Monday, November 30, 2009

It was the best of times...

The Appalachians rising slowly covered with a forest full of trees and green overlooking the grassy meadows. From ancient calumnies of the Utica-lower Paleozoic in Upstate New York to the Devonian Shale in the Ohio valley to the Carboniferous Coal Bed near Western Virginia, the harbinger of momentous energy supply, a constant motion of grinding, crushing folding and molding beneath the surface catapulted the ground into a wavy horizon of the Appalachian range extending hundreds of miles beyond where the fabric of vision could perceive. The liquid blue of the yonder and the dark greenish-gray foreground merged to conspire the beauty of nature as autumn days slowly eclipsed the summer months. The low-lying grounds filled with pools of water reflecting the majesty of a tempered beast underneath.

No singing Finches here, just an occasional mourn of the dove with its rhythmic coo-ah-coo-coo and the staccato movement of the grouse strutting its gait with its neck jutting out on the defoliating branches of the autumnal season. Visitations from pigeons and ducks were also common as the coated banister of the balcony of a lone log cabin, with bird droppings, belied the remains of the departing visitors. The fall colors fading from memory and the gray dawn of desolate hours looming ahead made for a season to rethink philosophies.

He sat on the ledge of his humble abode. It was a small cabin, perfect for a single person, perched atop one of the hills. The quiet of his surroundings broken only by nature’s creatures was his solitude from the advocacy of interminable activity he had left behind. His days as the Boss in the Trading Pit with numbers flying in forms of outstretched hands gasping for air in the sea of arms. The riot of the human mind in full display as commerce drove the plentitude of a society. The science of action in this constant warfare of dog-eat-dog world to survive and thrive had given way to the art of loneliness and solitude for the desire to survive and thrive.

He looked around as the sun faded below the undulating mountainous horizon. The dark cast of twilight slowly enveloping the grandeur of visible reality. The chilled air seemed to find wings and leap at his neck. A dry cough erupted from his throat as he lifted the collars of his faded blue-checkered shirt. There was a wheeze from whence the cough had originated and that seemed mild but constant and then as quickly as it had arrived it left without a trace, but he still felt the chill inside of him. He got up from the bench walked the few steps of the balcony and went indoors to the shielded warmth. He glanced at the mirror over the mantle and the two-day stubble darkened his weathered face. The two-inch long dirty blonde hair in disarray from the breeze gave him a look of a hobo. From riches that inquired looks from walker-bys, to this – loneliness of thought and philosophy, it was a movement away from his original movement, a self-imposed immersion into solitude.

The next morning the piercing sun from the East window awakened him. He felt feverish and had a mild headache. A cold maybe, he thought from the chilled air last night? He thought. He could not muster the strength to get up from the comforts of his bed. The weakness surrounded him completely. He was alone. Hours ticked by and yet the strength eluded him. Finally into the waning hours of the afternoon sun - now leaking through the southern windowpane, he managed to lift himself to the tiny cove of his dining room. With his head swimming in unholy circles of confusion and the wooden floors coming up to meet him in waves, he reached for the phone and dialed a number to his friend.

“Good Morning Sir!”
“What the hell?”
“Expected emotions, from an ex-trader and traitor to friendship.”
“What happened?”
“You had a serious infection called psittacosis.”
“What the hell is that?”
“It is a bacterial infection from birds.”
“Do I have bird flu?”
“Not exactly. This is a bacterium that lodges in the birds.”
“So in layman’s terms, how did I get this psychosis. Or whatever?”

“Okay, here it goes. You inhaled some bird poop. The poop had a bug. It went into your lungs. It multiplied and made its way into other organs. Your body created a fever response to circumvent the infection via the white cells but to no avail. It took us almost two days to make the diagnosis and then with the right antibiotic cocktail and some prayer the rest is easy.”
“How did I get here?”
“You called, buddy, and then like other times all you said was, I don’t feel that good,”
“That’s all I said.”
“Not unlike other times. You know you could be more social.”
“Anything else?”
“You must have passed out. The EMS found you half sprawled in the kitchen your mountain hideout in your PJs.”
“Then what?” He was looking for more information.
“You had a faint pulse, a low blood pressure, a florid pneumonia and signs of meningitis – which was misleading but we had to make sure that was addressed immediately. I have n XRay in my hand since I knew you would ask. Prioritize as you used to say. Remember, the whole investment world can be going to hell but if one prioritizes one can make money. I never understood that, but I can use it too in medicine. Oh and by the way all that whited out area on the left hand side is the pneumonia from the Chlamydial bacterium. Nasty.”
"That what my inside looks like?"
"It did. But like you say don't look at the past. Cut your losses and move on."

