Sunday, October 12, 2008

the aquarian conspiracy

"in our need to cope with everyday concerns, we forfeit awareness of the miracle of awareness"
-Marylin Ferguson

[disclaimer: everything i think about this is based on gatherings from Huxley's biography and Ferguson's A.C. theory. please, please please, you guys... hook me up with the rest of it.]

the Aquarian Conspiracy, so dubbed by Marylin Ferguson, is generally misconstrued as yet another mysterious and frightening undertaking by the CIA to flood the U.S. with psychedelics, and control subliminal brainwashing. being called a "conspiracy" doesn't really do much to battle this assumption. in actuality, the word "conspiracy" is used in a much less menacing regard, namely, its literal sense; to conspire means to breathe together. this was a movement of social synthesis in the "consciousness revolution" of the 1960-70's. "aquarian" refers to the aquarian age - following the current (violent Piscean) into one of love, light and liberation of mind [sidenote: this is the most flower-childesque thing you will ever catch me saying - please note that these are not my words and i say them with a healthy ( or unhealthy) degree of cynicism toward blind love and spiritual enlightenment]. in other words, the aquarian conspiracy is not a governmental heist. rather, it's a social paradigm shift resulting from the slow exposure of individual awareness. it just so happens that conspirators, being everywhere, were also staked in the CIA and could bring in Aldous Huxley and Humphrey Osmond to spike the revolution with psychedelics. it's just too bad that the drug was given to the blind and dumb (yes, Hippies) who brought the revolution into the open carelessly and flippantly.

there was, of course, a CIA operation involved under Allen Dulles (a Rockafeller cousin, go figure). in the late 50's, an investigation began into the utility of LSD (developed by Swiss chemist, Albert Hoffman) as a military weapon. oddly enough, Aldous Huxley's personal physician was recruited by Dulles to lead these investigations. as a side project, Humphrey Osmond (the physician), Huxley and some other dude with funding connections began investigating LSD as a therapeutic tool for mental disorders under the guise that mescaline (a similar alkaloid to LSD) produced a Schizophrenic model. this West Coast project resulted in Huxley recruiting his own cult of experimenters; one of these spiked the Zen Buddhism cult, another, the Hippie cult.

having jump-started the West Coast movement, Huxley went back to Boston to teach at MIT and birthed a similar team on the East Coast. during this time, he started another project with Sandoz Pharmaceuticals (Albert Hoffman's company in Switzerland) to contract the mass production of LSD under the CIA's chemical warfare investigation. and by the 60's, Dulles had made the purchase orders.

the reason for the bad rep of the Aquarian Conspiracy is that it emerged at the same time as the anti-war movement, the "flower child" cult of San Francisco and the manifested inundation of LSD, which was introduced by Huxley in his MIT courses as the window to consciousness.

i think we're on the verge of its second wave.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

glycyrrhetinic acid

glycyrrhetinic acid (the potent sweetener of the licorice root) is an expectorant (a mucous thinner) that inhibits the activity of prostaglandin-metabolizing enzymes (causing lots of prostaglandin activity in the digestive system).

prostaglandins (the bitchinest of all hormones) work in concert with the immune system. their badass reputation comes from regulating classic core body fever. endogenous pyrogenic cytokines (interleukins, interferons, etc.), which are produced in excess in response to an invasive toxin or bacteria, stimulate the hypothalamus to synthesize prostaglandins that modulate the body's core temperature to enable activity of immune mechanisms which fight the pathogen (the reason you take Asprin to break a fever is because it inhibits the production of prostaglandins).

(and) the reason that prostaglandins are the bitchinest of all hormones is because they have such an extensive array of physiological activity through the body.

in the digestive system, the all-star fatty acid derivatives instigate mucous secretion from the stomach lining, both protecting and prolonging the lifespan of the columnar epithelium that so graciously allow for the digestion of food. ergo, tea from boiled licorice root, being concentrated in glycyrrhetinic acid which stimulates prostaglandin secretion in the stomach, is protectice against ulcers, inflammation and general rotting of the digestive tract. incomparably, my favorite medicine.

Friday, October 10, 2008

empty thoughts IX

incidentally, all this time that i've been drooling over the products of the gods of neurophilosophy, i've never really condoned or disputed any of their arguments. rather, i more or less take them in stride and create something new out of them. sometimes, arguments are that badass, what can you do? at the moment, however, i say "incidentally" because i happen to have come upon a precarious internal consensus about individuality.

i like the way Lewis Thomas puts it: multiple personalities is not a pathology - it's when they all clamor for conscious attention at once that they become a problematic condition.

nice, right? here's where it gets tricky for me. it is conceivable to me to believe in the capacity of a body to merge multiple selves, but i also favor the holism in collective consciousness of the universe. so what is it? are we all of the same energy using not only various bodies differently, but various circuits of each body differently? or are we denying the strength of fragmentation in assuming holism is the healthier, safer and more sane alternative?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

the altruism consortia

" have no restraint from, no regard to others in our behaviour is the speculative absurdity of considering ourselves as single and independent, as having nothing in our nature which has respect to our fellow-creatures, reduced to action and practice. and this is the same absurdity, as to suppose a hand, or any part to have no natural respect to any other, or to the whole body."

-- i have a huge crush on Joseph Butler

*disclaimer: all chronology is flippant and estimated because i am slothful and have not thought about any of this since theory of knowledge class in high school.

the altruism debacle is ageless, with one of the more sinusoidal flux patterns of any of the philosophical redundancies. this seems a reflection of what generational mascot sits chair of the committee on altruistic behavior.

in the beginning - the 1850's - altruism was introduced as the diametric of egoism... by some dude whose name escapes me, probably because he's French. the conception of the word provided wind for the Hobbesian argument of self-interest as the evolutionary drive of all beings (which came at least a century before), at which time Hobbes was the committee chair, proclaiming from the grave that altruism itself was a demonstration of supreme egoism. sure, he had critics in Hume and Butler, but their projections of altruistic behavior as innate to both the individual and collective self did not rise to power until the Church adopted the altruism consortia in the late 19th/early 20th century.

under Popes Pius VIII-X (yes, i most definitley had to fact-check this one), altruism became the act of love for the sake of being one with God. from here, the Behavioralists took over not only the chair, but the committee majority. reverting to the era of Hobbes' reign, they effectively obliterated the remote connection between altruism and love (on which it was originally based, go ask Compte [huh, apparently i recall his name after all]) and redefined the act as "reckless curiosity." this was, in my harrowed opinion, in reference to the experimental foray into exactly how much tit one could get for tat. a Machiavellian endeavor, if you will.

giving credit where due, the Hippie movement did actually achieve something. tangential as it was (and I consider almost every lasting effect of their stint to be so), they monopolized the altruism consortia and brought back Christian altruism, replacing "God" with "self" and "love" with "collective consciousness" (or, psychadelics, if you prefer to be technical).

however, the reign was short-lived and power was redistributed to the Atheists (i may or may not be accurate in posting Dawkins at the stern, here, but i'm gonna anyway; its done out of reluctant respect). so here we are, withthe committee on altruism manned by those who have given up on surprised continuity of souls and, instead, mellowed Hobbes' altruism to a more gentle tool of survival; taking responsibility for all associated behaviors out of the hands of conscious creatures and placing it in their genes.

i don't necessarily disagree with the current consortia (see post on Microtubules and Intelligence), but my personal philosophy on altruism is a little more toward the end of irrational benevolence... which, i suppose, places me in the neo-Kantian vein. Nagel is our most prominent hope for the next phase shift in the altruism consortia, riding on the back of the forgotten and forlorn Empathetical movement (shudder).

we are not independent organisms; having a more developed intelligence than other species does not now make us exceptions to the evolutionary tactics that propagated that intelligence in the first place. we need our mothers, we learn by imitation, we thrive on continuity of selves. altruism is a mechanism to foster that continuity.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

LHC and the God Particle

First of all, I am way, way too excited for Wednesday.

