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a true energy revolutionNuclear fusion, the process that powers our sun

Limitless Clean Energy For The World

In a world struggling to kick its addiction to fossil fuels and feed its growing appetite for energy, there’s one technology which is a true energy revolution  in development that almost sounds too good to be true: nuclear fusion

If it works, fusion power offers vast amounts of clean energy with a near limitless fuel source and virtually zero carbon emissions. That’s if it works. In February last year a new chapter of fusion energy research commenced with the formal opening of Wendelstein 7-X. This is an experimental €1 billion (A$1.4bn) fusion reactor built in Greifswald, Germany, to test a reactor design called a stellarator.It is planned that by around 2021 it will be able to operate for up to 30 minutes duration. Which would be a record for a fusion reactor. This is an important step en-route to demonstrating an essential feature of a future fusion power plant: continuous operation.

But the W-7X isn’t the only fusion game in town. In southern France  a $US20 billion (A$26.7bn) experimental fusion reactor ITER is being built. This machine  uses a different design called a tokamak. However, even though the W-7X and ITER employ different designs. The two projects complement each other, and innovations in one are likely to translate to an eventual working nuclear fusion power plant.

Twists and turns

Fusion energy seeks to replicate the reaction that powers our Sun. The resulting fused atom ends up slightly lighter than the original two atoms. The difference in mass is then  converted to energy according to Einstein’s formula E=mc².  The difficulty comes in encouraging the two atoms to fuse,  requiring them to be heated to millions of degrees Celsius. What makes the W-7X particularly interesting is its stellarator design. It comprises a vacuum chamber embedded in a magnetic bottle created by a system of 70 superconducting magnet coils. In these experiments a strong toroidal (or ring) magnetic field creates a magnetic bottle to confine the plasma.

However, in order for the plasma to have good confinement in the doughnut-shaped chamber, the magnetic field needs to have a twist. In a tokamak, such as in the ITER reactor, a large current flows in the plasma to generate the required twisted path. However, the large current can drive “kink” instabilities. In a stellarator, the twist in the magnetic field is obtained by twisting the entire machine itself. This removes the large toroidal current, and makes the plasma intrinsically more stable. The cost comes in the engineering complexity of the field coils and reduced confinement thus  the plasma is less easily contained within the magnetic bubble.

Come together

While the W7-X and ITER use different approaches, most of the underlying technology is identical. They are both toroidal superconducting machines, and both use external heating systems such as radio frequency and neutral beam injection to heat the plasma, and much of the plasma diagnostic technology is in common. In a power plant, heavy isotopes of hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) fuse to form helium along with an energetic neutron. The neutron is has a neutral electric charge, and shoots off into the “blanket” surrounding the plasma. The helium  generates electricity.

A common feature across fusion power is the need to develop materials that can withstand y the fusion reaction. The first wall of a fusion reactor has to withstand a massive bombardment from high energy particles throughout its lifetime. At this stage, it’s too early to tell whether the tokamak design used by ITER or the stellarator used by W-7X will be better suited for a commercial fusion power plant. But the commencement of research operation of W-7X will not only help decide which technology might be best to pursue. Without a  doubt will contribute valuable knowledge to any future fusion experiments, and perhaps one day a true energy revolution.




Would You Eat an Ant to Fight Fatigue and Stress?

Ask the internet, and adaptogens are sprinklings of “pretentious hippie” woo-woo that caused L.A. juice entrepreneur Amanda Chantal Bacon to be excoriated while promoting her Moon Juice Sex Dust. But the National Institutes of Health has found in trials that the supplements made of medicinal plants, herbs and mushrooms “exert an anti-fatigue effect that increases mental work capacity” when stressed. Eleven adaptogens and supplements currently popular in Hollywood:

CHAGA Pretty Little Liars‘ Shay Mitchell orders the off-menu Blue smoothie (which tastes like cereal milk; $12) loaded with this immune-boosting mushroom at Lifehouse Tonics. “With supershroom adaptogens, we see improvements in energy, focus, creativity and sleep,” says co-founder Fraser Thompson.

DRIED WHITE MULBERRIES Gisele Bundchen snacks on these purportedly longevity-boosting berries ($18; SunPotion.com).

REISHI Emma Stone’s and Amy Schumer’s facialist Georgia Louise says some of her clients are obsessed with Sun Potion’s individual adaptogen powders, which can be mixed into water, juice, tea or smoothies. Katie Holmes, Laird Hamilton and Ben Harper are devotees of the offerings, including the reishi mushroom, called the “queen healer” for its reported liver-regenerating properties ($50).

