Synchronizing

A chronotype is an attribute of animals and human beings describing the time of the day their physical functions such as body temperature, cognitive faculties, eating and sleeping reach a certain level. This phenomenon refers to people as early birds or night owls, where morning people wake up early and are most alert in the first part of the day, and evening people are most alert in the late evening hours and prefer to go to bed late.

Humans are normally diurnal creatures that are active in the daytime. As with most other diurnal animals, human activity-rest patterns are endogenously controlled by circadian rhythms. Most people are neither evening nor morning types but lie somewhere in between. Estimates vary, but up to half are either morning or evening people. People who share a chronotype, morningness or eveningness, have similar activity pattern timing: sleep, appetite, exercise, study etc.

Normal variation in chronotypes encompasses sleep/wake cycles that are from about two hours earlier to about two hours later than average. Extremes outside of this range can cause a person difficulty in participating in normal work, school and social activities. If a person’s early bird or night owl tendencies are strong and intractable to the point of disallowing normal participation in society, the person is considered to have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder.

The Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire, or MEQ, is used to conduct research on this topic. A short version can be found online. Several other assessment tools have been developed such as the Composite Scale of Morningness, the Lark-Owl Chronotype Indicator, and the Munich Chronotype Questionnaire. Some of these are designed with particular situations in mind, such as shift work scheduling, travel fatigue and jet lag, athletic performance or best timing of medical procedures.

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Voltage

Bioelectromagnetism refers to the electrical, magnetic or electromagnetic fields produced by living cells, tissues or organisms. Examples include the cell membrane potential and the electric currents that flow in nerves and muscles as a result of action potentials.

It is an aspect of all living things, including all plants and animals. Some animals have acute bioelectric sensors and others, such as migratory birds, are believed to navigate in part by orienteering with respect to the Earth’s magnetic field. Also, sharks are more sensitive to local interaction in electromagnetic fields than most humans. Other animals, such as the electric eel, are able to generate large electric fields outside their bodies.

Bioelectromagnetism is associated with biorhythms and chronobiology. Biofeedback is used in physiology and psychology to monitor rhythmic cycles of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics and as a technique for teaching the control of bioelectric functions.

There are multiple categories of Bioelectromagnetism such as brainwaves, myoelectricity, and other related subdivisions of the same general bioelectromagnetic phenomena. One such phenomenon is a brainwave, where bioelectromagnetic fluctuations of voltage between parts of the cerebral cortex are detectable. This is primarily studied in the brain by way of electroencephalograms.

Archetype

The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail and forming a circle. It often represents self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things perceived as cycles that begin anew as soon as they end.

It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting from the beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished. The ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations, where it symbolizes the circular nature of the alchemist’s opus.

Carl Jung interpreted the Ouroboros as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego dawn state, depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.

Snakes are sacred animals in many West African religions. The demi-god Aidophedo uses the image of a serpent biting its own tail. The Ouroboros is also seen in Fon or dahomean iconography as well as in Yoruba imagery as Oshunmare. The god Quetzalcoatl is sometimes portrayed biting its tail on Aztec and Toltec ruins.

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Flame

A phoenix is a mythical bird with a colorful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet (or purple, blue, and green according to some legends). It has a 500 to 1,000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites. Both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. The new phoenix is destined to live as long as its old self. In some stories, the new phoenix embalms the ashes of its old self in an egg made of myrrh.

Originally, the phoenix was identified by the Egyptians as a stork or heron-like bird called a benu, known from the Book of the Dead and other Egyptian texts as one of the sacred symbols of worship at Heliopolis, closely associated with the rising sun and the Egyptian sun-god Ra.

The Greeks identified it with their own word phoenix, meaning the color purple-red or crimson. They and the Romans subsequently pictured the bird more like a peacock or an eagle. According to the Greeks the phoenix lived in Phoenicia next to a well. At dawn, it bathed in the water of the well, and the Greek sun-god Helios stopped his chariot (the sun) in order to listen to its song.

One inspiration that has been suggested for the Egyptian phoenix is the flamingo of East Africa. This bright pink or white bird nests on salt flats that are too hot for its eggs or chicks to survive. It builds a mound several inches tall and large enough to support its egg, which it lays in that marginally cooler location. The convection currents around these mounds resembles the turbulence of a flame.

