual feedback system. It changes slowly in the absence of war, violence, or catastrophe. Metabelief Operators derived from consensus reality reflect this slow rate of change characteristic. In fact, fast belief changes are generally suspect by the group at large. The person is considered abnormal, far out, diseased, mentally ill, a fanatic, or unstable. They go from operating at the norm to being deviant, different from the group.

The consensus reality feedback loop keeps belief systems stable, static and unchanging. Getting out of the consensus reality feedback loop is necessary to speed up belief and change. But how can we do so when we are quite literally immersed in it? There is only one way. One must go into the void, a place absent of sensory situation and input feedback from out there consensus reality. A place of meditation and prayer. This is where true change takes place.


The term mediumship denotes the ability of a person (the medium) to apparently experience contact with spirits. The medium generally attempts to facilitate communication between people and spirits who may have messages to share.

A medium may appear to listen to and relate conversations with spirit voices, go into a trance and speak without knowledge of what is being said, allow a spirit to enter their body and speak through it, and relay messages from the spirits those who wish to contact them with the help of a physical tool, such as a writing implement.

Mediumship is also part of the belief system of some New Age groups. In this context, and under the name channeling, it refers to a medium who receive messages from a teaching spirit.

Channeling became quite popular in the United States after the rise of Spiritualism as a religious movement. Modern Spiritualism is said to date to the mediumistic activities of the Fox sisters in New York state during 1848. The trance mediums Paschal Beverly Randolph and Emma Hardinge Britten were among the most celebrated lecturers and authors on the subject in the mid 1800s. Mediumship was also described by Allan Kardec, who coined the term Spiritism, around 1860.

After the exposure of the fraudulent use of stage magic tricks by mediums such as the Davenport Brothers, mediumship fell into disrepute, although it never ceased being used by people who believed that the dead can be contacted.

From the 1930s through the 1990s, as psychical mediumship became less practiced in Spiritualist churches, the technique of channeling gained in popularity, and books by channellers who related the wisdom of non corporeal and non terrestrial teacher spirits became best sellers amongst believers.

For some mediums, a spirit guide is a highly evolved spirit with the sole purpose of helping the medium develop and use their skills. They assist mediums in following their spiritual path. For other mediums, a spirit guide is one who brings other spirits to a medium’s attention or carries communications between a medium and the spirits of the dead.

Many mediums claim to have specific guides who regularly work with them and bring in spirits. Some mediums believe that spirits will communicate with them directly without the use of a spirit guide.

In old line Spiritualism, a portion of the service, generally toward the end, is given over to the pastor or another medium who receives messages from the spirit world for the congregants. This may be referred to as a demonstration of mediumship. Today, demonstration of mediumship is part of the church service at all churches affiliated with the National Spiritualist Association of Churches.

Some mediums remain conscious during this communication period, while others go into a trance where a spirit uses the medium’s body to communicate. Trance mediumship is defined as a spirit taking over the body of the medium, sometimes to such a degree that the medium is unconscious.

In the 1860s and 1870s, trance mediums were very popular. Spiritualism had attracted adherents who had strong interests in social justice, and many trance mediums delivered passionate speeches on abolitionism, temperance, and women’s suffrage.

Because the typical trance medium has no clear memory of the messages conveyed while in a trance, a medium of this type generally works with an assistant who writes down or otherwise records his or her words.

There are two main techniques mediumship developed in the latter half of the 20th century. One type involves psychics or sensitives who can speak to spirits and then relay what they hear to their clients. One of the most noted channels of this type is clairvoyant Danielle Egnew, known for her communication with angelic entities.

The other incarnation of non physical mediumship is a form of channeling in which the channeler goes into a trance, or leaves their body and then becomes possessed by a specific spirit, who then talks through them. In the trance, the medium enters a cataleptic state marked by extreme rigidity. The control spirit then takes over, the voice may change completely and the spirit answers the questions of those in its presence or giving spiritual knowledge.