“Clever. Using my words against me.”
“Anyway. The bird poop caused a disease called Psittacosis. You might have inhaled the dry poop or carried it in your hands accidentally or found a new meal riddled with bird poop in that forsaken land of yours.”
“Very funny. What about the enlarged spleen business?”
“A retico-endothelial reaction to the infecting agent. The spleen is a collection of these cells. Nothing of consequence.”

“Good!” He said with his fingers clutching and pulling the blanket to smooth the wrinkles and folds, exhibiting the quiet self-sustained drama of perfection played out in his inner sanctums of the mind.
“Seriously you should come back to earth now. There are a lot of very friendly women who want to meet with you. Maybe one of them might even be perfect!”

“Right! Here we go again.” He snarled. “Always against peace and quiet.”
“Never, peace and quiet are my middle names. I believe in companionship with the right person. A soul mate of sorts.”
“Just because you found the right person doesn’t mean everyone else can or will.”
“The heart can be impusive at 16 years or even at 24 but not where you are peering at the world. If you give yourself a chance to meet you will know.”
“Uh huh.” He almost looked ready for a fight but stopped short..
“We are going to celebrate this recovery at my house and I’ll enlist some help for your cause.”
“My cause, as you put it is self inflicted. I like my company.”
“Maybe. But if there were a girlfriend or wife, this calamity would have been prevented and we would be enjoying holidays together more often rather than ministering potions to cure and being ministered to for illness. Besides wouldn’t it be great to share that wilderness with someone else?”
“We’ll see.”

He made a full recovery after a long treatment with an antibiotics called, Levofloxin, Clarithromycin and Chloramphenicol. With the bacterium destroyed and the infected, inflamed and inflicted upon, tissues healed to full function, as only this masterpiece of invention called the human body, will wont to do, he was back to his wise old self again. His philosophy however did change.

During the after life of the winter months when the shadows started to shrink and the once gray cloudy days broke to new color, he started to search for meaning.

He had realized that there were more things, wonderful reaches and inexplicable startles of beauty in humanity much like that of nature. And as like nature humanity speaks to the warmth of companionship. And as with a distempered reality humanity creates comfort. There is always another soul that yearns to meet its mate. He found his in the most unexpected of places – dinner at a friend’s place.
It may not be in the clashes of outspoken words nor distill of a chaotic dance, it may, sometimes lie in the most unlikely of places of quiet solitude, silent togetherness and smiling eyes.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Hamlet 1.1

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tonal Dissonance

There creeps in, at a steady pace, a comical antagonism that on its outstretched arms reveals little of its banality but the disarming smile of congeniality. It is within its substrate of slow disarmament and constant ridicule that the manner of its conspired gains are brazenly achieved. Sometimes these ridicules are innocent and sometimes they have far reaching quills that prick the essence of a firmament established in society. Humans will forgo the truth but become so involved with the political will that musters and eggs them on that they in their own benign innocence will yield to the temptation of self-righteousness. One such story is that of the age To Be!

We as a society having achieved of things once thought impossible like viewing the Titanic wreck on the dark depths of the Atlantic Ocean floor or stepping on the moon to hit a golf ball with a 9-iron club to the images of the rugged Martian surface, now consider no task unreachable and rightly so. It is manifest in our destiny that realizing one’s dream is the gateway to success. It is also manifest in our present the successes of the past that make the future so bold and yet easy. We have succumbed many times and will many more to the riches of varying degrees of truth that sometimes we have fallen victims to the very lies we try to avoid. Sometimes this is for expediency of our political desires and other times to the material desires of our self.