Phoenix is also the English-language name given to the most important bird in Chinese mythology, the fenghuang, with its own set of characteristics and symbolic meanings. In Russian folklore, the phoenix appears as the Zhar-Ptitsa or firebird, subject of the famous 1910 ballet score by Igor Stravinsky.

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.

Viability

The L-field is a name proposed by the Yale Professor of Anatomy Harold Saxton Burr for the electromagnetic field of any organism. Burr held that the study of this field offered great promise for medicine since it exhibited measurable qualities that might be used in prognosis of disease, mood and viability. The voltage measurements he used are not in doubt but the scientific community has all but ignored Burr’s term and his interpretation of the field as a blueprint-like mold for all life. However, progress is currently being made in the use of electromagnetic therapy to aid the healing of broken bones.

Beginning in the 1930s H.S. Burr’s seminal work at Yale aimed at a gradual accumulation of hard data to support the hypothesis of the bio-electric field as having emergent, unexplained qualities and acting as a causal agent in development, healing, mood and health. Burr set up a series of experiments, later repeated by other researchers, which demonstrated some properties of these EM fields which he called Life-fields (L-fields).

He showed that changes in the electrical potential of the L-field were associated with changes in the health of the organism. By leaving some trees hooked up to his L-field detectors for decades he found correlations between such things as the phases of the moon, sunspot activity, and thunderstorms. He found the axis of EM polarity in a frog’s egg could predict the spinal axis of foetal development, which he interpreted as suggesting that the L-field was the organizing matrix for the body. His insistence that the L-field has primacy over the physical aspects of the organism eventually resulted in Burr being accused of “wishful vitalism”.

In his work with humans, he wrote papers detailing his successes in charting and predict the ovulation cycles of women, locating internal scar tissue, and diagnosing potential physical ailments through the reading of the individual’s L-field. As there was little interest in Burr’s work, few other scientists even attempted to duplicate Burr’s result.

Student and colleague Leonard Ravitz carried Burr’s work forward. Ravitz focused on the human dimension, beginning with an investigation of the effects of the lunar cycle on the human L-field. He concluded that the human L-field reaches a peak of activity at the full moon. Through work with hypnosis he became convinced that changes in the L-field directly relate to changes in a person’s mental and emotional states. Most intriguingly, Ravitz showed that the L-field as a whole disappears before physical death.

Metabolism

Hummingbirds are found only in the Americas, from southern Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Only the migratory Ruby Throated Hummingbird breeds east of the Mississippi River. They migrate south in fall to spend the northern winter in Mexico, crossing 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico in a nonstop flight. A few species are year round residents in the warmer coastal regions, such as Anna’s Hummingbird, a common resident from southern California to British Columbia.

Hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of all animals, a necessity in order to support the rapid beating of their wings. Their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute. Their wings beat at about 25 cycles per second, which produces their characteristic humming sound. They typically consume more than their own weight in nectar each day, and to do so they must visit hundreds of flowers daily. At any given moment they are only hours away from starving. Most organisms with very rapid metabolisms have short life spans. However, hummingbirds have been known to survive for as long as 17 years.

The bill of the hummingbird is one of its most distinctive features. It protects a long tongue with a brushy tip that is used by the hummingbird to lap up nectar. The tongue itself splits in the floor of the mouth and the two rear segments wrap under the jaw, behind and over the head, and attach at the front of the skull. It contains only a few taste buds and salivary glands.

Hummingbirds feed on the nectar of plants and are important pollinators, especially of long, tubular flowers. Like bees, they are able to assess the amount of sugar in the nectar they eat. They reject flower types that produce nectar which is less than 15% sugar and prefer those whose sugar content is around 25%. Nectar is a poor source of nutrients, so hummingbirds meet their needs for protein, amino acids, vitamins and minerals by consuming insects and spiders, especially when feeding young.

Hummingbirds will consume sugar water from artificial feeders. Such feeders allow us to observe and enjoy hummingbirds up close while providing the birds with a reliable source of energy, especially when flower blossoms are less abundant. Only white granulated sugar is proven safe to use in hummingbird feeders. A ratio of 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water is a common recipe.

The Sword-billed Hummingbird is found in the Andes. It is noted as the only species to have a bill longer than the rest of its body. This adaptation is to feed on flowers with long corollas such as Passiflora mixta. The tongue is therefore also unusually long. Since the beak is very long, it grooms itself with its feet. The total length can be 6 inches, making it one of the largest hummingbirds.