Murray Gell-Mann simplified the zoo of fundamental physical particles in the 1960's by identifying their similarities in their symmetries. All 80 (or something) types were made up of three quarks. In the late 60's, the first electron micrographs of protons were taken, finding within this fundamental particle three smaller particles of the correct charges, but of indiscernible structure. These quarks, together with the electron and electron neutrino are capable of explaining everything in the actual world. Among the things that remain unexplained is why there are three families of each of the aforementioned, which are identical in every respect except that they are of three different masses. How is it possible that there are, in perceivable existence, three versions of the exact same fundamental particle which perform the exact same function and have what appears to be the exact same structure?

There is another particle, called a Higgs boson, which - should it actually exist - answers the profound question of why and how things acquire different masses, why so many distinct fundamental particles can arise from the same three quarks, why unique particle interactions occur in particular fashions, and exactly which roles those forces play in our universe.

Particles gain different masses because of the different ways in which they interact with Higgs bosons. Essentially (and I'm not going to try to tackle the actual equations because my mind is feabile and my brain is exhausted), Higgs particles are dark matter. They fill every "empty" space in the universe, and as fundamental particles stream through the universe, those that are said to acquire mass are bombarded with Higgs bosons which slow down their streamline. Those particles which do not acquire mass (photons, etc.) are not impeded by Higgs particles... hence, nothing travels faster than the speed of light :)

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN has been designed (and under construction and legal debate since 2003) to see if the Higgs boson can be revealed. The problem with the Higgs boson theory right now is that it is just mathematical theory - there is no physical observation. The idea behind the LHC is that, as it is a particle accelerator, the collision of protons accelerated within it can result in the creation of a new particle. The energy created by the collision is proportional to a mass (this is the real meaning of E=mc^2), and so a new particle with a new mass can result.

This is why tomorrow is so fucking sweet. Tomorrow... Sept. 10, 2008... and more importantly, Wednesday... the LHC will be "turned on," and the first proton beam will be circulated through the tunnel. The Tevatron particle collider in the Fermi Lab outside Chicago is almost as powerful as CERN's LHC, and may have already shown the existence of the Higgs boson, but have not produced any data, as such. The idea of the LHC is to recreate the conditions up to milli-seconds following the Big Bang, and hopefully make strong suggestions about the nature of this minor event in history.

The identification of the Higgs boson would mean remarkable things for the entire world of physics, beginning with the completion of the Standard Model of particle physics. Specifically, the Higgs boson would give a distinct variable to the differences between massive and massless particles, thus making possible concrete suggestions (as opposed to theoretical) about the nature of the relationship between the four fundamental forces (electromagnetism, gravitation, weak and strong nuclear forces).

Ergo... more redefinition and tweaked theory of the Big Bang.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

REM and memory consolidation

consolidation of memories - being the enhancement and stabilization following encoding of information - primarily occurs during sleep. there are, as to be expected, several propositions as to the manner in which this takes place.

the medial temporal lobe, including the hippocampal system, is said to mediate consolidation through enhancing innervation to the neocortex. it is proposed that this occurs in several possible mechanisms:

1) the MTL system consolidates by signaling the neocortex to form a new representation of information, and the neocortex subsequently imprints and stores

2) the MTL is the rehearsal mechanism, strengthening connections with the particular cortical regions so they are all activated when the experience responsible for the information input repeats in the future

3) the MTL encodes AND imprints memories into the neocortex. this final option suggests that once enhanced, the neocortex is the final repository for memories. long-term memory is then distributed by coactivation through the higher neocortices specialized for analysis, each contributing differently to the storage of the complete memory. in this way, the neocortex is primed to reconstruct the representation of the information from partial cues.

regardless of which of these mechanisms is more correct than the other, their common function depends on adequate sleep cycles. it has been shown that not only does consolidation occur primarily during slow-wave and REM sleep (Kandel 2001, Sei et al 2000), but also that MTL activity during the information encoding process decreases dramatically in sleep deprived subjects (Drummond et al 2000). both of these observations correlate with decreased cortical metabolism and reproducible memory deficit.

disruption of encoding and deficit of retention in sleep-deprived subjects map onto particular physiological correlates that pronounce REM sleep as crucial for the memory consolidation process. REM deprivation reduces excitability of hippocampal neurons responsible for imprinting information into the neocortex (Kandel). this, as you might imagine, directly impairs long-term potentiation (LTP), or decays any LTP that does occur [ aka, early-LTP is vulnerable to decay within 90 min if not pushed into late-LTP by excited hippocampal neurons which facilitate the genetic transcription of proteins which are biochemically responsible for the actual "long term"]. in addition to LTP, acetylcholine (ACh) accompanying slow-wave sleep just prior to REM mediates consolidation (Power 2004, see neato pic).

the other important gesture sustained by REM sleep is the production of several nerve growth factors, primarily NGF and BDNF. these are both key regulators of LTP (again referring to the strengthening of neural circuit connections in learning and memory formation). this means that their reduction in REM sleep-deprived subjects probably causes the impairment in memory consolidation - supported by the most drastic deficits occurring in the hippocampus.

apparently, episodic memory is most profoundly affected by REM sleep-deprivation... but we don't know why (Rauchs et al 2004). although it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it had something to do with consolidation involving the prefrontal cortex (which has been suggested by almost everyone in the field to be the primary region of activation and most distinguishable candidate during episodic memory retrieval, and also during MTL mediated consolidation (see entry on "episodic memory and autonoetic awareness")). both the hippocampus and pfc are main players in episodic memory encoding and retrieval (id est, emotional memory depicting information in the context which it was learned). the other half of declarative memory, semantic, seems to involve a much different array of hippocampal efferent circuits. and although i don't actually know what the profiles of ACh, NGF or BDNF are in those circuits... i would imagine that they're also different from the activity seen in the circuits associated with episodic consolidation.

ergo, REM sleep: fighting amnesia since the evolution of the higher limbic system.


do dreams arise from the stochastic hippocampal inputs to the neocortex?

did dreams evolve from the prolonged quiescent state in reptiles to promote calcium-dependent memory consolidation?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

everything i love enlivens me to a nostalgia for some piece of life i never knew

... and yet, the nostalgia does not become ruinous when the thing that inspired it disappears or becomes a relic.

Georgia: I think I've reached a place where I can be happy enough with someone's existence to accept their disappearance from my life when the time comes

Wade: Are you referring to someone or something specific? Give me more.

Georgia: I mean in general - I was thinking about how some of my most treasured have drifted in a way that you would expect from casual acquaintances, and some come back intermittently and some don't - I don't have that aching feeling that accompanies heavy loss like I once did

Wade: You are getting used to people fading, that's a sad event

Georgia: Yes, but it's a nice feeling that I can be happy enough with periods of real love no matter their brevity and appreciate that I've been able to reciprocate them without being possessive of them

Wade: True, but it requires a lack of long term expectation, and people too often fall into that regard toward the nature of friendship

Georgia: I'm not worried about that happening. I don't enter into relationships with people with any expectation of their lasting forever, but I maintain the prospect of their becoming something important and treasurable

Wade: Have you always been this way?

Georgia: No, I spent my life being incredibly possessive and emotionally dependent on any love I could get my hands on.

Wade: ...and now, you are adapting to loss by learned helplessness. What will happen to you if you further develop this lackadaisical expectation of connectedness? You will become cold and sad. We are social creatures, and we crumble without connectedness.

Georgia: Don't call it helplessness, because sad and cold is the opposite of my apparent direction which is why I accept it at all. The connectedness does not disappear with the person or thing, is my point... which is why the love remains, made more fervent by weak nostalgia but also made pleasant by the absence of possessive defeat.

... maybe because those i love most are so grandiose - their own worlds - that i can conceive of our collision as being just emphatic and long enough to have made an impressionable entanglement of selves before ricocheting away - worlds gained and only grossly lost.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

aspirin and parkinson's

arachidonic acid is one of the reasons that a high meat diet contributes to early neurodegeneration - it's not just about caloric intake, it's about the amino acids you accumulate. arachidonic acid is a fatty acid precursor to prostaglandins, which are made in excess when neurons die and release arach. acid into the extracellular system, or when introduced in excess through extensive meat intake.

Aspirin inhibits prostaglandin production. inhibited prostaglandin production releases less arachidonic acid to oxidize other cells. less arach. acid allowed to do damage over time decreases the chances of developing Parkinson's disease.

take Aspririn (or any NSAID, really) to avoid PD when you're eighty. but also, eat less fatty meat.