It is always in the rewards of truth that life unfolds its most beauteous of flowers. There is no controversy of thought or action. No blame or victimization and no lies to be told. It is the essence of reality. Of what it is and what it will become. No revisions of history to speak for the present and no obscuration of the peaks and valleys of the lessons learned from the past, just the truth.

The quiet pandemonium of muffled voices, clanking of silverware on the ceramic plates and murmur of hurried movements lays the scene in an enclosed space with some 80 people seated or in the process of sitting in an auditorium.  Some happily munching on the green salad while others sampling the large brownies with chocolate icing on top encrusted with colorful sprinkles right of the bat. There is a sense of urgency amongst all to get seated before the speaker begins. Most of the seats are taken in the rear of the room while the first row is virtually empty.  Between quick glances and mouthfuls the crowd assembles into a uniform audience. The lights are dimmed and the speaker who has been checking his computer screen for the presentation slides, shifts his weight on his right leg, clears his throat and welcomes the crowd.

He is an authority in his field of medicine. He is well traveled and distinguished in his field of expertise. He knows his subject. His sharp focused eyes, an aquiline nose and chiseled features define him.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to discuss the ramification of the screening processes that we as humans have to endure for the single defined purpose of living healthy lives. I encourage any questions during this discourse. We will start with knowing about the types of Risks encountered in medicine.” He turns to the projector and presses the navigation button and the screen fills in.

“The Absolute Risk is defined on the bases of real numbers such as 1 in 10. Or for instance as in Breast cancer 1 in 7 during the lifetime of a woman. But it is as low as 1 in 25,000 in a 25 year old and as high as 1 in 3 for a woman aged 85 years.” He waits for the impact on the crowd and witnessing a few nodding heads he moves on, "The relative Risk issue is based on percentages and does not reflect true value. This is strictly based on a relationship with some other findings. I will digress to make a point between the two risks and use a slide on Pravastatin a Cholesterol lowering medication versus placebo in 1000 patients.”

Now compare that to the fact that the Relative Risk reduction which was computed as 32/(32+41) = 43%. In other words the promotional discourse is the calculated relative risk reduction but the truth is different and a little unsettling like the dust particles in this room.” There were a few coughs around the auditorium followed by muffled laughter.

“Now lets turn our attention to the value of mammograms in women.”

“The answer to the question is in the following slides and will become apparent to you shortly. But in the meantime keep thinking the answer to the posed question about the probability of a woman with a positive mammogram to have breast cancer on your own.”

The answer is 8 out of 1000 women screened with a 0.07% probability of disease in the population.” He waits again for a question but none is uttered.

“Lets deal with the risks of radiation from the screening process. It is established that the older machines before 1970s exposed the breasts to higher Rems then the current ones. The current exposure is well within the annually expected exposure.”

A hand shoots up from the audience, “ And who determines the annualized risks?”
“Good question. The linear hypothesis of radiation exposure and death is 2500 Rem. A value of 100 Rem is considered safe with less than 2% probability of disease. With mammography we are talking of millirems only.”
“But how do you know the breast tissue will sustain that amount of radiation without changing to cancer?”
“Here is a slide that answers to that question and I will expound on that.”

“You notice that there is a peak and fall out as a result of radiation exposure. So the cumulative effects are important and one has to balance out the benefits to the population in terms of early detection. Here is information from the JNCI about the suspected risks. You may have to squint to see the material clearly but it is worth it. I will give you ample time to review this slide.”

(Click on this slide to enlarge for full review)

