Tag Archives: Science

Encountering Henri Bortoft


This UNESCO World Philosophy Day, 2013, I thought it would be good to look for thinkers who are under appreciated. The (recently) late Henri Bortort is, I suspect, such a thinker. He was a phenomenologist whose major contributions revolve around our approach to complex systems, phenomena which find significance in environmental science, linguistics, business, and digital technology, among other disciplines. (Please excuse the few grammatical errors- it’s a great piece from a fascinating blog.)

Transition Consciousness

Now that I am beginning to lecture and teach complexity, many people are asking me about who I teach, and what my key references are. This is quite a difficult question to answer on a number of levels, especially when you are trying to teach people that “thinking” is just one of the ways of knowing the world, and that “sensing”, “feeling” and “intuition” are just as important.

One very key person who I admire greatly and who I base much of my work around is that of Henri Bortoft, author of the book “The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe’s Way of Science”.  I remember reading this book for the first time around February 2009, in preparation for my MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College.  I had been recommended this book since Henri teaches the first week of the MSc, and Henri’s philosophy provides one of the foundation stones for…

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Lichtenberg Figures: The Fractal Patterns of Lightning Strike Scars


(Click through to the page to view the article properly.) The lighter side of being struck by lightning. The horrific beauty of nature.



Being struck by lightning is a dangerous and scary experience and can even be fatal. Sometimes, the electrical discharge can leave a tattoo-like marking or scar known as a Lichtenberg figure. The patterns created are known to be examples of fractals.

Lichtenberg figures are branching electric discharges that sometimes appear on the surface or the interior of insulating materials. They are named after the German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who originally discovered and studied them. When they were first discovered, it was thought that their characteristic shapes might help to reveal the nature of positive and negative electric “fluids”.

In 1777, Lichtenberg built a large electrophorus to generate high voltage static electricity through induction. After discharging a high voltage point to the surface of an insulator, he recorded the resulting radial patterns in fixed dust. By then pressing blank sheets of paper onto these patterns, Lichtenberg was able…

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2k Consortium Report On Global Temperature Variance



A major analysis of cutting edge studies has been published in Nature Geoscience this week by an international team of over 70 scientists. Although the authors rightly qualify that their report is not designed in the terms of ‘attribution studies’ which is the most reliable approach to distinguishing causes, their ‘region-up’ analysis of global temperature variance over the last 2,000 years found exactly what would be expected if the current consensus on anthropogenic climate change (ACC) was correct.

Global temperatures were warmer between 1970 and 2000 -the period with the greatest greenhouse gas emissions- than in any other period in the last 1,400 years. This is despite the fact that we should still be experiencing a long period of global cooling which began c.1580 AD, because, as the study indicates, rises and falls in global temperature take place very gradually over long periods. Recent warming, with its rapid arrival in the late 19th century is: 1) by contrast, too sudden to fit the pattern for natural shifts in global temperature, and 2) also perfectly correlated with where we would expect to find warming if it were caused by the explosion of polluting industrial activity, and 3) inexplicable by natural causes such as volcanic eruptions and changes in solar irradiance. Such natural causes do, however, predict earlier periods of significant change which were often short lasting but in such cases were always restricted to small regions, unlike the current global change.

The report therefore adds ‘the Earth has warmed up like this in the past’ to the ever growing list of arguments favoured by the ideological (i.e. bribed) opponents of ACC science [1] [2] [3] to have been refuted empirically. If you are at all interested in the other items on this list and how they relate to the evidence for ACC, why this climate change is such a catastrophic threat to human civilisation, and what actions we can be taking to ameliorate it, I wholeheartedly recommend The No-Nonsense Guide To Climate Change (2nd Edition) by Danny Chivers as an extremely succinct introduction.



This week TED has uploaded a talk enthusiastically endorsing meditation. TED and meditation, or ‘TEDitation’ -it’s a combination cynics are already dubbing an unsightly collision between facile pseudo-scientific hot air – and meditation. Seriously though, it’s been known for some time that technology and meditation is a match made in Nirvana- particularly in medicine. TED noted a few scientific reports into the effects of meditation that have been carried out in the last year, but I wanted to go back a bit further and simply summarise the key findings of those studies which came to light in my brief search. I’m not a scientist so I’m not going to explicate the primary sources. Read the rest of this entry

Benefits of Meditation: Scientific Studies