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A Shepard tone, named after Roger Shepard, is a sound consisting of a superposition of sine waves separated by octaves. When played with the base pitch of the tone moving upwards or downwards, it is referred to as the Shepard scale. This creates the auditory illusion of a tone that continually ascends or descends in pitch, yet which ultimately seems to get no higher or lower.

The acoustical illusion can be constructed by creating a series of overlapping ascending or descending scales. Similar to the Penrose stairs optical illusion, as in M. C. Escher’s lithograph Ascending and Descending, or a barber’s pole.

As an example, consider a brass trio consisting of a trumpet, a horn, and a tuba. They all start to play a repeating C scale in their respective ranges, i.e. they all start playing Cs, but their notes are all in different octaves. When they reach the G of the scale, the trumpet drops down an octave, but the horn and tuba continue climbing. They’re all still playing the same pitch class, but at different octaves. When they reach the B, the horn similarly drops down an octave, but the trumpet and tuba continue to climb, and when they get to what would be the second D of the scale, the tuba drops down to repeat the last seven notes of the scale. So no instrument ever exceeds an octave range, and essentially keeps playing the exact same seven notes over and over again. But because two of the instruments are always “covering” the one that drops down an octave, it seems that the scale never stops rising.

Jean-Claude Risset subsequently created a version of the scale where the steps between each tone are continuous, and it is appropriately called the continuous Risset scale or Shepard–Risset glissando. When done correctly, the tone appears to rise continuously in pitch, yet return to its starting note. Risset has also created a similar effect with rhythm in which tempo seems to increase or decrease endlessly.

Although it is difficult to recreate the illusion with acoustic instruments, James Tenney, who worked with Roger Shepard at Bell Labs in the early 1960s, created a piece utilizing this effect, For Ann. The piece, in which up to twelve closely but not quite consistently spaced computer-generated sine waves rise steadily from an A pitched below audibility to an A above, fading in, and back out, of audible volume, was then scored for twelve string players. The effect of the electronic work consists both of the Shepard scale, seamless endlessly rising glissandos, and of a shimmering caused by the highest perceivable frequency and the inability to focus on the multitude of rising tones. Tenney has also proposed that the piece be revised and realized so that all entrances are timed in such a way that the ratio between successive pitches is the golden ratio, which would make each lower first-order combination tone of each successive pair coincide with subsequently spaced, lower, tones.

An independently discovered version of the Shepard tone appears at the beginning and end of the 1976 album A Day At The Races by the band Queen. The piece consists of a number of electric-guitar parts following each other up a scale in harmony, with the notes at the top of the scale fading out as new ones fade in at the bottom. Echoes, a 23-minute song by Pink Floyd, concludes with a rising Shepard tone. The Shepard tone is also featured in the fading piano outro to A Last Straw, from Robert Wyatt’s 1974 opus Rock Bottom.

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Stability

In physics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is the collective name for several ways of asserting that physical and chemical theories, especially astrophysics and cosmology, need to take into account that there is life on Earth, and that one form of that life, Homo sapiens, has attained sapience. The only kind of universe humans can occupy is one that is similar to the current one.

Originally proposed as a rule of reasoning, the term has since been extended to cover supposed “superlaws” that in various ways require the universe to support intelligent life, usually assumed to be carbon-based and occasionally asserted to be human beings. Anthropic reasoning assesses these constraints by analyzing the properties of hypothetical universes whose fundamental parameters or laws of physics differ from those of the real universe. Anthropic reasoning typically concludes that the stability of structures essential for life, from atomic nuclei to the whole universe, depends on delicate balances between different fundamental forces.

These balances are believed to occur only in a tiny fraction of possible universes, so that this universe appears fine-tuned for life. Anthropic reasoning attempts to explain and quantify this fine tuning. Within the scientific community the usual approach is to invoke selection effects and to hypothesize an ensemble of alternate universes, in which case that which can be observed is subject to an anthropic bias.