“But if we are inducing cancers in the screening then isn’t that a self-fulfilling prophecy of ultimately finding the cancer after many years of testing?”
“Tough question and true in its premise. The real answer is the number of lives saved to the number of lives at risk from the procedure. Refining the breast imaging procedure and limiting exposure are tow important methodologies. Mind you and this is important to know; that we are all sustaining carbon 14 nuclear decays at a rate of 120,000 per second. Each decay yields gamma rays that disrupt cells and mutate their DNA. We are also exposed to the solar flares with trillions of neutrinos cascading through our bodies and of course the Radon decay in the soil that permeates through the soil and moves upwards into the atmosphere all yield radiation exposure to us. Our bodies have this mechanism called Mismatch Repair Gene. This governs the DNA replication process so that any error in recording of information to the dividing cell results in apoptosis or cell death. So the body rids itself of all these bad genetics. However if the mechanism is overwhelmed with the onslaught of bad genetic cells it can be over powered and the body can lose the battle. Another important factor is in women with dense breasts the mammogram yield is 62.2% while the norm in a non-dense breast is 88.2% and the detection rate of cancer in women with dense breasts is 9.7% compared to 4.7% in the normal breast. The denser the breast the more radiation is required for optimal viewing.”  He looks around the auditorium with his sharp focused eyes for any further questions. There is quiet and a few people shifting in their seats. The dark auditorium is under his spell.

“Now let me talk about the costs of screening.”

“Look at the facts. For 10 abnormal mammograms only one is truly positive for cancer or a10% probability. Repeat mammograms causes an enormous resource depletion and early detection if DCIS is really of no benefit since almost 99% of these will sit there and can be detected later without spread. It is the false positives that create anxiety and the false negatives that lead to potential problems. Here is one of the proposed algorithm for screening and interpretation and the potential complications that ensue from it." He waits a moment and then in a clearer and more forceful voice says, "every false positive has a potential for extra testing and intervention and every false negative has the risk of potential delayed diagnosis!"

“Now let us talk about real and perceived costs.” He flips the slide with a certain amount of flair. Almost maestro-like performance and immediately regrets it when a few snickers and suppressed laughter breaks out into a muted chorus.

“Interesting how our perceptions dictate our lives. We are fearful for the wrong reasons and fearless when caution should be the order of the day. Initially the advocacy was to use screening in women at age 40 every other year. But that is counter-intuitive since breast cancer in the young is more aggressive then in the old, so you would want to screen them more frequently. Now the issue is to screen women over the age of 50 years and once every two years. I think governmental interference over physician based intellectually designed scientifically considered options are a recipe for disaster. The politicians have no business in the profession of life saving. It is heretical in a communist society to question where the government knows best but in a society where diverse opinions and logical understanding based on verifiable scientific data exist, the decision must be evidence based and left to the physician. There are some women who need closer monitoring with higher risk factors and they have to know the risks of screening and then there are others that do not. A clinical examination performed by a competent practitioner and any findings can be confirmed by diagnostic testing may yield better results. To date the reduction in breast cancer has been attributed to cessation of Hormone Replacement Therapy and early detection to screening and therefore by implication more cures although the latter confirmation still remains elusive. The time for Medicine which is Tailor Based to the individual as other methodologies become available will yield better outcomes, limit risks and diminish fiscal pressures.” He stopped and took a quick swallow of water from the glass on the podium.

“I am going to leave you with these thoughtful questions?”

The thunderous applause drowns out silence. Many people walk up to shake his hands and words like “iconoclast” are heard and repeated around the room. The disbanded group walks out with a new understanding of the facts. The culture has to be refined one individual at a time and he is changing them by the scores.

“Omni Verum Vero Consonat.” (All truth accords with truth)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Little Inconvenient Truth

It is early morning and the first light of dawn is stretching westward slowly pushing as it does the dark blanket of night. The brilliant dewdrops shimmering perched delicately on the spider’s web hold court to the spikes of golden rich hue of the rising sun. The stillness of the air, the coolness of the surroundings and the glory of nature all encompassing delight to behold. These vistas proclaim the wonders of the planet. Like the Snoqualmie falls in the northwest spilling their content into a fine mist and the rugged mountains of the affably known Rockies covered with the fairy snow dust of grandeur to the cascading waves rollicking over the sandy beaches of the Eastern Sea Board all enchant us, call us to vacation, remind us of times spent and hold us in their locket, forever yearning for more. It is another beautiful day for a walk through the woods and muse upon the wonders of this elegant planet.

The planet is a wonder a huge collective of stardust that made its elliptical circuit just far enough from the sun not to get scorched and just near enough for the warmth to grow an intelligence that lives and breeds and breathes and lives. This intelligence sometimes arrogant, and sometimes humble, sometimes cautious and sometimes reckless continues to enjoy the vast beauty.