Monday, August 11, 2008

empty thoughts VIII

1. handedness in mice seems to correlate with a lateralized dominance of dopamine expression; a mouse who prefers to use the left paw has a lower level of dopamine in the right hemisphere (Berneoud et al 1990) [which screws with my mind because in Parkinson's a mouse who has impairment of left paw control has lower levels of dopamine in the right hemisphere... fucking dopamine].

2. human fetuses suck their thumb beginning at the 15th week of gestation. of 75 fetuses who suck their thumbs, the 60 who suck their right thumb all become right handed teenagers. of the 15 who suck their left thumb, 5 become right handed and 10 become left handed (Cabib et al 1995) [so handedness is a developmental thing, not a consciousness thing?... in the vicinity of week 15 the brain is primarily ventricles, aka stem cell pockets, so what, are we talking about dimorphic differentiation as dictated by the notochord?].

3. whether early brain asymmetries contribute more to language development or handedness remains a challenging question (Corballis 2003) [which is damn sweet... that handedness might correlate with language centers, particularly Broca and Wernike's areas localized in the left hemisphere].

4. fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF8) is secreted from the anterior cortex during development which might be distributed unevenly to the left and right cortical hemispheres, leading to asymetrical topography (Sun et al 2005) [i can't find any studies on whether or not this secretion occurs anywhere near gestation week 15 where striatum and cortex develop from the ventricle cells... and it is driving me mad].

5. normal brain asymmetry is disrupted in individuals with schizophrenia, autism, dyslexia, etc. (Herbert et al 2005; Hugdahl 1998; Falkai 1992) [does molecular regulation conjugate brain asymmetry and handedness?... do schizophrenics etc. demonstrate tendancies toward ambidexterity?!... do all these conditions correlate to oxygen deprivation during critical periods of gestation?!...].

6. 90% of the human population is right-hand dominant. of that population, 95% are also language skill dominant in the left hemisphere. of the remaining 10% who are left-handed, only 70% are language dominant in the left hemisphere (Sun and Walsh 2006).

Then... does handedness actually indicate a significant specialization in unilateral hemispheric function? The hand manipulates the environment, and the contralateral brain maps the sensory information into a model... but is the correlation between left-handedness and holistic, intuitive and musical function of the right brain as robust as it is imperfect? And for that matter, is 90% of the human population right handed in correlation with evolutionary utility of the left brain as a linear, language manipulating analytical tool?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

green sulphate umbrella

there is a problem with the climate change sector of energy policy with which i'm particularly irritated... which is that people are either concerned with greenhouse gas emissions, or chemical pollutants, and no one seems to be considering the implications of both. namely... that they complement one another, they are both causing severe problems and they need to be decreased together, not separately. and this segregation of focus is all well and good except for that it completely destroys the ability of policy makers to address the current climate crises in a comprehensive manner. in the particular instance of these two issues, if one is given more weight than the other, or one is addressed without the other, we could all die anyway via the acceleration of the geophysical phenomena that greenhouse and pollutant gases are currently holding at bay.

namely... "global warming" versus "global dimming." very brief summary before i rant: in the 60's, particle pollution began to noticeably reflect a great deal of the sun's rays which had a cooling effect on the globe. this effect continued as pollution continued, the phenomenon being explained by the increased particles polluting clouds giving water a greater surface area on which to collect, and water molecules take much longer to collect enough to outweigh the particle and cause it to fall in a raindrop. while the water takes longer to collect, it stays in the clouds, reflecting a substantial amount of sunlight and preventing it from reaching the earth's surface. so from the 60's to the 80's, global dimming has protected us against the full assault of global warming, which would have otherwise been roughly two-fold. so yes, while pollution has been the cause of something like 135,000 premature deaths a year, it has warded off the 1,000,000 that would have been caused by the effects of accelerated global warming. but then, in the 80's when Congress adopted the EPA's Clean Air Act, pollutants decreased in the clouds and global warming revealed itself more drastically. and voila, in the 00's, if we want to live, we have to address both, and here is my rant...

this whole business of chemtrailing a sulfur umbrella into the stratosphere, if i'm being honest, doesn't seem like such a bad idea. because the world is having so much trouble - fuck it, because the United States is having so much trouble - deciding whether or not we want to assume this problem is real much less address it, it's going to take a few years to get policy implemented effectively. in the meantime, sulfate has a half life of roughly ten years, so it is in actuality one of the more innocuous short-term plans. shoot up the sky with more crap that doesn't belong in it while we, down on the ground, figure out how to decrease both ghg and particle pollutants from the atmosphere in concert.

reducing ghg requires technological implementation. reducing soot requires tighter regulation. the latter is easily done, while the former seems to be... the cause of increased rate of aneurysm and heart attack in our political leaders... for whatever reason... likely because (like so many socioeconomic crises that are incorporated into its implications) ghg emission is an exceedingy comprehensive nexus.

my point being this: if you deal with ghg emissions alone, we'll experience global cooling complete with drought, famine, disease, loss of populations, loss of species and loss of existence. if you deal with particle pollutants alone, we'll experience accelerated global heating complete with drought, famine, disease, loss of populations, loss of species and loss of existence. ergo... work simultaneously on decreasing them both [and if you're one of those people who thinks increased snowfall in certain areas of the globe this year is a clear sign that global warming doesn't exist, i have some words for your denial]. yes yes, i understand it's going to be oh so very difficult an endeavor... after all, particle pollutants have a shorter half life than do ghg's, and there's math involved, and oh for fuck's sake get over it and alter your nation's productive and consumptive behaviour so that ghg production are decreased more exponentially and particle pollutants more linearly. and then, oh no!, how do we know how much of atmospheric ghg and particle pollutants are from us and how many are natural? what if we accidentally take too much out of the sky and as a result lose oxygen and gravitational pull? [i'm exercising restraint not to comment on the rapture at this point...] after all, there's no way to tell if any of this is actually our fault! so let's continue to mutate our livestock and crops and make sure we adequately feed our greedily unbalanced economic and consumptive habits [i also think that it should be the govt's responsibility to pay farmers for feeding their nation so that we can ween off of this terrible seething monster of supply and demand]... but as per norm, i digress...

if we are indeed going to continue to restrict funding for and forebearance of green technology, then put a sulphate umbrella over our shallow little heads for a few decades while we figure out how to get over ourselves. and no more of this carbon scrubbing shit that cleans primarily sulfur out of industrial burners - if we're going to scrub, scrub both carbon and sulfur; why trap the more benign gas and give the more-difficult-and-expensive-to-remove-from-the-atmosphere gas VIP entrance? clean coal is actually not a bad baby step... since it seems we are going to need some dirt in our clouds for a while longer before the environmental consequences of Bushee's regime wear off and green technology begins to be taken seriously.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

physical component of social pain

on the potentially incapacitating noxious pain of social exclusion, rejection or loss.

leave it to life to knock me upside the head for meandering through a thought like yesterday's...

when Nicole and Anne's moms were lost to breast cancer, when Robin's father was lost to metastatic brain tumors and her mother Diane was then taken by breast cancer a few years later, yesterday when John didn't come in to work because his dad was waiting on the results of a cancer diagnosis (on Friday i had initiated a conversation with him about health and predisposition, self and family, brilliant timing natalie). and then tonight when Cookie went through the ordeal of diagnosing her three-month old kitten with a neural bacterial infection and had to put him down... i suppose i recall the weight that comes down on my heart when people i love suffer.

