Scientists Say The Earth Is Humming

Not just noise, but a deep, astonishing music. Can you hear it?

By Mark Morford – SF Gate Columnist

This is the kind of thing we forget.

This is the kind of thing that, given all our distractions, our celeb obsessions and happy drugs and bothersome trifles like family and bills and war and health care and sex and love and porn and breathing and death, tends to fly under the radar of your overspanked consciousness, only to be later rediscovered and brought forth and placed directly in front of your eyeballs, at least for a moment, so you can look, really look, and go, oh my God, I had no idea.

The Earth is humming. Singing. Churning out a tune without the aid of battery or string or wind-up mechanism and its song is ethereal and mystifying and very, very weird, a rather astonishing, newly discovered phenomena that’s not easily analyzed, but which, if you really let it sink into your consciousness, can change the way you look at everything.

Indeed, scientists now say the planet itself is generating a constant, deep thrum of noise. No mere cacophony, but actually a kind of music, huge, swirling loops of sound, a song so strange you can’t really fathom it, so low it can’t be heard by human ears, chthonic roars churning from the very water and wind and rock themselves, countless notes of varying vibration creating all sorts of curious tonal phrases that bounce around the mountains and spin over the oceans and penetrate the tectonic plates and gurgle in the magma and careen off the clouds and smack into trees and bounce off your ribcage and spin over the surface of the planet in strange circular loops, “like dozens of lazy hurricanes,” as one writer put it.

It all makes for a very quiet, otherworldly symphony so odd and mysterious, scientists still can’t figure out exactly what’s causing it or why the hell it’s happening. Sure, sensitive instruments are getting better at picking up what’s been dubbed “Earth’s hum,” but no one’s any closer to understanding what the hell it all might mean. Which, of course, is exactly as it should be.

Because then, well, then you get to crank up your imagination, your mystical intuition, your poetic sensibility – and if there’s one thing we’re lacking in modern America, it’s … well, you know.

Me, I like to think of the Earth as essentially a giant Tibetan singing bowl, flicked by the middle finger of God and set to a mesmerizing, low ring for about 10 billion years until the tone begins to fade and the vibration slows and eventually the sound completely disappears into nothingness and the birds are all, hey what the hell happened to the music? And God just shrugs and goes, well that was interesting.

Or maybe the planet is more like an enormous wine glass, half full of a heady potion made of horny unicorns and divine lubricant and perky sunshine, around the smooth, gleaming rim of which Dionysus himself circles his wet fingertip, generating a mellifluous tone that makes the wood nymphs dance and the satyrs orgasm and the gods hum along as they all watch 7 billion confused human ants scamper about with their lattes and their war and their perpetually adorable angst, oblivious.

But most of all, I believe the Earth actually (and obviously) resonates, quite literally, with the Hindu belief in the divine sound of OM (or more accurately, AUM), that single, universal syllable that contains and encompasses all: birth and death, creation and destruction, being and nothingness, rock and roll, Christian and pagan, meat and vegetable, spit and swallow. You know?

But here’s the best part: This massive wave of sound? The Earth’s deep, mysterious OM, it’s perpetual hum of song? Totally normal – that is, if by “normal” you mean “unfathomably powerful and speaking to a vast mystical timelessness we can’t possibly comprehend.”

Indeed, all the spheres do it, all the planets and all the quasars and stars and moons and whirlpool galaxies, all vibrating and humming like a chorus of wayward deities singing sea shanties in a black hole. It’s nothing new, really: Mystics and poets and theorists have pondered the “music of the spheres” (or musica universalis) for eons; it is the stuff of cosmic philosophy, linking sacred geometry, mathematics, cosmology, harmonics, astrology and music into one big cosmological poetry slam.

Translation: You don’t have to look very far to understand that human beings – hell, all animals, really – adore song and music and tone and rhythm, and then link this everyday source of life straight to the roar of the planet itself, and then back out to the cosmos.

In other words, you love loud punk? Metal? Jazz? Deep house? Saint-Saens with a glass of Pinot in the tub? Sure you do. That’s because somewhere, somehow, deep in your very cells and bones and DNA, it links you back to source, to the Earth’s own vibration, the pulse of the cosmos. Oh yes it does. To tap your foot and sway your body to that weird new Portishead tune is, in effect, to sway it to the roar of the universe. I mean, obviously.

At some point we’ll probably figure it all out. Science will, with its typical charming, arrogant certainty, sift and measure and quantify this “mystical” Earthly hum, and tell us it merely comes from, say, ocean movements, or solar wind, or 10 billion trees all deciding to grow a quarter millimeter all at once. We will do as we always do: oversimplify, peer through a single lens of understanding, stick this dazzling phenomenon in a narrow category, and forget it.

How dangerously boring. I much prefer, in matters mystical and musical and deeply cosmic, to tell the logical mind to shut up and let the soul take over and say, wait wait wait, maybe most humans have this divine connection thing all wrong. Maybe God really isn’t some scowling gay-hating deity raining down guilt and judgment and fear on all humankind after all.

Maybe she’s actually, you know, a throb, a pulse, a song, deep, complex, eternal. And us, well, we’re just bouncing and swaying along as best we can, trying to figure out the goddamn melody.

Thoughts about this column? E-mail Mark.

Mark Morford’s Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SFGate and in the Datebook section of the San Francisco Chronicle. To get on the e-mail list for this column, please click here and remove one article of clothing.

Mark’s column also has an RSS feed and an archive of past columns, which includes another small photo of Mark potentially sufficient for you to recognize him in the street and give him gifts. He also has a raw Facebook page, but has little idea why.