The most successful and widely known channeler of this variety is JZ Knight, who claims to channel the spirit of Ramtha, a 30 thousand year old man. Others claim to channel spirits from future dimensional ascended masters or in the case of the trance mediums of the Brahma Kumaris, God himself. Hossca Harrison is medium for a non physical entity named Jonah. There is video of Jonah taking over Hossca’s body and giving a message on YouTube.

While advocates of mediumship claim that their experiences are genuine, the Encyclopedia Britannica article on spiritualism notes that many Spiritualist mediums were discovered to be engaged in fraud, sometimes employing the techniques of stage magicians in their attempts to convince people of their clairvoyant powers. The article also notes that the exposure of widespread fraud within the spiritualist movement severely damaged its reputation and pushed it to the fringes of society in the United States.

Skeptics include atheists, agnostics who do not believe in the existence of spirits, and those who do not think contact with spirits through mediums is possible. Some skeptics say the phenomena of mediumship are the result of self delusion, unconscious influence, or magician’s techniques such as cold reading, hot reading, and conjuring.


Hermann Minkowski was a Russian born German mathematician, of Jewish and Polish descent, who created and developed the geometry of numbers and who used geometrical methods to solve difficult problems in number theory, mathematical physics, and the theory of relativity.

At the Eidgenossische Polytechnikum he was one of Einstein’s teachers. Minkowski explored the arithmetic of quadratic forms, especially concerning “n” variables, and his research into that topic led him to consider certain geometric properties in a space of multiple dimensions. In 1896, he presented his geometry of numbers, a geometrical method that solved problems in number theory.

By 1907 Minkowski realized that the special theory of relativity, introduced by Einstein in 1905, could be best understood in a four dimensional space, since known as Minkowski Spacetime, in which the time and space are not separated entities but intermingled in a four dimensional space time, and in which the geometry of special relativity can be nicely represented.

In physics, spacetime is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single construct called the spacetime continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space being three dimensional and time playing the role of the fourth dimension. According to Euclidean space perception, the universe has three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. By combining space and time into a single manifold, physicists have significantly simplified a large number of physical theories, as well as described in a more uniform way the workings of the universe at both the supergalactic and subatomic levels.

The concept of spacetime combines space and time within a single coordinate system, typically with four dimensions: length, width, height, and time. Dimensions are components of a coordinate grid typically used to locate a point in space, or on the globe, such as by latitude, longitude and planet (Earth). However, with spacetime, the coordinate grid is used to locate events rather than just points in space, so time is added as another dimension to the grid.

Formerly, from experiments at slow speeds, time was believed to be a constant, which progressed at a fixed rate. However, later high speed experiments revealed that time slowed down at higher speeds with such slowing called time dilation. Many experiments have confirmed the slowing from time dilation, such as atomic clocks onboard a Space Shuttle running slower than synchronized Earth clocks. Since time varies, it is treated as a variable within the spacetime coordinate grid, and time is no longer assumed to be a constant, independent of the location in space.

Treating spacetime events with the four dimensions which include time is the conventional view. However, other invented coordinate grids treat time as three additional dimensions, with length time, width time, and height time, to accompany the three dimensions of space. When dimensions are understood as mere components of the grid system rather than physical attributes of space, it is easier to understand the alternate dimensional views, such as latitude, longitude, plus Greenwich Mean Time (three dimensions), or city, state, postal code, country, and UTC time (five dimensions). The various dimensions are chosen, depending on the coordinate grid used.

The term spacetime has taken on a generalized meaning with the advent of higher-dimensional theories. How many dimensions are needed to describe the universe is still an open question. Speculative theories such as string theory predict 10 or 26 dimensions with some predicting 11 dimensions consisting of 10 spatial and 1 temporal, but the existence of more than four dimensions would only appear to make a difference at the subatomic level.

In theoretical physics, Minkowski space is often compared to Euclidean space. While a Euclidean space has only spacelike dimensions, a Minkowski space has also one timelike dimension. Therefore the symmetry group of a Euclidean space is the Euclidean group and for a Minkowski space it is the Poincare group.

The beginning part of his address delivered at the 80th Assembly of German Natural Scientists and Physicians in 1908 is now famous:

The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.