"it is conceivable that brain circuits for separation distress represent an evolutionary elaboration of an endorphin-based pain network" -Panksepp

sure, it is sensible to propose that noxious pain accompanying an emotional event would serve to focus attention to that event to promote correction and future avoidance. such an adaptation would promote inclusive fitness: death of genetic kin, sexual jealousy, rap and childlessness as noxiously painful stimuli, recognized as aversive would be avoided.

social and physical pain have been shown to share the opioid and oxytocin neuroendocrine systems that work through the cingulate gyrus and periaquaductal gray [as a side note, the PAG is also a sexually dimorphic region specializing in aggressive behavior... larger and more active in males...].

social integration used to mean survival to us. now, we're so hell-bent on independence and establishing self sufficiency that we seemingly strive to eliminate this integration - this is just one example of modern social exclusion, but the first that comes to mind. if we look at our closest cousins, they form strong relationships within their social network because connections to certain individuals mean connectedness to tools of protection, reproduction and food. the most strongly integrated animals are the most likely to survive... this is because we are one of many many species who learn through imitation.

okay. so connectedness is important, and social exclusion can be equivalent to death. therefore, social animals needed physiological mechanisms to help them react to threats of social exclusion, and avoid them. interdependence.

evolutionary theory would suggest something like... as more complex social networks arose, complex response systems within physiological correlates of behaviour probably became associated with already existing mechanisms of threat defense... drumroll... the nociceptive system. [as another side note i loooooove this system. mm.]

if you throw a lobster into a pot of boiling water, it will flap its tail and appear to be trying to climb out. this is actually a nociceptive reflex wherein pain nerves are activated by the heat and recruit a network of other nerves to move the tail in such a way as to quickly escape the threat. this is the same system on which social pain would supervene... but lobsters don't have an emotional correlate to pain [i've written about this before... don't remember when...].

noxious pain gives information about tissue damage to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and the periaquaductal gray (PAG). the affective experience of pain depicted by activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus that signals an aversive state and motivates behaviour to escape the noxious stimulus. and it is this affective component whose circuit social pain might directly utilize. hot.

these two circuits - physical and social pain circuits - could become associated through very early-on sensory experiences... with physical pain and separation. for instance, when an infant experiences physical discomfort, it is alleviated by physical contact with the maternal figure - what Bowlby calls the attachment figure (1970's). however, this simultaneously teaches the infant that isolation and physical pain go together.

on a more physiological level, it has been demonstrated that the opiates released in infants when physical pain is alleviated during attachment are stimulated to do so by the PAG. this same pain inhibition in the dorsal horn by opiate stimulation from the PAG occurs when adults experiencing social exclusion related pain - death, sexual jealousy, etc. - are able to alleviate it through social attachment. and when they are isolated or cannot otherwise inhibit the affective component of pain, endogenous opioid production does not occur.

freaking cool that social pain to promote survival in social animals may have developed by mapping onto the more primitive mechanism of noxious pain.

so in other words, fuck you, modern independence epidemic. every social or affective pain i have ever experience - death, social exclusion, medical or financial crisis - has been ameliorated by a hug.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

electron tunneling

In case you were wondering what gets me off...

" By comparison of the measured IETS (*inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy) spectrum of this molecule with the computed one, it is possible to examine the relative intensities of the different vibrational normal modes, thereby to deduce the pathway for transport. We find that the electrons are injected through the terminal methyl group, tunnel through the sigma bridge to the etheric linkage, mix with the pi electrons, pi tunnel through the aromatic, and switch back to the sigma tunneling, through the thiol and out onto the counter electrode (Galperin and Ratner)."

Bit of background... this was a studying looking at molecular transport junctions wherein a molecule is placed between two electrodes and subjected to applied voltage. This kind of analysis shows particular modes of transport pathways for electrons across the molecule by way of interpreting the molecular junction geometry. This is hot shit because delocalization of electrons across molecules - and in particular, proteins - has the potential to give a great deal of information about protein folding mechanisms...

Protein folding is a fairly simple concept: when DNA copies, it translates its code into a sequence of amino acids. The aa sequence comprises what is called the primary protein structure. AA then fold, through several types of electromagnetic interaction, into secondary structure which begins to take on 3D characteristics. Secondary structure can then fold into several different types of final form, depending on the protein's destined function. But for the purpose of where I'm going with this, I'm going to refer only to primary and secondary structure.

there's a reason that computer modeling has trouble accurately replicating the speed in which proteins fold into their final conformation. that reason is electron tunneling.

in proteins there have been found to exist very significant long-distance tunneling currents of superposed paths over which electrons can delocalize across an entire structure - not just between neighboring atoms which was the conventional assumption.

what this means is that an electron localized to... atom A... can enter into a more delocalized, higher energy superposition between atoms A and B. when it yields back this high energy state, the electron can then relocalize to B rather than back to A, if this is energetically favorable. sound familiar? this is basic electron transfer. now imagine the same mechanism occurring between amino acids of primary and secondary protein structures. because the distance between aa is so much greater than between individual atoms, electron coupling falls away and electrons must delocalize via tunneling currents, connected by "bridges" which enhance tunneling along multiple superposed paths within the molecule.

for instance, in the tubulin protein alpha and beta dimers that make of microtubules (previous post) contain a somewhat patterned arrangement of tryptophan amino acids, arranged all within 2 nanometers of each other. because tryptophan aa contain not only an aromatic ring, but a double aromatic ring (an indole), they provide a tremendously stable delocalization site for electron density, and are thought to be key players in the tunneling current in and between tubulin dimers [this is the tunneling that causes the conformational change in alpha and beta monomers that result in the propagation of an electrical signal down their lattice in the microtubule].

the signal is not just propagated by means of the tryptophan current network; there is also a lattice composes of the aromatic substituents of histidine and phenylalanine amino acids, which correspond to an additional three tunneling possible tunneling patterns. this current-strengthening effect is responsible for the nature of the electromagnetic signal as it is transfered down a microtubule, and from one microtubule to another.

it works as such: the transfer of an electron from one space in a primary structure to another space causes a conformational shift which directs the primary structure to take on secondary characteristics. cysteine amino acids will be reoriented such that they are within few enough angstroms of one another to be reduced to form disulfide bridges... hydrogen bonding will cause proline rings to the outer surface of the molecule such that a helix is left handed as opposed to right, etc. the reason protein folding can occur so rapidly is that this works the other way as well: conformational change of the protein as it folds influences changes in the tunneling current pattern so that the tunneling options electrons have are altered (Balabin and Onuchic 1998).

the remaining question, then, is what controls the dynamics of tunneling electrons? something to do with phonons (vibrational degrees of freedom) as produced by tunneling effects, which then enhance feedback between tunneling current and conformational changes. my understanding of electron-phonon interaction, however, is excruciatingly limited.

i must find someone to educate me on this one... quite frankly, i'm tired of staring at primary literature trying to navigate my way around equations for this shit. where is my on hand physicist?... i can't fit this into my theory of conscious DNA until phonon emission finds its place! gr. grumble. pass out.

selective attention vs psychokinesis

do we see red coats worn everywhere because, coincidentally, an epidemic of red coats was brought to explicit consciousness by selective attention? or do we see them everywhere, psychokinetically, to prove to our inner thinker that they are truly everywhere?

and what's more, which is evolutionarily beneficial?

reproduction used to be the name of the game; now, those of us who have developed higher intelligence are interrupting the expression of our survival traits with a panoply of stimuli over which to ruminate. numerous strains of fly - mayfly, cattle grub, Bembix - have only one objective upon maturity: propagation. they have no mouth. when you live for sex alone you do not need to be attentive to anything else, and, as such, there is no call for your mind to be selective. this works for such creatures, evolutionarily speaking. they fertilize, lay parasitic nests and call it good. there's no hierarchical categorization of voluntary or involuntary attention, and there's certainly no psychokenesis... right?

here's what i think is interesting about the concept of mind over matter: there is no trace of the more basic mechanism from which it evolved that is given any regard in evolutionary biology. whyyy?! because it doesn't appeal to congenital impulses? that's complete crap. psychokenesis is just as relevant to survival as inhibition of return (a cohort of attention which keeps a creature from re-attending to an object), it's just shoved into the corner there is no observable suggestive behavior in lower animals. personally (and also, reluctantly), i think it's a concept just as observable in the morphogenetic fields of an amoeba as in the wannabe-telekinetic demonstrations of humans who think that bending a spoon by exerting more force than you convince yourself to be necessary is proof of internal electromagnetic command (no, not Sheldrake's concept of MF, the Gurwitsch original).

selective attention. psychokenesis.

i'm chewing.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

speech, autism and collective consciousness

“…a creature cannot have thoughts unless it is the interpreter of the speech of another.” -Donald Davidson (1975, p. 9)

Initial response: ...what?!