MORINGA AND MUCUNA PURIENS Sun Potions’ “miracle leaf” moringa fights aging free radicals ($20), while mucuna puriens has mood-enhancing qualities ($37).

PINE POLLEN AND POLYRHACHIS ANT Brownstone Productions’ Renate Radford claims that with a bit of Sun Potion’s Pine Pollen ($55), “you don’t feel a buzz; you’re just alert and awake.” The wild-harvested polyrhachis ant is used by Chinese healers to boost musculoskeletal and digestive systems ($55).

SCHISANDRA, RHODIOLA AND SIBERIAN GINSENG Torii Labs’ anti-anxiety Awake tonic contains stress-reducing Siberian ginseng, energizing schisandra berry and anti-anxiety rhodiola ($45 for a pack of six; ToriiLabs.com).

ASHWAGANDHA This anti-aging adaptogen that, like schisandra, is said to inhibit enzymes that break down collagen, is part of Raw Complexion’s Skin Balance No. 2. Yolanda Hadid Foster and Ireland Baldwin mix it into drinks for a beauty boost ($35; Raw-Complexions.com.au).



Understanding The Human Mind


Energy is this movement from possibility to actuality through a series of probabilities.

Dr. Dan Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA, and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute. The author of multiple bestselling books on mindfulness, development, and neurobiology, Dr. Siegel joined Heleo’s Mandy Godwin on Facebook Live to discuss the mysteries of the human mind.

Mandy: Your new book, Mind, includes a quote by Albert Einstein, about how our idea of being separate from the rest of the world is an “optical delusion.” How is that?

Dan: Einstein used the word “delusion,” a psychotic belief that’s not consistent with reality. When you look at what the mind is, it might be something more than just brain activity. The interconnections we have make the self that comes from the mind not just a solo product, not just within your head. I think that’s what Einstein was referring to, that there’s something about the human condition that gets us to this false belief that we’re separate.

Mandy: Absolutely. In fact, something that you’ve brought up is that many of our disciplines aren’t even sure what we’re talking about when we refer to “mind.”

Dan: This is the reason I wrote the book, because the word “mind” does not have a definition in my original field, which is psychiatry. It doesn’t have a definition in the field of medicine. It doesn’t even have a definition in the field of psychology.

Mandy: What was the working definition of “mind” that you came up with?

Dan: The “mind” is some aspect of energy and information flow. Flow means change; information is a pattern of energy with symbolic value. Energy is this movement from possibility to actuality through a series of probabilities.

Mind, in the subjective experience of it, consciousness and information processing, can be some emergent property of energy and information flow.

Mandy: And where is our mind exactly?

Dan: Yes, people often say, “Well, my mind is. But where is it?” A lot of people turn to what Hippocrates said 2,500 years ago, which has been affirmed by scientists—it’s the common view: “mind is what brain does.” That puts the mind only in your head.

Of course the brain affects mental life, your feelings, your thoughts, your consciousness, memory, meaning, beliefs, attitudes, for sure, but is it limited to your skull? This is the issue.

Mandy: You mean, it’s not exclusively neural, it’s also social and interactive. So if it’s not just in your head, just in your skull, then where can you find the mind?

“The mind isn’t just influenced by other people—which is classic to social neuroscience— the mind emerges in the between-ness.”

Dan: You would find it throughout your whole body. Right now, your heart is influencing energy and information flow within your skin-encased body. It’s happening in your intestines. We know the bacteria that you ate this morning that you have in your intestines are going to affect the way you feel and think. Your intestines and your heart are a fundamental part of energy and information flow within your experience.

Right now, between me and you, we have energy and information flowing. Someone watching us could say, “Oh yeah, Mandy and Dan are talking. When Dan coughs, he keeps on putting his hand up [on the microphone],” because I have the mind of you and the mind of other people who are going to hear my coughing, so I cover this up so my coughing isn’t so loud. We have this interconnected mind.

If I were a person who were just thinking my mind came from my brain, I could say, “Well, our social signals influence each other.” What we’re saying here in this question, “Where is the mind?”, is the mind isn’t just influenced by other people—which is classic to social neuroscience—the mind emerges in the between-ness. There’s something happening right here, in the pattern of the way you’re responding to me. Studies show if we mirror each other, we’re going to secrete more oxytocin. We’re going to have a more compatible way of talking to each other than if I started doing stuff that showed I wasn’t resonating with you.

That’s a between-ness. We don’t become each other. We stay differentiated, but we become linked. That’s the “where,” as much between as within.

Mandy: Most of the time, what we hear about in studies is the mind as brain activity, neuroscience. We don’t hear much of that linkage outside. It seems novel in many ways.