However, the term anthropic in “anthropic principle” has been argued to be a misnomer. While singling out our kind of carbon-based life, none of the coincidences require human life or demand that carbon-based life develop intelligence.

The anthropic principle has given rise to some confusion and controversy, partly because the phrase has been applied to several distinct ideas. All versions of the principle have been accused of undermining the search for a deeper physical understanding of the universe. Those who invoke the anthropic principle often invoke multiple universes or an intelligent designer, both controversial and criticised for being untestable and therefore outside the purview of accepted science.

Processing

Thought is a mental process which allows an individual to model the world, and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends and desires. Words referring to similar concepts and processes include cognition, idea, and imagination. Thinking involves the cerebral manipulation of information, as when we form concepts, engage in problem solving, reasoning and making decisions. Thinking is a higher cognitive function and the analysis of thinking processes is part of cognitive psychology.

Memory is an organism’s ability to store, retain, and subsequently recall information. Although traditional studies of memory began in the realms of philosophy, the late nineteenth and early twentieth century put memory within the paradigms of cognitive psychology. In recent decades, it has become one of the principal pillars of a new branch of science called cognitive neuroscience, a marriage between cognitive psychology and neuroscience.

Imagination is accepted as the innate ability and process to invent partial or complete personal realms the mind derives from sense perceptions of the shared world. The term is technically used in psychology for the process of reviving in the mind percepts of objects formerly given in sense perception. Imagined images are seen with the “mind’s eye”. One hypothesis for the evolution of human imagination is that it allowed conscious beings to solve problems, and hence increase an individual’s fitness, by use of mental simulation.

Consciousness in mammals including humans, is an aspect of the mind generally thought to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, sentience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one’s environment. It is a subject of much research in philosophy of mind, psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science. Some philosophers divide consciousness into phenomenal consciousness, which is subjective experience itself, and access consciousness, which refers to the global availability of information to processing systems in the brain. Phenomenal consciousness has many different experienced qualities, often referred to as qualia.

Mutualism

Remoras or suckerfish are elongated brown fish that grow to 1–3 feet long. Their distinctive first dorsal fin takes the form of a modified oval sucker-like organ that creates suction and takes a firm hold against the skin of larger marine animals. Remoras sometimes attach to small boats. They swim well on their own, with a sinuous motion.

Some remoras associate primarily with specific host species. Remoras are commonly found attached to sharks, manta rays, whales and turtles. Smaller remoras also fasten onto fish like tuna and swordfish, and some small remoras travel in the mouths or gills of large manta rays, ocean sunfish, swordfish, and sailfish.

The relationship between remoras and their hosts is most often taken to be one of commensalism. The host they attach to for transport gains nothing from the relationship, but also loses little. The remora benefits by using the host as transport and protection and also feeds on materials dropped by the host. For some remora and host pairings the relationship is closer to mutualism, with the remora cleaning bacteria and other parasites from the host.

Some cultures use remoras to catch turtles. A cord or rope is fastened to the remora’s tail, and when a turtle is sighted the fish is released from the boat. It usually heads directly for the turtle and fastens itself to the turtle’s shell, and then both remora and turtle are hauled in. Smaller turtles can be pulled completely into the boat by this method, while larger ones are hauled within harpooning range.

Because of the shape of the jaws, appearance of the sucker, and coloration of the remora, it sometimes appears to be swimming upside down. This probably led to the older common name “reversus”, although this might also derive from the fact that the remora frequently attaches itself to the tops of manta rays or other fish, so that the remora is upside down while attached.

Solvent

Water is a common chemical substance that is essential for the survival of all known forms of life. The substance has a solid state called ice, and a gaseous state known as water vapor or steam. Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. It has many distinct properties critical for the proliferation of life that set it apart from other substances. It carries out this role by allowing organic compounds to react in ways that ultimately allow replication. All known forms of life depend on water. Much of the universe’s water is produced as a byproduct of star formation. When stars are born, their birth is accompanied by a strong outward wind of gas and dust. When this outflow of material eventually impacts the surrounding gas, the shock waves that are created compress and heat the gas. The water observed is quickly produced in this warm dense gas.