Man is in equal parts lonely in thought and collective in spirit. He is enjoined by the fears of his limited knowledge and grazes at the outskirts of understanding. He is forever employing the world as it appears to him through his eyes and ears. His arrogance of self-worth seems prodigious and can easily surmount the greatest of all obstacles. His delight in his limited conquests gives him the rigor to question the health and well being of the beautifully self-sufficient planet called Earth.

Reductionism to the point of closeted intelligence that deciphers the meaning of little may not encompass the meaning of the large. Man nor his adjunct mechanical mind of computers cannot correlate the varying forces that conspire, cajole, breed, breathe, broil, boil and bubble the wealth of the daily day.

The dark clouds that form in the afternoon and then dissipate may very well climb to thirty-thousand feet and create a nasty thunder cell if but for the lift, the heat, the terrain, the surroundings, the mountains or hills or the adjoining lakes. It is indeed the butterfly wings that flutter and move the air that may initiate the cascade that would be a pleasant breeze or the sudden emergence of a rollicking tempestuous thunderstorm. In the winter the gliding fronts may conspire to reach an accord of whether the day would open its eyes with a beauteous covering of snow or the cold soggy rain drenched earth. This little understood cat and mouse drives the meteorologists crazy to the point of them looking out side their window and predicting the weather. This is the earth in its entire splendor and we humans are a small part of it. We are a species that have survived thus far through the raw innate civility of limited knowledge-based intelligence that we in our daily dialog fathom to decipher. It is this intelligence combined with that arrogance that brought us to the present and may lead us to extinction as the earth loses 3 species every hour based on fossil data. The vast landscape of 1.5 billion species lost through the intergalactic flight of mother earth.

It was one of these crisp cloudless, motionless mornings when it is good to be alive. A chance meeting as he sat on the recumbent log straddling the sides. His right leg in a cast from his recent fall and his left leg in a brace from his affliction with poliomyelitis, never one to complain about his health’s misadventures he quietly but rhythmically hit the log with a stone eliciting the echo within. Looking at him one would not know that the head that was covered with the fur-lined hat of a hunter covering his ears had received an MD, a double PhD in biology and atmospheric physics. He was the recipient of many awards from the scientific community, but sitting there, knocking on the wooden log for some answers that would never come, he looked like a forty-something homeless person.

                                               Beautiful and Rugged Antarctica

“I love this time of the year and day. It is rejuvenating.”
“Uh huh.”
“This earth is a living breathing being like us. It burps, and shakes and stills itself to survive as we do. What a magnificent collection of star-dust!” His eyes wide with wonder.
“So you don’t think we are all going to die because of hurricanes and floods and greenhouse gases we are creating as they all say on television?”
“The unlucky ones might get trapped in a hurricane or the tornado or a flood but that has nothing to do with us.”
“What about Global Warming?”
“What about it?”
“Aren’t we creating the warming with our barbequing, our SUVs, our jet planes?”
“What about the rhetoric?”
“It is exactly that.”
“But they say they have the proof.”

                                          Global Warmth and the known sources

“There are several reasons for earth's warmth and there are beautiful and elegant theories but the little ugly truth gets in the way. They use facts but lend a little distortion to them, they exaggerate the findings to suit their cause and then use selective data to bind the same book.” He stopped the knocking on the wooden log and after a brief moment he resumed, “I am not denying that the world is not hotter by 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years. No, I am not. But did we cause it? The answer is probably not. That is the truth. However and here is where it gets a little testy for the rest of the cubicle scientists. When you stretch the observation to thousands of years before that time period of 100 years, from ancillary ice data the real fluctuations of the temperature becomes normalized. In fact if you saw the pictures from 1950 you would see a frozen River Thames in London and in 1973 you would see virtually no ice cap on the Mt. Kilimanjaro.”

“Really and how does a stretching time change result?”