Milk on Trial as Cornell Expert Testifies at Fired Teacher’s Hearing

Published by CommonDreams.org – Written by Martha Rosenberg

The life expectancy of National Football League players might have as much to do with teaching art as the factory farming fired middle school teacher Dave Warwak is accused of teaching.

But it formed the backbone of Cornell University Professor Emeritus Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s testimony at the Board of Education hearing into the middle school teacher’s dismissal in Fox River Grove, IL, population 5,000, in April.

NFL players are only expected to live to 56 because “they are dying of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and diet related illnesses,” testified Campbell in defense of Warwak’s classroom charge that animal foods will shorten lives.

Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry, is author, with son Thomas M. Campbell II, of the 2005 nutrition bestseller, The China Study, which links premature death and many diseases to diet and was called the “Grand Prix of Epidemiology” by the New York Times.

After reading The China Study, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Tony Gonzalez dropped animal products from his diet. testified Campbell, and “this past season he broke the all-time record for the most catches, the most touchdown passes and the most yards gained of any NFL tight end in the history of the National Football League.”

The China Study also converted Minnesota Twins pitcher Pat Neshek to an animal free diet says a June ESPN report which also cites vegan diets of Detroit Lion Desmond Howard, Miami Dolphin Ricky Williams, former St. Louis Ram D’Marco Farr, Milwaukee Brewer Prince Fielder and Atlanta Hawk Salim Stoudamire.

Forty-five year old middle school art teacher Dave Warwak was dismissed last fall from the District 3 school system where he had taught for eight years for, “turning his classroom into a forum on veganism,” abandoning the art curriculum and asking students to keep it a secret from their parents according to school board documents.

What began as a simple be-kind-to-animals project approved by administrators who even participated–marshmallow Easter “Peeps” were made into “pets” to be cared for–got out of hand when Warwak put the “pets” in cages, pots and pans and between slices of bread.

“The problem was when it turned into a PETA advertisement and it was against the school lunch program,” testified Fox River Grove Middle School Principal Tim Mahaffy at the Illinois Board of Education’s three day closed hearings into Warwak’s dismissal conducted at the Fox River Grove City Hall in April.

Despite hearing officer Barry Simon’s repeated admonishments that the case was not about whether veganism, “is right or wrong or good or bad,” feeding children animal products was the 300 pound Peep in the room as Warwak, acting pro se, questioned Mahaffy.

Q: Would you say the school lunch goes against humane education?

A: I disagree. I don’t see the connection.

Q: The humane education says be nice to all things; the school lunch says, well, not animals?

Robert E. Riley (counsel for District 3): Objection. Arguing with the witness.

Q: Does the school promote meat and dairy one-sided or do they allow other viewpoints on it?

A: The school is committed to following both the State and federal guidelines for serving school lunches.

Of course Fox River Grove Middle School is paid to be one-sided.

Like 45,000 other public middle and high schools in the US and 60,000 elementary schools, it only receives reimbursement from the National School Lunch Program when it pushes milk and life-size Milk Mustache and “Body By Milk” posters adorn lunchroom walls.

This is the program that served children downer dairy cows, at risk for mad cow disease, until the January recall of Hallmark beef, observes Warwak in a recent memoir about his termination, Peep Show For Children Only, found on lulu.com.

Yet the pro dairy message on the school posters–which feature sports figures and popular musicians and arrive unsolicited from the National Dairy Council–is misleading and harmful testified Dr. T. Colin Campbell on the basis of decades of his National Institutes of Health-funded research.

“The consumption of dairy, especially at the younger ages, is a problem,” said Campbell which includes health consequences like higher risks of prostate, uterine, breast and endometrial cancers, osteoporosis and a “threefold higher risk of colon cancer.”

The health promises about strong bones and healthy bodies on the posters are written by a USDA dietary committee, said Campbell, whose members were found by a court to have conflicts of interests after refusing a Freedom of Information request.

“Six of the eleven members of the committee including the chair had an association with the dairy industry,” said Campbell. “And the chair himself had taken more money without telling the public about it than he was allowed under the law.”

The animal rich diet the Fox River Grove’s District 3 defends to the point of firing a tenured teacher might mean kids won’t live longer than the sports heroes they admire, summarized Campbell.

Arbitrator Simon has yet to make a ruling about Warwak–or the posters.

Martha Rosenberg is a cartoonist for the Evanston Roundtable in Evanston, Illinois.

Mobile phones ‘more dangerous than smoking’

Brain expert warns of huge rise in tumours and calls on industry to take immediate steps to reduce radiation

By Geoffrey Lean

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must take “immediate steps” to reduce exposure to their radiation.

The study, by Dr Vini Khurana, is the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.

It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in the IoS in October – that using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.

Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its people to minimise handset use, and the European Environment Agency has called for exposures to be reduced.

Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website, and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.

He admits that mobiles can save lives in emergencies, but concludes that “there is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumours”. He believes this will be “definitively proven” in the next decade.

Noting that malignant brain tumours represent “a life-ending diagnosis”, he adds: “We are currently experiencing a reactively unchecked and dangerous situation.” He fears that “unless the industry and governments take immediate and decisive steps”, the incidence of malignant brain tumours and associated death rate will be observed to rise globally within a decade from now, by which time it may be far too late to intervene medically.

“It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking,” says Professor Khurana, who told the IoS his assessment is partly based on the fact that three billion people now use the phones worldwide, three times as many as smoke. Smoking kills some five million worldwide each year, and exposure to asbestos is responsible for as many deaths in Britain as road accidents.

Late last week, the Mobile Operators Association dismissed Khurana’s study as “a selective discussion of scientific literature by one individual”. It believes he “does not present a balanced analysis” of the published science, and “reaches opposite conclusions to the WHO and more than 30 other independent expert scientific reviews”.