Secondary response:

The man is suggesting that communication through speech is the only means by which a creature is able to generate thought, implying that language is the primary vehicle of thought, rather than vice versa. I think that's dumb. The primary vehicle of thought need not be speech; it could more than conceivably be entirely driven by behaviour.

Follow me for a minute here.

A thought can be a belief. A belief is based on the way things are in the actual world. The way things are in the actual world can be interpreted through the behaviour of creatures in the world. Even if it were true that belief emerged only in those organisms capable of interpreting the behaviour of others, it doesn’t follow that that interpretation need be of speech. Thought could be generated merely on the basis of interpretation of behaviour for which speech is not necessary.

[note: the necessity of internal language is an entirely separate issue...]

Translating this into an example - as my philosophy professors would demand is crucial to my train of thought - say two primitive children witness an avalanche of boulders cascading down a nearby mountain. They may be standing close enough to the avalanche to feel the ground shake, and that a small stone may ricochet from it’s main course and hit one child in the arm. The child, having felt the sting of the stone, generates a thought correlating bounding stones with pain, and that if such a small stone inflicts pain then standing beneath the whole cascade will deliver far worse. The child can then infer that it is a good idea to avoid being in close proximity to avalanches. And... run. The second child, having witnessed the discomfort expressed by and the fleeing of the first, may infer from his behaviour that it is wise to avoid avalanches. The first child generated a thought about avalanches based on the behaviour of the cascading boulders, and the second child generated the same thought based on the behaviour of the first child... with speech being a component of neither scenario.

Yes, it can also be provoked by speech alone if a creature were to be told by another that an approaching avalanche was potentially very harmful. However, provocation of thought about the avalanche through the latter scenario would require that the creature, in order to recognize the implication of an avalanche from only the speech of another creature, must have seen it inflict harm before in the content of the phrase “approaching avalanche” could have any meaning. This doesn't make it less likely that the creature could have a belief about the avalanche as solely regarded through speech. Rather, it suggests that witnessing an avalanche harming someone does not require speech to communicate that one might want to avoid cascading boulders...

The other confound of the "no thought without speech" theory is that it can be used to argue against thought in higher animal organisms, as people actually do make the argument that non-human animals can't communicate through speech [this is another assumption with which I have extensive arguments]. And while I'm a proponent of learning and memory being entirely biochemically and anatomically structured in some processes, there is also a component of consciousness that becomes necessary to explain the acquisition of the kind of behaviour learned in higher animals. There's a communication that occurs between human and animal in instances of learning that are not classical conditioning, which suggests thought in the mind of the animal as it interprets the behaviour of its trainer or owner, or what have you.

And then we have the instance of Davidson's awkward collision with cases of Autism. Since he purports that to be a thinker you must be a speaker interpreting other speakers, it then follows that Davidson must believe that Autistic people - who have monstrous trouble interpreting the minds of others but who can put together their own coherent thoughts (Baron-Cohen 1995; Harris 1991)- are not capable of thought. Which, as you might imagine, perplexes me. Thought, as I categorize its nature, can exist irrespective of lingual communication, and as such, does exist in the minds of autistic beings despite their inability to interpret the mental states of others through their speech. Since Davidson's original argument was way back in 1975, it's a struggle to get my hands on - but am still trying to locate - his response to this more recent confound to speech being the primary vehicle of thought, and thought being nonexistent without interpretation of speech. I imagine him saying something to the like of, "autistic beings do indeed interpret speech, they simply do so incorrectly and so they are able to have thought, but only based on fallacious interpretation." [and yes, he would use the word, fallacious]. Then again, responding as such negates Davidson's other stipulation which is that to be translated into a thought, the speech of another person must be interpreted as the speaker intended.

What I maintain is that when Davidson originally proposed this theory, it was meant to be applied to a confined arena of communication and interpretation... in that one might not be able to have correctly designed thought unless in response to the speech of others.

Here is where I skid off the rail, but where my train gets interesting.

In terms of collective consciousness... it would seem that interpretation of speech were completely devoid of purpose, and that Davidson's theory would be completely null. If we are all linked by consciousness (and that includes non-human animals on the level at which they exhibit it) then interpretation of speech is a useless tool except to distance us from being aware that collective consciousness might exist. So there we have the collective conscious arguing against the utility of speech. Then again, if collective consciousness were a fully functional medium, we would never misinterpret one another's speech... or letters... or online chatter... would we. But by the same token, would autistic beings - under the condition that they might even be able to participate in collective consciousness - cease to have this symptom of not quite being able to grasp the mental states of others as portrayed by their speech or any other means?

So perhaps, if we were, as a species - or as a kingdom of organisms, for that matter - to become aware of our collective conscious, would our interpretation of one another improve? Would we disable the function of war? Wouldn't we have a more comprehensive understanding of the international economic dynamics such that "globalization" and recession could be side-stepped entirely? Would sociology even be necessary?

And there you have it. Thought as independent of interpreting speech. Davidson, I like you. Don't say dumb shit.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

microtubules and intelligence

beginning with a personal aside, i love microtubules. remember in elementary school when we learned how to draw a little ovoid bubble with various organelles scattered haphazardly inside? my teacher pulled me aside to ask why in the world my bubble's organelles were surrounded and overwhelmed with what looked to her like chicken scribbles. and i said, those are the microtubules. she looked at me as if i were retarded, but i knew i was accurate enough in my depiction and she just didn't know what to make of it. i knew they were important... i just didn't bother to explore how important they were until neurochemistry class last year. you don't notice at the time when you're taught about basic cell structure and mitosis that microtubules, which compose the cytoskeleton and radiate from the centrioles, are really performing the most exquisite of tasks. this is my mental escapade into microtubules as they might pertain to that most elusive phenomenon, intelligence.


microtubules (MT) are constructed of thousands of tubulin proteins, which are dimeric proteins which orient into helical tubes held together at the seems by MT-associated proteins (MAPs). the MT of any system - amoeba or neuron - make up a network which is generally acknowledged as being the skeleton of the cell, and is, in my opinion, extraordinarily underrated in that role.

in the 1980's, Stuart Hameroff proposed that MT also compute. this was based on both the predisposition of MT to self-assemble and disassemble via the aid of MAPs, and collective network oscillation based solely on nearest neighbor interactions (these being the swapping of a free electron between alpha and beta subunits of the tubulin dimers). Hameroff's theory is primarily dependent on nearest neighbor interaction. to be brief, this interaction refers to the electric dipole created between the alpha and beta monomers of each tubulin protein: this is created by the 18 calcium ions bound to the beta subunit, creating a slightly negative orientation toward the alpha monomer. namely, as an energetic wave passes through a given MT region it would excite the free electron on the beta subunit and shift it toward the alpha, thereby changing the molecular conformation of the dimer. this change in conformation would subsequently excite all its neighbor tubulins to exercise the same behavior, resulting in an electric wave being propagated down the length of the MT. and they did some badass computational modeling of this theory which showed that by said rules, MT could indeed be stable, signal-perpetuating structures...

one of the immediate problems with the Hameroff model is that it was designed at a temperature of zero... such that signal propagation was an artifact of design, and not explicitly reminiscent of those rules governing biological signals. [to note, this actually doesn't seem problematic to me because it just implies even a the level of the zero point field this mechanism is probable, but...] because physiological conditions are what they are, and due to the patterns governing tubulin subunit interaction as well as the helical nature of the MT themselves, a new theory of signal propagation potential was proposed by Jack Tuszynski (Canada gets a brownie for that one). the stipulation was that MT could be electromechanical signal transmitters only helically about their circumference... in the manner of a spin glass.

the spin glass behavior, put simply means that because of its geometrical orientation a system can't minimize interaction energies across its area simultaneously (a.k.a. magnetic frustration). so for MT, that means propagating a signal in somewhat of a spiral manner along its length which yields a similarly patterned signal transmission between neighboring MT. because they are hexagonal sheets rolled into tubes, MT have a seam - this is where magnetic frustration occurs as the propagating signal tries to navigate the tubule circumference. despite this obstacle, the tubule length allows for propagation. the equations for this type of system are exceedingly complex and just glancing at them makes my heart sink in defeat... but i trust Dmitri Nanopoulos (who is my superhero of the day) and the modeling enough to be profoundly inspired by the idea that my poor neglected, favorite organelle might have such a role in intelligence (i'll get there...)...