Cycles

The Maya developed a sophisticated calendar system. It is a system of distinct calendars and almanacs that can be synchronized and interlocked in many ways, their combinations giving rise to extensive cycles and recurrences.

The most important of these calendars is one with a period of 260 days. This 260 day calendar was prevalent across all societies. It is commonly known to scholars as the Tzolkin. The Tzolkin calendar combines twenty day names with thirteen numbers to produce 260 unique days. It is used to determine the time of religious and ceremonial events and for divination. Each successive day is numbered from 1 to 13. Separately from this, each day is given a name in sequence from a list of 20 day names.

The exact origin of the Tzolkin is not known, but there are several theories. One theory is that the calendar came from mathematical operations based on the numbers thirteen and twenty, which were important numbers to the Maya. The numbers multiplied together equal 260. Another theory is that the 260 day period came from the length of human pregnancy.

The Tzolkin is combined with another 365 day calendar known as the Haab to form a synchronized cycle lasting for 52 Haabs. The Haab was the Maya solar calendar made up of eighteen months of twenty days each plus a period of five days at the end of the year known as Wayeb.

As a calendar for keeping track of the seasons, the Haab was crude and inaccurate since it treated the year as having 365 days and ignored the extra quarter day in the actual year. Some argue that the Maya knew about and compensated for the quarter day error even though their calendar did not include anything comparable to a leap year, a method first implemented by the Romans.

The five nameless days at the end of the calendar called Wayeb were thought to be a dangerous time. During Wayeb portals between the mortal realm and the underworld dissolved. This lack of boundaries allowed the ill intending deities to cause disasters. To ward off these evil spirits, the Maya had customs and rituals they practiced during Wayeb. For example, people avoided leaving their houses or washing or combing their hair.

Because the two calendars were based on 260 days and 365 days respectively, the whole cycle would repeat itself every 52 Haab years exactly. This period was known as a Calendar Round. The end of the Calendar Round was a period of unrest and bad luck among the Maya, as they waited in expectation to see if the gods would grant them another cycle of 52 years.

Many Maya calendar inscriptions are supplemented by what is known as the Lunar Series, another calendar form which provides information on the lunar phase and position of the Moon in a half yearly cycle of lunations.

A 584 day Venus cycle was also maintained, which tracked the appearance and conjunctions of Venus as the morning and evening stars. Many events in this cycle were seen as being inauspicious and baleful, and occasionally warfare was timed to coincide with stages in this cycle.

Other less prevalent or poorly understood cycles and calendar progressions were also tracked. An 819 day count is attested in a few inscriptions, and repeating sets of 9 and 13 day intervals associated with different groups of deities, animals and other significant concepts are also known.

The repetition of the various calendric cycles, the natural cycles of observable phenomena, and the recurrence and renewal of death and rebirth imagery in their mythological traditions were important and pervasive influences upon Maya societies. This conceptual view in which the cyclical nature of time is highlighted was a preeminent one, and many rituals were concerned with the completion and reoccurrences of various cycles.

As each particular calendaric configuration was once again repeated, so too were the supernatural influences with which they were associated. Thus it was held that particular calendar configurations had a specific character to them, which would influence events on days exhibiting that configuration. Divinations could then be made from the predictions associated with a certain configuration, since events taking place on some future date would be subject to the same influences as its corresponding previous cycle dates. Events and ceremonies would be timed to coincide with auspicious dates, and avoid inauspicious ones.

The completion of significant calendar cycles were often marked by the erection and dedication of specific monuments such as the twin pyramid complexes in Tikal and Yaxha. Ceremonies commemorating the completion of cycles accompanied the dedication and resulting functions of these structures.

A cyclical interpretation is also noted in Maya creation accounts, in which the present world and the humans in it were preceded by other worlds which were fashioned in various forms by the gods but then destroyed. The present world also had a tenuous existence, requiring the supplication and offerings of periodic sacrifice to maintain the balance of continuing existence. Similar themes are found in the creation accounts of other Mesoamerican societies.

Since calendar dates can only distinguish in 18,980 days the cycle repeats roughly once each lifetime, and a more refined method of dating was needed if history was to be recorded accurately. To measure dates over periods longer than 52 years, Mesoamericans devised the Long Count calendar.

The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar forms the basis for a New Age belief, first forecast by Jose Arguelles, that a cataclysm will take place on or about December 21, 2012, a forecast that mainstream Mayanist scholars consider a misinterpretation.