Strictly speaking, the use of the Minkowski space to describe physical systems over finite distances applies only in the Newtonian limit of systems without significant gravitation. In the case of significant gravitation, spacetime becomes curved and one must abandon special relativity in favor of the full theory of general relativity.

Even in such cases, Minkowski space is still a good description in an infinitesimally small region surrounding any point, barring gravitational singularities. More abstractly, we say that in the presence of gravity spacetime is described by a curved four dimensional manifold for which the tangent space to any point is a four dimensional Minkowski space. Thus, the structure of Minkowski space is still essential in the description of general relativity.


A credit card is a system of payment named after the small plastic card issued to users of the system. In the case of credit cards, the issuer lends money to the consumer to be paid later to the merchant. It is different from a charge card which requires the balance to be paid in full each month. In contrast, credit cards allow the consumers to ‘revolve’ their balance, at the cost of having interest charged. Most credit cards are issued by local banks or credit unions, and are the same shape and size.

The concept of using a card for purchases was described in 1887 by Edward Bellamy in his utopian novel Looking Backward. Bellamy used the term credit card eleven times in this novel. He also predicted music being available in the home through cable transmission.

The modern credit card was the successor of a variety of merchant credit schemes. It was first used in the 1920s in the United States to sell gasoline to a growing number of automobile owners. Some charge cards were printed on paper card stock but were easily counterfeited.

The Charga-Plate was an early predecessor to the credit card and first used during the 1930. It was a rectangle of sheet metal similar to a military dog tag that was embossed with the customer’s name, city and state, but no address. It held a small paper card for a signature. It was laid in an imprinter first, then a charge slip was placed on top of it, onto which an inked ribbon was pressed. Charga-Plates were issued by merchants to their regular customers, much like department store credit cards of today. In some cases, the plates were kept in the issuing store rather than held by customers. When an authorized user made a purchase, a clerk retrieved the plate from the store’s files and then processed the purchase. Charga-Plates speeded back-office bookkeeping that was done manually in paper ledgers in each store, before computers.

The concept of paying different merchants using the same card was invented in 1950 with the Diners Club. The Diners Club produced the first general purpose charge card and required the entire bill to be paid with each statement. This was followed by American Express which created a world wide credit card network.

Bank of America created the BankAmericard in 1958, which eventually evolved into the Visa system. MasterCard came to being in 1966 when a group of credit issuing banks established the MasterCharge system. The fractured nature of the U.S. banking system meant that credit cards became an effective way for those who were traveling around the country to move their credit to places where they could not directly use their banking facilities.

There are now countless variations on the basic concept of revolving credit for individuals issued by banks and honored by a network of financial institutions, including organization branded credit cards, corporate user credit cards, store cards and so on.

It is important to note that many cultures were much more cash oriented in the latter half of the twentieth century. In these places, the adoption of credit cards was initially much slower. In many countries acceptance still remains poor as the use of a credit card system depends on the banking system being perceived as reliable. In contrast, because of the legislative framework surrounding banking systems, some countries were much faster to develop and adopt computer chip based credit cards which are now seen as major anti-fraud credit devices.

The low security of the credit card system presents countless opportunities for fraud. This opportunity has created a huge black market in stolen credit card numbers, which are generally used quickly before the cards are reported stolen.

The goal of the credit card companies is not to eliminate fraud, but to reduce it to manageable levels. This implies that high cost low return fraud prevention measures will not be used if the cost exceeds the potential gains from fraud reduction.

Most internet fraud is done through the use of stolen credit card information which is obtained by copying information from retailers, either online or offline. Despite efforts to improve security for remote purchases using credit cards, systems with security holes are usually the result of poor implementations of card acquisition by merchants. For example, a website that uses SSL to encrypt card numbers from a client may simply email the number from the webserver to someone who manually processes the card details at a card terminal. Naturally, anywhere card details become human readable before being processed at the acquiring bank, a security risk is created. However, many banks offer systems where encrypted card details captured on a merchant’s webserver can be sent directly to the payment processor.