Dan: I knew there would be people who would say, “Well, we know mind is just the brain activity, so why don’t you talk more about the brain?” I’ve written books like that, and there are lots of books written like that. Let’s look at the big picture of what the mind is. If you want a thing just on brain anatomy, go look at a book on brain anatomy. Let’s talk about the wholeness of the mind.

Mandy: You pose the question “when is the mind?” How does the concept of time apply to the mind?

Dan: You need to look into the science of time. Researching and writing this book helped illuminate something I had been feeling, but couldn’t really articulate, since I was about 11 years old. Sometimes in my mental life, I would have a feeling of, “Okay, time is passing, time is flowing, there’s not enough time, oh my God, things come and go.” At other times, I’d feel this timeless quality. Did you ever have that experience?

Mandy: Absolutely, especially when you’re really in the middle of something very engaging. There have been times where it seems as though a whole day can pass and you don’t even know, you’re immersed.

“It turns out that there isn’t something called time flowing, there’s just change happening. Time is really our awareness of change.”

Dan: Exactly, and other times you go, “Oh my God, I wish this would last forever.” Time is not something that flows like water in a river. Time as something that flows—we don’t have evidence for that. There is something called the arrow of time, which could be renamed the directionality of change. If you and I had an egg and cracked it open here, we couldn’t un-crack the egg. There’s a directionality of change. It’s now splayed all over the table. You can’t un-crack it.

It turns out that there isn’t something called time flowing, there’s just change happening. Time is really our awareness of change. There are macro-states that have this directionality of change, but there are micro-states that have no arrow of time, no directionality.

The answer to the “when” of mind is that macro-state energy and information flow patterns, like a thought, have a directionality—they come and they go. In this practice called “the wheel of awareness,” I think you can drop into a micro-state condition where consciousness arises and has no directionality of change. It is timeless. Some states of pure consciousness, which you can get at when you’re in the flow of things or when you do reflective practice, can enter this timeless state.

Mandy: You’ve talked about meditative practice, and how that might lead to more awareness.

Dan: Yes, you can open your awareness to all sorts of things. This is the issue of the immersion of the book. I wanted the book to be an experience, not just a download of information, to be relational as writing, to ask these questions rather than just give final answers, and to let the questioning connect the reader to their own inner experience, as well as to me, as we go on the journey together. Also to say, “Look, these questions can open up your own experience of your mind.”

The “why” of mind was, emotionally, the most challenging to write, because it’s a little audacious. It’s really a question: “Is there a why of mind?” For me, when I say the mind is a self-organizing emergent embodiment of the relational process, then the “why” of self-organization has an answer, and it’s integration.

Integration is where you take different parts and link them to create more well-being. Relationally, what it means is you create more kindness and compassion toward others, and even toward yourself. Another outcome is curiosity and creativity, and openness to life as it unfolds.

Mandy: That’s very hopeful. There’s a really interesting anecdote where you bring in this concept of feelings not having a scientific basis. That struck me—science doesn’t want to encounter feelings. One thing that your project has been taking on is that integration of the emotional life and the neural life.

Dan: I think the way to begin is to honor that science wants and needs to carefully observe things. Usually, it wants to measure things with numbers, to do statistical analyses, that’s fine. But what if the entity that we want to explore is something called subjective experience? Which would include emotions, but it also includes thoughts, perceptions, memories, beliefs, hopes, dreams, longings, attitudes, desires. That’s all the stuff of the mind. We put that under the phrase “subjective experience,” meaning you cannot really objectively measure it, or even observe it.

You and I see red, right? Even if we put 18 different options of red and we both pick the same one of the 18, I have no idea if the way you see red and the way I see red is the same. Poetry and art evoke subjective experiences. Even if I took a photograph, I have no idea if the feeling it evoked in me will be the feeling it evokes in you. You will have a subjective experience, and honoring that is important.

“You only get about 100 years in the body, but if you realize you are much more than your body, you’ve just achieved connection to people and living beings that were before you, and will be afterwards. You get this very different sense of vitality and meaning and purpose to life.”

From a scientific point of view, it’s important to recognize that you can’t observe subjective experience. The other thing is that, if we have teachings from our parents, from our schools, from society, that the self is a solo job that comes from your head, and that the mind is just brain activity, then what you say is, “Who you are is just your body.”

The sad outcome of that teaching is that you’re alone in this life. People feel so isolated because they see the “me” as separate. Then of course all you want to do is accumulate more stuff for “me,” get more for “me,” it’s about “me.” There’s not much in that that’s going to produce happiness or any positive outcome for the planet. What I talk about is an integrated identity, honoring that you have a “me” in the body, you get about 100 years to live in that body, awesome. Take care of the body well, exercise the body, feed the body, great. No one is saying the body isn’t important.

