Saturday, August 20, 2005

global warming: human impact or natural cycles

Sunday, July 31, 2005

what does $500/barrel oil-price world look like?

look past the obvious. alternative E surely would become relatively cheaper and become widely adopted. nuclear will likely be the next dominant source of E.

buy few people realize how prevalent oil has become as an input into many modern goods besides energy. for instance, oil is a raw material for plastic. if oil is $500/barrel, plastic prices could skyrocket and could become uneconomical to manufacture. yet we have become so dependent on plastic, almost as much as E itself, that rising oil prices could dramatically reshape the world based on the extinction of plastic alone.

what else would change with$500 oil?

Monday, July 25, 2005

do hydrocarbon deposits represent the end product of life, or rather its beginnings

there is a widely held perception that oil comes from dead, compressed biomass. people often picture dinosaurs giving way to fields of oil and natural gas. fears that we are depleting irreplaceable energy sources abound, and why not? dino isn't roaming any more.

it is plausible that those hydrocarbon deposits represent the end-stage of life. but hydrocarbon is also the building block of life. is it possible that we are thinking about it backwards? perhaps hydrocarbon fields represent one of the sites of life origination, along with the ocean surface. indeed one of the tests used by oil exploration companies to identify a new reserve is the high bacterial content. higher order life forms may derive from this substrate. it's possible that these fields are both the end-product of life and the substrate for new life. but what if only the latter was true?

if so, what formed the hydrocarbon deposits in the first place? is it being generated by some intrinsic process in the earth's core?

also read the december 6th 2004 post on:

Friday, July 22, 2005

does variation in dietary intake of estrogens account for population-based differences in behaviors?

estrogens are present in plants in varying degrees. their function in plants relate more to the growth axis than reproductive axis. the latter function may have been an exaptation in animals. is it possible than variation of behaviors across populations relate to their dietary intake of sex steroids? agriculture likely preceded the emergence of many modern ideologies. does the serenity, tranquility, peace, passiveness, and docility of Asia and India relate to high intake of dietary soy, which is rich in estrogens? (idea attributed to ray conley)

Friday, June 24, 2005

is there a biologic basis to astrologic profiles?

season of birth impacts early pattern of day-length variation. someone born in the spring experiences increasing day-length as the first experience. someone born in the fall experiences decreasing day-length as the first experience. turns out that this early experience can leave a permanent behavioral imprint on the individual. day-length variation is a significant parameter measured by virtually all species as a way to allocate life-history functions appropriately (mating, reproduction, foraging, etc). this function is regulated by many factors including thermal centers n the hypothalamus and melatonin. interestingly, melatonin dysfunctions have been linked to many behavioral disorders including autisms and schizophrenia. there is emerging interest in correlating season of birth with later development of behavioral disorders. if behavioral patterns are influenced by season of birth, could this help account for the astrological profiles? selected references are noted below.

Neuropsychobiology. 2005;51(2):93-9. Epub 2005 Feb 28. Season of birth in Danish children with language disorder born in the 1958-1976period.Hauschild KM, Mouridsen SE, Nielsen S.Borkop, Copenhagen, Denmark.Two preliminary studies have indicated a variation in season of birth inseverely language-disordered children. In the current study, the season of birthin 472 Danish children with language disorder born between 1958 and 1976 wascompared with the season of birth of all Danish live-born children in the sameperiod. For some part of the period (1964-1969), an excess of boys born inNovember was found. Particular attention was given to the inconsistent findingsalso found in language-related disorders like infantile autism and dyslexia andthe choice of statistical method to determine seasonality. Copyright 2005 S.Karger AG, Basel.

Schizophr Res. 2005 Feb 1;73(1):39-48. Explaining variation in the premorbid adjustment of schizophrenia patients: therole of season of birth and family history.St-Hilaire A, Holowka D, Cunningham H, Champagne F, Pukall M, King S.Kent State University, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242,USA.Several studies have shown that patients with schizophrenia are more likely tobe born in the winter and early spring than at any other time of the year.Furthermore, some studies have reported that winter-born patients differ fromnon-winter-born patients in terms of risk factors, symptoms, sensoryabnormalities and brain morphology. Associations between season of birth andpremorbid adjustment (PMA), however, are still unclear. OBJECTIVE: The mainpurpose of this study was to determine whether winter-born and non-winter-bornschizophrenia patients differ in terms of PMA and to examine how family historyof schizophrenia-spectrum disorders may influence the association. METHOD: Dataon four PMA dimensions (attention, internalizing, externalizing and socialproblems) and family history were gathered from 37 schizophrenia patients (26males and 11 females) and their mothers. RESULTS: Non-winter-birth and apositive family history of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders were associated withworse PMA. Results suggest that, although no significant interaction was found,season of birth and family history appear to work together in explainingdistinct dimensions of PMA.