Holy water is water that has been blessed and set apart for baptism. It is also used as a sacrament. Holy water is kept in the font, the church furnishing used for baptisms, which is typically located at the entrance to the church. Its location at the entrance serves as a reminder of the centrality of baptism as the primary rite of initiation into the Christian faith. As a reminder of baptism, Roman Catholics dip their fingers in the holy water and make the sign of the cross when entering the church. An aspergill or aspergillum is a brush or branch used to sprinkle the water. An aspersorium is the vessel which holds the holy water and into which the aspergillum is dipped. Salt may be added to the water where it is customary.

In Catholicism, holy water, as well as water used during the washing of the priest’s hands at mass, is not allowed to be disposed of in regular plumbing. Roman Catholic churches will usually have a special basin that leads directly into the earth for the purpose of proper disposal. A hinged lid is kept over the holy water basin to distinguish it from a regular sink basin, which is often just beside it. Items that contain holy water are separated, drained of the holy water, and then washed in a regular manner.

In Ancient Greek religion, a holy water called chernips was created when extinguishing in it a torch from a religious shrine. Many Muslims believe that water from the The Well of Zamzam in Mecca is divinely blessed. It is also believed to have supernatural properties. The Sikhs prepare holy water, which is called amrit, and used in a ritual Sikh baptism. Hindus believe that the water from the river Ganges is holy.

Essence

Mind refers to the aspects of intellect and consciousness manifested as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will and imagination, including all of the brain’s conscious and unconscious cognitive processes. Mind is often used to refer especially to the thought processes of reason. Subjectively, mind manifests itself as a stream of consciousness.

There are many theories of the mind and its function. The earliest recorded works on the mind are by Zarathushtra, the Buddha, Plato, Aristotle and other ancient Greek, Indian and Islamic philosophers. Pre-scientific theories, based in theology, concentrated on the relationship between the mind and the soul, the supernatural, divine or god given essence of the person. Modern theories, based on scientific understanding of the brain, theorize that the mind is a product of the brain and has both conscious and unconscious aspects.

The question of which attributes make up the mind is also much debated. Some argue that only the “higher” intellectual functions constitute mind, particularly reason and memory. In this view the emotions love, hate, fear and joy, are more “primitive” or subjective in nature and should be seen as different from the mind. Others argue that the rational and the emotional sides of the human person cannot be separated, that they are of the same nature and origin, and that they should all be considered as part of the individual mind.

In popular usage mind is frequently synonymous with thought. It is that private conversation with ourselves that we carry on inside our heads. Thus we “make up our minds,” “change our minds” or are “of two minds” about something. One of the key attributes of the mind in this sense is that it is a private sphere to which no one but the owner has access. No one else can know our mind. They can only interpret what we consciously or unconsciously communicate.

Virtue

Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a character trait or quality valued as being good. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting individual and collective well-being, and thus good by definition. The opposite of virtue is vice.

Personal virtues became known through Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and inspired many people all around the world. Authors and speakers in the self-help movement report being influenced by him.

1. Temperance. Eat not to Dullness. Drink not to Elevation.

2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling Conversation.

3. Order. Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.

4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality. Make no Expense but to do good to others or yourself. Waste nothing.

6. Industry. Lose no Time. Be always employ’d in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions.

7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice. Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.

9. Moderation. Avoid Extremes. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Clothes or Habitation.

11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity. Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dullness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another’s Peace or Reputation.

13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Hinduism has pivotal virtues that everyone keeping their Dharma is asked to follow, for they are distinct qualities of mankind, that allow one to be in the mode of goodness. There are three modes of material nature as described in the Vedas and other Indian Scriptures: Sattva (goodness, creation, stillness, intelligence), Rajas (passion, maintenance, energy, activity) , and Tamas (ignorance, restraint, inertia, destruction). Every person harbours a mixture of these modes in varying degrees.

Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, two leading researchers in positive psychology, recognizing the deficiency inherent in psychology’s tendency to focus on dysfunction rather than on what makes a healthy and stable personality, set out to develop a list of  Character Strengths and Virtues. After three years of study, six broad areas of virtue were identified, having a surprising amount of similarity across cultures and strongly indicating a historical and cross-cultural convergence. These six categories of virtue are courage, justice, humanity, temperance, transcendence, and wisdom.

Phases

The lunar effect is a theory which overlaps into sociology, psychology and physiology suggesting that there is correlation between specific stages of the Earth’s lunar cycle and deviant behavior in human beings. The notion behind the lunar effect has fascinated many behavioralists and warranted many experiments and studies.

Across the world, there has been an abundance of pseudoscientific theories and superstitions based on this premise. One theory claiming that the moon has a perceived relationship to fertility is due to the corresponding human menstrual cycle, which averages 28 days. However, only about 30 percent of women have a cycle length within two days of the average. Furthermore, the cycle of lunar phases is 29.53 days long, so the cycles would soon get out of synchronization. Some say that upon seeing the new moon you should hand over whatever silver you have in your pockets or handbag, which supposedly ensures prosperity for the following month.

According to some traditions, prior to the advent of modern techniques, surgeons would supposedly refuse to operate on the full moon because of the increased risk of death of the patient through blood loss. As with most folklore and urban legends, the notion behind the lunar effect has also found its way into the news. For example, most recently, it has been alleged that the full moon may have influenced voter behavior in the US 2000 presidential election.

In the UK, a survey has found that car accidents rise by up to 50 percent during full moons. Senior police officers in Brighton announced in June 2007 that they were planning to deploy more officers over the summer to counter trouble they believe is linked to the lunar cycle. In January 2008, New Zealand’s Justice Minister Annette King suggested that a spate of stabbings in the country could have been caused by the lunar cycle.

Most experiments, however, have found no correlation between the variables and, thus, refuted the theory of lunar effect. Over the past 30 years, even more evidence has emerged to stress that it is pseudoscience.

The majority of scientific research seems to refute the theory of the lunar effect. Psychologist Ivan Kelly of the University of Saskatchewan did a meta-analysis of thirty-seven studies that examined relationships between the moon’s four phases and human behavior. The meta-analysis revealed no correlation. They also checked twenty-three studies that had claimed to show correlation, and nearly half of these contained at least one statistical error.

A study of 4,190 suicides in Sacramento County over a 58-year period showed no correlation to the phase of the moon. A 1992 paper reviewed twenty studies examining correlations between Moon phase and suicides. Most of the twenty studies found no correlation and the ones that did report positive results were inconsistent with each other.

Astronomer Daniel Caton analyzed 70,000,000 birth records from the National Center for Health Statistics, and no correlation between births and moon phase was found. In 1959 Walter Menaker reported that a study of over 510,000 births in New York City showed a 1 percent increase in births in the two weeks after full moon. In 1967 he studied another 500,000 births in New York City, and this time he found a 1 percent increase in births in the two-week period centered on the full moon.

A fifteen month study in Jacksonville, Florida also revealed no lunar effect on crime and hospital room admittance. There was no increase in crime on full moons, according to a statistical analysis by the Jacksonville Police Department. Five of the fifteen full moons had a higher than average rate of crime while ten full moons had a lower than average rate. The higher-than-average days were during warmer months.

Statistical analysis of visits to Shands Hospital emergency room showed no full moon effect. Emergency room admissions consistently have more to do with the day of the week.