        Evaluating time from a 1000 years and Tens of Thousands of years

“Take the data from the American Icebreaker vessel RV/1B in the Antarctica Ice Sheet for example. Some 14 thousand years ago, when the Holocene age began, the ice layered sediments varied from 0.7mm to 30mm per year. Followed by a glacial retreat some 10 thousand to 7 thousand years ago with warmth over the globe and little glacial cover some 5 thousand years ago. Interestingly this cooling and warming did not happen universally over the entire globe but was geographically desynchronized. Most climatologist believe that the earth was 8-15 degrees Fahrenheit   warmer than today. And then there were times when the glaciation spread all the way almost to the equator some 2 million years ago, and that was the Pleistocene Ice age period and then it retreated. Even as recent as 1500AD the temperatures cooled by 2 degrees F. So this is not a complex argument.”

                                              Ice Core Data from Antarctica

“The obvious question is what makes the variation in temps?”

                                                        Earth's Precession

“Several factors. Start with the earth’s rotation. It wiggles and tilts and goes from the elliptical route to the circular route. Then there is the Sun’s thermal activity which varies with the fuel being used for fission.” Seeing the quizzical eyes staring at him, he continued, “remember the sun spots those are indicators of variability. However there is more to the sun than solar flares. If you just consider the earth itself, it has a wide array of excuses for these variations such as, the volcanic activity which can shield the sun from its volcanic ash and lower the temps or the insidious tectonic activity with minor and major earthquakes that release sealed carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that creates the greenhouse effect by reflecting back the infrared warmth to the earth’s surface.”

                                                      Greenhouse Effect

“ So I can drive my SUV and barbeque on Sundays without feeling wretchedly guilty?”

“Go right ahead. And plant a tree here and there too so that the carbon dioxide can be scrubbed up a little. Deforestation may also have colluded to increase the CO2 in the atmosphere.” He reached over and pulled his weakened leg across the log and wiggled his feet for circulation. “When you fly in a commercial aircraft do you see cars below let alone humans?”

“So you see for all our shenanigans we are unable to change the earth. One big Mt. Pinatubo eruption or Mt. St. Helen eruption and the weather is affected for days if not for months.”

 View of the Gulf Stream from Space

“Oh and I forgot. The cold ocean temps absorb the CO2 and warm waters release it. This is a cyclical event. If anything that is going to raise the ocean temp is the particulate matter from soot from the newly industrial forces called China and India, not the US.  Coal is plentiful and is the driving force for the electricity in both those countries. Burning coal leads to CO2 increase in the atmosphere while the soot sedimentation can disrupt the gradient flow of the Atlantic Ocean water - the cold waters that migrate south via the Mariana Trench and the warm waters flow northerly on the surface back to the Artic to cool down. This constant migration of waters leads to global temperature stability. This is called the Gulf Stream. That is why the Kyoto Treaty was never ratified in the US. It restricts the US but allows developing countries to continue polluting. 2% increase from them will require us to decrease our emissions by more than 20%. That will shut down all industry here. Good for them and bad for us. In fact if coal burning continues in China at its current pace then CO2 will increase instead of the current 36% to 100% in this century alone, which will increase the greenhouse effect. But along that thread, warming of the earth surface will lead to water vapor loss and more cloud formation which will hinder solar heating and by the same consequence the snowfall over the Antarctica and the Arctic will increase the ice sheet. This paradoxical effect was suggested by the IPCC back in 2001. According to IPCC then, current loss of 36 cubic miles of ice sheet per year in the Antarctica is a reflection more of the cooler climate than otherwise stated. So you see there are inbred mechanisms that shield, mollify and modify earth’s temperature just as the human body increases sweating to rid of the high fevers.”

“But all these agencies keep harping about that we are the culprits.”

“That is political expediency. The Intergovernmental Agency on Climate Control (IPCC) itself states that there is 10% probability that the humans have nothing to do with it and a 66% chance that there might be a slight possibility. So there highest probability is predicated on a 66% Confidence Interval. Now equate that to medicine where strict methodology uses 95% Confidence Interval and there too a 5% probability of missing the target exists!”

                          Intergovernmental Agency on Climate Control Data

“Wow, I didn’t know that.”