so what does this model mean to the microtubule network as a transmitter of signals?

this is bitchin - hang onto your pants. the spin glass model allows MT networks the capacity to adapt to the demands of neuronal signaling.

if MT are in and of themselves an adaptive network, as suggested by Nanopoulos' and the nature of spin glass perpetuation, that potentially translates to every individual neuron being an adaptive network. during the process of neuronal plasticity, such as learning and memory, this is a conceivable explanation of how particular proteins are recruited to synapses to strengthen them after a particular pattern of neurotransmitter activity (an otherwise mechanistically elusive characteristic of long term potentiation).

let's take a step back and see if i can do this anywhere near coherently... i know i'm verbose as hell, bear with me.

i think... that when Daniel Dennet and David Chalmers look for physical structures on which consciousness and intelligence might supervene, they are not looking small enough. namely, the structures they are looking for (as well as Francis Crick with the claustrum and everyone else with the pineal gland) are neural pathways and specific brain regions. it makes little to no sense to me to suspect that such a comprehensive force as consciousness would supervene on a single structure or originate from a single neural circuit. i like the notion that said phenomena arise from the translation of electromagnetic wave collapse by microtubules... which are everywhere.

in addition to all the computer modeling and quantum computational theory, there are the correlational studies. colchicine, a tubulin binding inhibitor, causes retrograde amnesia in goldfish. tubulin production skyrockets as soon as baby rats first open their eyes to EM radiation, and correlates with peak learning and memory in chicks. on the human level, there is Alzheimer's disease, in which the most prominent biochemical and physiological markers are amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles - the latter being comprised of MT stripped of MAPs and left to aggregate into useless clumps. so here we have examples of the effects of dysfunctional MT on multiple levels of evolutionary development and cognitive function.

this organelle, to my thinking, is the most beautiful candidate for housing intelligence. it is the beginning and the end of life, from mitosis to decay - defining nucleation of a cell by aligning and separating chromosomes, propagating EM signals, responding to IR light and dissociating upon cell death. they are intrinsic and critical to the very existence of every cell.

okay. if you've made it this far, prepare to be rewarded by my coming around to making a fucking point.

take, for instance, a paramecium - a single cell with no nervous system, only MT networks. a paramecium, if sucked into a capillary tube, will find an escape route... and when sucked up again, will find its way out quicker and quicker with each subsequent trial. this study, lead by Joseph Huber in the 1970's describes a mechanism for learning and memory in this single cell system with no neurons. intelligence without a brain [or... the brain of single cell systems is represented by the centrosome! but we won't go there yet...]

if learning can be achieved in a paramecium, what sense is there in attributing intelligence in more complex organisms to solely the strengthening of synapses?

what is to say that intelligence doesn't supervene on MT networks and that consciousness is a separate beast emerging from the larger complication of neural networks?

[on which note, this is why i don't think computers will achieve consciousness in the near future - or i hope not, rather - because neurons are so very much more complex than on-and-off switches, or binary decoders, or all-or-noners as implied by the direction of A.I. research]

to wrap this up... and in the interest of circulating back to not only intelligence and possibly consciousness but the evolution of these phenomena (as well as others), i think of this: microtubules bind to DNA - regardless of chromatin and histone orientation, which has profound implications for the quantum processes of epigenetics - through MT associated proteins, and affects its synthesis by facilitation or inhibition.


through MT perpetuation of EM signaling, or whatever the hell wave collapse results in, DNA may have an intelligence of its own. screw morphogenetic fields... evolutionary process may very well be directed by the very biophysical matter that also genetically codes for it all. what if it's really all in the DNA?

it's entirely conceivable to me that DNA contains the code and the energetic blueprint - that its interaction with microtubules allows it to translate this into initial interaction with the explicate world - that this explicate interaction subsequently feeds back through the nervous system into MT networks which then propagate new signals from which intelligence and consciousness emerge.

i love microtubules.

Friday, July 11, 2008


this is a drug synthesized by the pineal gland during REM stages of sleep. it's said to have something to do with the vivid and sometimes euphoric contents of dreams, which also occur during REM. due to its otherwise elusive function in the brain/body and association with the oddball region (pineal) it has, therefore, been postulated as the chemical substance of consciousness.

"Hallucinogenic effects were seen after 0.2 and 0.4 mg/kg of dimethyltryptamine fumarate, and included a rapidly moving, brightly colored visual display of images. Auditory effects were less common. "Loss of control," associated with a brief, but overwhelming "rush," led to a dissociated state, where euphoria alternated or coexisted with anxiety. These effects completely replaced subjects' previously ongoing mental experience and were more vivid and compelling than dreams or waking awareness." (Strassman et al. 2003)

Strassman, a psychopharmacologist at U. New Mexico is one of the first to postulate that DMT is in fact synthesized in the pineal gland. although it seems to be produced in other regions of the body as well, as it has been found in urine, blood and cerebrospinal fluid (Jacob and Presti 2004), although thought to be an insignificant metabolic byproduct. i guess because DMT is synthesized from a serotonin intermediate it followed, for Strassman, that this particular tryptamine could be produced by and secreted from the pineal gland. but nobody really knows where endogenous DMT comes from, suffice if to say, the body uses a pretty wide array of tryptamines (these are primarily monoamine neurotransmitters and hallucinogens), including the melatonin and serotonin produced in the pineal.

serotonin is supposedly converted into DMT by the pineal during REM sleep, playing a role in dream activation (Callaway 1988). Strassman thinks that when these levels get too high persons experience "mystical/spiritual consciousness." he thinks - and as of yet he has no chromatographic/spectrophotometric data to suggest this - that DMT over-synthesis occurs during birth, before death, near-death experiences and deep meditation. in the 1970's, it was speculated that DMT levels might have something to do with Schizophrenia... but the results of these studies were inconclusive (Angrist et al. 1975, and others which escape me...). what i would like to see is a correlational study comparing systemic and cerebrospinal DMT in healthy control subjects to those exercising deep meditation.

in the Strassman study cited above (2003), it becomes suggested that endogenous DMT may function as did trace amounts of DMT; namely, the chemical would be a non-hallucinogenic. returning to the Calloway proposal that DMT participates in dream activation, it would seem like the job of endogenous DMT would be to do activate hallucination, not suppress it. but that's only if you're of the opinion that dreams are hallucinations...

okay, so we have an idea of how DMT acts in the brain... sort of. both DMT and it's precursor, tryptamine act through a recently identified trace amine receptor (TA, localization unidentified but interacting with the dopamine reward pathway). but since i'm mostly curious about it's production in the brain as relevant to the pineal gland and consciousness, we're going to move in that direction instead...

as noted in the Schizophrenic studies, DMT can also be found in the peripheral nervous system and systemically. this would imply that it can be synthesized outside of the brain, and this idea is supported by the systemic localization of indolethylamine-N-transferase (IMNT). IMNT is the enzyme that tryptophan to make methyltryptamine, which is methylated again to yield dimethyltryptamine. this implies two things:

DMT can be synthesized in peripheral tissue, and subsequently cross the blood brain barrier... which is uncharacteristic of most neurotransmitters.
2) since during the stress response the body produces excessive amounts of tryptophan, DMT has implications as a non-hallucinogenic, as proposed by Calloway...

so why does Strassman insist that endogenous DMT is produced in the pineal gland, and is a propagator of the hallucinations that deem it worth of sustaining the weight of consciousness? let's explore...

well... so aside from IMNT being part of the peripheral system, the pineal gland is home to quite a few other methyltransferases.