We’re also saying that differentiating the “me” within the body needs to be balanced with differentiating the “we” that is so under-recognized. That “we” identity needs to be talked about in homes and in classrooms and in the media. What’s been so exciting about it is people feel this opening up to a more authentic and real way of imagining where is your mind, who you are, why you’re here, what you can do with your life. You only get about 100 years in the body, but if you realize you are much more than your body, you’ve just achieved connection to people and living beings that were before you, and will be afterwards. You get this very different sense of vitality and meaning and purpose to life.

Unfortunately, in modern society, we’ve been living this very isolationist life. It’s a partial truth. To return to Einstein’s words, it’s an “optical delusion,” a psychotic belief. To be bold about it, it’s a lie that may be lethal. The more we believe that lie, the more we treat the planet like a trashcan, and there’s not much hope for the future.

Part of why I wrote the book was to open the conversation up with questions that can become a win-win-win situation. You get closer to the truth in yourself, that’s one win. You feel how you can develop well-being in your relationships with others, that’s the second win. The third win is that the planet is waiting for this transformation of our understanding of who we are and what to do with our lives collectively on Earth.


More Sleep Means Fewer Junk Food Cravings

If you’re trying to conquer your junk food cravings, a little extra time in the sack could make a tremendous difference. In fact, a University of Chicago study showed that not getting enough sleep could increase cravings for junk food, specifically foods like cookies and bread, by 45 percent.

Don’t take the importance of sleep for granted. You may think sleeping less will give you more time to get things done, but in reality, you’re only hurting yourself and making your habits worse. Check out these four reasons more sleep means fewer cravings.

It Helps Control Your Appetite
Sleep helps regulate our hormones. Just a few nights without sleep can increase the level of ghrelin—the hormone responsible for triggering our appetite. In fact, the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study showed that participants who slept 5 hours had 14.9 percent higher ghrelin than those individuals who slept 8 hours. A lack of sleep not only explains the differences in those hormone levels but also sheds light on the increase in Body Mass Index (BMI) and obesity for individuals that don’t get adequate sleep. (Try these smart alternatives to junk food)

It Helps Signal Satiety
Hormones affect our appetite–they help regulate when we feel full or satisfied. Just a few nights without sleep can drop the level of leptin—the hormone responsible for signaling satiety. Study participants who slept 5 hours had 15.5 percent lower leptin than those individuals who slept for 8 hours. Lack of sleep can make it more difficult for us to sense when we’re full—causing us to consume more calories than we need.

It Aids Your Judgment
It’s probably no surprise (and has been well documented) that a lack of sleep can decrease our memory, cause us to feel foggy, increase our potential for accidents, increase the risk for disease and even diminish our sex drive. It can also impair judgment when it comes to making healthy choices.  When we’re tired, we are more likely to grab whatever is convenient (think office vending machine, break room donuts or that caramel latte) rather than something that is good for us. (Don’t get stuck with a junk food hangover)

It Cuts Out Snacking
A recent study published in the journal Sleep showed that a lack of sleep caused people to overeat on sweet and salty high-fat junk food. The study, which took place at the University of Chicago’s Clinical Research Center had participants take part in two four-day sessions. The first had participants spend 8.5 hours in bed (with an average sleep time of 7.5 hours) each night. The second round had the same subjects spend just 4.5 hours in bed (an average sleep time of 4.2 hours) each night. Although the participants received the same meals at the same time during both stays, they consumed more than 300 additional calories when sleep deprived. The extra calories mainly came from snacking on high-fat junk foods. (See: 10 Whole Foods That Boost Your Energy and Help You Lose Weight)

Try these simple tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:

  • Go to bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier each night until you’re getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Not only will you have more energy throughout the day with fewer cravings, but you’ll also be more productive.
  • Stop eating two hours before you hit the hay. Going to bed on a full stomach is not only uncomfortable, but it can interfere with a good night’s sleep. For many of us, late night snacking can get out of control, and the calories can add up.
  • Have a bedtime ritual. Take a hot bath, drink a cup of herbal tea or practice 10 minutes of meditation. Do what works best for you. A normal regular bedtime ritual can help you nod off quicker and sleep more soundly.
  • We hear it all the time, but put that smartphone away when you’re about to sleep. The light emitted from electronic devices can disrupt your sleep.  In fact, the National Sleep Foundation says that nighttime, and the reduction of light that used to come along with it, used to cue our brains to “wind down” for sleep. Today’s constant use of electronics interferes with this natural process.