Neuropsychobiology. 2002;46(4):209-14. Further results on the association between morningness-eveningness preferenceand the season of birth in human adults.Natale V, Adan A, Chotai J.Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.Morningness-eveningness preference by the self-rated Morningness-EveningnessQuestionnaire (MEQ) has earlier been shown to be associated with the subjects'season of birth. Here, we obtain this result for a new sample of 2,125university students and for the sample obtained by pooling the data with theearlier study, yielding totally 3,709 Italian and Spanish subjects. An nonlinearregression of MEQ as a cosine curve according to the month of birth, adjustingfor age and gender, gave a maximum (morningness) around the transition betweenthe birth months December and January, and a minimum (eveningness) around thetransition between the birth months June and July. Multiple logistic regressionsshowed that for females as well as for males, the group born during thehalf-year April to September containing summer had a significantly lowerproportion of morning types as compared with the group born during the half-yearOctober to March containing winter. This was more pronounced for males.Moreover, a significantly higher proportion of morning types among femalescompared with males was found only in the group born during April to September,but not in the group born during October to March. There was a weak butstatistically significant positive correlation between MEQ and age in thesample's limited age range of 17-30 years. We discuss the results in terms ofthe mutually inhibitory systems of melatonin and dopamine, and find furthersupport for a hypothesis that it is the variation in the length of photoperiodduring the gestational or perinatal period that contributes significantly to theseason of birth variation found in the morningness-eveningness preference amongadults. Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel

Psychiatry Res. 2002 Aug 5;111(1):45-54. The Temperament Scale of Novelty Seeking in adolescents shows an associationwith season of birth opposite to that in adults.Chotai J, Jonasson M, Hagglof B, Adolfsson R.Division of Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Umea,SE-901 85, Umea, Sweden. investigated the relationship between season of birth and the JuniorTemperament and Character Inventory of Personality (Junior TCI, JTCI) inadolescents. The Temperament Scale of Novelty Seeking (NS) is significantlyhigher for females born during October-January as compared to females bornotherwise. This association is opposite to that obtained earlier for adults. Forboth genders pooled, NS is significantly higher for those born duringOctober-March compared to April-September. This association is also found whenexamining the data for those of age up to 18 years in a third independent studyon the age range 11-81 years with the adult TCI. There is a greater tendency forexploration and risk-taking behavior as the child individuates from the family.Our study suggests that the effects of such environmental and developmentalchanges on personality are different in those born during October-March ascompared to those born during April-September. The former show a higher rise inNS during adolescence and a steeper fall in NS during the years of adulthood,compared to the latter. Dopamine turnover is likely associated with NS, and themutually inhibitory systems of dopamine and melatonin are the paracrine signalsof day and night, respectively. Thus, the maternal entrainment of these systemsduring the prenatal period, or the postnatal environmental influence on thesesystems, may be different for those born during the short photoperiod ofOctober-March as compared to those born during the long photoperiod part of theyear.

Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2001 Apr;22(2):137-41. A study of light/dark rhythm of melatonin in relation to cortisol and prolactinsecretion in schizophrenia.Vigano D, Lissoni P, Rovelli F, Roselli MG, Malugani F, Gavazzeni C, Conti A,Maestroni G.Division of Psychiatry, S.Gerardo dei Tintori Hospital, 20052 Monza (Milan),Italy.OBJECTIVES: Recent studies have suggested the involvement of the pineal glandand its main hormone melatonin (MLT) in the pathogenesis of psychiatricdisturbances, namely the depressive syndrome. In contrast, the behavior of MLTsecretion in schizophrenia is still controversial. MATERIAL & METHODS: Thepresent study was carried out to analyze light/dark rhythm of MLT secretion inrelation to that of cortisol and prolactin (PRL) in schizophrenic patients. Thestudy included 13 schizophrenic patients, 8 of whom were untreated, while theother 5 patients were on neuroleptic therapy. Serum levels of MLT, PRL andcortisol were measured by RIA on venous blood samples collected at 8 A.M., 12A.M., 8 P.M. and 1 A.M. The control group consisted of 20 age-matched healthysubjects. RESULTS: A physiological nocturnal increase in MLT levels occurred in6/13 patients, whereas the other 7 patients showed an abnormally low MLT peakduring the night. Moreover, both light and night mean levels of MLT weresignificantly lower in patients than in controls. In addition, mean nocturnallevels of MLT were significantly lower in chronic patients than in thoseevaluated at the onset of disease. Cortisol rhythm was normal in 11/13 patients,whereas PRL levels were abnormally high in 10/13 patients. CONCLUSIONS: Thispreliminary study would suggest that schizophrenia may be associated with adiminished secretion of MLT from the pineal gland, and pineal deficiency wouldbe more evident in the chronic disease. Finally, pineal alterations haveappeared to be associated with an altered secretion of PRL and cortisol, bysuggesting that the schizophrenic disease may be characterized by markedneuroendocrine disturbances, whose physio-pathological and prognosticsignificance needs to be established by successive clinical investigations.

Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2000;21(1):31-34. Evidence of pineal endocrine hypofunction in autistic children.Kulman G, Lissoni P, Rovelli F, Roselli MG, Brivio F, Sequeri P.Division of Infant Neuropsychiatry, S.Gerardo Hospital, Monza (Milan), Italy.OBJECTIVE: The pineal hormone melatonin (MLT) has been proven to play afundamental physiological regulatory role on both biological and psychicfunctions and alterations of the light/dark circadian rhythm of MLT have beendescribed in several chronic immunoinflammatory diseases and in psychicdisorders. Aim of the present biological explanatory study was the evaluation ofMLT circadian rhythm in autistic children, in order to preliminary assess thepineal endocrine function in the autistic syndrome. METHODS: The study included14 children suffering from classical infantile autism, who were investigated forthe whole 24-hour circadian rhythm by collecting venous blood samples at 4-hourintervals. Serum levels of MLT were measured by the RIA method. The controlgroup consisted of 20 age-matched healthy children. RESULTS: No autistic patientshowed a normal MLT circadian rhythm. Moreover, autistic children showedsignificantly lower mean concentrations of MLT, mainly during the dark phase ofthe day, with respect to the values observed in the controls. CONCLUSION: Theresults of this preliminary study suggest the existence of a pineal endocrinehypofunction in autistic children, whose pathophysiological significance needsto be thoroughly investigated in successive clinical studies.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Spinning objects by Christian deWilde

Title: Spinning objects
Author: Christian deWilde
Affiliation: Emergent Minds

Consider the possibility that objects spin in self-defense. Spinning objects are naturally selected for survival because their spin affords them greater protection from environmental threats than objects which don't spin. Over the long haul, objects that don't spin end up being shattered (into smaller spinning parts) by those that do... Over time, spinning objects tend to gradually become spherical as protruding areas get worn down or chipped off.
Let's say that two non-spinning billiard balls collide in a zero gravity vacuum:
Unless they hit precisely head on (exceedingly unlikely), the impact will cause one or both of them to spin as they glance off one another:
Consider what happens if you shoot a bullet directly at the center of a stationary (non-spinning) cue ball. If the cue ball is perfectly still (not spinning), it will simply explode when the bullet strikes. (In fact, it will explode into a number of smaller chunks, many of which will be spinning from the impact... We'll come back to this unfortunate cue ball in a moment.)
Now consider what happens if you shoot a bullet at a spinning cue ball: The faster the cue ball is spinning, the greater the chance the bullet will glance off or be deflected by the "centripetal force-field" created by the spin - the spinning ball drags the air molecules surrounding it in the direction of spin, which in turn causes counter-rotation of the next farthest layer of air molecules (Bernoulli Effect). This creates a mini-atmosphere, which serves as a protective buffer around the cue ball:
Say you are a spinning sphere (or, if you have trouble visualizing that, imagine you are spinning around the surface of a sphere such as Earth) - the atmosphere created by your spin allows you to drag inbound elements into an orbit around you.

These inbound elements can be anything - information, physical objects, waves, etc... If an inbound element is traveling faster than your atmosphere, then your atmosphere will have a slowing effect on the inbound element. (Imagine shooting a bullet into a whirlpool of molasses - the bullet slows to "digestible" speed as it enters the whirlpool...) If the element is traveling slower than your atmosphere, then your atmosphere will have the effect of speeding it up. Now imagine flying a paper airplane into a tornado - the airplane picks up speed but its shape is not well-suited for spinning, so it is quickly shredded into tiny pieces, which in turn get broken down into smaller and smaller pieces until they are so small that they can spin effectively. As these pieces are getting smaller, the tornado, which just ate a paper airplane, is getting stronger - It has broken the paper down into tiny orbiting atmospheric projectiles which are now serving to chew up any new paper airplanes which might enter into its energy field.