...that's it.

there's also the theory that DMT must be produced in the pineal because it has something to do with calcification of the gland, but that is not Strassman's theory, and even if DMT does play a role in calcification, that isn't sufficient to conclude that the tryptamine is produced there.

so you've got your aging pathology studies that note pineal calcification in response to abnormal secretion of melatonin (Sandyk and Awerbuch 1992), and your pineal calcification in response to excessive calcium influx and significantly decreased metabolic activity that would otherwise regulate calcium levels - characteristic of aging and essentially all aging pathologies (Krstic 1986).

link between calcification and melatonin? fine, i'll take it. link to dimethyltryptamine.................... come on, really? there's nothing? there gots to be something...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


what is encoded within DNA is the same for every cell in your body; every cell is encoded to have the same molecular and biochemical capacity. and yet, cells differentiate to express this coding in particular ways. dopamine cells express different segments of the genetic code than do spleen cells, for instance. chemically, these different cells are very similar, but from them emerge larger cytological shapes (organs) with entirely different gross function.

the architectural differences between organisms are not in the building materials, nor the energy involved in their design, but in the underlying blueprint. geneticists and embryologists once called these morphogenic fields: a cluster of cells able to respond to local biochemical signals so as to differentiate as a group. this original morphogenetic field hypothesis of Alexander Gurwitsch's means that a region of cells could be directed to become partiular tissues, organs and forms, and it explained how an embryo could be cut in half, and still the whole final form would develop. the modern appreciation of morphogenetic fields, though, has been modified by botanist Rupert Sheldrake, who has redefined the morphogenetic field to encompass an energy field surrounding these cellular clusters. Sheldrake's fields, then, contain virtual future forms which attract the developing organism toward them.


the principle of superposition states that the world can exist in any of many possible configurations of wave-particles and fields. what David Bohm, then, calls the explicate world is the result of the observer "choosing" between various patterns of constructive and destructive wave interference. from this "choice" emerges an individual field from the many possible fields contained in the implicate world. when an observation is made the wave function derived from Schrodinger's equation, which represents one of the possibilities, collapses and then corresponds to one said possible outcome.

superposition is also the basis for Fourier's laws suggesting infinite complexity in th universe. this infinite complexity is complementary to the implicate order in that it defines it as infinite potential from which the finite explicate order is derived.

this infinite complexity provided by superposition of wave-particles gives substance to the idea of an ever-expanding universe, as, with time, more and more of the infinite possibilities are "chosen" to emerge as explicate fields. said expansion, in turn, supports evolution as more potential complexity is incorporated from implicate to explicate. it also supports regression of some complexities as explicate forms both feed back and revert to implicate forms. and the notion of the implicate order fits in quite nicely here, i think, because it is at the plane where possibility crosses over into actuality that quantum mechanics fails, and it does so because quantum physical equations don't describe anything actual, but merely probability of the collapse distinguished by the observer... "chooser."

[my opinion for the moment is that the observer does indeed have complete control over the actuality of things on a quantum level. however, i don't believe that observation of more gross physicalities (animate and inanimate) has an effect on their overall condition. put more clearly, i don't believe in the power of modern humans to harness telekinesis, or change the final form of rocks with their eyes... i merely acknowledge that the activity of individual or clusters of smaller particles (electrons, fluid behavior, chemical interaction) may be subject to manipulation. and i think Sheldrake is a little obtuse in his rationale of morphogenetic fields explaining telepathy.]

so who is this "chooser?" whose observation directs evolution at the level of the wave-particle by collapsing infinite possibility into finite actuality? is it in the hands of the mind, or the zpf?

i'm intrigued by the idea of answering addressing these thoughts using the morphogenetic field hypothesis... as a combination of Gurwitsch and Sheldrake's notions (because Sheldrake takes the abstraction a bit too far and Gurwitsch not far enough). Gurwitsch goes no further than explaining that a whole embryo, when cut in half, continues to generate as a whole due to communication between cell clusters (biological MF's). why? because as in the case of magnets, the whole field is contained in every part such that if you chop a magnet in half, each chunk still has a full magnetic field with north and south poles complete with field lines. it is this phenomenon through which Sheldrake later jumps to evolution of the universe being directed by morphogenetic fields as magnetic fields as opposed to clusters of cells responding in like to biochemical signals. Sheldrake's MF's (physical MF's), then, would be the directors of those biochemical signals.

where i am skeptical is concerning the point at which DNA and G-S morphogenetic fields would interact. certainly it's possible that transcription and translation of DNA into differentiated final forms could be guided by an electromagnetic field; if a field is holographic and can differentiate potential complexities into finite actualities, why not, right? but what is it that would make this interaction a necessary explanation of evolution?

[to clarify, Sheldrake is somewhat of a leech hippie who is overstepping the smaller inconsistencies of morphogenetic fields in order to explain telepathy. what he's suggesting is cool; the idea that the mere existence of a form is sufficiently helpful to allow the same form to come into existence somewhere else. and yes, evolution could be based on an idea like this. HOWEVER. Gurwitsch's morphogenetic fields were proposed in the 1930's, long before Rupert the fagele...]


genes. genes code for proteins. but they don't explain the final destination of cells, tissues, etc.; they're necessary but not sufficient for the final form of an organism, as such. so morphogenetic fields would supposedly direct the hierarchical organization, and the evolution of genes and the products of their encoding.

neat. how?

they have memory, says hippie Sheldrake. morphic resonance. that's right. morphic resonance refers to the communiction between individual morphogenetic fields. MF's which contain only information - no energy or architectural materials - hold memory of forms which they have directed in the past. which actually reminds me of Jaques Benveniste's studies that demonstrated water retaining memory of IgE antibodies that weren't actually in solution any longer (via antigen immunoreactivity). the MF explanation of his findings would be that water retained memory of the antibody because the morphogenetic resonance of fields in the liquid retained the memory. but this was years and years ago and i'm getting off track...

...morphogenetic fields. evolution. memory contained within morphic resonance. and while i approach this theory with scalpel in hand, i will remind, too, that there was a time at which DNA was no less abstract and metaphysical an idea than morphogenetic fields are currently. okay, back...

Sheldrake suggests that the blueprint memory in morphic resonance is supervened on the inference patterns of waveform activity. lovely. how does this resonance among MF's direct alterations in gene expression so as to dictate evolution? it ends up being very similar to the idea of acquired characteristics... a phrase which makes biologists cringe. grossly, acquired characteristics refers to Lamarck's principle that adaptations of individual organisms could be passed to the next generation. based on Mendelian genetics and observations of inheritance, Lamarck's theory was abandoned. now, with morphogenetic resonance, it is somewhat resurfacing, if only at a quantum level. a change in the environment of a population of an organismic species can supposedly trigger a tuning-in to new ranges of the possible outcomes described by superposition, resulting in a new sequence of genetic changes. which is to say, the MF would respond to changes in the environment, morphic resonance would retain memory of said MF adaptation, and the field would then alter transcription of DNA within the cluster of cells under dictation of that particular MF.

while this is a badass theory and a neato explanation of evolution as controlled by magnetism... it gets a little too magical for me here. i like the idea of electromagnetic fields creating condensed and localized fields from which matter and mind emerge, but i'm also hugely skeptical of the degree of realism that... seems to be missing. the realism, then, returns to my original question: as "choosers" of actuality from infinite possibility, how would morphogenetic fields interact with DNA to direct trascription?

it is because there is no algorithmic explanation for why genes are translated in the manner that they are that morphic resonance and morphogenic fields are so appealing. they allow for responsibility to be supervened on a substance (or physical force, as it were), which is more attractive than responsibility arising out of nowhere. however, without algorithmic definition or non-circular logic, MFs also seem to arise out of nowhere...

it seems like the cluster of cells under the dictation of a given morphogenetic field would be aggregated by said field. then again, it's a question of who came first, the chicken or the egg.


were it the case that morphogenetic fields arose... out of some essence described by a combination of quantum mechanics and relativity... that they could effectively gather un-programmed cells, and direct the biochemical pathways which determine the genetic sequences that are transcribed for that particular group. magic.

then again, there's the issue of the role of consciousness as the observer. how can these collapses of genetic possibility into actuality occur when a meaningful combination of genes already exists to be translated? does the collapse occur before the genes are in place? but this gets into concepts of spontaneous DNA formation which i'm not ready to flush out.

my brain has no idea where to go from here.


when think about evolution, i do so in the context of evolution of the universe... none of this "earthly organisms evolve but the universe is quintessential and eternal" crap.