Character

Pixies are variously described in folklore and fiction. They are said to disguise themselves as a bundle of rags to lure children into their play and are fond of music and dancing. They are usually depicted with pointed ears, and often wearing a green outfit and pointed hat. Sometimes their eyes are described as being pointed upwards at the temple ends. Pixies are said to be helpful to normal humans, sometimes helping needy widows and others with housework.

They are often ill clothed or naked. Lack of fashion sense has been taken to mean that Pixies generally go unclothed, though they are sensitive to human need for covering. Pixies are said to be invisibly small, and harmless or friendly to man. Yet in some of the legends and historical accounts they are presented as having near human stature.

Many Victorian era poets saw them as magical beings. By the early 19th Century their contact with “normal humans” had diminished. Some Pixies are said to steal children or to lead travelers astray. Pixies are said to reward consideration and punish neglect on the part of larger humans. By their presence they bring blessings to those who are fond of them.

Pixies are drawn to horses, riding them for pleasure and making tangled ringlets in the manes of those horses they ride. Their mythology seems to predate Christian presence in Britain. They were subsumed into what passed as Christianity with the explanation that they were the souls of children who had died unbaptized. Pixies are said to be uncommonly beautiful, though there are some called pixie who have distorted and strange appearance. One Pixie is said to have some goat-like features. Another is said to be coltish in character.

Before the mid 19th Century Pixies and Faires were taken seriously in much of Cornwall and Devon. Books devoted to the homely beliefs of the peasantry are filled with incidents of Pixie manifestations. Some locales are named for the Pixies associated with them. In Devon, near Challacombe,a group of rocks are named for the Pixies said to dwell there. In some areas belief in Pixies and Fairies persists.

Interaction

Idioglossia refers to an idiosyncratic language, one invented and spoken by only one or a very few people. Most often, idioglossia refers to the “private languages” of young children, especially twins. It is also known as cryptophasia, and commonly referred to as twin talk or twin speech. Children who are exposed to multiple languages from birth are inclined to create idioglossias, but these languages usually disappear at a relatively early age.

Poto and Cabengo are a pair of identical twin girls (real names Grace and Virginia Kennedy, respectively), who used a secret language up to the age of about 8. Poto and Cabengo is also the name of a documentary film about the girls made by Jean-Pierre Gorin and released in 1979.

They were apparently of normal intelligence and developed their own communication because they had little exposure to spoken language in their early years. They were left in the care of a grandmother, who met their physical needs but did not play or interact with them. The grandmother spoke only German, while the parents spoke English. They had no contact with other children, seldom played outdoors, and were not sent to school.

Their father later stated in interviews that he realized the girls had invented a language of their own, but since their use of English remained extremely rudimentary, he had decided that they were in fact retarded and that it would do no good to send them to school. When he lost his job, he told a caseworker at the unemployment office about his family, and the caseworker advised him to put the girls in speech therapy. At Children’s Hospital of San Diego, speech therapist Alexa Kratze quickly discovered that Virginia and Grace, far from being retarded, had at least normal intelligence, and had invented a complex idioglossia.

Their language was spoken extremely quickly and had a staccato rhythm. These characteristics transferred themselves to the girls’ English, which they began to speak following speech therapy. Linguistic analysis of their language revealed that it was a mixture of English and German with some neologisms and several idiosyncratic grammatical features.

Many speech and hearing experts, as well as psychiatrists, offered speculation as to why the girls had not picked up English, as most idioglossic twins do as they go along whether or not they retain their personal language. Kratze pointed out that the girls had had very little contact with anyone outside their family, and that contact within the family had been minimal at best. These factors contributed to the girls’ developmental disability, even if they had been born with normal intelligence.

Once it was established that the girls could be educated, their father apparently forbade them to speak their personal language. He was quoted in Time magazine as saying “They don’t want to be associated as dummies. You live in a society, you got to speak the language.” Asked if they remembered their language, the girls confirmed that they did, but their father quickly stepped in to chide them for “lying”. They were mainstreamed and placed in separate classes in elementary school. However, they were still affected by their family’s emotional neglect.