“Interestingly enough some of  these experts review weather phenomena from months to millions of years and consider 30 years evaluation the norm. Pretty short term thinking in the scheme of long term history. Put that number in your head and consider that the earth is 3.9 billion years old and humans have existed only the past 150,000 years and the Industrial age is about 100 years old. Through that time there have been many meteor strikes. The recent historic one in 1908 in Tunguska province in Russia that purportedly destroyed more than 80 miles of vegetation flattening trees with an impact force of 10-15 Megatons of TNT and changing the weather patterns of that area for years. The more dramatic and devastating one was the meteor creating the Chicxulub Crater in the Yucatan Peninsula that eliminated most life on planet including the dinosaurs millions of years ago and committed it to lightless days for decades causing a bigger havoc on the weather pattern and life than your SUV. The IPCC itself states “Because of the uncertainties involved a probabilistic approach is required” in other words make up with statistics to tie any loose ends.”

  Tunguska Meteor Strike (top)                              Chicxulub Crater (bottom)

This was not a man shy about his strong convictions. Later in his small office lined with books and papers a small path created between piles of journals he dragged the copies of charts onto the small wooden table and gazed at the information confirming his statements.

“A Little Inconvenient Truth!” he said and winked.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Gerolamo Cardano
From Cardano’s Probability to Descartes’ Reason and Einstein’s Relativity to Benedict Arnold’s Treason all show the flashes of brilliance in thought and action. All lay bare the germs of intelligence. All for purposes of intellectual perpetuity dispose off the limits imposed on the human mind and derive the answers to the most difficult of all questions. Yet one of the four in conflict of thought placing self above country chose the path to infamy.

Intelligence is the harbinger of time, dedication and tedium. Is one born with it, maybe but more often than not it is bred, slowly and painfully climbing one rung on a tall ladder. Most geniuses live quiet detached lives with unfulfilled selfish dreams. They remain focused on the task navigating through bifurcating paths in the jungle where every visual is obstructed by the thicket. It is like the prince cutting and chopping his way through the forest to gain sight of his beloved Snow White. The common thread that weaves trough the fabric of their genius is desire; planted or acquired.

The Forest For the Trees

The probability of throwing a heads or tails in thousands of coin tosses yields a picture of unprejudiced conformity to equality by invoking the laws of large numbers. It does not beckon the true reality of a single event. Thus card counting can over time yield great dividends in a casino but the casino managers will probably show the boot before any losses are incurred to the establishment. The principle of probability is the determination of chance, but when the butterfly flutters its wings over the Pacific Ocean and a violent thunderstorm erupts over the Atlantic Ocean then the human capacity or that of the largest computing machine devised by the human mind is incapable of prediction.

A simple flowing thought of reason can establish the correlates of human endeavor. Yet reason alone makes the world a blank, white void of calculable action, devoid of the greatest of all human intellect called variety. The spice of life when suppressed in the pure act of reason will cause decay in the sensibility of life. A humdrum. Mechanistic and boring. Descartes’ two hundred years of Reason led to the most artless of arts by the conformists of his time until challenges from the likes of Wordsworth to regain the beauty and range of language. Reason alone does not satiate the soul.

Relativity of things that tug and push each other by the governs of gravity in a space dark and filled with matter that cannot be seen was a thought experiment gone wild with ideas that led Einstein to mathematically prove his laws of relativity. The actual proof came years later by actual experimentation. Einstein’s acquired skills as a clerk in the patent office helped formulate his future. Spending his days formulating theoretical physics and unbeknownst to him creating branches of new fields from relativistic cosmology to explaining the inexplicable quantum physics with matters such as the Bose Einstein Condensates. All things relative reside in the cosmos, each in relative push and pull of the other as things and people on earth.

Treason is the inglorious act of self against the State. Many have been charged across the world. Treason has been used as a subterfuge from religious persecution of Galileo to Henry the VIII decree against Ann Boleyn to ultimately the establishment of a universal code of conduct to prevent such salacious events. True treason is a crime against the State and thus placing the lives of humanity in jeopardy. Some treasonous acts in the yesterdays of time were nothing other than the expression of an intellectual thought. Nowadays however it is a defined category of an act of sedition and proven with factual evidence, mostly from the minds of evil intellectuals.