the big bang... from the percept of morphogenetic fields... would go something like... the emergence of form being made possible by a progressive cooling process that began with the sun spitting out electrons at 2500 degrees C, which cooled enough to coagulate into atoms which cooled enough to aggregate into molecules, etc. and this progression occurred as novelty with endurance such that persistent novelty didn't result in complete chaos. i like it. i'll develop it later...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

meat machines

"we are automata entirely controlled by the forces of the medium, being tossed about like corks on the surface of the water, but mistaking the resultant of the impulses from the outside for free will" - Nikola Tesla

i'm about to disagree with my hero - my high school english teacher would shit himself in exaltation right now.

i agree that we are - because we are meat machines built of subatomic wave-particles - automata in the mechanical sense, our medium being the zero point field, i will also agree that we are tossed around on it like corks. however. i will firmly stand that this does not eradicate free will.

so here's why this works. and it only works under the pretenses of a monist world - one in which there is only one substance that makes up reality, which is to say, mind substance and matter substance are really both one energy substance [and yes, in terms of being corks, monism requires Bohm's gnosis: in order to bobble on the surface of the implicate zero point field, our meat machines need be explicate... elsewise, gamush] . this eliminates the fragmented and confused amalgam of the Western worldview. which is fine with me, because on the quantum level the monist view is the only one that really makes sense anyway. matter is wavelike; it is waves of possibility which can be in two or more places at once as it emerges from the superposition of quantum possibilities.

quantum objects, then, exist as the superposition of these possibilities until our observation collapses them into an actuality, or a single localized event. this is to say that observation alone transforms existent possibility into an actual event - causation. this is how the mind exercises free will.

Newtonianly speaking (muddled laugh...), the theory of causation is an upward theory: causal interaction moves from the micro-level quantum particles up to the macro-level brain and consciousness. this ordains causal power to none other than interaction between quantum waves. the problem here [keeping in mind the monist idea that matter and consciousness are both comprised of wavelike possibilities] is that if there were only upward causation in the world, our persons, as nothing more than material possibility, would not feasibly be able to cause the collapse of other waves of possibility into actuality.

ergo, downward causation gives consciousness the power to choose between material waves of possibility provided by quantum objects.

there is, of course, a paradox here. downward causation is discontinuous... mostly in the sense that it is circular: the observer is essential for the collapse of possibility into actuality, however, the observer in itself is merely a possibility before the collapse has taken place. so... there's something that needs to be algorithmically defined in the distinction of a monist world...

nonetheless, monism is how i've rationalized free will. sorry Tesla.

we are all of he same electromagnetic field energy (which arises from zero point). it is the fuel on which everything physical - animate and inanimate - runs. in the body, the field moves through subatomic processes, molecular reactivity, tissue function and organ cooperation. as it moves... as it interacts with the meat machine, two things occur (obviously more than two things occur, but for the sake of coherency...). first, the matter itself is altered with each interaction - this is upward causation. as in the brain, when you learn something new the biochemical feedback cascade mechanisms in the synapses at work are changed such that the next time the learned issue is encountered, the brain responds with increased sensitivity, or biochemical familiarity. second, as the field moves through the meat machine, the wavelengths produced in the zero point field interact with each other to produce interference patterns which (along with Gibbs free energy which i haven't fully reasoned yet but have insisted is involved) produce consciousness. mind is, then, a byproduct.

this is why free will still works. if mind is an emergent property, then we can all be explicately run by the same electromagnetic field, but as it interacts differently over space/time with our differently sensitive meat machines, different minds are produced. and because mind then has some control over the guiding of subsequent energy through the machine - downward causation - there develops a level of free control over the ultimate behavior.

i'm still working this out... it's entirely fractured thought at this point.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


“Relation-R, unlike identity, is a relation we can bear to more than one person. If this is what is important, what matters to me in my survival is not whether “I” survive, but whether someone who is sufficiently R-related to me does. …Although others will not directly remember events because they happened to me, they may certainly know of events because they happened to me. To the extent that such connectedness, and not identity, is what matters to us in our survival, the second kind of connection may be nearly as good as the first.” – C. Korsgaard

Onely, relation-R is the Parfitian term for psychological connectedness and continuity... which is to say, cross-person connectedness of memory and character. Twoly, Korsgaard is suggesting that if the psychological continuity and connectedness between persons is what constitutes survival, then one person’s mere knowledge of an event happening to another person is enough to conclude that the second person is surviving within the first. When I wrote a paper on this a few years ago, my stance was to disagree with this notion of sharing relation-R in parallel because I decided that it was the nature of survival to occur in a chronological fashion. I argued that relation-R could not be shared in parallel because continuity between a person’s psychological state at one instant could only be continuous if it is shared with another person at a later instant.

My thought process at the time was this: my neighbor may know a great deal about me, but it cannot be said that I survive within my neighbor simply because they know a great deal about the nature of my present perceptions and decisions. There is no descendant association between us, therefore there is no continuity. If there is no continuity, then relation-R cannot be said to be shared between us because relation-R is dependent on both connectedness and continuity. Therefore, I cannot be said to survive in my neighbor because we cannot be sufficiently R-related. In this way, contrary to Korsgaard’s statement, knowing of the events that happen to someone is not sufficient to conclude the survival of the first person within the second; two persons must be both psychologically connected and continuous.

For example, something along the lines of... my neighbor may know a great deal about me, but it cannot be said that I survive within my neighbor simply because they know a great deal about my present perceptions and decisions. There is no descendant association between us, therefore there is no continuity of person because the nature of my person must be passed directly from my body to another through replication of the meat machine. Following then, that if there is no continuity relation-R cannot be said to be shared between us because relation-R is dependent on both connectedness and continuity. Therefore, I cannot be said to survive in my neighbor because we cannot be sufficiently R-related. In this way, contrary to Korsgaard’s statement, knowing of the events that happen to someone is not sufficient to conclude the survival of the first person within the second; two persons must be both psychologically connected and continuous.

Why I was convinced that psychological survival was a chronological endeavor... I don't remember. It's entirely possible that it was pulled straight out of the ass crack of neverland. Because of late, I'm almost convinced that any person can survive within any other. Perhaps the biologist in me... sees survival implicitly containing the notion of passing on pieces in the manner of replication. Survival is all about the nature of the replicator. Survival of a person seemed like it would have the same type of rule... but if all persons emerge from the filtering of energy through differently sensitive meat machines, that rule disappears. If our persons - our minds - are superimposed on zero point energy, this novel form of energy spread out over the entire concept of space/time then overlaps with the energy fields of all other persons.

This overlap would seem to have some level of implication for continuity in the Parfitian sense...

Parfit describes survival based on the continuity between being A and beings B1 and B2 (the products of, for example, the fission of being A's brain... or asexual reproduction if you prefer so think of persons as amoebas). That is to say, when being A splits into beings B1 and B2, being A ceases to exist because even though being A survives in both B1 and B2, it does not survive in whole and thus cannot maintain an identity. And if all persons are connected on the level of the zero point field, and the nature of the universe is to function under the laws of the holomovement (or something like it) it stands to reason that survival of being A within both B1 and B2 would be conceivable. If every element and waveform carries within it information about every other element and waveform, then the transfer of these from one omega 6 machine (yes, i have given the brain a term of endearment...) to another, if only in halves, seems as though it would carry enough information from one to the other to constitute a complete continuity between beings A, B1 and B2.

So even in the Korsgaardian profile, the implication is that even though identity probably isn't retained, the continuity that is there is sufficient to constitute survival: "although others will not directly remember events because they happened to me, they may certainly know of events because they happened to me."

Alright Rambler McGee, point of order.

So. I'm airing on the side of relation-R being sufficiently shared such that it is possible for any person to survive in any other. In what capacity, I'm not yet decided (surprise!?). However, it does begin to hold implications for the nature of recurring or past life experiences. Do our persons survive through fission (death) and fusion (reproduction) to retain continuity across lines of space/time? In denial of the Cartesian Order, probably. But do persons survive through parallel continuity to other people in the immediate space/time schema? I'm still not convinced. I still have some grounding in the energy being passed through the meat machine in a more chronological fashion. My neighbor's person isn't necessarily a shared part of my person just because we know some things about each other's physical lives. On the other hand, I do fancy the notion of parallel connectedness in terms of influencing energy flow, or "sending good vibes," or what have you... just not in terms of survival of character identity.