We have fairly compelling evidence that our hapless victim, the cue ball, stands a better chance of survival if it is spinning - in fact, we can safely say that up until the point that its rate of spin jeopardizes its own structural integrity, the ball's chances of surviving impact increase directly with its rate of spin.
...But what about the bullet? Does our predatory projectile gain or lose any naturally selective advantage by spinning? It would seem so (and here's where I think things get really interesting) - The bullet seems to have the best chance of penetrating the centripetal force-field of the cue ball and making contact if its axis of spin is aligned with its direction of travel - in other words, if it drills into the cue ball). Not only does it have a better chance of making contact, it has a better chance of surviving contact as well, because as we showed above, it can better deflect atmospheric projectiles whirring around the cue ball which might otherwise pose a threat.
A related effect of spinning is that it maximizes absorption of inbound elements by distributing any inbound elements over the entire sphere... So we know that our planet spins almost orthogonally to the sun's light, thereby maximizing distribution of heat and light over the surface area of the sphere... More to come on the implications of differing ratios of volume to surface area for different 3-D geometric shapes...
(Random musings...)
You are the center of your own universe, and you have a multi-dimensional, multi-layer atmosphere around you. If this doesn't make sense, think about the implications of having a "circulatory" system...) If you are standing still, the counter-rotating spheres around you will tend to align such that each successive sphere radiating out from the center is spinning either with it axis of spin exactly aligned with or completely orthogonal to axes of spin of the ones above and below it. When all the axes of a hypershpere align, there is a myelinated communication conduit formed along the axis of the poles, protected by the spinning atmosphere. Could it be that neurotransmitters simply cause a polar alignment between the spheres at the end of axons and dendrites, and as soon as those poles align, they exchange signals through the emergent tunnel until their spins once again become destabilized and block off further communication during the refractory period?
Each of the 3 quarks (up, down, and strange: labels referring to direction of spin) corresponds to a geometric axis (x, y, and z), since each of these types of spin are natural consequence of the other two. Might this circular dependency represent the essence of perpetual motion? More on this later...
There is also a naturally selective advantage to having mountainous terrain on the surface of a sphere, since an uneven surface creates more drag on the air molecules, creating a richer atmosphere. Note the dimples in a golf ball. This advantage is offset by the naturally selective pressure to achieve faster spin, which generally requires (and results in) a somewhat smooth surface. Now look at craters on the surface of planets or moons... As planets survive small impacts, they gain the mountainous surface contours that help to effectively gather an atmosphere... Some planets are heavily volcanic, and perhaps more likely to have a rich atmosphere... and therefore more likely to harbor life?
Have you ever seen an analog music storage system that doesn't rely on spin for playback? Records, eight tracks, cassettes, and even digital/optical media such as DAT and CD players all work by passing an endless stream of information over some "perceptron" (needle, tape head, laser reader, etc.), and this endless stream is best organized in a self-contained circular form.
Could it be that the reason that sound, for example, seems to travel in a wave pattern, is because of the positional shifts that occur as a natural consequence of passing through sequential counter-rotating fields? If you're moving away from the source of sound, you get carried back and forth by each surrounding field layer.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Journal of Rampant Speculation

Publishing and sharing ideas is a central to the process of collective enlightenment. Traditional mechanism for publishing ideas through a peer-review mechanism, however, is fraught with inefficiencies. Motives other than the pursuit of truth hinder the process, particularly the desire for notoriety and economic gain. It's hard to blame the academicians. The reward mechanism in academics is attention and funding, and academic literature is the marketplace for competition. The misplaced motives lead to inefficient allocation of effort among scientists and inefficient selection process for ideas among publishers. Indeed, both science and publishing are forms of economic enterprise.

As a result of this structure, academicians tend to pursue and publishers tend to print incremental science. The system is intrinsically reactionary and often inadvertantly rewards safety in the name of scientific rigor. Truly innovative ideas, however, may find no forum if the idea does not or cannot fit into the existing publishing schema. Most of the literature landspace is fairly homogeneous in terms of requirements for submission. There are scattered forums for untested hypotheses, but even those tend to be severely constrained by traditional intellectual limitations. Science is advancing rapidly, but there is little doubt that the absence of a forum for sharing novel outlier hypotheses is hindering even faster progress by not fostering discontinuous innovations.

It is the goal of this blog to fill this gap by encouraging the development and sharing of innovative outlier hypotheses in all areas of academics, particularly the sciences. We solicit your ideas, which will be evaluated by our editorial board. Great ideas will be published and opened up for commentary so that the ideas take on a life of their own. Occasionally, we may solicit outlier hypotheses on a particular topic which the editorial staff may feel would be of general interest. Submissions to these solicitations will receive priority review.

The review process, as well as the composition of review staff, reflects our non-traditional mission. The reviewers are all academicians at top institutions who are at the early stages of their careers. By day, their creativity and enthusiasm are stifled as day laborers in the rigid structure of modern academics. By night, they rage, rage against the dying of the most plastic portion of their intellectual lives.

Submissions should state the current dominant theory, describe the proposed alternative theory, and provide an argument for the theory. All submissions should be made to