Three improvements to card security have been introduced to the more common credit card networks but none has proven to help reduce credit card fraud so far. First, the on-line verification system used by merchants is being enhanced to require a 4 digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) known only to the card holder. Second, the cards themselves are being replaced with similar-looking tamper-resistant smart cards which are intended to make forgery more difficult. Third, an additional 3 or 4 digit code is now present on the back of most cards, for use in transactions when the card is not present.

In recent times, credit card portfolios have been very profitable for banks, largely due to the booming economy of the late nineties. However, in the case of credit cards, such high returns go hand in hand with risk, since the business is essentially one of making uncollateralized loans, and thus dependent on borrowers not to default in large numbers.


Vitis is a genus of about 60 species of vining plants in the flowering plant family Vitaceae. The genus is made up of species predominantly from the earth’s northern hemisphere. It is economically important as the source of grapes, both for direct consumption of the fruit and for fermentation to produce wine. The study and cultivation of grapevines is called viticulture.

Most Vitis species are found in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The wine grape Vitis vinifera originated in southern Europe and southwestern Asia. The species occur in widely different geographical areas and show a great diversity of form. However they are sufficiently closely related to allow easy interbreeding and the resultant interspecific hybrids are invariably fertile and vigorous. Thus the concept of a species is less well defined and more likely represents the identification of different ecotypes of Vitis that have evolved in distinct geographical and environmental circumstances.

Use of grapes is known to date back to Neolithic times, following the discovery of 7,000 year old storage jars in present day northern Iran. Further evidence shows the Mesopotamians and Ancient Egyptians had vine plantations. Greek philosophers praised the healing powers of grapes both whole and in the form of wine. Vitis vinifera cultivation in China began during the Han Dynasty in the second century. However, wild vine mountain grapes  were being used for wine making before that time.

The oldest known evidence of wine production in Europe is dated to 4500 BC and comes from archaeological sites in Greece. The same sites also contain the world’s earliest evidence of crushed grapes. In ancient Egypt, wine became a part of recorded history, playing an important role in ceremonial life.

In medieval Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was a staunch supporter of wine since it was necessary for the celebration of Mass. In places such as Germany, beer was banned and considered pagan and barbaric, while wine consumption was viewed as civilized and a sign of conversion to Christianity. Monks in France made wine for years, storing it underground in caves to age.

In the Islamic world, wine was forbidden during the Islamic Golden Age. After Geber and other Muslim chemists pioneered the distillation of wine, however, it was legalized for cosmetic and medical uses. The 10th century Persian philosopher and scientist Al Biruni described recipes where herbs, minerals and even gemstones are mixed with wine for medicinal purposes. Wine became so revered and its effect so feared that elaborate theories were developed about which gemstones would best counteract its negative side effects.

Using the sap of grapevines, European folk healers sought to cure skin and eye diseases. Other historical uses include the leaves being used to stop bleeding, pain and inflammation of hemorrhoids. Unripe grapes were used for treating sore throats, and raisins were given as treatments for tuberculosis, constipation and thirst. Ripe grapes were used for the treatment of cancer, cholera, smallpox, nausea, skin and eye infections as well as kidney and liver diseases.

Seedless grape varieties were developed to appeal to consumers, but researchers are now discovering that many of the healthful properties of grapes may actually come from the seeds themselves, thanks to their enriched phytochemical content. Grapevine leaves are filled with minced meat such as lamb or beef, rice and onions in the making of Balkan traditional Dolma.

Grape skins contain carbohydrates that can be broken down into sugar and fermented. Enough ethyl alcohol can be distilled from the skins to create a source of biofuel. 100 tons of grape skins can produce nearly 793 gallons of ethyl alcohol.

47,140 square miles of the world is dedicated to grapes. Approximately 71% of world grape production is used for wine, 27% as fresh fruit, and 2% as dried fruit. A portion of grape production goes to producing grape juice to be used as a sweetener for fruits canned with no added sugar. Areas dedicated to vineyards are increasing by about 2% per year.