Archive for the ‘Academic studies’ Category

Golden ratio discovered in a quantum world

January 22, 2010

Researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB), in cooperation with colleagues from Oxford and Bristol Universities, as well as the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, have for the first time observed a nanoscale symmetry hidden in solid state matter. They have measured the signatures of a symmetry showing the same attributes as the golden ratio famous from art and architecture. The research team is publishing these findings in Science on the 8. January. (more…)

Grim Writing – the Indus Script and Computer Science

July 20, 2009

Found some interesting stuff on Smithsonian.com and sized it down a little for you guys:

The Indus civilization, which flourished throughout much of the third millennium B.C., was the most extensive civilization of its time. At its height, it encompassed an area of more than half a million square miles centered on what is today the India-Pakistan border. Remnants of the Indus have been found as far north as the Himalayas and as far south as Mumbai. It was the earliest known urban culture of the subcontinent and it boasted two large cities, one at Harappa and one at Mohenjo-daro. Yet despite its size and longevity, and despite nearly a century of archaeological investigations, much about the Indus remains shrouded in mystery. (…) Over the decades, archaeologists have turned up a great many artifacts, including stamp sealings, amulets and small tablets. Many of these artifacts bear what appear to be specimens of writing—engraved figures resembling, among other things, winged horseshoes, spoked wheels, and upright fish. What exactly those symbols might mean, though, remains one of the most famous unsolved riddles in the scholarship of ancient civilizations. (more…)

Grim Database – Obscure texts from the Enlightenment

June 17, 2009

When most people talk about the age of enlightenment they are usually referring to a period in 18th century European history when logic and reason rose to supremacy. During this important period of cultural growth, public intellectuals like John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Voltaire dedicated themselves to solving perennial human dilemmas. They and their contemporaries gathered in salons and coffeehouses and exchanged volumes of letters in the name of sharing knowledge and improving the human condition. Dan Edelstein, a Stanford French professor, has been exploring an aspect of the Age of Enlightenment that is less familiar to most, the so-called “dark side” of the enlightenment. He described the differentiating factors. “The prevailing understanding of the enlightenment is one in which there was only scientific and rational thinking, but there was also a significant number of people contributing to the enlightenment who were absorbed in dubious scholarly pursuits like alchemy, mythology, astrology and secret societies.” (more…)

PDF – Magic, Divination and Demonology (1898)

June 14, 2009

Currently a book is listed on eBay, the full title of which reads Magic, Divination and Demonology among the Hebrews and their neighbours, 234406565_oincluding an Examination of Biblical References and of the Biblical Terms. This 19th century study was written by T. Witton Davies, and was first published in 1898 by James Clarke & Co (London). The seller added following description to this auction: “This is an Ultra Rare book, of which no other copy can be found in the First State. The author is a noted authority, and contents include all aspects of the subjects, including Black and White magic, Conjuring, Natural Magic, necromancy, Supernaturalism, Traces and Survival in the Old Testament, Magic amongst the Arabs, Moslems, Assyrian Magic, Illegal  and Legal Magic etc. etc. (more…)

Recommended Reading – Grimoires by Owen Davies (2009)

April 13, 2009

Last month an important new book appeared called Grimoires. A History of Magic Books, written by Owen Davies. It’s especially interesting for its description of the role of magical books in cross-cultural esoteric encounters. This is the publisher’s summary:

“No books have been more feared than grimoires, and no books have been more valued and revered. In Grimoire: A History of Magic Books, Owen Davies illuminates the many fascinating forms these recondite books have taken and exactly what these books held. At their most benign, these repositories of forbidden knowledge revealed how to make powerful talismans and protective amulets, and provided charms and conjurations for healing illness, finding love, and warding off evil. owen-davies-grimoires-2009But other books promised the power to control innocent victims, even to call up the devil. Davies traces the history of this remarkably resilient and adaptable genre, from the ancient Middle East to modern America, offering a new perspective on the fundamental developments of western civilization over the past two thousand years. Grimoires shows the influence magic and magical writing has had on the cultures of the world, richly demonstrating the role they have played in the spread of Christianity, the growth of literacy, and the influence of western traditions from colonial times to the present. Through his enlightening and extraordinary account, we see how these secret books link Chicago to ancient Egypt, Germany to Jamaica, and Norway to Bolivia, and grasp how the beliefs of Alpine farmers became part of the Rastafarian movement, how a Swede became the most powerful wizard in early America, and how a poor laborer from Ohio became a notorious villain in his own country and a mythical spirit in the Caribbean. Despite religious condemnation and laws barring their use, the grimoire has survived to the present day, and not just in Harry Potter films and Broadway’s Wicked. Here is a lively and informative history of a genre that holds a powerful fascination for countless readers of the occult.”

I searched and found some reviews of Davies’ book: a review by Jad Adams (The Guardian, Saturday 11 April 2009), and a review by Mark Williams. Here are some passages of the latter review I found noteworthy: (more…)