Yet there is this innate thing that is inherent in some lucky ones that overflows as brilliance without a formal training or extraordinary insights derived from studies that flickers the flame of genius into existence. A short lived phenom named Sirinavasi Ramanujan who died at the age of 32 from Amoebiasis had gathered mathematical treatises and collated them in his repertoire by the age of 13 and created formulas that echoed all the way to England eventually earning him a Bachelors degree later termed a PhD in mathematics and a Fellowship at the Royal Trinity College at Cambridge. From such humble beginnings as poverty and starvation to renowned remembrances as a great mathematician lies the seed of a born genius.

Sirinavasi Ramnujan

And then there is the case of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a child prodigy who at the age of five composed music and performed shortly thereafter for Royalty in Salzburg, and became well known throughout Europe. His masterpiece the undulating Requiem has given respite to millions if not billions set of ears. Dying at an early age of 35 as most prodigiously talented geniuses do and depriving the world of greater works. He left humanity with the lingering lust for music that could have been.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“And what of the conference? What did you think?” She asked in her quiet way. Her twenty-something fingers with chewed down fingernails to their beds waved nonchalantly in the air. “What did you think?” She repeated like an echo.
“Okay I thought. No earth shattering information this year.”
“You think?” Incredulous in her accented question.
“Why did you think there was something earth shattering?”
“Yes, I do.” The words were expressed plain and simple and without fanfare. It was like a factual slap in the face.
“Tell me then.”
“We all talk about causation of cancer. Many theories abound but all eventually take the final common pathway of gene mutation, suppression of the suppressors or enhancement of the promoters. Nothing short of cause and effect suits us. But ever think about the inflammatory causes of cancer?” Here she paused a bit, reflecting and pretending to hear a question like, “What’s that all about?”
“Anyway,” not hearing a response she preceded her monologue, “If you dig deep you’ll find that more cancers have a foundation in inflammation then any thing else. And what causes inflammation?” No answer was needed to this since she didn’t even take a breath after the question, “Of course infection is one of the main causes. Okay lets look at gallbladder cancer for instance most of the time is preceded by chronic inflammations from stones/infective episodes etc. Now proceed on to the gastric cancer and there is link to Helicobacter Pylori and move on to cervical cancer in females and you have the Human Papiloma Virus initiating the problem. And if you take the bigger killers like Prostate and colon cancer the former has a viral linkage and the latter has the antigen for EColi present in the cancer specimens and now they tell us that the bacterium Bacteroides Fragilis if present in the cancer specimen leads to a poor prognosis stage for stage.” She fell quiet a moment flipping her hair away from her face.

“If this is the main cause how come we can’t find 100% causation for most every malignancy?”
“Here are some other causes, a long acting immunogenic stimulus can lead to Lymphomas and other lympho-proliferative disorders. Low grade collagen vascular diseases like Lupus and Sjogren’s have a higher relationship with Lymphomas don’t they?”
“Incidentally a chronic tonsillitis can also cause tonsillar lymphoma as well as Hashimotos Thyroiditis can lead to an aggressive Lymphoma originating in the thyroid.” She wasn’t quite done yet, because when she became still with nary a muscle flexion her brain was flexing neuronal power.
“What about denovo malignancies in children?”
“Pure genetic aberrations at birth. The right set came assembled as the wrong set.” She answered without even looking up from her thoughts. She was listening while wrapped up in her thoughts. “All we have to do is start looking for the errant infective or inflaming agent.”
“So you surmise that all malignancies have a common infectious etiology?”
“Not all but most!”

She left for her research residency in Molecular Biology of Cancer at a very prestigious university. Her brilliance and logic was inescapable and true. She remains far and away ahead of her peers. She is quietly motivated to excel in her thinking. Her dreams and desires do not reflect the common person her age. Her thoughts do not match those of her peers. Her profession yearns for people like her so few and far between. She is the intellect. She will create a wealth of knowledge and be the proximate cause of newer paradigms. Things that mere mortals in medicine fail to grasp will fall in her lap. Hers is the kingdom of new discoveries, the ocean of truth laid bare to the open, inquisitive, intelligent mind of this young genius.